Travels, reflection and where you lay your head

I’ve been traveling a lot lately. More than I usually do, which has led to some reflection.

The first trip was out to Oregon, to see my dad’s side of the family. My grandfather had died and I wanted to attend the funeral. I booked a plane ticket and rental car the day before the funeral and headed out. I hadn’t been back to Oregon, my birthplace, in probably 15 years. I tried so hard to remember the last time I’d been but I couldn’t remember. Too long.

The trip was bittersweet; I was here for a funeral, but I was going to see my cousins, aunt, dad, step-mom and grandmother; people I hadn’t seen in so many years. Unfortunately, the last time I’d seen my dad was for another funeral – his sister’s. Why is it that we only seem to see people for weddings and funerals?

The funeral was good – as good as funerals can go. It was so good to see my grandmother. She’s a unique soul. Every time I talk to her, she tells me how much she misses me and how old she is. She’s not afraid of her age or telling people how she feels about them, good or bad.  But usually good – she has love for just about everyone she meets. Seeing my aunt was great too. I don’t know if it was because I was named after her, but every time I see her, it’s like we haven’t missed a beat. We pick up on conversation and I feel like I can open up to her and be myself. Her three sons, my cousins, are all grown up which is weird. They were all destined to be huge, as my aunt is almost six feet tall and her husband towered over her. All three boys were over nine pounds when they were born,  but the last time I was near them, they were all still shorter than me ( I just tipped the five foot scale at 5’3″). They all now tower over me, and the youngest just graduated high school. It reminds you that time stands still for no one.

After the funeral, we went back to my grandmother’s retirement community apartment, munched on deli meats and cut fruit that the neighbor lady had put together, reminisced for a while, we parted ways after a couple of hours, seeing how visibly worn my grandmother was. I followed my dad back out to the country, back to his house. I had wanted to trek the 40 minutes or so north to Portland and spend some time up there, but my dad is more introverted than I am, and I could tell he didn’t want to make the trip, so I told him I’d come with him out to his house.

Cows out by my dad’s house
Farmland near my dad’s


The next day, we took a two hour trip out to a small town called Joseph, near the Idaho border. The drive out was beautiful and the town was really cute. It looks like a ski town, mixed with boutique shops and good restaurants.

The drive toward Joseph, OR
Joseph, OR

My trip was short but relaxing. I spent time out in the country, taking long walks around my Dad’s land. He doesn’t have internet, subscribes to an HD receiver for a handful of local channels, and owns a basic cell phone. Even though I had my phone, and got service just fine, I felt less obligated to use it. It felt nice. I read my book, watched some basic television, and talked with my Dad.

Northeast Oregon, near Joseph

When I drove the three hours back to Portland to drop off the rental and head out, I made sure to give myself plenty of time so I could stop whenever possible and take pictures. The drive along 84 from Northeast to Northwest Oregon changes so much. The Dalles is located somewhat in the center of Northern Oregon, near the Cascade Mountains and displays some great landscape, showcasing the changes between mountainsides.

Near The Dalles


When you head west, cross The Dalles and the Cascade region, you end up in Northwest Oregon, where people think of when they think Oregon. The pines are tall, everything is green and luckily, I had a rare sunny day, to snap photos of some great icons. I was only able to take a picture of Multnomah Falls, as I didn’t have time to climb up to the bridge, although I do recommend it. The hike is steep but the views are fantastic.

Multnomah Falls

Near Multnomah Falls, is Horsetail Falls, along the same historic highway. The area is less busy, no doubt overshadowed by the more famous Multnomah Falls, but it’s beautiful just the same.

Horsetail Falls

These last pictures were all taken along 84, either on my way to my Dad’s place, or on the way back to Portland to catch the flight out. The drive is relaxing and gorgeous, quite the change from the hustle and bustle of Austin and it’s surrounding areas. The calm drive made me question how much longer I can stand the busyness of Austin.

East of the Cascades
West of the Cascades


Our second trip was a long road trip up to Minnesota to see family and friends. We almost didn’t go, as the impromptu trip to Oregon was a bit of a financial and time burden, but I’m glad we decided to make the trip.

We reconnected with friends and family, which meant just as much to us as I think it did for them.

If you’ve been toying with the idea of traveling to see someone, reconnecting with a friend, or family member, or you’ve been wanting to take that trip, just do it. Don’t worry about the money, or the time. As cliche as it sounds, life really is short and regret, in my opinion, is the worst feeling one can have.


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