Nothing about the “American Dream” requires a passport. We’re expected to grow up obediently, go to college, meet and marry our spouses, buy homes, have 2.35 children, and get a couple of Golden Retrievers to bark behind our white picket fences while we pay bills until we die. But as any real traveler can attest to, Mary Anne Radmacher knew what she was talking about when she said that “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world”. From the very first time I entered an airport, I was enthralled with the entire experience that is traveling. The packing, the planning, the people watching in the terminal, the views from 30,000 feet up. All of it wound its way around my heart forever by the tender age of six. When my feet first touched foreign soil and my ears received the first syllables of a language that didn’t even sound like words but instead like some meditative trance, a hypnosis that will last for the rest of my days occurred. Since that moment, every choice I’ve made in life has been with the consideration that I must find the time and the money to travel frequently and over ever-increasing distances. One of my favorite destinations the world over is little ol’ Oregon and I’d like to take a few moments to share with you all that Oregon encompasses for your future travel considerations. I hope you enjoy.
As the plane lined up for final approach in Portland, I peeked out the window to check for pontoon floats. Monsoon season, the only season really, was in full effect. As I exited the terminal, the sky opened up and I swam the rest of the way to my rental car, wondering what kind of crazy travel mistake I had just made. An authentic Voodoo Doughnut did wonders to lighten my mood and a pink box full of a dozen more sugary morsels to-go seemed like a solid way to sustain an epic road trip. On the flight over, I had done a cursory Instagram search of Oregon-specific tags and starred about fifteen on Google Maps, creating a circuitous semi-circle of backroads through the heart of the state. If you ever need someone to turn a 200-mile drive into a 1200-mile odyssey, I’m your girl.
I could write a book of Oregon short stories at this point but the highlights were these:
- Cannon Beach and its iconic Haystack Rock, mottled with a patchwork of green, orange, and purple that appears to be vegetation from a distance but that is made up of hundreds of huge starfish and sea anemones.
- Crater Lake at sunrise after a long, chilly night in a hammock watching thousands of Perseid meteors streak above the dormant volcano.
- Broken Top, in the Three Sisters Wilderness, and its 33-degree glacial lake that all the “cool locals” jump into from the iconic, house-sized boulder on its banks. I still don’t know how I didn’t freeze solid on the 8 mile hike back to the car.
- Mount Bachelor, its lift-serviced downhill mountain biking, the bruises that followed as well as the celebratory I’m-Still-Alive beverages from Atlas Cidery in Bend, OR.
- Oneonta River Gorge, lined with the most beautiful collection of waterfalls you’ve ever dreamt of. The hike/wade/swim to Lower Falls, a visit to the roadside Multnomah Falls, and a quick stroll down Rooster Rock’s clothing-optional beach can all be accomplished in just a couple of short hours.
With careful planning, intelligent collaboration, and a healthy dose of investment strategy, all of these adventures are within your reach, from Oregon to the outer reaches of this grand planet we are stewards of. For what purpose, though? We often reference heirlooms when we discuss the legacies that we’re all trying to create. Consider, for a moment, what heirlooms garnered from travel that you may leave to your children, their children, and so on down the line. Did images of Persian rugs, African masks, art on the walls, and ornate jewelry come to mind? Probably. And while all of those travel gems are certainly worthy of becoming heirlooms, instead of focusing on the material, consider what intangible travel treasures you can bestow upon your heirs. I’ve never once seen a hearse with a trailer hitch and being the richest person with the most possessions in the graveyard went out of style with King Tut. Sure, leave your heirs with mementos to remember you by. But be careful to also cultivate memories, experiences, and emotions that they will clutch dearly for many years and generations to come. When you’re long gone, your grandchildren probably won’t tote the family pocket watch or grandma’s fancy rug with them throughout their lives. But if they sit their own children down by the fireplace and regale them with stories of lands and adventures far away, experienced side by side with grandpa and grandma decades ago, your legacy will live on in a much more vibrant, complete way.