Flashback to the middle of June.
We’re trying to make plans for a week-long summer trip, but are staring down some tough obstacles. Luke is forever booking last-minute photo shoots in places like West Texas and rural Iowa, which makes planning anything more than a month in advance all but impossible. And mysteriously, nearly every weekend between June and August is already booked with some type of friend/family/running event, further tightening the squeeze on our vacation.
Our best opportunity is the Fourth of July – a popular time for corporate America to change into its Tommy Bahamas and heads for the hills, leaving those of us in the advertising industry with plenty of time to sneak away undetected. But the major flaw in this plan is it gives us less than two weeks to organize an eight-day trip to an unknown location. Without a second to spare, we begin the task of narrowing down our choices based on this process of elimination:
- We want to stay within the continental US, but out of the National Park system on a major holiday (based on previous experience)
- Going north is easier on someone who runs hot this time of year than south
- We’ve seen a lot of mountains lately, so I want the ocean
- The Northeast is jam-packed with patriotic summer people, so we’ll go in the opposite direction, to a place we’ve never explored, but have been very curious about
- Washington is tempting with its many outstanding natural areas, but our Portland friends, Steph and Mike, encourage us to aim a little further south
One phone call and a few Facebook messages later and we’ve strung together a loose itinerary for a road trip along the coast of Oregon.
The logistics fall into place easily: Luke buys shockingly cheap flights into Seattle; we’re able to find available campsites in two popular state parks; the extended forecast calls for minimal rain; and all of our camping gear fits into a suitcase weighing in at less than 50lbs!
Before we know it, we’re flying over snowy peaks breaking through the Pacific Northwest’s dense cloud cover. A little kid behind me shouts, “Is that Everest, Mom?” I half-jokingly ask myself the same question.
I’ll spend the next few posts sharing descriptions, images and stories of the astonishingly beautiful places we saw in Oregon. Most days, I fell asleep exhausted from sensory overload. Somewhere amongst the old-growth forests, snow-capped mountains, secluded beaches, rocky coastline, exotic insects, dense urban canopy, abundant wildflowers, hordes of people lined up for very specific food items, bikes, craft beer, authentic Thai food, Marionberry pie, independent bookstores, whole sand dollars, small-town laundromats, and a healthy fear of high-fructose corn syrup, I’ve found a way to get my arms around a place that is far more beautiful, far wilder and far more approachable than I ever imagined.
I hesitate to think about the kind of brain damage I could have done to myself had we actually thought this trip through all the way.