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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Here is a memory which is also a flash-forward. In April 1998 I visited Glacier National Park and went on a hike. That summer I wrote this travel article about it for the Memphis Flyer. And next summer I plan to be up there again, living in Montana.
So let’s go back in time for a taste of my hiking future.
A friendly Amtrak trip through the beautiful heart of America, from Chicago to the sea.
Travel, especially when you’re young and going solo, is such a portal into other worlds. That was especially true when, from Summer 1989 to Spring 1990, I went around the world, visiting more than 20 countries along the way. I was, and am, an awfully lucky guy.
One of the best nights on that trip was in Gimmelwald, Switzerland, when several of us were called from our hotel in the snowy mountains to join some locals on a sledding trek. It was exactly as magical as you might think. Continue reading “Travel Story: That Time I Went Sledding in Heidi Country”
Another from my Memphis Flyer travel writer days, this one a celebration of “going Greyhound,” which I used to love.
(Originally appeared in the Flyer on April 3, 1997)
Sure, most people think I’m nuts, but I happen to love going Greyhound.