Dispatches From the Road: Oregon Trail

‘Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.’-Lao Tzu

When I was home for Christmas, my dad asked me if I would ever move back to Greenville, SC. I told him not a chance. I did say that I was open to leaving Philadelphia, something that I could not have said the previous year. I had started applying for full time teaching positions and a school in Washington had asked for clarification about something. As I tell my dad most things, I told him about the position and that it was a good sign. I was shocked when he was very excited about the prospect about my moving back to the West Coast, especially Washington or Oregon. My parents first met on a flight from Seattle to Portland and it has held a special place for him. I said I was only applying for full time teaching jobs but he encouraged me to apply for adjunct posts too (I have been an adjunct for nearly seven (!!!) years). So I did. I applied to every open teaching post from Northern California to Seattle.

I had felt a strong pull to return to the West Coast, almost like it was calling me home. At first, I was just going to visit to see friends. But after talking to my dad and making the decision, I felt a calm come over me, much like I felt when I visited Philadelphia for the first time-that it was where I was supposed to be. Now I just had to figure out where that was! I also got a sign from my mom, which I hadn’t experienced before. I’m going to keep the details to myself, but I immediately burst into tears and knew I made the right choice.

I knew I was going to move but did not know when or where-well, I figured I would move to Portland when my lease was up and figure it out when I got there. Turns out, I moved much quicker than I thought. I was offered a teaching post in Bend, OR. I had about two weeks to head out. I sold what I could, donated everything else, and hitched a small, U-Haul trailer to the back of my car and off I went…almost. I had a previous trailer hitch on my car that apparently shorted out. It took nearly half a day to find a U-Haul that could rewire. I was determined to leave that day if it killed me and it nearly did! I left really late in the day but I’m pretty determined.

The first part of my drive was on the turnpike. I had an EZ Pass that I could use through Illinois…it was great! I didn’t have to worry about the tolls at all. There were very nice travel plazas. Which is good because you need to stop periodically to stretch your legs. Driving across the country is taxing. It is even worse when you are hauling a trailer that you can only go 55 mph with. I have driven across the country before and it took three days. With a trailer, it took just over a week.

Once you enter Iowa (holy corn fields), you are no longer on toll roads. Now you have traditional rest stops. I will say, some were very nice. There was one in corn country that had a bit of a nature trail. The ones in Wyoming provided some really stunning views. It was a nice because I promised my dad that I would not doddle and not stray far from I-80, so I felt like I could at least see some of the scenery.

One thing to note, Idaho seems to have something against gas stations. I always made sure to stop frequently, especially in Wyoming, for gas. As I left Wyoming I had a fairly full tank and then I reached Idaho and nothing. It was the only time I thought I was going to run out of gas. I have an app, I Exit, that tells you what’s at each exit. I checked to see if there was a gas station coming. It was 12 miles…I had 20 miles left in my tank. When I reached the only gas station anywhere, it was $5/gallon and there were several miniature animals. There also wasn’t a restroom (not that I needed one, but odd). The whole thing was out of a horror film but I didn’t run out of gas.

One of the cool things was doing things I had done in the Oregon Trail computer game. I crossed several rivers and passes, much safer. I did text a friend who is two years older when I crossed the Snake River. I said it is much easier to go across via bridge versus fording my wagon. He had no clue what I was talking about as he had never played the game. I then questioned if I really knew him.

After a week, I finally crossed into Oregon and arrived in Bend. Fun fact, I had never been to Oregon until I moved here, so really living on the wild side! The transition was hard because of paperwork and delays moving into my apartment. I had to stay in cheap motels for longer than I wanted and it was not great. Thank God for my family and friends. There were a lot of tears but I’m really blessed.

The transition has been really hard (more tears and calls/texts to friends and family) but I don’t regret moving back to the West Coast. It is my home and where I think I am meant to be. I do not know if Bend is my final spot, I do think I may end up back in Southern California (my brother is convinced I am a LA girl through and through), but I’m looking forward to my life here.

3 Replies to “Dispatches From the Road: Oregon Trail”

  1. I’ve been enjoying online games with my son like Clash of clans and The Oregon trail game. I can say that the two said games serve as quality time for us. With these, we really become close to each other. I also like to try playing this game with my son, hope we also enjoyed it.

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