“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” – Christopher McCandless
Well Hello again (Mr. Rogers voice). I guess the last time I wrote I was in the midst of Portland, Oregon. So to continue on… The day after my ‘solo’ day we made a decision to stay in Portland one more night. We switched to a different airbnb (who happened to be the nicest lady with the coolest husky dog ever… if anyone wants to go half-sies on a husky, I’m down). We had a new neighborhood to explore so we shook off our hangover from Thursday night football and too many wings, beers, and late night cocktails and got after it. Besides, we had a serious destination in mind that had been a plan for a few weeks; Tattoos. Ashley did the research and we had a spot picked out, so we made an appointment and then walked around… people say the food shacks are great in Portland, and as a foodie, I oblige. I mean holy shit, I had the best Burger in the Pacific Northwest from this little 10 by 5 foot shack. Then we walked it off at a creepy movie theater/arcade until it was time to get the ink. I got something my mom would call “apropos” for this adventure I am on. However, she hates my tattoos so I guess she would just call it ‘dumb’ (don’t worry, my older brother already told her I got it – thanks Jeff… some co-host you are). After the tattoos we went and hung out with the dog (I took it for a walk, see how good of a half owner I would be!), got some Thai food, watched LOST, and called it a night. It was quite a day and the next one was going to be of epic proportions so we needed our beauty sleep.
We woke up early and hit the road. We had a concert to go see… Foo Fighters at The Gorge. As someone with a small Red Rocks history, The Gorge was a bucket list talked about since my days in Boulder. It just so happened we would be driving past The Gorge/Seattle the same night the Foo was playing (Nirvana was formed in Seattle, so it’s a hometown sort of show for Dave too) and it was also Ashley’s birthday! I mean, again, how apropos. We obviously made it a stopping point and bought a camping pass and set up shop on the grounds (we’ve gotten so good at this that people next to us asked if our tent had a pop up button). We are basically roadies… The concert was absolutely incredible. Dave Grohl is a legend, even with his broken leg. If you ever get a chance to see them, take it. And The Gorge… wow.
Again woke up early and hit the road to Seattle. This time we had a baseball game to see. We got to SafeCo field to watch an inter-league play of Seattle Mariners and Colorado Rockies – Rockies won but it was a close game and Seattle almost hit a walk off homer in the bottom of the 9th… but that isn’t the coolest part – I got hit by a foul ball! Right in the leg. We got seats behind home plate for like $20 and a foul ball ricocheted off someones hands right into my leg. It was awesome. After the game we walked around the docks and got some Chowder followed by some serious exhaustion. Ashley passed out so I was left alone… obviously I binge watched Lost and ordered Pho. Perfect night.
We explored the Pike Place market for donuts and coffee and then took a ferry to Bainbridge Island and had Fish N’ Chips overlooking the water. Hung out a bit, but it is a fairly small island and I didn’t know what else to do… so we went back to the house and again, the days on the road hit me hard and I fell asleep at like 6pm. We haven’t been doing a lot of partying this trip but something about the constant go-go-go mentality really wears on you. Anyways, Seattle was probably my favorite city so far and one of my favorite places I have visited (we did an airbnb in Ballard, great neighborhood). Especially within the US. I could definitely see myself filming an episode of Locals Only here and who knows, maybe even living here one day. It made me realize how much I miss the seasons, cold weather, fall, Halloween vibes, and a city that has a football team that gets beat by the Rams (there aren’t many of those).
I woke up and went for a run as a way of one last look at Seattle, then we were off to Olympic National Park and the Hoh Rainforest for 2 nights of camping. The drive was worth the 4 hour detour alone. We passed through Forks (where they filmed Twilight) which was funny how the town jokes about it with things like Vampire Food Specials and Twilight Beers. The rainforest though… holy shit.
I had only been to one other rainforest and there is something about the landscape which catapults you into Fern Gully and you can’t help but be in complete awe of this land and country. It is a different type of serene beauty that leaves you speechless. We set up camp right by the river valley that looked like something out of an REI advertisement… if only they would sponsor my trips! I made some chili with cut up hot dogs and some broccoli-cheddar soup – perfect combo for the rainy, foggy, cold environment. I was truly happy.
