The Road Trip zig-zagged its way across America to celebrate our fabulous community of educators in places like Colorado, Georgia, and Texas.

Alas, as the 2016 — 2017 school year nears its end, so must our adventure. In true Road Trip spirit, we trekked across the U. S. of A. one more time to land where the road meets the Pacific: sunny southern California. And since there were so many southern California educators we wanted to pay tribute to, we decided to make our last stop a double whammy — packing in back-to-back events in Costa Mesa and in Riverside.

In Costa Mesa on Tuesday night, Chef Massimo of Onotrio served up Italian delicacies as Orange County educators played a Magical Mystery List of words plucked from the famous prologue to Romeo and Juliet. Ominous words like mutiny, strive and foe foreshadowed the evening's fierce competition among proud representatives of OC school districts such as Los Alamitos, Anaheim, and Irvine.

This Orange County leaderboard demonstrates how OC students have been mastering words all season, but Tuesday night provided their teachers an opportunity to flex their own linguistic muscles. The highlight of the evening had to be when the aptly-named team "The Melodies" stole the show with their "Ode to Vocabulary" rap, sung to the beat of Snoop Dog's "Ain't No Fun."

The Winning Team “The Melodies”

On Wednesday evening we backtracked eastward a bit to the area known as the "Inland Empire" and landed at the luxurious Mission Inn, where educators representing some of the Vocabulary Bowl's toughest contenders showed up to show off their enthusiasm for word power. Surrounded by ancient relics and Mission-style architecture, teachers made it their mission to prove why their region boasts some of the top-performing schools on California's leaderboard and in this year's Vocabulary Bowl.

The evening's team play was dominated by "The Essentials," led by Rancho Cucamonga High School teacher and avid user John Nath. Nath took the opportunity to school everyone on "process of elimination" as a strategy that served them well when they encountered unfamiliar words during the evening's challenge.

John Nath, avid fan, with his team

"Team Inspire" earned 25 points in the bonus round for its limerick "Inspire," containing the following line as a final testament to their good-natured team spirit: "Even though we lost, we still achieved aplomb!"

"Team Inspire" impressed with a limerick that showed "aplomb"

True to our promise, each evening ended with a dramatic flourish as CTO Marc Tinkler awarded raffle prize winners Dan Bennett of Los Alamitos USD and Christine Van Houten of Alvord Alternative Continuation High School shiny new Apple Watches.

Apple Watch giveaway winners

The whole crew wants to thank not only the SoCal teachers who made it to our back-to-back events this week, but all of the educators across the country who have cheered us on, refueled us with ideas, and indulged in some awesome wordplay on the 2017 Road Trip. Here's to you!