Sunday, March 24, 2013

2859 miles

We found out on Monday, March 4th that Kate got a job in Salem, Oregon.  We also found out they wanted her to start the very next Monday!  Oregon is 2859 miles from Greenwood, SC!  We had to get going if we were going to make it.

So we left the very next day.  I mean we were already packed and ready to go.  We had been planning for this moment for well over a month.  All the stuff we felt we couldn't do without for 2 years had been packed nicely into 4 plastic bins and a couple of suitcases since the end of January when we moved out of our rented house.

Of course the day we hit the road was an emotional one.  We were leaving the known for the unknown.  Leaving our loving families and friends for strangers.  Strangers that didn't talk like us or drink sweet tea or eat grits.  And to top it off I had a phone interview scheduled for the hour before we were to leave Greenwood.  Of course the interviewer was late calling only adding to the stress of the moment.  And of course somewhere around Denver I found out I wasn't going to get that job.  A job my recruiter assured us that I would get.

So...after an emotional goodbye with Mom and Dad (Kathy and Scott) we hit the road.  Driving both of our cars.  To Oregon.  2859 miles and over 45 hours of driving.  Thank the Lord for amazing little sisters.  We picked up Julie in Greenville 2 hours into the trip so we could have a third driver.  I'm not sure we would have made it without her.

Leaving home in Greenwood.
It took us 6 days to reach Salem.  I'm going to give a brief summary of each day.  Some days were better than others.  The first couple of days were as entertaining as watching paint dry on a wall.  The last few days were like staring at a beautiful painting by a famous artist.

Day 1
We left Greenwood and picked up Julie.  Then we crossed the beautiful Smoky Mountains and through the two tunnels on I-40 that connect NC to Tennessee.  Little did we know what we were driving into.  A few miles in to TN the wind picked up.  Wind speeds of at least 50 mph or more.  I had our bikes strapped to the back of my car on our newly purchased bike rack.  The wind was whipping the car hard and I had to grip the steering wheel tight to keep control.  Then the snow came.  We stopped to get gas at a shady gas station and got back on the interstate.  As soon as we got back on I-40 it began snowing intensely.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that visibility was down to about 2 feet in front of the car.  It was one of the scariest moments of my life.  18 wheelers flying all around me.  I have no idea how they could see anything but they continued trucking it.  That lasted for about 2 minutes and cleared up just as fast as it happened.   The wind continued to whip the car pretty hard all the way to Nashville where we spent the night.

Nasty weather driving through TN.
Day 2
We visited the hometown of Superman - Metropolis, IL.  Of course we got a few snapshots with the giant Superman statue.  Don't plan on making any special trips to Metropolis just for this though.  Not worth it.  Then we drove 4 more hours on to St. Louis.  We had to stop and see the Arch.  It's kind of right of passage for anyone heading west.  It's the Gateway to the West you know.  After leaving the home of Nelly we tracked on to Kansas City.  There is nothing else relevant to say about Missouri.  If you've driven through there then you know this.

At the top of the arch!
Day 3
Thursday we woke up and decided, what the heck, let's go to Denver.  Kate wanted to visit her peeps and when Kate wants to visit her peeps then that's what Kate does.  Julie had no arguments.  And I know not to argue.  Anyway, spontaneity makes for a good road trip.  So we left KC for Denver.  There is only one word to describe the state of Kansas.  Flat.  But now I can say I've driven across the home state of Dorothy and Oz.  Eastern Colorado is pretty much the same.  As the sun set on Thursday we began to see the very top of Pikes Peak.  After driving for nearly an hour with the sun setting right in our faces Pikes Peak began to get bigger and bigger.  We never actually came close to it, however.  It's so huge that you can see it from over 100 miles away.  By the time we reached Denver it was dark.  I love arriving in new city at night.  Not really.  Of course I got separated from Kate and Julie and of course my cell phone was dying and of course our walkie talkies weren't working.  But I found them and then we had an awesome evening visiting with Kate's peep, Melissa.  It was nice to see a familiar face in a distant land and nice to have a good burger and a beer.

