“It’s finally hit me. My last night. It’s a cool night here in El Capitan State Beach as I sit with my windows open, the sound of the ocean playing softly in my ears. I’m anxious to get home yet not at all ready at the same time.” – October 22, 2017, 9:22pm, El Capitan State Beach.
I woke up in my campground in Avila ready to roll. I knew this would be my last full day on the road and I wanted to make the most of it. I had one item I had missed on the way up and that was the Chumash Painted Caves. I took the 101 south from Avila and eventually found myself in the mountains above Santa Barbara. I passed Chumash Lake Recreation Center and made a mental note to look it up later. I kept driving down the highway until it began climbing the mountains around Santa Barbara. Eventually I saw cars parked on the side of the road and figured I was in the right spot. The caves were a little disappointing in that metal bars and fencing were put up around the actual caves and paintings to prevent people from getting too close. Despite this, I was able to snap a good pic (above) and I still left in awe. The scenery around the caves was stunning and I found it amazing that the Chumash made it their home.
From the caves it was only a short drive down to El Capitan State Beach. This was the place I stayed at on my very first night out. For me, staying here again offered an incredible perspective and brought everything full circle. I got to my campground and gave myself a couple minutes to think and remember what it was like that first night of my trip. I thought about the kind of person I was and the feelings I had. I remember being scared and unsure but excited. Now, at the end, I felt scared and unsure again but for different reasons. I had enjoyed every moment of this journey, living life to the fullest and not thinking about the future or the repercussions. On the precipice of my return, I began to feel nervous for what would come. Yet, just as I left for the road trip and conquered it, I knew I could do the same with the next phase of my life.
I set up camp and decided to take the day reading and sitting by the beach. Ironically, it was a hot, sunny day as compared to the last time I was here at the end of summer when it was freezing cold. I climbed a few rocks and eventually found my own private beach.
Perched below the rocks which offered a sliver of shade, I took a nice long nap. It was calm and peaceful down on the beach and I was able to relax and enjoy my last day. I stayed down there for a couple hours before I saw the sun beginning to set and I made my way back towards the campgrounds.
Before I got to my assigned campsite, I saw a nice little spot right on the edge of the cliff. It had a view of the ocean in front of me and the sunset slightly to my right. It even had a small log for me to sit on. So I continued to live life in the moment and I settled down on my perch above the water and watched the last sunset I would see on this trip…