Not all who wander are lost--A year ago I packed two bags and left town. My plan to tackle the Pacific Northwest Coast, created over two weeks, etched out on paper. I had 9 days, San Francisco to Seattle, with a litany of various stopping points and a rough timeline for them.
I still find myself reflecting on the trip. To be honest, it feels like a dream in another life. Ensconced along the West Coast, I left the Golden Gate in the rear view via US-101 N, up to the sepertine Route 1. Day and night through the mountains and forests. Riding nature's roller-coaster, wheel firm in hand, I arrived at the Redwoods. I never felt so small as when I walked with these giants, the eerie and absolute silence. They were the guardians and I was reminded that I was a visitor.
To this day I still can't fathom the surreality of the Pacific Northwest Highway. The Oregon Coast, what treasures you hold. In Eugene, I ate at the table of an artist, an itamae and no matter what your dietary needs, you would be satisfied in Portland.
I reached Seattle weary but triumphant. Seattle had the vibrancy you wanted in community, from fish flying at Pike's Place Market to the ardor of the 12th man. Meanwhile wilderness resided just outside your doorstep. I could live here, I thought.
I was following a dream and this trip changed my life. I'm often asked, did you ever get lonely? The short answer, no. I enjoyed it and found myself invigorated by most of it. Undoubtedly however, I believe we naturally grow weary of the constant unknown and unaccustomed. A familiar face and place, is comfort and ease. I knew my destination had friends waiting but for 7 of those days it was a test of stepping out of my comfort zone. Adventure is a beautiful thing, you can make it as little or as big as you want. But adventure is a choice, many times an exercise of courage. Tolkien wrote, "It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." There is a brilliance to letting yourself go. I was awakened, let go of regret, dismissed concern, and lived. I learned a lot about myself during that time.