"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." ~ Anatole France
|Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon|
For the last several years, I had dreamed of moving to Oregon. As time passed, that desire grew and grew until one day, I couldn't fathom the idea of staying away any longer. This year, the stars seemed to align to point the way, the time was right.
A relationship that I thought was going somewhere and worth staying put in Wisconsin for ended unexpectedly. Not too long after that, my grandfather lost his battle with Alzheimer's and passed away. At his funeral, I saw a slide show of photos from throughout his life and they had a strong, introspective impact on me. What would my "slideshow" look like when I reached the end of my road? Growing more dispassionate for the non-profit work that I once poured my heart and soul into and also wanting a better work-life balance, I began to wonder if the time had come. Should I make the move?
I had just completed planning and executing the most successful fundraiser in my company's history. I had also been contracted to coordinate a four day summer festival for the Verona Chamber of Commerce. The extra income from those two events made it possible to invest in a new DSLR camera, something I couldn't imagine moving to Oregon without. It also left enough money to finance a cross-country move. I decided to make my dream come true, to get myself to the life I knew with every fiber of my being was waiting for me in Oregon.
The drive from Wisconsin to Oregon was long but beautiful. There's something so peaceful to me about a long drive: music going, my dog by my side and the wide open winding, road. Iowa was fairly uneventful other than some giant, unidentifiable bugs I saw flying around at one of the gas stations. I drove through a spectacular thunderstorm in Nebraska. Wyoming was wide open, speckled with some rocky points here and there. My jaw dropped at the majesty of the Utah mountains. Southern Idaho was fairly uneventful. All of my Oregon drive was spectacular with mountains, rivers and small towns all along the way.
Once in Oregon, things continued to come together perfectly. I found an amazing job with a wonderful company in Portland. Shortly thereafter, I met Morgan, a surprisingly good match for me and my sense of adventure. I found a wonderful downtown apartment right by the Willamette River and just a short train, bike ride or walk away from work. The ease and speed in which these events came together only strengthens what I already knew to be true: this is exactly where I am meant to be.
|South Beach State Park, Oregon|
I've done lots of exploring in Oregon since I arrived in late June. From Latourell Falls and Mosier Creek in the Gorge to Sauvie Island just north of Portland to Jones Creek in the Tillamook National Forest. Of course I've been to the coast, everything from Cannon Beach on up to Cape Disappointment (in Washington) down to Bandon and Gold Beach for a 4th of July trip. I camped with a friend at Fort Stevens State Park near Astoria and visited Ecola State Park, Rockaway Beach, Hug Point, Manhattan Beach, South Beach State Park with Morgan. In the Mount Hood area, I hiked a trail up to Tamanawas Falls, ate dinner at Timberline Lodge where I could see the peak of Mount Jefferson from and also did a short hike to Little Zig Zag Falls. I did several trips into Washington and saw Mount Saint Helens and the magnificent Mount Rainier. I also met up with a Wisconsin friend in Bellevue and did an overnight work trip in Seattle.
Other notable events happened this year too. One of the photos I submitted to a local coast publication's photo contest made the top ten. In early December, I made a trip home to Wisconsin for an early Christmas celebration with my immediate family and visited with friends in Madison. Just this past week, I purchased my very own car, ending my four years of no-car streak.
I believe this past year to be one of the hardest yet one of the most rewarding years of my life to date. I have taken away so much that will impact my life in the years to come. Some of the challenges I took on this year proved that I am capable of so much more than I may think possible of myself. I proved that the unknown is not something to be afraid of, that taking risks is essential to following your dreams. When you listen to your intuition, you will always be making the right decision.
In 2015, I'm looking forward to living a more authentic life, making new friends, staying connected to old ones, growing my photography and to more Pacific Northwest outdoor adventures.
|Netarts Bay, Oregon|
"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open."
~ Jawaharlal Nehru
To see more photos from this past year, please click here.