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I have found no greater joy in life than taking time off from school, work, and my everyday hustle and bustle to drop everything, but a suitcase of clothes and the travel bug, and explore. Simplicity seems to be the only way to find my way back to how I want to spend my days on this Earth.
I spent a month in Oregon and Washington State between the end of 2017 and the start of 2018. I didn't have a set agenda of anywhere to be or anywhere specific to go. I just simply went.
I began my journey in Portland, Oregon and from there, headed towards the mountains, Mt. Hood Meadows to be specific. I just bought a new snowboard, so I hit the slopes for a few runs. Sometimes it freaked me out to be somewhere so new and unfamiliar, but what better place to explore than somewhere you've never been. It's like what I say about meeting new people, there is no question you can't ask because you know nothing about them. It's the same mindset you should have when traveling. You know nothing about this new place, so there's nothing you can't explore.
I made my way around the state to different cities and parks. One of my absolute favorites was the Trail of 10 Falls in Silver Falls State Park. The whole loop was around eight miles give or take, but along the way you find yourself wandering up to these magnificent waterfalls that are thundering over the sides of cliffs. It always seems to be raining in Oregon, and it kind of deterred me from wanting to even start the hike in the first place. But I would have missed out on such a wonderful opportunity to see such a beautiful place. So lesson learned, always take the chance rain or shine...unless you're on a 14er, you'll probably get hit by lightening, so don't do that.
I read a book a while back about a lady named Cheryl Strayed who hiked the PCT on her own. Sort of like her chance to find beauty in the simplicity and take a break from the world. She started way down south in California and finished at the Bridge of Gods that passes over the Columbia River from Oregon into Washington and it just happened to be near where I was in Oregon, so I went! It was a dollar just to cross, and a little nerve-racking with cars passing on either side. But standing there on the bridge where she once crossed and feeling the emotion of what Cheryl must have felt at the end of her journey was break-taking. And not to mention the view! It was spectacular.
Another place I had the chance to explore was a little town, Hood River, that was tucked away in the mountains right on the border of Oregon and Washington State. It was quaint. It made me feel as if I was a local just walking around the town. I ate the best Chinese Food I've ever had...and I've tried it all. Made my way into an open art viewing at a local art studio in town. Talked to the locals and ate at a wonderful local place called Trillium Cafe. Of course it was raining here too, but I spent the day walking around the shops and enjoying everything this small town had to offer.
Before heading back to Texas, I drove up to Cannon Beach. It wasn't your typical white sandy beach or clear blue water resort location, but it was majestic. In the distance, there was a towering rock structure and the beach stretched for miles on end. It was an extremely long walk just to get to the rock, but luckily I was accompanied by a friend with a ukulele. There were people and dogs and kids everywhere you looked. At sunset we headed back out to the beach and improvised a camp fire with just about nothing. We jammed out with a maraca, ukulele, and a djembe as the sunset over the water. This was the moment when I sat back and I took in just how wonderful this trip was. How simplistic and authentic the experience had been.
During this month, I was living in a 1989 or 1990, I always forget which, Chevy Astro Van. No working toilet, shower, or running faucet water. But there was heat, a place to lay my head, and a stove to cook food. The thing is you don't need a lot to travel. What you need is a sense of curiosity, a willingness to try new things, and the ability to let go and not make plans. This trip was one for the books, simply because I didn't have an agenda. I was free to say yes...or no, to whatever I came across. We all know the line, it's not about the destination...although usually beautiful, it's about the journey you take to get there. I lose myself from time to time in my everyday life of going to work, getting homework turned in on time, and keeping a social life, but I always find myself when I decide to lose myself while traveling simplistically.
Pictures from a few stops along my journey.