My horoscope was given to me by a friend, and being a Leo I felt it necessary to offer a rant & ramble from my mind.
“There is a kind of freedom in getting lost, Leo. Suppose you were traveling to a destination and you made a wrong turn in a thick woods. Before long, you lost track of which road led you there, and you had no clue what direction to follow. The thing is; there is a freedom in not knowing where to go. You now have the chance to start from scratch in a confusing situation. You may choose any path you want, and then make the most of it.” LEO 2.25.12
I feel as if I have been living a life contained within these words. I have and will continue to create a positive relationship with the uncertainties of my tomorrows. I tend to find a motivation behind the ideal that “the slate is clean” and in doing so, I hold a colorful array of chalks to draw my next steps into the future.
We have all stood upon the threshold of life’s “crossroads”; staring aimlessly all around ourselves, hoping for that golden answer to blow in the wind. As our two feet grip at the edge of what is to come next we brace ourselves to shake hands with “Anticipation”; knowing that inevitably an adventure is going to ensue. Within this much defined moment that we grasp we are also confronted with the graces of “Uncertainty”. She dances around dressed in a great gown of anxiety, as if to befuddle and amuse us. Neither one seems to come without the other, and both leaves us immediately reacting to an event that we do not yet truly understand; Tomorrow will come, in tomorrow’s hands. Do not be wronged by the thought that “yes” this is a fight or flight moment in our lives. It is one to judge our grit upon, and understand our frights. We all must face what we don’t understand, and to do so allows us an internal comprehension of whom we truly can become. There does come a time when our fears vanish into the distance of yesterdays and within such moments we are then left standing to the entrance of our freed future.
I have found that freedom comes within the understanding that we can create the magnificence of our very next step. Believing in ourselves is the hardest struggle, but once we do- may we all see our futures in a whole new light.
How do you envision freedom?
I have become an individual that has put much faith into the will of the world. I have not been one to stand at life’s invigorating vast edges, just to dangle my toes in the moment. I seem to fall into a motion, one that is as enchanting as the flight of a heron. Awkward broad flaps that seem to be a demise to my own ambition of flight, not necessarily the beginning to a beautiful dance. It is this leap of faith into the unknown that is all I hear, all that I am drawn to, and it is this faith that keeps my dreams alive.
Today; life’s morning breath wrestled with a metallic wind chime, awakening me from my dreams that have left their playful depiction across my minds many miles. Within the darkened nightscape, my mind raced around cultivating it’s own imagination, and painting pictures of elusive worlds that hide in the recesses of far away corners. Within these fair dreams creation was invented, and potential was draped with drops of oil color reality. I am humored of what comes to fruition and resembles desires that grace the movements of my lips as I speak. Aspirations send reverberations across the moistened pale skin that does border my mouth; leaving me enamored by the delicate sanity that one might confuse as feasible.
The first steps of opportunity are always the most embellished for me. From the far end of my visual scope I stand; waiting and ready- intimidated by the first step that I must take. The distance that spans from me to my dreams; my envisioned reality, is filled with treacherous passes that seem to carry on as far as my own existence. Yet, a desire to manifest such dreams into my reality lingers within each putter of my beating heart. It is this banter between the pains of uncertainty and the craving for the outcome that fills me with a lust for life. It is without hesitation that I take my first step and find myself immersed in a life that I live, that I breathe, and that I dream of.
All that lies between me and the realm of reality is to believe in my dreams. Over the years I have been trained as a chef, I have a lustful passion for travel, and it is unprecedented when the two can align themselves into one reality. A willingness to see an opportunity, being a chef for hire, and a passport in hand is all that was needed to accomplish this new journey.
I was startled awake as I felt the large rubber tires skipping off of the cracked asphalt that stretched out across the edge of the earth before it met with the warm Mediterranean waters. My ears tried to comprehend the language that rattled from the speakers above my seat, but in my dreary state I abandoned all hopes of truly understanding. I was herded down a long air conditioned corridor that was dressed with soothing printed carpets and smelled like the universal cleaning supplies of all governmental buildings. I smiled as I peered out across the unfamiliar land lying behind the tall translucent panes of glass that divided me from a new stamp in my passport. With a heavy handed thump from my French counterpart who sat stashed away behind a cold protective glass; a “bon jour” welcomed me into Nice.
