Roadtrip: The Litte Moments

 

The sign on a barely paved road, leading into the sagebrush nothingness, with the name of a town and “12 miles.”

The glimpse of a snowy mountain range just over the bare local horizon.

Walking into a cafe and everybody in the place stopping to look at you juuuussst long enough to realize they don’t know you and they don’t care, then resuming their chatter.

A rest area with a horse, not pet, exercise area.

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On the Road Again, Choosing My Myths

There was a moment on the road today which I have chosen to mythologize.

Normally, I’m not a Big Moment guy. For example, as I left my hometown of 24 years, literally as I got in the car to drive off, there was a small dash of “Oh my gosh, this is happening,” but a lot more of “I need to let my friend in Bend know when I’m getting there for coffee.” Never mind the year of international travel I aspire to after that, or the two decades of life I was pulling away from.

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Leaving Portland: Last Go-Rounds

There’s been a lot of “lasts” lately. The last time seeing this friend and that. Last cooked meal in this kitchen. Last hike from my home in Portland.

They aren’t real lasts, of course. I’ll be back this summer, after all, just not as a resident, and not for terribly long. But knowing that it’s the last time you’ll do something brings a certain awareness and appreciation to it. You know how you look back at things, people and experiences in your life after they’re gone and wish you could relive them one more time? What if, the last time you did something, you knew it was the last time?

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Leaving Portland: Applying the Test

In the 24 years I’ve lived in Portland, I have had 12 different addresses. So I know well the application of The Test. And as I prepare to leave for good (ish), I’m about to start applying it in a very real way.

I don’t mean a test of character, or planning, or searching for a place, or any mental acumen. I mean the test that determines whether I keep a thing or not.

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I Love Rick Steves

Rick Steves

There are very few people who always make me happy. Rick Steves is absolutely one of them. He’s also something a guru to me.

There’s just something impossibly endearing about a guy who is an absolute goofball and makes no attempt to either hide it or change. “In my early days of touring,” he has said, “I used to worry about being a cultural bumpkin — but now I embrace it. After all, I travel to learn.”

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Leaving Portland: Am I Excited?

Today I flipped the calendar to May – quite literally a normal event, except that for me, May 2021 will be the last month I live in Portland, Oregon.

It will also be the last month I technically live anywhere. The last month, at least for a year, that I will spend in my home, surrounded by my stuff, hanging out with my friends, going to see my team play, hiking trails that I know, and basically knowing what each day is going to bring.

30 days. Then I’m gone.

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A “Stolen Day” in the Mountains of Montana

In September 1999, I rolled into Glacier National Park with a friend to do some camping and hiking. We didn’t realize the place was about to shut down, at least in the human sense.

As most of the folks cleared out, we stuck around, and had a somewhat goofy night in camp followed by a magical hike in the mountains. It felt like we had stolen a day from the encroaching winter.

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A Walk in the Snowy Woods. Or Maybe a Life Lesson.

 

The original plan was Ramona Falls. This time of year, that can be a challenge, with snow on the road, the trail, and an already tricky river crossing on logs. So I would need an early start, some luck, and perhaps a little bravery. I set the intention the night before, and since nobody else was going, it was all on me.

I woke up to wind thumping the windows and tossing the wind chimes. And coffee. And emails. And since I wasn’t meeting anybody or on any schedule, I decided to chill a while. I could leave by, oh, let’s say 9.

And somewhere in there I noticed a pattern of thought developing: that if I started too late and didn’t make it all the way to Ramona Falls, I will have failed.

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