Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Quest for Oregon

Hi there blog fans!

Nate here. I feel that I've been remiss.

I have had many experiences since I moved out to Oregon, but I don't really spend time posting about them. Thus, the blog tends to be all about Rosa and the girls, which is good, since this is a blog pertaining to our family.

That said, I've got stuff to share too and since many of our favorite tv shows have ended and I'm at a lull with my computer games I care about my friends so very much, I'd like to update everyone with some posts I've had on my mind of late.

One of which is... I never told anyone how my trip up to Oregon went. Here goes, in kind of a stream of consciousness format.

So. I give you:

(may or may not be an artistic representation of my trip)

Let's flash back to the beginning of last August. A few days prior to my leaving, I had my last day at the Willow Bend Apple Store. It was hard. Pretty tearful. It had been home for 9 years. I had literally worked there for as long as I had been married to Rosa. But my new store in Portland wanted me there PRONTO, so I had only 2 weeks to digest that I was leaving, and 1 week to travel up there and then start work. 

The 2 weeks before leaving were night after night of moving boxes. Since I would be leaving Rosa all alone with 2 children, it was my job to do heavy lifting and move all of the big stuff into the garage. So each day flew by. The 2 weeks were done before I knew it.

Principal Actors

Me. No further explanation.

The Cats


Keldorn on the left, Merlin in center, Aria on the right.

We were originally going to leave Merlin and Keldorn with a shelter in Texas and just take Aria, because we didn't think that the boys would do well with the trip. That said, leaving the cats with a no-kill shelter turned out to be something that would have taken a LONG time, so the decision was made to take ALL THREE cats with me to Oregon. This decision saved Rosa a ton of headache as she no longer had to worry about cleaning up after them or dealing with them. 

On the day that I left, we drugged them so that they would be asleep for a good 12-16 hours, but our goal was to not let them out, feed them, or anything until we got to Oregon. Before any animal rights activists get on my back, let me note that this was at the recommendation of our vet.

My traveling companion, Noe.

(a perfect visual representation of Noe Rodriguez)

This trip was a 30 hour slog. No extended breaks. No sleep. Just plowing straight through. So I needed someone to swap out with and sleep on the road. Noe was one of my co-workers at Apple, and he hadn't seen much outside of Texas and Oklahoma, so he was excited to see a whole mess of the country. He also had never flown before, and so I had bought him a plane ticket home, and the opportunity to fly for the first time was exciting for him too.

Our Route

Alright. Everything clear? What follows is a synopsis of our travels through each state.

The Departure

Rosa and I packed the car in the morning. We drugged the cats 30 minutes before we left, but... the drugs hadn't really kicked in when it was time to leave. The cats fought me like mad, as I tried to get them into their traveling cages. It wasn't pretty. The time came. I hugged the kids and Rosa, and ran to the car to drive away. I ran partly because it was over 100 degrees even though it was only 11:00AM and the cats were baking, but also because Rosa and I were fighting not to start sobbing uncontrollably. This was going to be the beginning of us being away from each other for the longest period of time since we got married (30 days). I got into the car and drove away... to Noe's house, where I picked him up.

Leaving Texas

(The Drive Friendly bit is hilarious to anyone who actually lives in Texas)

Texas didn't want me to leave. As we drove up I-35, we came across a cataclysmic wreck that shut down all of I-35 and made us have to exit, detour around, and then get back on. As we were stuck in this mess, the car started to overheat, the cats started panting, and I started to panic. Thankfully, Noe knew the roads of North Texas well, and took me on a route that steered us back onto the highway.

My main memories of the Texas drive were of a state that was desperately trying to retain one of its own, and was throwing every traffic jam and inconvenience at us to slow us. But escape we did. I remember leaving Dallas and saying "So Long, Dallas." I've lived my whole life in Texas, and was very ready to leave. It was no longer a good fit.


(Where good Texans go to die.)

Oklahoma is a terrible state, but for many Texans it feels like a Little Brother state in the same way that many Americans perceive Canada. So it is boring and has little to recommend it, but it still feels like part of Texas, and so continued the feeling of "leaving home." This was as far away from Texas as Noe had ever been. It was still hot. But things FELT a little cooler (maybe it dipped into the 90s?). It felt like we were out of Oklahoma soon though, which brings us to...


(Yup. That's pretty much the view of the whole state)

Seriously though, Kansas is a good driving state because it FEELS like you are in the country. Noe put on the Bluegrass and southern Rock on the radio, and while I don't really like those styles in general, for Kansas it just FITS. Kansas is the sort of place where you put the Mellencamp on the radio and pretend that you are much more manly than you truly are. So while we were in Kansas for an obscene amount of time, it was ok because we were enjoying the Kansas vibe.

While we were in Kansas, nighttime hit. 