My first steps onto the sun drenched pavers were met with hillsides that were littered with rust colored faded villas. The streets wrapped around aimlessly like awkward woven spider webs and were cluttered with rambunctious drivers of all sorts. As we followed the coastline 30 kilometers to Beaulieu Sur Mer I perched my chin on the cracked passenger side window, and gazed endlessly as silver ripples lapped against rocky beige beaches. The car scuttled into the harbor that is now being occupied by many small fishing vessels, sail boats, and private yachts. Is this is where my willingness of a new adventure has brought me? I took my first steps in awe onto what I would be calling home and work for the mean time. Amorazur II is a floating monstrosity consisting of 4 levels that are 50 meters long, furnished with fashionable living quarters, lounges, dining rooms, sun decks, and costing roughly $10 million. In consideration of overall space, and kitchen gadgets my galley more than rivals many of the professional kitchens that I have worked within. My “willingness” has tricked me once again. I have now become a chef on a private super yacht in the south of France. I say those words full of sarcasm for those of you that don’t know my humor.
My time here will allow a glimpse into an unfamiliar lifestyle of “yachties”, it will give me my first steps into a culinary pilgrimage that has been waiting since the purchase of my first cookbook, and it will continue to reinforce the idea that I can create my own reality on the breath of my dreams. I believe that an infinite amount of opportunities exist continually around us, and that daily the possibilities are left at our feet. With a set of open eyes and the willingness to believe; we can create far more than what we ever thought to be possible.
With my few years on this earth I have become quite proficient at the “Art of Relaxation”. There are definitely others that take it to a superior level; such as the Spaniard/Hispanic’s with their afternoon siestas, Italians with their love for cafes and conversation, or tropical island cultures that have their own
sense of “Island Time” or lack thereof time. However I feel privileged as a hasty American
to be able to afford myself the time to sit back and swing in a hammock. I have grown to fully enjoy my relaxation
without a notion or need to do anything else, but to have a swing.
A midnight thunderstorm has cooled the hillside hamlet that I reside in, and as the morning sun shows its first rays of light a subtle humidity lingers in the air. The dull
green woven straps of my hammock are still saturated, and almost drip with my
first touch. I delicately pull the curled edges apart and begin to fall into the pouch that it offers. The questionable apple trees that have been chosen as my supports wheeze forward as I release all of my weight into the confines of the ropes, and their neon green spade like leaves shiver and sprinkle droplets of residual rain upon me as I gaze skyward from below. A red breasted robin that is perched upon the
neighbor’s privacy fence seems to be my only counterpart enjoying this delicate
moment in life, and we communicate through a faint glimpse at one another. As I wiggle to find my true comfort, I instill a soft swaying sensation that would fix even the most cantankerous of babies. With my eyes halfcocked and slipping away into a dreamlike state that I seemed to have abandoned only a few hours ago, I ponder all of my other hammock moments; country backyards, city terraces, lakeside campgrounds, winding river banks, tropical beaches, frozen mountain bases, and so many more that I hope to savor in the future.
Not everyone has the patience or aptitude to be able to endure the “Art of Relaxation”, but with my whole being I suggest that all should practice in their own ways. As I wake from a short nap or put my book down on the earth below me; I am filled with a refreshing quality of life that I wish I could package and share with
I have driven through Death Valley, CA at noon on an expected painfully hot summer day, I have lived moments off of the equator during the dry season within the islands of the Maldives, I have puttered along jungle highways in an overly stuffed bus during the heated torrential downpours of Costa Rica; so how is it that I am now overwhelmed with the heat index in Central Pennsylvania on this muggy July morning?
