Oregon Moving Trail: Lessons Learned Part I

The randomly chosen winner of last week’s giveaway is Jen Shipley!! Congrats! If you did not win, don’t worry – I have enjoyed picking out fun stuff so much that I think I will continue to do so on future trips. If there are any specific types of giveaways that you are interested in (e.g., jewelry), feel free to let me know.

And now, onto the topic of my move to Oregon. On the list of things that I never thought I would do, moving to Oregon, much less by myself, would definitely be on the list. And yet, a few weeks ago, I found myself doing just that. Unsurprisingly, the most common question I have gotten since moving here is some version of “What brings you to Oregon?” That is not to be confused with the most common comment, which is “You don’t sound like you’re from Texas!” I obviously correct them and share that I am actually from Arkansas, and yet the surprise at my apparent lack of a southern accent persists.

Okay, back to the most common question. Honestly, I have had difficulty answering questions about why I chose to move to Oregon because I do not fully know myself why I am here other than, for various reasons, it became something that I wanted to do. I have tried different responses to that question, but they all seem a little hollow. Or crazy. For instance, saying aloud that I moved to Oregon because one of my best friends moved to Oregon actually makes me feel a little crazy, in part because, although that reason is both true and wonderful, it also feels insubstantial. Of course, there is the long version of the story, which would probably make a little more sense, but that is hardly something you tell someone the first time you meet them (well, unless that person is your therapist, and then in that case, you might). Ultimately I wanted a different kind of life and I pursued that desire, but even those words only inadequately capture the complexity and depth of my choice to move.

Not that moving to Oregon was even the end point – really it was only the beginning and it is now up to me to day-by-day build the kind of life that I want. Now that I am here and working on building that life, it is fun to recall the adventure I had driving out west. Plus I learned a few things along the way.

  1. Spray painting things is fun. Perhaps you were already aware of the fun that could be had from illicitly spray painting things, but I have not exactly had an extensive history of vandalizing objects with graffiti. After leaving Dallas at the ridiculous hour of 6 am, my first major stop was Amarillo, TX.
    Only coffee and the realization I was actually moving to Oregon could make me smile about beginning a long day of driving at 6 in the morning.

    Only coffee and the realization I was actually moving to Oregon could make me smile about beginning a long day of driving at 6 in the morning.

    I had one last lunch at Rosa’s, savoring every last bite of my chicken fajita with queso, before parking on the side of the feeder road to see a bunch of Cadillacs half-buried in the dirt.

    Sydney was hoping I would share. I did not.

    Sydney was hoping I would share. I did not.

    Having never stopped at Cadillac Ranch, it seemed like one of those things I should do before leaving Texas. Plus, it gave both Sydney and me a chance to stretch our legs. IMG_2043Oh, and to spray paint things, namely cars. IMG_2065It was even more fun than I expected it to be, although I do apologize for the poor quality of my handiwork. Somehow “Bye TX” was the best I could come up with. And it did not even look that good. I blame the wind. IMG_2084Regardless of my shoddy graffiti skills, I am glad I finally had a chance to see Cadillac Ranch.

    Sydney had a blast running around the cars. She had even more fun saying hello to the people we met while we were there.

    Sydney had a blast running around the cars. She had even more fun saying hello to the people we met while we were there.

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  2. I realized that in moving to Oregon, I was finally reclaiming my life from the chaos and heartbreak of the previous 2 years. I had plenty of time to think about the move I was making. I considered what others might think or feel about it, I carefully scanned my own thoughts and feelings, and I even thought of the different directions my life could have been taking at that very moment. There were times when I felt joy and excitement about the life I was going to and times when I wept for the life I was forever and finally leaving behind. In the course of the drive, I released the remaining pieces of bitterness and anger as I drove and drove and drove. The drive gave me the time and the space to fully put to rest the grief I have felt for the life I thought I would have and to arrive in Oregon truly ready for whatever blessings and hardships my new beginning will hold.
  3. A long day of driving melts away with a good meal and a prickly pear margarita. IMG_2160Before beginning the trip, I was a little nervous about all of the driving I would be doing and especially about the 2 days when I would have particularly long stretches of driving. Prior to the move, the farthest I had ever driven by myself was the drive between Texas and Arkansas to see family. On this trip, my shortest days of driving would be longer than that. I really wondered how I would manage to keep my sanity. So, in typical Cora fashion, I got the worst over with right away: Dallas to Albuquerque was my longest day of driving – about 10 hours not counting stops. I armed myself with plentiful coffee and months of hoarded Radiolab episodes and prepared for a few days of maybe being miserable. But I was surprised to find it was really not all that bad. I gave myself permission to stop when I wanted to, had brought plenty of music and podcasts, and made an effort to appreciate the changing scenery outside of my car. And each evening, I took some time to relax. For instance, in Albuquerque, I had intentionally booked a hotel near the Old Town district because it seemed like the perfect spot to unwind after my longest driving day. IMG_2153IMG_2188Although I arrived too late for most of the shops to be open, I enjoyed walking around Old Town and finding a great spot for dinner. As I made a valiant effort to eat a giant burrito (with red and green chili, of course), I tried to comprehend that only that morning I had been in Dallas and I temporarily belonged nowhere and meanwhile I was eating dinner on a patio in New Mexico. IMG_2168After dinner, as I walked through more of Old Town, I happened across a band playing in the plaza to a small crowd of people. It was a beautiful evening and I was in no hurry to get back to the hotel, so Sydney and I found a shady spot to sit and enjoy the music. IMG_2171 IMG_2183All the fatigue and boredom of a long day of driving? Totally forgotten.
  4. I live in an amazing country. Something about driving cross-country gave me a whole new appreciation for the vastness, beauty, and variety of the United States. There is so much to see. IMG_2112 IMG_2234 IMG_2858 IMG_2980Although I have been to 31 states (and driven through 5 or 6 more), I have still seen so little of what there is to see. As I drove through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, and Oregon, I noticed a whole new excitement building about continuing to explore the US in the future. Although, to be honest, Nevada did test that excitement a bit. Thankfully, California and Oregon gave me some time to renew my excitement before the end of my trip. Here’s to future adventures as I continue to work on my goal of going to every state.

I was planning to keep writing stuff, but I still have to talk about the Grand Canyon (hint: it was just about the best. day. ever.) and that will involve approximately a million pictures, so I decided to break it up into a second post. So, next time will be a bit more about the move to Oregon and then I plan to share some helpful pointers about travelling with a pet. Pointer number one will be do not travel with Sydney.

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