Over the past 72 hours I drove more than 650 miles through the lush green Oregon flatlands leading me out to the jagged coastline down the 101. #47 on my bucket list was a coastal drive down the Pacific Highway of Oregon and a visit to Cannon Beach. A guilty pleasure of beauty is the only way to truly describe the views that I took in over the past three days of driving. My journey started as I left the hustle and bustle of Seattle and worked my way down past Olympia and onto US 101. If done correctly, you will add almost an entire days-worth of driving by simply ignoring your GPS and forever following the winding roads of the Pacific Highway.
My exact route, well, it was mostly like my own recovery, it was unconventionally successful. If you follow the map you will find that I-5 is a much simpler, faster route towards California, but a swift drive through the state of Oregon was not the mission I was on. I was set out to get lost in the beauty of 50 different shades of green. Leaving Seattle, I made the short drive through Olympia and headed south-west landing in Cannon Beach just in time for lunch. For anyone that has ever drove up and down any coastline there are a number of rock formations, seemingly all the same, but not Haystack Rock. Sure, its large, but it’s majestic. You find yourself at peace strolling up and down the cold sandy beach watching families take their candid photos, dogs chasing after endless amounts of seagulls, and the waves crashing into the shoreline.
If my journey ended at Cannon’s Beach I wouldn’t have called it a disappointment, I just wouldn’t say I got the full effect of what I set out to accomplish on my trip through Oregon. I’ll call this section of this post (living life dry.) I’ve found over the past three years of recovery there has been a distinct difference of living in recovery, and living dry. Just because I’ve stayed sober didn’t always mean I was happy, living life to the fullest, or being true to myself. Sure, I was staying out of trouble, maintaining my employment, and keeping up with my bills, but I did most of those things while I was drinking (usually.) Walking down the shoreline of Cannon Beach gave me the ability to reflect on my own life and thinking about the slippery slope moments of my own journey. It gave me time to ask the difficult questions of why I continue to stay sober. My conclusion, being sober has given me the ability to be who I want to be in life. I am no longer tied down by my own insanity. I am no longer docked in the harbor, rocking back and forth banging into the dock of life. I am free, wind in my sails, able to navigate the waters of life as I please.
1:30 P.M on a Tuesday, and there I was, strolling down Cannon’s Beach. Beautiful, but the wind was blowing and I was craving a donut. This section of the post (Living Life in Recovery.) For the next 24 hours I was able to escape into what I wanted to experience, not darkness. I left the coastline and headed back towards the big city. Welcome to Portland my GPS yelled at me, home of the famous Voodoo Donuts. Sure, was a three-hour roundtrip drive worth a dozen donuts? I couldn’t answer that questions, nor is that the point, but I am glad I did it. No longer am I living in my past, nor worrying about what tomorrow may bring. I am living in the moment and enjoying the beauty of today. Truthfully the donuts were pretty damn tasty, I’ll admit.
This part of the trip is where my Dad would have been both proud, and screaming at me. I made a few wrong turns while gazing at the beauty of the Oregon Mountain side and my GPS signal no longer worked. I actually pulled out a 1980’s retro map and navigated my way back to the coastline fairly successful. I hung a right off I-5 and followed the Yaquina River for nearly two hours winding my way through dense colorful valleys. Each tree, river bank, grassy field, and even the skyline seemed to offer a different shade of green. I found myself pulling over to look deep into my own sobriety, or maybe just a deep reflection on why I started the Sober Voyager to begin with. Three years ago, prior to my last drink I would have never left Portland. You would have found me at the end of a bar, card declining, arguing with a taxi driver on what street my hotel was located. Today, I am healthy, happy, and forever seeking new experiences in life. Finally, just as the sun was setting my GPS signal restored I pulled into a little coastal town of Battle Rock Beach.
In my opinion, for anyone that has ever made the drive down the coastline of Oregon, it is this small coastal town of Battle Rock Beach that starts the true beauty of the 101. For the past day, I have zig-zagged my way through cliffs and beach towns, shorelines of jagged rock mountain sides until I finally arrived at the California State line. Tomorrow morning, I will enter the Redwoods National park, #46 on my bucket list. Oregon gave me the ability to reconnect on why I started the concept behind the Sober Voyager a little more than a year ago. This Company and Foundation is still very green, just like my own recovery. For each time that I stopped my car on the shoulder of the road to capture “the perfect shot” it wasn’t until the end of my journey through Oregon that I realized that each shot was perfectly perfect in that very moment. This trip, 50 states in 50 weeks, is not about finding that one perfect recovery story. With each mile I drive and each new person I speak with I am reminded that I set sail to collection not one, but an entire photo album worth of stories at the end of this journeyMy drive through Oregon was perfectly unique to me, just like each and every recovery story is to the storyteller.