There hasn’t been a moment in the last several days that I haven’t been saturated with my own sweat just rising from bed. A “Heat Bubble” as they have called it has locked down the mid-west and upper north-east states for the better part of the last week. Stacy and I have decided to try out running the heat that is blanketing our sanity. After camping in the back of the car with mosquitos and flies nipping at our naked salty skin, we are now a short distance from what could be a peaceful deliverance from the “Bubble”. We stumbled forlorn down a dusty trail with a dream of being water-logged. Our feet stagger miles along a high trail gracing the edges of the lake without the subtle notion that we might be able to get in. With a quick turn inland the trail piles head strong up and over the ridge that stands between us and a “maybe” “hopeful” “not quite sure” peaceful swim. This all seems to be a joke at this point in the day with sweat dripping from every pore, and a thirst for cold water that is inequitable to anything that I have experienced in the past 31 years of my life. We follow the blue dots that have been painted on the tree trunks every 15 yards that seem to be the only reassurance that we are moving forward in the right direction. Hacking our way through over grown fern brush and obnoxious spider webs we are greeted with the soft breath of a mid-afternoon breeze. Our steps acquire a slightly more elated pace forward, as our eyes are met with the presence of a bluish-green hue from the glistening waters that lay in the forested distance. We release sighs of exhaustion as well as pleasure when our feet meet the rocky beach that we have been looking for. It takes me no more than a split second to drop my day pack in a wildflower meadow and jump head first into the tepid waters. The summer heat has enforced the rise in temperature in even Raystown Lake that spans 8,300 acres and averages a depth of 200 feet. My feet sink and splash awkwardly around as my shoes fill with water, but it is a minor inconvenience as my heat inflicted discomforts are washed away. With my first steps above water and back for the shore I am caught off guard as I feel the cooling hints of the afternoon wind send a shiver down my spine. The sensation only lasts for a split second as I am quickly met with the warming embrace of the mid-day humidity once again.
A week of discomfort has brought us here, and now we can revel in our accomplishment of finding peacefulness. We open a back pack tempered bottle of wine and cheers to our new-found satisfaction. The afternoon progressed as we stared aimlessly into the rich forest that bordered the far side of the lake and the baby blue sky that hung above our heads. To epitomize the tranquility of the moment we took an afternoon siesta while letting our feet be kissed by the incoming ripples on the lake’s shore.
Paisley prints on rows and rows of abandon bench seating, teal green painted back drop walls, and the common matching checkered color scheme floor makes me think of a casual joyful moment in my life as all else is catapulted into a colorful surreal drama for the next 24 hours. Endless lingering airport terminals daunted by late night loneliness and interrupted sleep patterns is what I have paid an arm and a leg for today. The Redmond, Oregon Airport has recently been given a facelift to satisfy my quench of those first steps leading into a new adventure, but as always the airline service has failed to receive the memo that they are supposed to arrive in an orderly fashion in order to keep all of us travelers happy. Like so many others I resort to the individualistic pleasure that lays within my self-contained backpack sized technological world. I deliver praise to those inventors that have created audio and visual stimulating devices that will keep me distracted from the extended delay period that lies in front of me.
I have once again put all my non needed personal belongings into a unit at Wall Street Storage in Bend, Oregon. As my sister pointed out; a majority of my belongings have actually stayed within a locked box more so than in my direct
possession in the last five years. The code to my Master Lock that has been used time and time again is now ingrained in my memory. Either I have chosen this
lifestyle or this lifestyle has chosen me, but whoever has won the battle- my sister is very right in depicting me as a random experimental experiencer, vagabonding as a profession. I have yet to receive the road map in which I am to travel. In fact I think I continuously try to draw it with Crayola love; always blending one color into the next with a rainbow spectrum of confusion.
I have waited almost 7 months to fully witness what love could show me, and now
on the thresh hold of the airport terminal I am delayed yet again. I can only laugh and dance with the notion that this is what is supposed to happen to keep me fully intrigued and inspired within the moment. Life is a series of impulsive moments awkwardly aligned that will someday hope to make sense. I have made plans in the past that fail to ever align and yet when I am captured in this moment of disarray, I feel at peace with all the indecisions that I have made. It’s as if the eye of the storm has swallowed me alive and now laughs with me, playing and tumbling me around as if I am a rambunctious young puppy too easy to entertain with flashy new views of life.
