Thursday, June 11th, Dave and I loaded up the little Jetta, bid our farewells to Seattle and headed down the Pacific Coast Highway toward San Diego. It was a trip most only dream about, yet here we were, driving the Pacific Coast.
We woke up with the sun, because I of course, was as anxious as could be. As far as I could tell, nothing was working out. I couldn’t get all of my belongings into my car, nothing was fitting and I felt like I had already given away more than I had intended to. Still, along comes Dave and makes it all okay. Somehow figuring out a way to make mostly everything fit and making it okay to leave certain things behind. I love how he has this way about him that calms me down and makes me see a little clearer. I had said the night before that I wanted to leave at 7am so that we wouldn’t get stuck in that awful Seattle traffic. Sure enough, never letting me down, Dave closed the trunk for the last time and started the car at 7:02am.
I looked at that small house on North 48th Street one last time and decided to never look back. It had been a wild 10 months there. A rollercoaster of emotions had gone through that house and I actually had no desire of ever looking back. I was excited to close this chapter of my life and to reflect only briefly when I needed a reminder. Seattle was a chapter I had no desire to dwell on or quite frankly revisit time and time again. I do not regret it at all, but for my own sanity, it’s best to leave some chapters in life closed.
After some bagels and coffee from Starbucks up the street, we merged on to Interstate 5, zipping past cars, the Great Wheel, Mt. Rainier and downtown Seattle. It was a bright, clear day outside and traffic was rolling at a steady pace, making the drive effortless. My whole life packed into one car, my best friend beside me, and bagel on my lap- I was a pretty happy lady at this point.
Jetting down the freeway, we stayed on the I-5 until Olympia. From there we exited and started on Highway 101 South to San Diego. Being an old soul- I refused to allow us to use a GPS. Instead, I had my road atlas out and was marking our progress via map. A simple life, that’s what I’m after and sometimes the GPS just, complicates things.
The further south we drove, the cloudier and greyer the skies became. It started to sprinkle toward southern Washington, but the mountains were still managing to peek out past the clouds. I decided I would miss them, lots. I love the beach but something about the vast mountain ranges makes me feel so small and at home. It was a strange feeling that began to wash over me- the feeling of knowing that the mountains were no longer ‘home.’ I was trading mountains for ocean, green for brown and cloudy skies for sunshine. For an instant, I was saddened that Seattle was no longer home, but that instant was short lived. It was time to move on, I was ready.
Winding the bends, the beautiful and lush trees were spilling out onto the roads as we drove. Little did I know- this was only the beginning. With each mile we drove, the scenes were about to get more breathtaking, more beautiful and more awe-inspiring. Each mile showing up the last and proving once and for all that the west coast is the best coast.
Crossing the Oregon/Washington border, I was a little sad to see that the welcome to Oregon sign was hanging from a bridge. The summer previous, I had marked my move west by taking photos dancing in front of each state sign as I moved. I had hoped to keep the tradition up, but clearly, that was not going to be the case.
The drawbridge slowed us down some, but we were still making great time. We had no real agenda, but on this particular night- we had a hotel in Coos Bay so knew that we had to at least make it that far.
Exactly around noon, just as planned, we were pulling into Seasidee, Oregon. Using Yelp as our destination guide, we decided this adorable, bustling city would make a great stop for lunch. The small streets were decorated with hometown pride, painted murals dotted the sides of buildings and little gas lamps illuminated the city streets on a grey day like today. We chose a small restaurant, Firehouse Grill, parked the car and went in for some lunch.
The menu was small but we both found something we liked and placed our order. Sitting next to Dave rather than across, I grabbed his hand and began to look around the quaint seemingly ‘hot spot.” You could tell the busy restaurant was hosting many ‘regulars.’ The waitresses seemed to not only know some patrons by face and name but by order as well.
When our chili and burger arrived, we quickly both become members of the clean plate club – devouring the massive meals. I was pleased with myself for expanding my food horizons, even if it was just expanding to chili. Still, that was pretty good for a girl who would once only eat spaghetti with sauce on the side.
Across the street there was a little antique shop that I had seen and wanted to look at. I was on a never-ending search for a rare edition of Cameron Crowe’s “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” the book not the movie. Searching around the little antique store, I couldn’t help but smile at where I was, what I was doing and whom I was with. I felt so incredibly blessed to be “lost” in Oregon with this great guy by my side. Having no luck in my novel search, we headed back out to the car and decided to keep trucking down the coast.
Only a few miles up the road, we decided to stop in Ecola State park to spend a few hours taking in the views of the Oregon Coast. Winding our way through the tall trees and overgrown vegetation, we rolled the windows down and breathed in the combination of the forest and salty sea air. I was hanging out the side window, head tilted up, taking in the massive trees that were surrounding us. Again, not even knowing the sights that were in store for me.
Up, down and all around, we drove on the paved path until we found the break in the trees. Emerging, we both were silent then collectively gasped and let out an unplanned, “WOW.” Before us was the stunning Oregon Coastline. The sun was hiding behind the clouds so a small overcast was placed upon the beaches, creating a slightly gloomy feel. The natural beauty however, was stronger than any overcast could be. Despite the lack of bright sunlight we could see the beautiful rock formations, the endless beach and the blue hues that collided earth to sky.
I think it’s safe to say, we both could have sat there all day- and we definitely tried to. We walked around, sat on a bench, hiked through run down paths and just took in the scenery we were lucky enough to enjoy. While making small talk with an Irishman, the sun had decided to come out from hiding, showing off new views of Cannon Beach. Even though the damp ocean air combined with a small breeze sent shivers down my spine, I wanted to stay. When a moment really gets you, when you really feel it and when it makes you really happy to be alive, why would you want to leave it? That’s how I was feeling. I knew, deep down, that simple, sweet moments were always hard to leave and made for a bittersweet visit when your memory led you back there. When life is going perfectly to some kind of plan, I was to just live that moment for a bit longer than possible.
Of course, just as life causes time to pass far too quickly, it was soon time to get back into the Jetta and keep heading down the coast. Our Go-Pro’s were producing dashboard footage of our coastal drive as we drove back through the winding trees. I was excited to be able to re-live this beautiful drive any time we pleased.
As we drove, Oregon was quickly proving to be one of my favorite places. With each viewpoint that we stopped at, my heart filled with joy. The coast was crashing into the vast water and provided a contrast of delightful hues. Some sights, like Oswalk West State Park, seemed more like a scene from a movie, a painting or fantasy. The colors were too rich and vibrant to possibly be real. If I pinched myself I wouldn’t wake up- the sights I was seeing were real- it was Oregon. I was falling in love with a state’s coastal line and made a mental promise to come back someday, to spend more time with the fantasyland.
Taking in quaint, small Oregon towns, an adorable Italian Bistro, and more stunning coastal views, we made our way almost all the way through Oregon, stopping in Coos Bay for the night. We ended day one of our move with 400 miles under our belt, an average of 60 degrees and a new love for a state that already held a special place in both of our hearts.