Friday, January 16, 2015

Dreaming of the PNW.

Lately, I’ve been on this kick. Let’s call this kick: The Pacific Northwest. Have you been there? If not, drop everything (except your phone because you’ll wanna take pictures) and go there immediately. We went there about 8 months ago and I still catch myself daydreaming about it. It’s this place of mystical-magical-ever greenness that should only exist in some prehistoric dinosaur heaven but it’s right here on Earth, and it’s just waiting for you to see it. Confession: Sometimes I get so caught up on the South (and all things Tennessee) that I forget there are other places in the United States. Spectacular places. 

Taylor and I visited the PNW this past year in May kinda on a whim, we wanted to trade in our annual Florida beach trip for something different. Thanks to a friend, we had a general outline of places we wanted to visit, things we wanted to see, but little did I know that I’d fall in love. Dramatic? Yeah, well this place will do that to ya. Everything was dramatic from the vastness of the mountains to the richness of the evergreens. 

Our first stop was Seattle. I feel it important to mention that upon arrival to the West Coast I was sick…very, very sick. I was feeling the worst I had felt in years, and I still loved every minute of our vacation, which says a lot. We spent a couple of short days in Seattle doing the touristy things like visiting the Public Market Center, going to the aquarium and drinking at breweries. Seattle was about what I expected: chilly and rainy but cool. 

Day two and three consisted of Portland, Oregon. Some of my favorite highlights were from Oregon: The Grotto, Mt St Helens, and of course more breweries. The best part about Oregon though was the absolutely beautiful scenery. If you ever want to immerse yourself into complete appreciation of God’s handiwork then take a drive through Oregon’s forests. It’s unfathomable to see nature’s creations there and not believe in some sort of higher power- it’s just that grandiose of a landscape. The waterfalls and trails we explored through the Mt. Hood scenic loop were breathtaking. I don’t know why or how, but seeing things like that bring you back to yourself, back to reality, and I don’t mean the housewife kind, but the kind that makes you laugh harder and love stronger. 

We spent the next couple days driving down the scenic highway 101. You could make a vacation out of driving down the Oregon Coast alone. The evergreens reach all the way out to the ocean as if they are dying to jump into the deep blue water. It was so different from any coast or beach that I had ever seen before, but in such a good way. It’s hard to pick a favorite moment from the trip, every day literally seemed more breathtaking than the day before, but the night we camped beachside at Coos Bay was probably my favorite experience. We were nestled right up against a sand dune, tucked under some evergreens with the ocean at our back. I remember watching the sun set over the ocean that night and thinking that nothing could be more perfect than this moment. 

The furthest south we went was the Redwood Forest. It was almost eerily breathtaking. I kept expecting a velociraptor to run by and eat me at any moment. I’m sure that really makes you want to go visit ASAP but seriously that’s how much of a prehistoric vibe the Redwoods emitted. We also camped in the Redwoods National Park, and that was my second favorite experience of the trip. Waking up beneath something so big can make you feel so inconceivably small, but it also has a way of weighing everything out to help you understand what’s important in life. 

The drive back up to Seattle was filled with more beautiful sites and a couple of hotels to even out the “roughing it” we had been doing. By the time our departure flight came, I wasn’t ready to leave. Usually a week away from home and reality is all it takes for me to be ready for the routine of every day life, but not this time. I was like a kid in a toy store (I always liked toys more than candy) and I was convinced that there was more to be seen around every corner. But alas, a vacation is a vacation because it lasts only for a limited amount of time, and our time was up. 

I recommend visiting the Pacific Northwest to anyone and everyone. If you need tall trees to ground you or mountains to lift you, it will do it. Hell, if you just need a good drive with good music or a good brewery with good beer, it’ll do that too. I’m convinced that God spent just a little bit more time on that corner of the country, when you go see it, I’m sure you will to.