My chosen love (Stacy) and the course in order to achieve her embrace waits for me at the other end of a non-determined destination plan; aka hopefully State
College, Pennsylvania. If it were in my hands I’d have fixed my space traveler last week and I would be there in a moment’s notice, but I vowed to travel in an old school perspective, and of course will inevitably lose my luggage and be delayed for longer than my actual travel time through the United States greater airline community. It is this dysfunctional quality of travel that humors me and keeps me keen to continue. I am awkwardly excited to see what SFO is like at 3 am while I lay using my backpack as a pillow, what Detroit Metro might have for lunch in its “under construction” terminal that I will inevitably be routed through, or how sexy I will really appear after being in motion for the better part of 24 hours before arriving to Stacy who will be enthusiastically awaiting on the other end of all of this drama.
Travel is not what I gain by arriving or the experience that I have planned thoroughly
to achieve, but the attitude that I carry as I go. It is the tear that wells up in the corner of my eye as I drive to the airport trying not to say good bye once again to my best mate(BB), the 15 pounds of clothing and assorted goods that I knew I
should never have packed that I abandon into the trash bin to avoid being raped
with additional fees, sleeping on the floor in another terminal as announcements rattle over the loud speaker for a flight that is not mine, or the time that it allows me to write these words to better explain some of the simple pleasures of my life. Travel is the excitement that keeps my eyes pinned to all the little details that I miss
while I play within the conformed daily routine lifestyle.
To allow you to know how it really turned out:
My first flight out of Redmond, OR was immediately delayed which eventually
delivered me to San Francisco at 1:00 am with a 3 hour layover before checking
into my next flight for Detroit, MI. I watched the hours slip away while amusing myself with movies, and conjuring up stories of the other overnight layover passengers as they stumble by with zombie like qualities. Upon the arrival of 4 am I was informed that my newly issued tickets would not be honored because the previous company did not issue me a receipt. While on the phone with United Airlines and standing in a multiple lines only to be pushed to the next unwilling sales
associate I came to the conclusion that no one at this international airport truly liked their job, and nor were they willing to actually assist me with my travel dilemma. With an incredible amount of patience, breathing techniques and compassion for their misfortune in job placement I finally received a new travel plan as I had missed my Detroit flight. I would now be confirmed to travel SFO-D.C. Dulles-State College, PA and arrive at 11:00 pm. However, if I could rush through security on
both of my flights, I could potentially catch a standby seat; allowing me to arrive by 5:30 pm. Moments before the first flight I had set in stone my standby option as confirmed seating. I truly had no idea where my luggage was, and nor did I care at this point. I knew that I would find it on the other side when the time was right. I was abruptly awoken from a coma like sleep with the captain explaining that there were severe lightning storms over Washington D.C., and we would be changing our course for Harrisburg, PA. My mind was almost elated thinking that I could bypass a layover and another flight in D.C. by de-boarding the plane in Harrisburg and have Stacy drive the 1 hour for a quick pick up. To lay to rest and kill all hope of an easy
afternoon; I was informed that we would be staying on the run way and waiting for
the storms to clear in D.C.. At which point we would return for our designated flight plans, and more than likely be reassigned new flights. We arrived in D.C. Dulles with 15 minutes to spare before my next flight. I sprinted through the terminal as if I was a track star training for the Olympics. Dulles does not make it easy to transport from one terminal to the next. I had to climb aboard a beastly human carrier to go to what I perceived was going to be terminal A, but ended up in terminal Z. From there I had to leap down stair cases and escalators as if I was gifted with kung fu super
powers at birth. Of course the first subway closed its door upon my foot and would not let me board. Pacing impatiently for the next 30 seconds I boarded the next subway departing for terminal A. Once the doors swung open at terminal A I was
once again greeted with a maze of stair cases and escalators inspired by a M.C.
