If you know anything about me based off social media posts or this blog, you would know that moving to Portland has been a dream of mine since I was 14 years old. Going into 2015, I made it a legitimate New Year’s resolution to go to Portland, little had I known that my mom would be moving there six months later. To say in the least, this has been a huge dream for me. Though the way that I got here wasn’t what I was expecting. Prior to July of this year, I figured I would drive up the coast with my family. Instead, my boyfriend, Isaac, and I drove 2,411 miles across eight states in eight days. Here is the journey. I hope you enjoy.
On August 13th, I departed from my hometown of Phoenix with my car packed with just about everything that I owned. It was a four hour drive to Vegas and I was praying my car would make the start of the trip (and hopefully the rest of the trip as well). In the middle of nowhere, a heavy storm hit where I was driving. Nothing Prescott didn’t prepare me for. I had my hazards on, coasted at 40mph on an 80mph road, windshield wipers about near falling off, lightning flashing the field next to me, and periodically telling myself, “This is absolutely nuts.”
After about 10 minutes of me thinking I’m going to have to pull over, I drove through it. Hours later, I crossed the bridge that Isaac hates into Nevada. Only a little while longer until I’m reunited with my boy.
For the next week, I stayed in Vegas with Isaac and his family. We went to church together, socialized at a youth event, and I made myself best friend’s with his baby niece. Giggles I will hold on to. Also during my stay, I was allowed one last ‘farewell’ to another staffer from UCYC. These farewells weren’t easy, but definitely were cherished.
On August 20th, we set out for a four hour road trip to Antimony, Utah. After we left Vegas, there was no traffic. Our first stop in Utah made me hate Utah. It was busy and had round-a-bouts outside of my comfort zone, but as we continued our drive, we both began to LOVE it. Four hours later, we made it to our destination for the night: a quiet home across from a farm in a city whose population was 120. It was humbling to be away from the big cities we both grew up in and for us both to be lost in alone time, together, with cows mooing during the night. The next morning, we left our note in the guestbook and continued our journey.
The next day, we had a six hour stretch ahead of us to Rock Springs, Wyoming. Leaving Utah, we both thought to ourselves, “This wouldn’t be too bad of a place to live in the future.” We talked about possibly starting a Christian church there and living in awe of God’s beauty constantly. We drove through mountains and cities and exchanged “I love you’s” along the way. It was a LONG drive, but it was so worth it. Upon our arrival in Rock Springs, I was ready to knock out for the night. We were staying in a nicely refurnished basement that belonged to a beautiful, young couple. The blankets were heated and the entire place was welcoming. My favorite part was the shower. The bathroom had heated floors and a ceiling shower head that felt like rain. A good night’s sleep later, we were ready for another five hour stretch of road to Gillette, Wyoming, where we would stay with our friend’s, Matt and Josh’s wonderful parents.
While on the road to Gillette, we both weren’t too impressed by the flatness of Wyoming. It definitely didn’t spark our attention like Utah had. In Casper, we stopped at a gas station and restaurant where I got a coffee fill. We came to the conclusion that Wyoming has beautiful weather and kind people, but not much to see. Two hours after Casper, we were in the home of the Bergers. For the next few days, we got to know the couple I grew to love over the past couple of months. They showed us more of God’s character and more of his love. We went fishing in Buffalo one day and to a car show in South Dakota the next. In the three days that we spent with them, I got to understand more of the love they have, the love their boys have, and the love I have for Isaac. On the 25th, we were headed to our next destination. It was a goodbye that I know won’t last forever.
From Gillette, we drove through Billings, Montana, and landed in Bozeman, Montana five and a half hours later where we stayed in a lovely cabin home. This night, we found out that McDonald’s doesn’t sell hot-n-spicies in A LOT of states so we ate chicken nuggets and pizza for dinner. The next day, we headed out on a three hour drive to Missoula, Montana. In Missoula, we stayed in a lovely, modern home and shared the space with a cute Yorkie name Remi. That evening, we went to the university where we saw my friend, Kelsey. We ate together and shared stories from camp before headed back to the home to sleep.
The next morning, we knew we had a packed day. It would be another long stretch of five hours to get to our final destination before Portland: Kennewick, Washington. We drove through the rest of Montana (which was so beautiful), briefly through Idaho and down into Washington. I must say, I wasn’t really impressed by Washington either. Driving with my best friend made the long drive worth it, but by this time, I was so over driving and was excited to get out of the car. We stayed in a lovely home where we ate pizza rolls for dinner and soon called it a night.
That night, I was so excited that I hardly caught a good sleep. We had a little over three hours until I would be home. I hadn’t been home in over two weeks. Isaac is my person home, but it had been two weeks since I left Phoenix so I felt in between homes the whole time. The drive was scenic. It was a part of Oregon I had never seen before which made the final push of a drive worth it.
Almost four hours later, we had made it. I opened the door to my home, embraced my mom and then we started unpacking. We stayed home that night, but knew the following days would be filled. On the 29th, we went to the ABC District in Portland where we ate, walked and I got ice cream. The 30th, we went to Multnomah Village where we played uke together, walked, ate and read together. The following day, we had a two hour drive (which doesn’t seem bad at all after six hour drives consecutively in a row) to Cannon Beach where we spent the day eating, reading, skipping stones and spending our last full day together.
September 1st was a sad day for us both. It was the day my boy would be leaving and I would go a long time without seeing him again. We spent the day in Hawthorne eating, walking, reading and drawing. From there, we went to the airport. We talked and cried and hugged and promised. I watched him all the way through security, then went to sit, read, cry and drink lemonade.
At one point during our time in Portland, I told Isaac, “You know, you leaving is really the end of summer. You leaving is my last bit of home going away.” And again, I was sad.
This summer was one I will never forget. It filled me with joy and peace, brought me closer to God, gave me many frustrations, made me laugh hard, and love better. I traveled roads I’d never been on before. I’ve been in states that my parents haven’t been to. I’ve eaten more gas station food than I have in my entire life. I’ve DRIVEN more than I’ve ever had. This summer has been lots of “news” for me and lots of change. At the end of the day, and to conclude this blog, I am thankful. I am thankful for every opportunity, every conversation, every tear, every struggle and everything that brought me to my new home in Portland. I’m grateful for every obstacle that Isaac and I had to overcome during the summer because at the end of it all, we are together and we have trusted God to build our foundation so that we can overcome this new obstacle of long-distance. At the end of the day, through everything that has happened since May 26th, I am grateful.
Thank you so much, as always, for reading my nothingness. For the first time in a long time, this nothingness is something again.
Melanie Rose 9/4/2018 1343h
Tennessee Whiskey // Chris Stapleton