I'm sure if you follow me on social media, you've been wondering a few things... Where the heck is Lauren? and Why the world would she leave the farm and fly to Oregon? My absence the last month in prepping and processing this trip was all but typical of me.
In May, I went out the Pacific Northwest for the trip of a lifetime. I rekindled an old friendship and I jumped both feet in, on a plane, and flew across the country to see him. (We've known each other and each other's families since we were tots- 3 and 5.)
This blog is my unique love story of how God meets us right where we are, draws us to Him, and embraces us in our middle. This trip is one that changed my life, forever. I believe life is an adventure meant to be shared. This adventure certainly brought me to my knees and left me in the loving arms of God for comfort for the things I don't understand in my middle. It was the most wonderful trip, and I wanted to be able to share it with you all, because I am hopeful it will touch someone else going through the middle of their own story.
I believe "Life is an adventure meant to be shared."
This was a trip about discovering more about him. I was so excited, because time with him would show me what made him, him. It was a trip about where he grew up, a place I had never been and couldn't even imagine the beauty and wonder of without having spent time there. It was about the things he loved to do, his family, the place he calls home, and his heart. I didn't care what we did, honestly. I just wanted to learn more about who God made him. I was up for anything! In this, you're going to learn a lot about this friend of mine who means the world to me. If you could whisper a prayer for him, that would mean so much to my heart.
I left my house early on a Thursday morning about 2:45AM. Of course, after making 2 t-shirts for my Etsy shop customers at 2:15AM. (Y'all know me... always going.) My sister and I had a sleepover (YAY) for the first time in years and watched "How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days" with Freddie the night before. She was staying with him at the farm to watch over things while I took my trip of a lifetime to the Oregon coast.
Don't mind my masked face and my crazy-tired, 2 hours of sleep, running-on-adrenaline eyes!
I boarded and went to DFW for my layover. I had totally forgotten how HUGE that airport was, since I hadn't been there in 15 years. Texas was as far West as I have ever been and Maryland is as far North, so this was quite the feat. I also hadn't been on a plane in nearly 10 years, and I've never had a layover. I am stubborn, so I refused to end up in Oregon without ALL my things. And not being a frequent traveler, I decided to carry 75lbs of luggage in vacuum sealed bags (because a girl has to have ALL THE THINGS, can I get an AMEN?) all over the country. Lesson learned... for future traveling, I will get a TSA approved wheeled bag- the biggest one they will allow. Ya girl does not pack light. And I didn't care!
Ok so here's a brief overview of our trip itinerary, which was 100% a surprise to me pretty much til the day before. I tend to like to have a plan. But I sooooo needed the spontaneity. And, I definitely tried to stay in the present moment, so I don't have photos of every last detail, but I want to share a few places we went, ate at, and enjoyed while I was there that I would recommend!
Noonish Flight Arrived in Portland over Mount Hood
Lunch at McMenamins on the Columbia River (the view of seals in the river were to die for)
Motocross Track in Portland to watch him race
Dinner on the ride to Tillamook which is his hometown
First thoughts "These trees are HUGEEEE!!!" Seriously every tree is at least 3x bigger than the largest tree I've ever seen, even in the mountains Tennessee at my Dad's farm.
Watching him in his element was so neat! I loved getting to be a part of that experience. He's been doing motocross for nearly his whole life until the last few years. And in case you want to know he came in 1st on his practice round and 2nd on the first race. We left early to make it to Tillamook, since it had been a long day.
Coffee at Five Rivers
Breakfast at Wanda's Cafe in Nahalem (anything on the menu is phenomenal, but I got the raspberry waffle)
Hiking at Short Sand Beach
Lunch at The Pizza Garden dockside on the Nahalem River
If you look at that mountain in the photo above and then look towards the farthest point in the ocean, there are actually caves. Part of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie was filmed in those caves!
This was the perfect hike for a beginner. The hiking over near the caves is more strenuous from what I hear. We definitely took the tougher course going up the boulder to start, but it was a great way to knock out 2 fears of mine all at once (rock climbing and heights). And the views were breathtaking.
Coffee + Breakfast to-go at Five Rivers
Surfing at Short Sand Beach
Lunch at A Mighty Thai (the curry was great)
The water in Oregon is always cold. A good wet suit is a must! I checked out the water temp for the places I knew he surfed often and did some research before I left. I found a wetsuit that would suit ;) (see what I did there) for the occasion. It was 54 degrees, so I needed a 3-4mm full wet suit, boots, vest, hood, and gloves. I totally thought I would be fine without the hood and gloves- I WAS NOT! I will definitely splurge for those in the future, at least til the heat of the summer.
Here's a little first impression after the water and I got acquainted that I sent to my family!
Lunch at The Schooner Restaurant & Lounge
Ice Cream at The Tillamook Creamery
Tillamook is known for their cheese and ice cream. You can find it in your local grocery store. Next time you go, grab some and tag me! It was a different experience being there and if you go near Tillamook, you should definitely stop by. The cheese factory is huge and really neat, but the ice cream is even better in person!
I was so surprised at how much Tillamook felt like home to me. There were so many farms and pastures. It just didn't feel like I was across the country at all!
I don't have any recommendations for lodging, simply because I stayed with his family, but I definitely say it is a trip to take, and there are so many cute little towns up and down the coast to explore. I wish I had gotten to stay longer. The Pacific Northwest is a place everyone should have on their bucket list! And I would go again and again.
In coming back from this trip, I realized how freeing it is to unplug and get a new perspective on life. Just being somewhere different out of my comfort zone (of the farm) was huge for me! It tested my limits with tiny spaces, meeting new people, traveling far away from home and alone, and conquering some fears with heights and cold water.
But, the real learning came when I got back. I needed to stay unplugged for a while, regroup, and figure out what God was speaking to me all along. I needed to process the beauty, the longing in my heart, and the things I couldn't quite put into words. I could feel something in me changing. I needed time to wrestle with God and figure out what He was and is teaching me, still. I've learned that He longs for intentional time with me, not just what is leftover. I learned that in the quiet, I hear His voice so much more clearly. I learned that I need His direction for every area of my life from my daily habits and schedule, my business and ministry direction, and my writing; I also needed to learn to not miss the little nudges in my day where He is calling me to sit in His presence or to share His love with someone else, a stranger or a friend.
This trip turned my life upside down, on its head. And, it was so needed. I needed to be wrecked. I needed to strip away the layers of things I put in place to try and make something of my life, so I could get to what parts were God and what parts were me, struggling in survival mode. Survival of being- human, a mom, a business owner, a struggling sinner, a control freak, a person who fears rejection, single, and all the other things I put before being a daughter of the King with all the authority, who wants to meet all my needs and surpass my expectations, because I am His- if only I will surrender. I forget so often to run to my Father first. And this trip, took me to my knees so I could remember who holds me, who embraces me and who loves me so much that He would call me into this wild adventure to remind me how much He loves me.
This entire trip and the aftermath God reminded me of His love for me, through His unique way of communicating to me, as if He and I have a love language all our own. Through conversations up and down the winding roads, through the beauty of magnificent landscapes, through little tiny birds, through the encounters I shared, and to the tribe I call my friends who helped me daily as I sought their wisdom, I found Him. He is the God who paints the sunset differently every single day, if only to get our attention, for a fleeting moment. His love for us surrounds us and is constantly calling us to join in the dance of life. My question is, when is the last time you joined Him? I don't want to miss a beat. And so, this trip is reminding me to join Him daily in the little things and the big things that I might miss, if I just let these moments pass me by.
God is calling you to a shared adventure, will you take it with Him?
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Let's keep growing, friends,