Where We Actually Done Been

Map Key

I had to use the different colors, because our incredibly direct line of travel intersected itself so often. For those of you wanting to figure out what order these all go in, here's the key.

1) Blue "Initial Westward Push": Springfield to Vegas
2) Red "Back Tracking East": Vegas to Albuquerque
3) Green "West Again!": Albuquerque to Santa Rosa to Joshua Tree (second time in Josh)
4) Purple "Gone North" (and back south): Joshua Tree (second time) to Portland, and back down to Yosemite

Where are we now? Yosemite!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Full Circle

for the first time in ages, the rocky mountains were breath taking.
the journey home took me through the places i came to love as amanda and i traveled together, but also through the places i was most familiar with. for a long time, driving through the rockies is just what you do after visiting with marko- they became part of the 6 hour drive to moab, nothing more. but yesterday, when i saw the sharp jagged peaks of the huge mountain range, i couldn't help but smile. it was beautiful and i had forgotten.
i feel like my eyes are open again and are absorbing all the small details of the beauty that surrounds me each day.
so- i leave this segment of the journey only to begin a new one. amanda and i have finished traveling together, but (as amanda already mentioned) we have not quite finished the ceremony. it is a process that we will hopefully never complete. it is a process of change and movement and learning and teaching. it is constant. it is life.
amanda came on the trip looking for change and that is how the trip has ended for me. i didn't know what i was looking for when i started the trip. i just wanted to go on the road for the sake of being on the road, but it has turned out to be much more than that. now, being home, i realize i am not the same person i was when we left and that makes me happy. i feel at peace- like i am one step closer to the place where i am suppose to be.
my journey continues and as i come to a new fork in my path, i embrace it with the excitement of the unknown. life is good.
happy travels.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The End

Chelsea and I had an awesome time in Yosemite! The rain eventually stopped, the sun came out, and we moved out of our friends' house tent and into Camp 4, the notorious climbing campground. In Camp 4, we made approximately 438 new friends, and proceeded to do all kinds of fun things with all of these friends. I know I'm leaving out some stellar ones, but some things that come to mind are The Alcove Swing, the moonbow, and, well, climbing, of which I'm quite fond. The Alcove Swing is a 200 foot rope fixed to the wall above an alcove. You clip in and run off the ledge only to swing way out over space, catching big air, and a fantastic flying sensation. Chelsea was the first on this one, as I was busy being all, "Oh, I don't know..." But then I did it many times, and am uber-glad I did. We also got footage of our first swings. On later swings, we turned all about, upside-down and what-not, and had a grand time of it.

The moonbow is a like a small rainbow formed in the mist of Lower Yosemite Falls during a full moon. We wandered out to the bridge over the lower falls in the dark, got sprayed by the strong springtime falls, and could actually pick out the colors of the moonbow, which arced over the river. Amazing.

Climbing, was, well, climbing. Chelsea did a little, but mostly played with other friends. I'll let her fill you in on those activities, because I know she did a lot of fun stuff while I was clambering up rocks.

Overall, this last week together has been amazing, and yesterday morning, when Chelsea left, it was pretty sad. But it also felt, for me, like this trip was completed, and it was the right time.

So, what next? For me, I've been keeping an open mind throughout this trip. I started out with a complete lack of plans for after the trip. Shortly into the trip, I thought I might stay in Yosemite for a month or so afterwards, which has become the plan. All across the west, I saw all different options and opportunities appear, from job offers in an ice cream shop in Denver and a Mexican cafe in Escalante, Utah, to ideas of grad school or an internship with National Parks or working and living on an organic farm on the California coast.

Funny enough, all of these seemed like pretty good options. But what I've settled on for now is this plan: In Joshua Tree, I did some guide work for a local company. I really enjoyed the crew I was working for, and then found out that they worked right near Yosemite during the summer. So I asked about part-time work in the Eastern Sierra, and it looks like I'll at least pick up a few days of work. So right now, I'm settling in for a season in Yosemite. I'll drive out whenever there's work, and live here and read and climb and make new and awesome friends when there's not. And the first big move in my settling in? I just bought a cheap bike! I'm really excited about spending a season here, and about this next portion of my trip. And I'm happy to see how the transition, the growth, and the ceremony of the trip with Chelsea is not complete, because I've started realizing that it shouldn't be complete. I don't know what all I will learn on this portion of the journey, or who I'll be afterwards, but I'm excited to find out.