Had a little solo day again. I can’t express the importance of these when traveling with a friend, especially if you’re with me because I like having my space. Ashley went for a hike and I took my camera gear down to the river (Chris Farley voice) and took some photos. Then I took my shoes and socks off and went exploring up the river. It was quiet, serene, peaceful. Everything I needed in the moments of personal solitude. There is a certain comfort in the act of reflecting upon yourself while surrounded in this milieu of natural beauty. A comfort that says, everything is okay and will be okay. I mean take the landscape for example, it simply happened on its own. There was no digging to make the rivers, no planting to make the trees… sometimes you just have to let things be… whether that means letting go or accepting. We all carry baggage, and whether our social media shows it or not, we all seek a deeper connection to life and its moments like these that I feel most connected. I may not have a wife or kids, I don’t own my own home and I don’t have a job (at the moment), but standing there with my feet in the water, looking at the variations of colors within the rain forest, the mountains, the sky, I didn’t care. I felt as perfect as I ever could. As happy as I ever could. It’s true what they say, I went out there to lose something, but instead, I found it.
We packed up the car, said a tearful goodbye to the rainforest and started our journey to another country. We drove 4 hours to a ferry that took us from Port Angeles to Victoria, Canada. We waited as every car but ours went through customs and then we went, the last car of them all. We got through just fine (I lied about having mace – I’m about to be solo camping with Grizzly Bears, sorry I’m not giving that shit up Canada… and weed is legal in Oregon and Washington, not saying I have any… but you know, I’m not saying I don’t). Anyways we drove from Victoria to another port, took another ferry into Vancouver, went to a Brewery (for their Wi-Fi… and beer) and booked a place to stay. Yes. We drove into another country arriving at 6pm and did not have a place to stay for the night #Xanax. Luckily we found a room on airbnb for one night and then we had to move, so we got another airbnb in Yaletown and have been here since. It’s been raining nonstop so we haven’t had too much to do… explored a park, went to a movie (Ant Man, which was funnier than I expected), ate some amazing food and had some great beers. But today (Saturday) as I write this from my bed in the airbnb, was the last day me and Ashley were together.
We had our coffee, explored some sights, went to lunch, the Science Center… and then the airport. I dropped her off around 4 pm and then went to another movie by myself (Straight Outta Compton… Soooo good) and now I am writing this, truly alone for the first time in over two weeks. And even still, I have no idea where I will be sleeping tomorrow. I have an 8 hour drive either way and am deciding to go to Jasper and then Banff or straight to Banff. I know, tough life decision… But it’s hard to make these decisions alone. And while I am excited to have the time of self reflection and solitude, I keep thinking, man, I am going to be alone in the woods. For weeks. And it’s daunting. Plus setting up the tent by myself will suck. It was great to have a companion the last couple weeks… but this is the leg of the trip that I needed. There is a certain comfort of having someone with you, even if you are both doing separate things, knowing there is a safety net of sorts. And I no longer have that. I will have to do everything by myself, for myself. I am nervous, and scared, and anxious and excited. I believe it will be a test of mental and physical strength. I don’t know if I will have some revelation or break through, in fact I doubt I will, but I hope to learn something about myself. I hope to see the importance of being happy, alone.
I went through a break up a couple years back and decided to speak to a therapist. She asked what I wanted out of our sessions. I told her, I want to get back to who I was before I was in a relationship. Because I was happy then, I was alone then, but it was me who made myself happy, not the dependency of someone else. I wanted to find that again. Talking helped. This whole thing isn’t necessarily about one girl or a breakup, but about me. I need to ask the question of what makes me happy? I’ve always resonated with the movie Into the Wild and for the longest time I believed what Christopher McCandless said, that “Happiness is only real when shared”. But now as I embark on the next couple weeks of camping in places I have never been, completely alone… I want to prove him wrong. I want to prove that you don’t need anyone else but yourself to be happy… Because like I said from the start, there is no guarantee of happiness in this life… only the pursuit.
Till next time. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Keep reading.
- Stuck choosing between two New England towns, the name of Portland was chosen after a coin flip. Had the other side of the coin landed face up, the city would have been named Boston.
- There’s a $500 fine if you try to pump your own gas in Portland.
- The Hoh Rainforest was formed by Glaciers thousands of years ago.
- The average tree height is around 300 ft. within the forest.
- Seattle is a derivative of the Indian name “Sealth.” Sealth was a chief of the Suquamish tribe at the time the first white settlers arrived in 1851.
- The very first Starbucks originated in Starbucks but it’s not the one in Pike Place market – that is just the oldest. The original was torn down.
- Vancouver was recently ranked as the third most “livable place in the world” for its high standard of living and quality of life. While it is ranked as the 10th cleanest city in the world.
- Vancouver is the largest film production center in North America after Los Angeles and New York City
- Grohl has said he can’t listen to Nirvana’s music, as he is still saddened by Kurt Cobain’s Death. “I immediately remember what it was like the day we recorded – the food or the fucking snowstorm. It’s like opening a box of old pictures and I don’t like to do that too often.”