Escher drawing. No specific route seemed to get me any closer to the plane that I needed. In haste I ran blindly through groups of people and down hallways, hoping that this would be the one. Arriving at what finally seemed to be A5A dripping with sweat and out of breathe 3 minutes behind departure; I asked if this was the flight for State College. I was answered with,” I’m sorry sir we closed the doors for that flight.” Seeing that the plane was parked 10 yards away with its cabin doors still open, I did what all respectable, experienced travelers would do- I pulled out the best sob story I could, and laid it on thick. Which wasn’t too hard considering my last 24 hours, and to my surprise the phone crackled in the attendants hand with an approval for me to board. I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face for the last hour flight into State College. I had finally traversed the great United States once again.
There is always an enjoyment that comes with a “Couchsurfing” experience- first it starts with making new friends, and then it is followed up with the reignited love for the place that you live in while showing it off to others. Mike and Mary have stumbled their way into our family network of Bend, OR by plotting a quick visit from
their new relocated homes in the valley side of Oregon. They mentioned that while moving out form the east coast that they had heard little of Oregon and even less of Bend. We quickly and unanimously asked them to tell the rest of the world how great “Salem, OR” is. Salem is the state capitol of Oregon, it has population to support it, a university, a quick trip to Eugene/Portland/the coast, it lies in vineyard
enriched hills, and yet it does not seem to hold a pulse or any kind of enthusiastic heartbeat within the city limits. Yes, I am bias and believe that Bend is one of the greatest places on the earth with all of its diversity and offerings. However it has seen an infiltration of 50,000 people in the last decade and we would like to keep it to a minimum in the future. Thank you for all that read into my words, because yes I am part of the problem and not part of the solution. I did quietly creep my Midwest arse in under the cover of a winter storm in 2000, and then refused to leave. At least I have time on my side that slightly contributes to somewhat of a local status.
The dusty trail lays itself hot and dry in front of us as it winds through tall sun drenched manzanita shrubs in a decade old wildfire burn just north of Newberry Crater. We walk single file down the trail as if we were on our way to a grade
school class. My tongue hangs from the side of my mouth as thirst strikes deep, and the warmth of a desert sun beats down upon my shoulders. I have since
abandoned my flip flops and opted to feel the dirt between my toes. The dogs charge onward chasing after their dreams, and then returning shortly after wondering why we can’t keep up. If I had four legs I’d be money too. Our final destination is weather worn stone creek beds that have turned themselves into playful water slides in their old age. It seems as if the trail will continue on forever, or at least as long as our conversations keep distracting us. With our minds wandering in other’s stories we almost walked past our down trail to the invigorating snow melt waters and the slides that have captivated our imaginations all morning.
As the crew stumbled somewhat gracefully around jagged lava rock boulders and down arid silty gravel slopes they came ever closer to abandoning their possessions and plunging butt first into the refreshing waters. I took a few moments to ponder
the excitement from above and watch all of my friends run ecstatically for the
water. We slipped, slid, and splashed our way down 20 yard bumpy slides into the chilly pools that lay at the bottom. As cool and refreshing as the water may have been, as soon as I would emerge from the pools the sun would wrap her warming arms around me in a display of summer affection. Laughter radiated from the quiet valley floor that we were held in, and birds danced just out of reach in the burned out trunks that speckled the hillside. We were trapped in what some may call a picturesque moment, but truly we were captivated by sharing a truly magical moment with friends. The rest of the afternoon we kept our toes dipped in a languidly moving pool, with cold beverages, and sandwiches that could have bitten back. Unfortunately there always comes a time when good byes must be said. It doesn’t mean that in our mature age we can’t occasionally still kick and fight like little kids that never want to leave the amusement park, but none the less the day must come to an end.
So if you are ever asked- Yes; Salem is the place to be! No I’ve never heard of Bend in Central Oregon, and I’m pretty sure there is no reason for me to ever go
there. The only exception would be if Sarah’s couch is still available. I heard that it comes with mimosas and the kitchen sink for breakfast.