Thanks to everyone who was part of this trip, from the people who gave us their blessings from back home to the people we met and were taken in by along the way to the people who traced us on this map with this blog. And a super special thanks to Chelsea, because I probably wouldn't have had the courage for this trip without her, and even if I had, I would have missed out on a lot without her. It was a great trip, and the only thing I would have wished differently is that we could have picked up all the new friends along the way, just adding them to the car the way we added them to our address books and memories. Thanks to everyone, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Last Leg

Yeah, we got out of Portland a little late, but got out none the less. After so long of sitting in one place, it felt pretty good to just move. We drove east, along the lovely Columbia River, and just before turning south, we split north across a bridge and tagged Washington for our first times. Five minutes later, we were back in Oregon, moving south. We drove past Smith Rocks, a famous climbing area, waving as we went. I'll get back there sometime. And we ended the driving day trying to find out way through a dark thick snowstorm. We didn't want to have to set up the tent, so I figured I'd drive until there wasn't snow, and until I could see the sky again. That happened just north of the California border, and we pulled off and fell asleep under the stars. Then, in the middle of the night, we both woke up to fat wet snowflakes on our faces! In late April! Preposterous.

The next day, we just kept driving, putting down maybe the most miles in a day that we've done since Kansas. (I might have been a touch excited about the next destination.) That night, we slept right outside Yosemite, and I woke up to a beautiful morning and a strong feeling that our trip was almost over. As the sky changed from dark stained glass to airy soft blue, I pondered the process, how we'd gotten to this point, and what would happen next, and felt an overwhelming notion that everything is in it's place, playing out just like it's supposed to.

We went into Yosemite Valley, and Chelsea oogled all the gorgeous rock for the first time, while I oogled some of it like it was new, and some with the feeling of returning to some old friends. The Valley is an amazing place, just a few fruit trees short of most depictions of the Garden of Eden, when you look at it from above. We're hanging out with Ashley here, who we met in Joshua Tree earlier on the trip, and her boyfriend Alex, and just enjoying the area.

A final note: This trip, our trip, is scheduled to end one week from today.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Portland Wrap-Up

We came into Portland thinking we'd stay one night, maaaaaaybe two. I think it's been five now, and we just made an elaborate crepe brunch, it's 1pm, and we're still claiming that we're leaving today, "this morning" is what we say. We've been staying with Brady and Ian, who've been great hosts. While hanging out with them, we've gone to a killer dance party, met a lot of their great friends (including Tristan, Abe, Rose, and Wes, to name a few), went climbing at the local gym, watched an exciting Blazers basketball game (mostly exciting because of the amount of yelling coming from the couch-section), and eaten some darn good Vietnamese food. And while they were busy with their own lives, we got to enjoy the Outdoor Market, and Powell's City of Books (a used bookstore the size of a city block!!!)

It's been a really great time, and we've felt very welcomed and comfortable here, but, alas, the time has come. Today, the first day of real rain, we will slowly pack up, and start to head south again. The end of the trip is in sight, as Chelsea will meet up with Jordan near San Jose May 8th to head home. It seems so close!

Our last real stop will be Yosemite, where we will meet up with some friends we made in Joshua Tree a few weeks ago. I love Yosemite, and Chelsea's never been there, and we'll have a great crew to hang with, so it should be a blast. And after 3 months of hardly touching rock, I'm starting to get real fired up about the idea of granite. So, goodbye, Portland, and awesome Portland friends. Hello, Yosemite Valley, and new Yosemite friends (as well as old J-Tree friends).

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Best Things in Oregon are Free

We left the free hotel, drove north along the coast, and eventually ended up staying a little inland, in a National Forest, where we found an established campground that was actually no-pay. (Maybe a first on this trip.) It was chilly, and the air was damp, so when we saw the only other person there sitting by a fire, we quickly made friends. That night, Steve brought us wood from his fire, so we could have our own. And then, in the morning, he brought us his extra coffee. And then, by late morning, we were all bunched around his fire again, trying to thaw. He gave us a bunch of great suggestions for what to do in Portland, including an outdoor store, and I mentioned I might look for a tent there (as Chelsea's tent, along with Chelsea, will sadly be leaving me soon). Steve thought for a second, then went to his car, pulled out a little camping tent and threw it in my lap. That's right, a free tent. Flippin' awesome! He said he never used it anymore, and wanted to get rid of it anyways. I haven't set it up yet, but I'm really excited.

