The road trip to Portland started from Mammoth Lakes, CA. My friend Jacob invited me along to help with the driving; he is planning on moving to Portland and this trip determines the logistics of his move. The agreement is that once we arrive we will spend one day together before we go our own ways in order to fully experience the city on our own terms. I am ignoring that last statement in hopes that isn’t the case. I prefer the company of others to being alone, who doesn’t?
Monday July 9th, we embark, two days of driving will ensue before we arrive at our final destination. The vehicle is Jacob’s 2008 firetruck red Volvo. The road towards Reno is curvy alongside barren tan mountains. Reno can be spotted in the distance by the alien grid of green trees that clearly do not belong in the particular climate. From Reno up towards Northern California it changes from tan desert to dark green evergreens littering the mountains.
Seven hours of driving later we arrive at Castle Crags to camp for the night. The camp spots are nestled between tall trees and the sound of clicking cicadas overhead sound like electricity. We catch the end of sunset at the overlook of the crag and meet Kye, a surfer nomad from Hawaii. He recommends Indian Springs trail to hike in the morning. The rest of the night is spent in the tent drinking Pineapple cider, reading inspirational quotes, and laughing at old blog posts.
In the morning we climb 1000+ elevation to the base of Castle Crags. I struggle with the elevation, letting Jacob press ahead without me. Arriving at Indian Springs it is just as Kye described, magical. The springs are quietly trickling under foot. Looking up, moss covered rocks make a gentle tinkling waterfall.
The second day of driving continues, halfway through the speakers unexpectedly go out. Considering both Jacob and I are heavy music lovers this is a serious issue. We stop at the nearest Auto Zone and Jacob checks the fuses, nothing seems to be out of place. We turn the car back on and by the grace of God everything is fixed.
The first thing I notice about Oregon are the yellow tinged hills. Everything looks like it is basked in a Sepia filter. The closer we get to Portland, the greener it gets. Sepia turns into luscious greens. It isn’t quite mountainous, instead rolling hills of evergreen trees.
We arrive at the first Airbnb in Richmond, a neighborhood in Southeastern Portland. Oddly enough it reminds me a lot of Richmond, VA. The street we are staying on is full of hip coffee shops and bustling restaurants. We choose Pok Pok for dinner, a Thai restaurant with a long line of people waiting to be seated. Somehow, we get a table right away. The papaya salad is delicious, so is the mango sticky rice, a Chang beer finishes off the meal nicely. Exhausted after a long drive, we skip cocktails at one of the many lively restaurants and instead drink Kava tea and watch a movie.
The next morning, we explore Richmond a little further. Sitting at Heart coffee for some quality interneting, I start to come to the realization that despite Portland’s trendy neighborhoods, every city is the same. So far it reminds me of Boston, or perhaps Brooklyn, or as I said earlier Richmond, VA. I am internally bummed that I thought Portland would be different. I am annoyed with myself for thinking this new location could make me feel at home.
Leaving the coffee shop, we make a last-minute decision to spend the rest of the day driving to Hood River. Within minutes of the drive I am feeling eternally more relaxed at the sight of trees and the roaring river. We cross from the Oregon side to Washington, heading over the Bridge of the Gods. Our drive from there is nothing short of breathtaking; the road is right next to the river and Mt Hood is peeking out in the distance. We wander around the town of Hood River for approximately 30minutes before hopping back in the car to head back to Portland. I secretly wish we could explore more, but Jacob seems annoyed with my company. The drive from Hood River back to Portland is a quiet one.
Arriving in Montavilla, an odd feeling of abandon induced by having no idea where I am going, or what I am going to do, creeps into my brain as we pull up to my Airbnb. This time I do not have the comfort of knowing that I will have someone with me to endure the unknown. After saying a solemn goodbye to Jacob, it hits me.
I feel incredibly alone. Like the deep sinking you get in your bowels after realizing you have no one but yourself to hang out with for the foreseeable future. The title of the Airbnb I booked, “Cozy Oasis for Lone Traveler” couldn’t have felt more spot on. The chic coffee shops and sleek apartment buildings that accompanied the vivacious neighborhood of Richmond is replaced by a sad looking duplex on the corner of a crumbling gravel road surrounded by a tiny yard of brown dried grass.
Despite the outside of the house lacking in appearance, inside it is nicely furnished in a rustic chic fashion. My bedroom is a twin bed with a faux white sheepskin throw and a world map on the wall. Little bible verses and inspirational quotes are tucked away in different parts of the house. The tea collection as mentioned in the welcome book is amazing. I brew myself a cup of tea to calm my nerves and let myself settle.
The constant go-go-go! I’ve been experiencing arrives at a splintering halt as I realize I am now completely and utterly alone. Upon walking into this foreign haven, the familiar bubbling of words about to spill out of my fingertips meets my loneliness. I sit in silence at the small kitchen table with a steaming hot cup of tea to keep me company.
There is an urgency as I start to write. It comes choppy at first. My first sentence that jumps out on the page is “I am writing this this to test myself.” My writing mind has been in a deep slumber for the past nine months. This is the restart. Nine months of waiting for something exciting enough to happen to feel as though it was worthy of writing. Nine months of percolating thoughts left simmering on low, while my life zombied on in a direction I thought I wanted to go. In this deep loneliness I find comfort in the ticking of the keys on my Macbook. I feel like I have a purpose in recording these heavy hitting emotions. I let myself get sucked into the simple act of reflection that is so often forgotten in the busy day to day. I spend the next seven hours typing away, making memories into written form. To be continued.