This is a short sweet tale of why I love Central Oregon- Bend especially. Where else in the world (and yes friends I know there are a few more out there) can you rise in the morning to go for a snowboard and come home in the afternoon for a dip in the lake. This is why I continue to return, return, and return again- calling it my home base.
The morning started off a little shaky due to the night before. We were the back-up rock stars for the band called “WEEN”. They didn’t need us, but they appreciated our enthusiasm. They are the epitome of what a rock roll band truly is. Relentless rock exploded from the stage like a 4th of July firework extravaganza for more than 3 hours. They played as if their lives would not be fulfilled if they did not get applause even from the baby with ear plugs in at the back corner of the lawn. We made friends, freaked people out, and danced our faces off until our bones would not jingle or jangle anymore. This would only add to the day that lay ahead.
It was time to wake as the sun broke the eastern horizon and filtered into my bedroom window through tall standing ponderosa pines. I won’t lie there was a small headache that pounded behind my eyes, and I could still hear the speakers humming tunes in my ears. I heard Beveridge clanking around in the kitchen and it only took the smell of sizzling bacon to get my bones out of bed and the crusties out of my eyes. Some people talk of infatuations, some have an understanding with family or friends of how to deal with them, Brian and I embrace the addiction of snowboarding and feed off one another. We of course have been doing so for the better part of a decade now- degenerate snow rats at best. It’s July 3rd and Mt. Bachelor has opened the lifts for the weekend to celebrate what the snow gods have gifted us- a record breaking snow fall. We stagger out the front door with no more than boardies under a pair of jeans, a hoody, and the stench off sunscreen lingering behind us as we grab our snowboards and boots.
It was more of a dream than reality as we cruised the 22 miles that it takes from
town to get to Mama Bachy’s parking lot. Brian and I haven’t shared this ritual in a few years, and now it’s taken us into the middle of summer to achieve yet another “Day in Paradise”. If you have ever come to visit Mt. Bachelor, and driven the road to her- then you know when the excitement arrives. As you turn the corner prior the Sunriver turn off you are greated with jutting obsidian black specks that emerge from a magnificent white glow and you are elated with the possibilities that dance through your mind. Need-less to say this is where the hoot and hollering originated from our car. My head was hanging out the window like a puppy dog slobbering all over life, and barking as if this was the moment that I had been waiting for.
Even with more snow than ever witnessed this late in the summer we still carried our boards across the lava dust at the bottom and held them tightly under our arms as we rode the chairlift up Pine Martin. As we clambered from the top of the chair and across the last bit of scree to the beautiful silt covered corn summer snow this was it- we were HOME. We did not have large expectations from what we were to receive. This was specifically for the moment in time when we could ride chair lifts at Mama Bachy; a month and a half after they shut their doors for the season. The snow was wet and slipped away under our boards as we buttered over every little ripple in sight. In side of shaded areas ultra-speed kicked in as we yelled passing one another as if we were in a formula one race. However; as soon as we emerged into the sun drenched slop we were immediatly reduced to a sluggish roll and almost found ourselves licking the snow in a head over heels action. We made our rounds up summit to gawk at the peaks such as Mt. Adams in Washington and Mt. Shasta in California with every other cascade mountain peak in between lining up as if in a soldierly fashion ready to take on its adversaries. We of course would be bumped out the whole way down from summit with our jaws chattering and every muscle rigid in our bodies, just trying to keep to the somewhat sloppy freshly groomed runs of the lower mountain. We sprayed, slid, fell, laughed, and left as wet as if we had jumped into the river. As a reminder to you all that are reading this, this was all before noon, and it was a good thing I wore my board shorts underneath.
We made quick work of our trip down to town. The old Volvo (Veronica) that we love so well cruised like a steam ship with the weight of pure steel and wet asses.