We left the campsite and drove somemore coast on Steve's suggestion, and ended up eating an entire crab, as well as some great local cheese and ice cream in Tillamook. Delicious! And then we went to Portland. Once in town, we went to the outdoor store and a used bookstore Steve had given us directions to, and enjoyed the good old free WiFi in the coffee shop until the girl at the counter started to close up shop and give us the 15 minute warning. At 10 minutes, she came around and offered us the coffee she was about to dump, and at 5 minutes, a couple of the pastries that were now officially "day-old." And by the time we were leaving, at 10 after, we had a whole bag of pastries, fancy juice drinks, and big smiles of gratitude. We didn't even get her name, but she was super nice and, this morning, as we eat our pastries, we're super grateful.

Finally, we dug out a torn sheet of paper from our travel notes, and dialed a number that had been scrawled by a fellow-camper in Joshua Tree about a month ago. After some very minimal interactions, Brady, a teacher on Spring Break with some teacher friends, had offered us a place to stay if we ever got to Portland. Now in Portland, we took down directions and wandered towards his place. He and his roommates are not only letting us stay here, but they've also been great in providing maps and directions to the things we should be doing (instead of internetting), and they aren't too shabby at being entertaining either.

So there you have it, more awesome free stuff in Oregon. We are loving it!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hospitality from No Cal to Oregon

So, we're only a couple days out from the Edwards' house in Carmel, but several noteworthy things have come to pass. When we left the house, Ben, the middle-est kid, put us in touch with some of his friends up the coast just north of San Fran. So we just drove straight from one welcome home to another. Nick and Clark, the strangers up north who happened to know Ben, were completely hospitable and chatted and chilled with us for hours, both that night and the next morning. And in between that time, we slept marvelously on our complimentary futons. It was great.

The next morning, with great local suggestions from the boys, we continued north up the 1, enjoying gorgeous views of both ocean and redwoods, and the occasional secret local beach, thanks to Nick's directions. That night, we found ourselves in a grassy meadow campsite right over the water. Sure, we were dripping with sea air in the morning, but the sounds, the smells, the feel, made the wetness pretty well worth it.

The next day, we enjoyed some fun sights, with highlights including: the scenic alternative route called Avenue of the Giants (redwoods!!!), driving through a redwood, and seeing a giant Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Now that's classy--I don't care who you are. Before we knew it, we were in Oregon, looking for sleep. We hadn't seen any legal-looking free camping since Arizona, so when we found a pulloff over the beach that didn't have no camping signs, we stopped. It didn't have camping signs either, but it didn't say not to, so we threw down on this beach in what appeared to be some Shipwreck Cove from a pirate story. The beach was smooth and flat, but treacherous 50-100 foot rocks stood out of the water like broken glass guarding the land. Very cool.

Next morning, as we laid all our sleeping stuff in the sun to dry for hours, we met some folks, Melvin and Donnie, who had camped in a completely decked out school bus in the same pulloff. They were friendly, and full of good suggestions for our northward wandering. As we talked, the topographic map sheets were utilized, the bus was toured, and, eventually, dinner was offered. That's right, our first morning in Oregon, the first people we meet offer us a home-cooked meal after our day of exploring. We spent the day checking out many of the places Mel suggested, and met a few other characters, one of whom claimed to be Cory Wells, from Three Dog Night. I'm not sure that he actually was, but that was still pretty cool. It's not every day you meet someone who claims to be from Three Dog Night.

Mel lives right off the 101, in North Bend, and by evening we were there just in time for a steak dinner with him and his wife, Barb. It was soooooooo good. Next, Mel took us out to some giant sand dunes near the coast in his Jeep, and took us on a pretty exciting Jeep tour, including some improbable looking (and feeling) hills, and a lot of sliding sideways. To top it off, Mel dropped us off at a hotel for the night, which he paid for, which is where we are now. A flippin' hotel to ourselves--how cool is that?! And, I must say, so far we are enjoying Oregon.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I-70 W

I just came across this poem that I wrote several years ago. Little did I know then that I-70 wouldn't even get me out of Utah before disappearing, but this still seems relevant.

I-70 W

I-70 West is a rite of passage
The dead silent whisper of the plains
Testing my will
It takes faith to cross Kansas
In the hope of wild mountains
To blow through desert flats
With the hope of rivers

In this religion
Some maps are sacred
And some are heretical
In this sect
I pray in mile markers
And cross myself
As we cross state lines
It is a belief to follow road signs
And the setting sun
Into the center of your windshield
To move ever onward
In hope of what you cannot see