A New Era: My Road Trip South Begins

In early July, I left my role as a manager at a tech startup in Seattle to go freelance and travel for a year. I’d been coming downtown to work at Seattle startups for 11 years, yearning for the day when I would take off and travel. Then, finally, around June 2015, I realized it was time.

Razor clam digging out at Grayland, Wa.
Razor clam digging out at Grayland, Wa.

Seattle was a wonderful place for me during my 20s and 30s – great jobs, friendships, relationships, family time, theater performance, music, the outdoors, and a lot of personal growth and healing. But, many of my friends have married and had kids so we don’t go out as much. The cost of living is skyrocketing and I find it disheartening. The pace, the density, the culture – it’s not the same. No more $500 per month apartments, moss-covered, one-story buildings downtown, and free parking after 5 pm.

I sold my condo, a cottage by Lake Washington I’d owned for 10 years. I whittled my life down to a section of a closet at my mom’s house (thanks, Mom!) and I’m now making my way south in my trusty 1998 Honda Civic.

My friend Colt has described this first trip of mine as a “journey of love” because I’m planning it around friendships – getting time with people I love to spend time with but have rarely had the time to see. And, I’m also going to national parks and pretty spots along the way. Here’s my update, one week in.

Astoria

I arrived in Astoria with bloodshot eyes, exhausted from the many final tasks of leaving town. I teared up when I saw the “Welcome to Oregon” sign, feeling delirious and relieved.

Astoria’s windy, watery freshness felt like a reset button for my brain. I started at the Astoria Column with its 360 views, then drove across the Astoria-Megler bridge in the pouring rain to check out Lewis and Clark history on the Washington side.

Hanging out by the Pacific in Chinook, Wa. That was some good wind.
Hanging out by the Pacific in Chinook, Wa. That was some good wind.

My highlight was Station Camp, with its educational path telling the story of the Chinook people who lived on the land and traded with Chinese well before the area was “discovered.” I really loved the replica canoe. I sat in it and daydreamed for a while about the people who used to live on the coast.

I ate “the best burger in town,” according to my friend at the Astoria Column gift shop, at the Portway Tavern. Located near fishing docks, it has a trap door at one end of the bar where young men would be “Shanghai’ed” to work on ships heading east. My favorite pic from the docks was this “Fisherman’s Breakfast” promo. Check out the start and end time.

Fisherman in Astoria are up early to catch their fish.
Fisherman in Astoria are up early.

And, yes, I saw the Goonies house.

The people who own the Goonies house have draped it with blue tarps. Still pretty popular spot. Might want to just move, instead.
The people who own the Goonies house have draped it with blue tarps for privacy, maybe? It’s still a pretty popular spot. They might want to just move, instead.

Portland

Portland was more about friendships and rest than sightseeing. I had my travel guitar re-strung and worked on. Bought new tires for my car. And slept a lot.

My favorite Portlandia moment was seeing a sign at a vintage clothing shop letting the men of Portland know, “It’s summer. You can trim your beard, now.”

I caught up with my friend Brooke for the first time in over 10 years. We worked together at Stanford Sierra Camp in 1999, where she ran the dining room and I was the volleyball instructor.

Brooke and I at our reunion.
Brooke and I at our reunion.

The next night, my dear friend, Lisa, and I went out to Porque No for yum-yum tacos, sangria, and tarot reading discussions.

Lisa awaiting her veggie bowl.
Lisa awaiting her veggie bowl.

I got to meet her hip, fixed-gear-bike-riding, gay, handsome friends who are dancers, artists, and health-food store, sample-hour aficionados. We talked a lot about how expensive Portland is becoming. To quote David, “Hey, let the people who built this amazing culture enjoy it. Just visit then go back to where you came from. You’re gonna f*&^ it up.” He was kind of kidding.

Lisa and I say adios.
Lisa and I say adios.

Eugene

Eugene’s small-town, let’s-love-the-earth vibe makes for a mellow, sleepy energy. My friend Sarah took me for a hike up a local hill to see the sunset on Tuesday night then I ate WAY TOO MUCH delicious food at Tacovore. People, eat there. It’s cheap (compared to Seattle) and delicious.

Sarah is a friend from creativity camp back in July. She's an outdoor, youth educator.
Sarah is a friend from creativity camp back in July. She’s an outdoor, youth educator.

I met the owner, who Sarah knows, and he had this immense humility as he sipped his microbrew and thanked me for my compliments. He’s an unusual and very successful business man. The Oregon I’ve seen, in general, has this non-aggressive vibe that feels different from other places in the U.S.

Loving Eugene, where yoga, hula hooping, and slacklining are featured at a community, "car-free" event.
Loving Eugene, where yoga, hula hooping, and slacklining are featured at a community, “car-free” event.

I worked at a coffee shop, toured the big, beautiful U of O campus, and sweated at Sweaty Ganesh Yoga. A highlight of my stay was the tiny home in the yard of the house Sarah rents. Built on a trailer, it was just like the one I saw built in this tiny house documentary. I didn’t get a chance to talk with the owner. Maybe on the way back.