(we didn't see any of this, but I'm sure it was there)

We were in Colorado during the night, so the amazing vistas and sweeping peaks that define the state were completely invisible to us. We spent much of the waking part of the night looking off into the blackness and imagining what these mountains might look like. My memories of Colorado include drinking prodigious amounts of Coffee, and then needing to pee very very quickly but not wanting to stop because Noe had recently gone to sleep and I didn't want to wake him. So the latter part of Colorado consisted of me squirming in the front seat with a very full bladder, which lasted until...


(You will see about 12,000 of these signs in Wyoming)

We began Wyoming with me pulling over to the side of the road at 2am, jumping out of the car, and feverishly relieving my aching bladder. At some point, the sun came up. This state was characterized by Rosa giving me a frantic call at 6am because she was tracking me via my cell phone, and the GPS showed me out in a barren wasteland (which is fairly realistic because c'mon, its Wyoming) and away from the highway. So once she was convinced that I wasn't passed out in a ditch in Wyoming, she was fine. 

We passed Little America very early in the morning, when the sun came up. I desperately wanted to stop and gorge myself on 50 cent cones, but Noe was asleep, and again, I didn't want to wake him.

The weather had started getting cool sometime during the night when we were in Colorado, and when we got out of the car in Wyoming, it was almost chilly. We had weathered 3 months of 100+ degree weather in Texas, so this was glorious. 


(Utah... *sigh* Always with the beehives...)

Utah brought with it mountains. We arrived in Utah around 8 or 9am. It was gloriously cool. We spent Utah wondering what the deal was with all the beehives on every official sign. We learned later that the Utah people see themselves as very industrious like bees. Mmmmm.... Ok. Whatever. 

Nonetheless, Utah was pretty. As you can see though from the map near the top, we were out of Utah all too soon, which led us to the dreaded state of..


(How Oregonians perceive Idaho, and it is very, very true).

How to talk of the horrors of Idaho? Noe and I were convinced upon leaving it that the state was the devil. 

Why is Idaho the devil?

1. It lasts forever. It felt to Noe and I like we were there for a year. It goes on and on and never really stops. Combined with the fact that we were already tired from so long of a trip, and you have a bad experience.

2. Many states are pretty. Idaho is not. Idaho makes me think that God took tons of rock, chewed them up in his mouth, and then vomited it out all over the state of Idaho. Scads of rock, lying everywhere. Not pretty rock. Ugly rock.

3. Boise. Boise does not want you here. Boise wants you to leave. Boise keeps its fast food places, gas stations, and everything else well hidden. You can't see these things from the interstate as it is walled off and you feel like you are driving in a prison. 

4. The People. The residents of Idaho make me think that some residents of East Texas migrated Northwest and lost their way. I came Northwest to leave them behind, so it was disconcerting to see them again so far Northwest.

Let us never speak of Idaho again.


(The life people live in Portland. Not at all an exaggeration.)

Ah Oregon! Passing its border felt like coming to my new home. Our voyage was almost at an end. That said, Oregon doesn't get as pretty until you get sufficiently west. East Oregon is a lot of mountain passes, prairies, and farmland until you get farther west (around The Dalles). It still felt good. I felt better the moment I wasn't allowed to pump gas anymore (because in Oregon you aren't allowed to pump your own gas). I felt even better when we first sighted the Columbia River, and I got seriously excited when we first descended into the Columbia River Gorge.

(yes, it really is that pretty)

It was about at this point when Noe's jaw started dropping, and stayed dropped for the rest of the trip.

Some of the things that blew him away about Oregon:

1. The wind turbines and hydroelectric dams.
2. The Gorge, and the amount of people doing watersports on the river.
3. The numerous hiking trails that we would pass, in a fairly short period.
4. The bike lanes! Bike Lanes!
5. The tree farms, where evergreens are grown and then planted elsewhere in the state.

And then... Portland.

We arrived at Robert and Rachel's house that evening (around 8PM). We were exhausted, but at the same time, very very relieved to be done. 

The next day, I took Noe out for some Pacific Northwest seafood. Noe said it was "stupid good" and devoured it all. I then took him to Portland International Airport and put him on his flight to go home. 

As I hugged him and watched him walk to his flight, I realized suddenly that my last tie to my old life was walking through Airport Security, and I was alone in Portland.

I sat down on a nearby bench and took a deep breath. 

Then I sent a text to Rosa saying: "My new life begins."


Kestrel Lancaster said...

I took that perfect visual representation of Noe; you're welcome, world. He's also probably the greatest road trip companion ever.

This was awesome to stumble upon and read, it was amusing and nice to catch up. Glad your family is enjoying Oregon! I'm planning to visit one of these days.

karen said...

Fantastic post! Having done the drive from OR - KS - TX and back a few times I could visualize this perfectly! However...Idaho is awesome when you cross it up north along the Lewis&Clark trail! =o)
So glad you are here brother!