The welcome sign, Colorado road, and Kate and Melissa at dinner.
Day 4
We left Denver early on Friday and headed up to see another one of Kate's peeps - Brett.   He recommended that we get off the beaten path and take a more scenic route to his place in Laramie.  We jumped off the interstate in Ft. Collins and headed up through the Colorado foothills with a panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains to our left for the entire drive.  Brett was extremely hospitable by taking  us to a local breakfast spot, on a tour of Laramie, buying us University of Wyoming t-shirts, and even finding us jumper cables when the battery on the Altima died.  Then we left the last familiar face we would see for quite a while and tracked on towards the west.
Kate and Bret! In Laramie, WY.
As we drove through southern Wyoming we were treated to gorgeous views of the mountains that gave away to the plains which in turn gave away to the mountains once more.  We crossed into Utah later that day as we drove right through the Rocky Mountains.  Tall snow covered mountains hovered over both sides of the winding road.  The sun set on Friday before we could cross into Idaho.  As we drove into the Idaho darkness the wind began to blow.  We saw signs warning of dust storms and sure enough we experienced a small one.  Sand and snow pelted the car off and on for thirty minutes.  We arrived safely in Twin Falls, Idaho where we went to sleep with the sounds of drunk cursing cowboys unsuccessfully trying to enter our room.  We found out at breakfast the next morning that there was a rodeo in town.
Driving through Utah.
Day 5
We left Twin Falls Saturday morning and tracked westward towards Oregon following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark.  We crossed over the Snake River and drove through some pretty rugged Idaho terrain.  We eventually crossed over into Oregon where we could see mountains off in the distance that we would soon be driving through.  Eastern Oregon was pretty flat and uneventful for the most part.  But as we gained elevation the landscape began to grow more and more beautiful.  Soon enough we were driving through miles and miles of enormous Douglas Fir trees.  We crossed over and around a few mountains and after about 3 hours of driving through Oregon the Columbia River Gorge opened up before us.  The Columbia River is about a mile across and we could see Washington on the other side.  The road took us down into the Gorge where rock walls climbed hundreds of feet on each side of the river.  The terrain was beautiful.  Everything was green.  The rock walls even had green moss covering them.  We pulled into the awesome town of Hood River around 5 pm.  Our hotel was right at the end of a draw bridge that crossed from Oregon into Washington.  Hood River is beautiful and quiet.    It is also the best place to kite surf in the US according to Outside magazine.  The mountain air there is cool and crisp as well.  As the sun set on our last full day of traveling we had a view of the Columbia River to the north and Mt Hood to the south.
We made it!

The sunset at Hood River, OR. Our first night in the state.

Day 6
We left Hood River and took the scenic route around Mt Hood as we drove towards Portland.  We drove passed enormous mounds of snow and beautiful landscape but never got a clear view of Mt Hood.  Clouds had settled over the mountain since the night before and visibility was low.  We headed onto Portland where it was raining and cold.  We got a bite to eat and walked around a bit but didn't stay long before heading onto Salem.  The main highlight from Portland was seeing a gentleman that decided to tattoo his entire face blue and fix his goatee so that he looked like some Hindu god.  We were in a coffee shop when we saw him and while Julie had her back turned I tapped her on the butt with the long wooden spoon the owners had tied the bathroom key too.  She jumped big time thinking the blue faced man had just given her a little tap on the tush.  So funny!  We rolled into Salem later that evening and went straight to the hotel to settle in for the night.  Our journey was over and we were exhausted.  We all slept soundly that night dreaming of blue faced men.

Views of Portland, OR.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The way it all began...

Most people want to know where we got the idea to just head off into the sunset in pursuit of traveling PT jobs.

This past summer we (Josh and I...this is Kate writing) went to Huntington Beach in SC with my family.  We went for a long walk along the coast, out to a jetty that my family always makes a point to go out on when we're there camping.  Sitting there, soaking in the sun, it just hit me that it could be a possibility.

So I asked Josh "What if we traveled together in a few years? As PTs?!" He immediately shut me down.  It was crazy....we had a dog....we liked Charlotte....I had a great job....he was going to be a new grad. We talked about it, and there were a million reasons NOT to do it!  But over the next few months, it kept coming up.  

                   The jetty where we had the initial conversation about traveling.

Eventually it got to the point that we both knew it was something the Lord was calling us towards.  Both of us have such a heart for adventure and travel.  We both love a challenge.  But talk about going way outside of our comfort zones! It became the most exciting and nerve-wracking idea we've yet had.

When our rental agreement for our house in Charlotte unexpectedly fell through, we knew that now was the time.  So after MUCH prayer, we decided to go for it.  I gave my notice for my job - my "dream job" as I have called it since I was a student there 2 years ago - something that gave me several good cries in the following weeks.

In the time between deciding to go for it (mid-January) and actually getting a placement in Salem, Oregon (March 4th, the Monday after my last day at work in Charlotte), here are several things that I learned:

- I love to "have control" of situations.  .....Like I actually do in the first place.  Having the middleman of a travel agency searching for a source of income for you when you have a definite end-date to your current job is hard!

- Change is also hard.  We put all of our belongings, minus what we thought we'd need in the next 2 years as we do this, in a storage unit.  We sent our beloved dog Denver to "camp" with her grandparents in Greenwood. (Thanks again Mom and Dad!!!!!!!!) And we lived with dear friends in Belmont for a month as I finished up at work. Then we went to Greenwood and waited to leave.

- I can count on my husband, Josh.  He talked me through several freak-outs during the transition.  He prayed for me, for us, and for our future.  He's truly a man of God and I am SO lucky to have him.

- I'm too young to be stuck in my ways. (But aren't we all?! Life is too short!) This is one of the key reasons that I knew that the Lord was behind all of this. He has a lot of great things in store for us in this process, and none of them allow us to stay as we currently are.  Which, turns out, is fine by me.  I have a lot of growing to do yet.

- The Lord is trustworthy.  I guess my whole life is going to be a process of learning and re-learning this. A verse that stuck out to me during the transition was from Joshua 1: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." And also, from Matthew 6: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

On Tuesday March 5th, 2013 we pulled out of the driveway in Greenwood, SC to begin the adventure.