I loved this clever "bike repair station" bolted into the ground on the U of O campus. Wrenches and screws hang down inside, protected, and there is a pump on the outside. Brilliant! This guy was pumped to be in my photo.
I loved this clever “bike repair station” bolted into the ground on the U of O campus. Wrenches and screws hang down inside, protected from rain, and there is a pump on the outside. Brilliant! This cyclist was excited to be in my photo.
Trash talk in the bathroom in the Eugene Kinko's.
Trash talk in the bathroom in the Eugene Kinko’s.

Crater Lake

Not much to say but, “Oh my heavens, what a natural wonder.” I’d been listening to a lecture on CD until, just before I pulled up to the lake, the Wailing Jenny’s came on in three-part harmony and I saw this huge lake cradled in a mountain. More teary eyes.

Crater Lake is stunning, outrageous, gorgeous, and other such wonderful things.
Crater Lake is stunning, outrageous, gorgeous, and other such wonderful things.

Crater Lake has been a bucket-list item for years. Thanks to a one solid hour of full-stop traffic delays and slowdowns, I missed my one-hour hike plan. But, I’ll be back.

Happy me at Crater Lake.
Happy me at Crater Lake.

Big Bend, California

I started my day today with fresh-picked apples and a walk through the woods just south of Mt. Shasta, then used a composting privy to do my business.

Hundreds of fresh picked apples and pears were all around, being dried, turned into juice, or gobbled up by me.
Hundreds of fresh picked apples and pears were all around, being dried, turned into juice, or gobbled up.

I’m visiting my friends Terri and Gary. I met them in Costa Rica in 2012 on a trip to the Osa Pennisula. We rode the same boat out of Sierpe to Poor Man’s Paradise on the south edge of the pennisula, where we saw morpho butterflies, sloths, and tapirs.

Terri and Gary live off the grid in a home they built, surrounded by gardens and fruit trees that feed them year round. They dehydrate their fruit in their greenhouse to conserve energy, succession-plant salad gardens throughout the year to always have fresh greens, and spend the rest of their time traveling the world. They’re an inspiration, living a life I’d love to create for myself.

Redwoods Are Next

I’m heading next to the Redwoods on the west coast of California. Feel free to send me your recommendations. The giants are calling…

I drove under a beautiful, tall rainbow leaving Astoria. I was under it for nearly 20 minutes. I could see both ends and counted it as a good omen for my journey and beyond.
I drove beneath a beautiful rainbow leaving Astoria. I was under it for nearly 20 minutes. I could see both ends and counted it as a good omen for my journey and beyond.

22 thoughts on “A New Era: My Road Trip South Begins

  1. Bridgett-Contratulations! I am so happy you’re following your heart! I’ll never forget meeting you at that little theatre I dragged my friend to in the pursuit of local culture while on our trip to Seattle. It was great fun and you impressed me as someone who has an insatiable joy for life, hence, I am not surprised to read that you are on this wonderful trip. I hope this giant leap of faith covers you in the joy of self-determination, safety and joyful memories along the way! Will you be passing through Las Vegas? Fran

  2. Hi Bridget! Point ReYES for beach hiking, Muir Woods for moss and trees (maybe it’s all dried up for all I know.

    And after all of that, and lots of other stuff, drive through Southern Utah, get advise from Kesti’s sister who is director of an outdoor experiential education program at Southern Utah U in Cedar City, the roadsides show millions of years of history, Zion National Park, highway 89A by the Grand Canyon….. other stuff, then hang out in our basement, the Matt Smith room.

    Seriously, if you’ve never done it, that area is amazing to see. Hot in the summer, often slippery in the winter.

    Matt

  3. As dad would’ve said, Bridget, make it a great day! And, boy, are you ever. You’re making a lot of great days and memories in your inspiring life’s journey. I look forward to following your adventures. Love, Jim

  4. This is so awesome, Bridget! If your travels ever bring you to the “real South,” you are more than welcome here in Asheville. We have very good food here.

    Happy trails!

  5. I loved reading this, Bridget! Thank you for sharing your journey and sunshiny soul with us all. 🙂 P.S. I’m so glad you were part of Catch the Fire….. found some amazing kindred spirits, I see. Looking forward to seeing more of the world through your eyes. Hugs. P.P.S. By the way, you can keep your furniture here as long as you like. Really don’t worry about it. You don’t have to sell it. It can be here for you when you get back.

    1. Amber! Thanks for the love here on the blog. You’re a writing pal. I appreciate the kind words. And, about my beloved couch and chair…well, I may take you up on that. I could decide on a new home base in the next few months and those would be be a welcome items to have available. We’ll stay in touch. Much love!

  6. Thinking of you often, dear Bridget, enjoy every day of your journey…..I will be following you and anxious to read of your experiences. The missions are beautiful and restful places. With love, MA

    1. Mary Ann, what a lovely suggestion! Thank you. I’ll be driving through San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara so there’s got to be some missions there to visit. I’ll say a special prayer for you and your family – and all of us. 😉 Hugs to you!

      1. My brother, Fr. Larry Gosselin, is at the Santa Barbara Mission. He was on the crew team with your Uncle Al at Seattle U. Stop by and see him if you have time…..a very beautiful mission. Love you!

  7. Bridgett, Danes Grandma here 🙂 So excited for you and appreciate being able to join you on this journey. Love your spirit…Onward!

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