Pack Up: To Go Home

I didn’t expect the settling part of moving across the country to take so long. I suppose I didn’t think that far ahead, what with the road trip requiring every ounce of preparation and planning knowledge I have.

With that being said, sorry for the lengthy gap in blog posts. The trip purged my savings and I’ve been in full-on job hunting mode for the last several weeks. I’ve also been in goodwill searching-mode for professional attire to find said job, and miscellaneous furniture to begin the unpacking process, etc.

Before making it to Oregon, we stopped in Sequoia National Forest to see the General Sherman Tree and, of course, drive through the tunnel tree. It was a beautiful end to our time in California and on the road.

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The tiny portion of my brain that is great at doubting everything I do, didn’t think we’d make it this far, because of the car and how many times it died near the end of the trip. But Rocky made it and he’s still chugging along.

Ashland, Oregon lies a mere 15 miles from the California border. We’ve made the drive into Oregon on that same stretch of road many times. But, it was unreal driving into the state this time because it’s for good. This is my home now.

I’ve fantasized about returning since I left last summer, and it still doesn’t feel real. I’ve dreamed about the musicians on the street corners, and the art murals on the building shops, the organic food stores, and the culture so thick in the air it almost has a smell. It feels like a dream still, like I’ll have to return to West Virginia at summer’s end. Not because I want to, but that’s just how it always goes. I get to come visit, then I have to go back to school and the dreary workaholic life I’ve led for the past four years.

Despite having found a dresser for my clothes and a bookcase for my treasures, having made a friend, and even snagged a couple of part-time jobs, it still doesn’t feel real.

The first weekend, we were here, we hiked up to Grizzly Peak, one of the smaller mountain peaks surrounding the small valley town. We raced the sunset, so that we could watch it from the top. I surveyed my new home as the sun bathed the surrounding mountain sides in orange and pink, and turned on all the city lights below.

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Ashland is a sleepy town after dark, not much nightlife to be seen except in a handful of crevices downtown. The city comes alive in the day, notably during summer when the Oregon Shakespeare Festival draws in tourists from surrounding states. These well-dressed visitors weave through the tie-dye clad hippies downtown, fill in the restaurant windows, spill out of the shops with their arms full of packages, and wonder aimlessly through the beautiful Lithia Park.

From the top of the mountain, overlooking that bustling little town, slowing down for the evening and tucking in for the night, I couldn’t help but feel accomplishment. Maybe it was the endorphins from the race up the mountain kicking in, or maybe it was seeing the valley from above during the magic hour when the sun lovingly caresses the crust of the Earth in a good-night embrace. But that was one of the times that everything felt real, in a raw kind of way.

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The second weekend here, we went scuba diving on the Illinois river. The water, turquoise, crystal clear last June when I was certified, is now filled with heaping amounts of algae from the late summer sun. Our put in, near the boy scout camp is next to an old, wooden swing bridge. From the beach, you can usually see some adrenaline junkies jumping from the bridge into the water below. A trail follows the length of the water and crosses tons of excellent swimming holes, and one magnificent waterfall. An easy grade for the most part, getting to the waterfall does require some scrambling, as does all views worth the climb in Oregon.

This weekend we’ll be kayaking on the Rogue and Lower Klamath, I believe, not entirely sure on that.

On a completely different note, I was offered a spot on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. A woman paid for most everything for her trip, but had to drop out due to health reasons and wanted to give her spot away. So, I jumped on the opportunity and I’m getting the trip at a HUGE discount. From Sept. 6 to the 25 I will be in Egypt! The first seven days will be spent on a cruise diving the Red Sea, then we’ll tour Egypt, and end our journey in Jordan.

I’m looking forward to photographing these beautiful places and creating that blog post. One of these days I will edit the hundreds of pictures I took on the road trip and post galleries to the blog, but first, income.

Even though, it doesn’t feel real yet, it does feel right. Like this is where I’m supposed to be right now.

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