Once we arrived the rest of our friends were waiting with coolers packed and more sunscreen to go for a round two in the desert sun. 2 cars, 2 dogs, and 6 people packed up and ready to head for North Twin Lake. We dove south along the dusty Highway 97 heading for the Sunriver exit. Windows open, a cool desert breeze blowing, and the heat of a mid-day sun crisping our arms as we laid them out the windows. One might think that since we are going from the mountain to a lake that we must travel great distances in order to break the cold snow and gain the warmth of water. However we were less than 20 miles from Mama Bachy’s parking lot to the boat ramp of North Twin. As we dipped and weaved through tall ponderosa pines and manzanita shrubs we found our way into the camp entrance. The High Desert sun was glistening off of the ripples on surface of the lake. It invited us more eloquently than a formal wedding invitation printed with gold and served on angelic white linen wings. We cruised around the far side to get past the crowded beach littered with families and boats, only to drop the load off of our shoulders and dive head first into the refreshing waters that lapped against the sandy shore. No frigid shock would greet us today; this was pure refreshment at its best. The rest of the day was spent splashing, napping, lounging in the warm sunshine, and living oh so simply.
Central Oregon calls to me at times, and reminds me of the diversity that it holds with open arms at any given moment. Some days I take it for granted always dreaming of the next best place, some days I am burdened with other life’s bits and bobs that distract me, and some days I get to embrace it with the largest hug in return. July 3rd will go down in the “Bucket List” as accomplished, and never to wander what a day like that might be like. Truly living the way life had intended for me to live.
The moment of excitement begins when I lurch out of the Budget rental car and onto Highway 97 northbound for Ptown and the Oregon Coast. I feel as if I need to be prim and proper when I’m in front of the service counter; as if even though I am handing them over my credit card details, bank accounts, life insurance policy, and the rights to my winning mega millions lotto ticket that they won’t give me the Ford Escape that I reserved. None the less; I play the mature young adult until safely out of sight. With the High Desert sun striking down from above and black asphalt radiating from below it doesn’t take long before sweet tunes are jumping from the speakers, my shirt is ripped off, and a cool breeze whirls through the open windows at 65 miles per hour. This is a run a way mission, fall off the face of the earth, cease to exist to anyone else but me, myself, and I for the next 36 hours. I do take some of that back: I’ll be sliding through Portland in order to swoop up my mate Johnny and head for a potential swell coming in on the coast.
I mobbed through the central desert dancing with blue and green sage brush and juniper trees that actually look alive after this rather wet spring that we’ve had. Only to leave them drifting away in the dust that I kick from the parched pavement. Before the coolness of ponderosa pines shade me from the beating sun I see Mt. Hood towering in the distance. As Highway 97 goes from straight as an arrow out of the desert to winding along the giant’s base I exam the remaining snow coverage that lingers endlessly in the springs face. It’s only a smile that I share as my pedal stays fast against the accelerator. The Pacific is calling and I am still hours away before dipping into its chilly touch.
Portland was no more than a pit stop that was quite reminiscent of the Indy 500. I pulled up into Johnny’s drive to pull the keys, give a hug, and toss my pack into the back of his mini van. With loaded coolers and a bundle of fire wood we would soon run out of road and leave the van where it lay; just south of Cannon Beach.
Cannon Beach is a quiet painted beach community that attracts city spinners and RV cruisers. It is the epitome of quaint and holds a beach scenery that needs no exploring- just the exposure for the “Kodak Moment”. To most it is a cup of clam chowder and a “look kids, look how pretty” as the slow from 55 mph to 35 mph. However to us and the potluck of locals that in habit it, it is the thresh hold to the Mother Pacific. Crooning cold waters lap against giant sea stacks emerging from the ocean floor, and a forest of ancient descents share their stories in the salty breeze. I have played and explored here more and more as the years grow on me, but never feel as if the next time with hold anything less than unexplainable dream state. This time will be no different.
