A Comedy of Errors in California

Amanda Lynch Elliott

by Amanda Lynch Elliott

Amanda Lynch Elliott is a native of Pensacola and an attorney with My Pink Lawyer®. Amanda and her husband are parents of two young daughters. Amanda enjoys running, yoga and paddle boarding, and has a twin sister.

“Tell me about that one time you pee peed on the poisonous plant” My 5-year-old asks again.


This bedtime story has been on repeat for the last several weeks in our home.


It starts out harmlessly enough.


Ten years ago, my twin sister and I decided to take a trip to visit our brother in California.


In our defense, there wasn’t much time to plan. We decided to go with just a couple of weeks to spare. 


I was in my second year of law school, and we planned the trip over my Spring Break. My sister had just started a new job and our time was limited.


We booked our plane tickets and a few lodgings and off we went. In short, it was a trip of many, many, (many) lessons and lots of laughs.


Lesson number one came quickly. My then-boyfriend/now-husband drove us to the airport early in the morning. 


He had suggested a few times that we head out earlier, but I disregarded his advice. Get up earlier? Nah. I got this, right?


Uh, wrong.


We arrived at the gate 55-minutes before takeoff. A representative of the airline informed us that we needed at least one hour between our arrival and our departure. Seriously?


We disappointedly watched our plane take off and were delayed another several hours while we waited for the next flight out. 


Upon our arrival in San Francisco, the next lesson presented itself, which was: Request the type of rental car you want in advance.


We entered the rental car lot with excitement. We’d seen the photos and couldn’t wait to drive Highway 1.


We looked expectantly at the plethora of standard sized and colored sedans surrounding us and were instead led to the absolute brightest and smallest vehicle you have ever seen in your life.


To be clear, it was a neon blue matchbox with wheels. Our luggage barely fit into the hatchback.


Nevertheless, away we went in our tiny car to drive on Highway 1. Did you know that a large portion of Highway 1 doesn’t have guard rails? I didn’t either!


It was so small, in fact, that my sister spent the entire drive clawing her nails into my arm because a single gust of wind would likely have sent us over the cliff. 


When we (surprisingly) made it to our first destination, a lovely Airbnb in Sonoma, we enjoyed a beautiful and uneventful couple of days exploring before driving south to lesson three.


Lesson three came in the form of “places I will never, ever stay overnight again in my lifetime.”


At the top of that list lives a hostel in Northern California.


Our brother, who was forced to follow us from location to location in his own vehicle due to the size of our rental car, seemed pleased with himself for booking our next accommodation.


It made sense when we booked it. It was right at the trailhead where we would hike the next morning.


If you’ve never stayed at a hostel, I recommend familiarizing yourself with the rules beforehand; possibly ask if there are any group retreats being held there during your stay.


It was packed. Every single one of the 20+ bunkbeds was full. It was loud. You had to shower before 8 PM, but there were literally people showering in all the showers until 8 PM. The hot water ran out quickly when we finally made it. It was smelly. Someone in the room had very loud bodily functions.


I don’t know what we expected, but we woke up early (did we even sleep?) and easily agreed that we’d be booking an Airbnb for the following night.


The hike and the views nearly made us forget the hostel. It was truly incredible.


Picture1Point Reyes and its famous Arch Rock will leave you speechless. It was a highlight of the trip.


It was a 6-mile each way hike, and well, nature calls.


On the hike back, my sister and I stepped off the trail to relieve ourselves and as we resumed walking, both noticed a fire-like sensation. I spoke first.


My brother replied, “I think you just peed on poison oak.”


So, the hike back was fun. 


I’m happy to report that the rest of the trip was uneventful. We finished the trip in San Francisco and returned to our respective homes albeit with many funny stories and lessons learned.


The end.


Reflecting on this trip makes me laugh because I would NEVER travel this way with my children.


It seriously gives me heart palpitations.


As we say during our estate planning consultations, you don’t plan for yourself.


And that is surely true here, too.


Your loved ones are the ones who benefit from the planning that you do or who will be left to clean up your estate if you don’t.


You can schedule your consultation or estate planning review appointment here or by calling 850-439-1191.


You’ll be happy to know that my husband’s (slightly annoying) habit of arriving two hours before takeoff has served me well since this trip… we also print hard copies of boarding passes and purchase trip insurance just in case you need further explanation of what kind of people we have become. I also familiarize myself and my kids with native plants in an area prior to spending time there. We don’t need that again…


See? Lessons learned.


Oh yeah, and if you’ve read this far, you deserve to see the car.




Amanda “Living on the edge (of Highway 1)” Lynch Elliott


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