The open road is synonymous with freedom. If you have wheels, you can go anywhere you want. The further I get from Arizona, the more free I feel. Not to say that I felt trapped in Flagstaff, but going somewhere new on my own is extraordinarily liberating. The stresses are miles in the rear view mirror. Ahead, lies the future.
We left Susanville early and struck out for the Oregon state line. The road snaked up through open farmland and rugged hills with sparse stands of young pine. Soon, though, we were enveloped in lush, dense forest. Trees ten stories high loomed on either side of the mountain roads, as if forming a tunnel for us. Everything is strange — especially having an attendant pump your gas.
Oregon is gorgeous; full of mountains and hidden lakes. Compared to the vast desolation of Nevada, it is an alien planet. I can only imagine the awe it must have struck in the hearts of Lewis and Clark when they paddled through the Cascades. It’s no wonder so many set out on the Oregon Trail in the 1840s to claim their little plot of paradise.
As we meet up with the I-5 (the first real freeway we’ve seen in days), Will and I feel energized. The desert sucks you dry, but the forest rejuvenates. Rolling through Portland at a quarter to ten at night, we decide to push on into the night. There was a couch in the middle of the road that we almost hit and the truck says it requires an oil change, but we will not be deterred. Tacoma is starting to appear on the road signs. We’re too close to stop now.
We don’t get into Tacoma until after midnight and Stephanie is waiting up for us. It takes a while for me to realize that this is my new home; that these strange sounding names (Point Defiance, Nesqually, Umpqua) will soon be familiar.
We’ve crossed more than 1,350 miles and five states to get here. I’m far from my roots; free to start over in a foreign land. The journey is over and it’s beginning.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer who just moved from Flagstaff, AZ to Tacoma, WA. You can follow his exploits on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.