Oswald West aka Short Sands is a short cove no more than 100 yards long hidden between two jagged capes that climb to the touch of the blue sky. We parked the mini along the highway and start to rip and tug at board bags and wet suits that are hidden underneath the make shift bed in the back. With great joy radiating from every bit of me I wonder if this neoprene suit will actually slide its way over my cracker white naked skin. With heaves, jumps, and a great deal of laughing like God needed to hear me I finally am wrapped warmer than an eskimo. We wander the dirt trail through the old growth forest sharing stories of past trips that we have had here. The highway leads to the trail, the trail leads to towering forest, the forest leads to the creek, and the creek leads to where we always want to be- the sight of crashing waves.
Unfortunately we know that tonight is blown out and truly are just looking for a splash about. We were not denied the expected. Short sloppy waves scatter themselves in all directions as they try to make their way into shore. We sit exploring any potential option as we see two others out being toyed with and nothing more. Yet I haven’t stood on my surf in a year after living in Montana and I am feeling more than a little deprived at this stage. As we pull our hoods on and feel the zip slide up our backs there is nothing more to do than feel the breath escape our warm lungs as the frigid ocean waters squeezes around us tightly. Stroke after stroke are broke as waves collapse all around us rushing face first with their crude whitewater beards. Thankfully it was small and we could force ourselves to the outside before to long. Along the south end of the shore there was hope with a potential sporadic quick left, and nothing more than hope- I promise you that. For the next hour we bobbed around being denied of anything that would conjure up enough shape or size to pull us to our feet. The only thing that keeping us moving was the current that wanted to drag us along the mussel encrusted walls and back out to the sea. Even a poor day like this was monumental for my spirit. A grin laid itself across my face from ear to ear as I stared out to setting sun across the horizon. Soft airy colors played with twilight and what clouds remained pushing in over the land on the soft breeze that kissed me every few moments. A time would come to play with my board and become engrossed with a self-expression, but tonight it was to enjoy a sight and be enlightened with the power of our earth.
Drips fell from our saturated locks and our jandals squished with each step back up the path to the mini van. Now what we would call home for the evening and a camp fire feed was all that was on our mind. Tomorrow we would return for a sun rise session and reunite with hopes of a welcoming swell. The mini pointed north bound a few miles before we hooked left up a dirt trail. Call it a secret or just a special spot, but we have a camp that is indescribable in beauty. Literally 30 yards off of the highway and stashed behind a clump of forest sits a small dirt outcropping that keeps its eyes on a wide expanse of coast line ending with sea stacks at the north and south horizons. I am overcome with a sensation of calm as I watch and listen to brilliant sets of waves roll in to a sandy shore. With the cover of darkness dropping its veil upon us we must hurry to get our fire rolling and enjoy a feast of kebabs, rice, and cold beers. Flames crackle, the wind gently blows, and waves carry our dreams away with them as our heads find our pillows in the back of the mini van.
6 am finds us quickly and with great joy as all it takes to awaken is to look out the back of the van and the gray sea below us. We toss the remnants of soiled dinner pots and moist wet suits into the back of the mini and set our tires rolling south bound for a hopeful claimed swell to play in. There are two things that I really despise in life that once they are sorted make me so happy. One is putting on wet half-frozen snowboard boots, and the other is a wet half-frozen wet suit. My mind reels at the uncomfortable act, but once I am pulled up and strapped in nothing can hold me back from living the dream with the passion that I hold for my boards.
I take that last comment back! There is something that can hold me back, and that is a swell that did not receive its invite to show up at Short Sands on this calm morning. I have been exploring the Oregon Coast for more than 12 years now, and never have I seen it as quiet and calm as this morning. I do not speak of inconsistent waves, an off wind, or me being picky. I speak of- I have never seen the Mother Pacific as calm as a small stagnant pond on the outskirts of a farm field in Indiana, and I should know because I’m from Indiana. Our hopes and dreams of even having a splash about were killed shot down. We had arrived to explore and conquer, and we were left to breathe deep and visit with the peace within our hearts for an element that is as unpredictable as any that I know. With sand between our toes we walked the length of the beach watching seagulls playfully squawk above us, rip pools whirl with a pin hole existence of marine life, and a sea breeze breathe the purity of life into our souls. We had expectations of our a trip, but we were delivered what was truly needed: a moment of friendship to relive again and again.