Monday, November 10, 2014

Whitewater SUP Road Trip

It's 6am and I'm in the backseat of my station wagon, wrapped in a sleeping bag at a rest area in Weed, California.  I'm as happy as I've ever been in my life.  I'm on the road, traveling with paddling equipment with a very loose itinerary and it feels great.  I love traveling by car and I love roadtrips and this one will bring me to Portland for a 3-day American Canoe Association whitewater SUP course put on by Next Adventure.  I got a last minute notice for the course and quickly jumped on it, as these aren't offered too often in the West.

I was already scheduled to be in the Redding area on Nov 1st, so adding this to the trip seemed logical.  Monday morning I slowly got my act together, got a few hours of work done at the local Starbucks and drove a few hours north.  Without any rush, I stopped at just about every rest area to stretch and take in the views.  Lassen and Shasta were snow-covered and this beautiful day was coming to an end.  Wanting a sunrise view of Shasta in the morning, I opted to sleep close.  Unfortunately it didn't pan out and I woke to clouds and rain.  Shit.  May as well head north.

Without coffee or breakfast, I began driving north towards Portland with no particular destination in mind.  Again, stopping at most rest areas and taking my time, I enjoyed the drive probably more than any other time on this route.  Going slow is pretty rad and easier on the body.  After a few minutes on google I picked my stop, a state park just southwest of Portland on the Willamette River.  Arriving in the afternoon, I booked a yurt for two nights and made myself at home.  Now, as I sit here snacking on hard cider, cheese & bread I'm reflecting on my present life.  I'm happy.  A bit directionless, but happy.

At the very beginning of 2014 my twelve year relationship came to an end.  Five months ago I moved out of my apartment in the Bay Area, put everything I own in storage and have been living on the road ever since.  New Hampshire, Tomales Bay, Pebble Beach, Arizona, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Maine, Canada, Sacramento and now Portland.  Work and play have kept me busy.  I'm living out of three pieces of luggage - a duffel with paddleboard and full paddling kit, another duffel full of clothes and camping gear and a backpack that serves as my office with computer, internet, chargers, cameras and notebooks.  It's simple and I'm loving it.

Every couple weeks or months I make it back to the Bay Area to visit storage, re-pack for the next leg of my trip, check my mail, visit my cat and see some friends.  It's fun, but California isn't home anymore - it's just a place to keep my stuff.  I still find it incredibly beautiful, but I desire to live somewhere I belong and I don't belong in the bay any longer.

Fast forward to 11:30pm on Saturday.  I'm back at that same exact rest area in Weed, California. Quick stop for a stretch and a 2-hour nap in the backseat.  I wish I could've stayed in Oregon longer, but I'm committed to a course in Oakland and need to get back for it.  On the 10-hour overnight drive, I'm still buzzing from a fun weekend and a future filled with standup whitewater.  I passed the course and got certified to teach ww sup.  There is a whole new venue opening up for me and I'm excited to think about new places to go and new challenges to take on.  Standup paddling the river makes me feel like a kid and that's an awesome feeling.  I'm now thoroughly hooked and looking forward to more.  But first I need to make it to Oakland by 7am.

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