I get restless. Always have. And I mean always. Now, the “where” of what I was drawn to at the moment has changed over the years. But the common denominator still remains the same ... exploring (to me) the frontier. As you can imagine, if the frontier represents the front edge of my experiences then it certainly is evolving and moving.
When we first moved to Portland since it was new it satiated some of my restlessness. I had a new city to explore and learn. There were and are many layers and wrinkles to uncover in this ever-changing complex city. In that regard, it still continues to be a new frontier to explore even after eight years. However, every now and then I just need to leave the city and explore the hinterlands (obviously in order to ride).
For the first several years those trips always meant making a beeline straight for the coast (unless I’m biking). Maybe since I grew up in the Midwest and lived in the Arizona desert for nearly a decade it made sense why the Pacific Ocean beckoned me. We’d explore the small coastal towns and craggy coastline during every trip. Sitting on a high cliff watching the rhythm of the waves pounding the coast is as good as it gets.
But I wanted more.
I became restless with my journeys. So I headed east. East of Portland that is. Crossing to the other side of the Cascade Mountains is to step into a completely different world. Different than urban Portland and certainly different than the rain-drenched Oregon coast. From rainforest to high desert in the matter of an hour drive. From a color palette of dark greens, grays, and blues to one filled with browns sprinkled in with a touch of green. It didn’t matter what color it was. I needed it.
This restlessness, left unchecked, will build in pressure. Pressure isn’t all bad. Besides, it was the pressure of magma that created the majestic Cascade Mountains and the line of volcanic peaks that run down the spine of Oregon. The peaks that were created by pressure now became the ones to alleviated my own. And so a road trip was in store.
I had it all mapped and planned out. A camping trip atop a central Oregon desert mountain. Even though it was summer it was high enough in elevation to not just cool an evening, but allow for a crisp one. On a Friday morning we loaded up our SUV and began our journey up and over the Cascades. From Portland it is a steady climb up as the road takes us up the flank of Mt. Hood. While starting at nearly sea level in Portland, the highway peaks 4,000 feet up in the town of Government Camp before beginning the descent down the backside.
The drive up weaves its way through dark and brooding forests. The large trees so hem in the road that one is rarely afforded any views other than the channel that the road cuts through the trees. As the road winds up higher and closer to Government Camp sure enough there are breaks in the view and on a clear day the glaciated peak of Mt Hood is staring down at you. But I’ve seen this view countless times. It never gets old, but I wanted something different. And so we kept driving.
The high desert of central and eastern Oregon beckons me. I have spent a good bit of time lately reflecting on why. Why does it? Why not the spectacular Oregon coast? Why not the lush rainforests on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains? Why not all of the oddities of Portland? Why the barren desert? Maybe I just need a different kind of dirt under my mountain bike tires.
The promise of new adventures beckoned us onward down the backside of Mt Hood and eventually out from the canopy of trees. The whole world opened up. The plan was simple … hit the skatepark in Madras, then two skateparks in Bend, visit the Tactics store, and head out of town for camping. I didn’t bring my bike but had packed every conceivable contraption for brewing coffee under the high desert blue skies. We had planned to shoot hundreds of photos and make a series of short videos.
But we never got out of Bend.
Ten minutes into skating in Bend my son fell. He had had surgery only a few weeks prior and was slowly easing back into activity. Sure enough, as you know how it always goes, he fell and hit just the right spot to break open his incision from surgery. Blood. That led us to urgent care, a new change of clothes (since he bled through his), a quick stop at Chipotle, and then the 3 hour drive back to Portland. Adventure was over.
Ironically, a few weeks removed we all still talk about how fun that day was … even though it didn’t turned out how we had planned. My son had a 2nd surgery this week and is on the mend, but already that trip to Bend has ingrained itself into a family memory of another fun adventure. Sure, it didn’t have an epic ending, but time together for a “dude’s day out” was worth it.
It may not have been epic … but sure was pretty close.
Words and photos by Sean Benesh, Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager.