For the first time in my life, my adventures took me to the West Coast. Last month, I was fortunate enough to head to Portland as a good friend’s date to his close friends’ wedding. Having never been to the West Coast before, I went into the trip extremely optimistic. Everyone who knew about my upcoming vacation told me that I would love it, that they “could see me on the West Coast.” They could see me on the West Coast?
Now at first, I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. Did I not fit in on the East Coast? Do I look like someone who smokes a lot of weed? Or someone who wants to? I do love getting outside, a large component of my anticipation for the trip centered around the gorgeous scenery and the mountains neighboring Portland’s downtown. By the end of my trip, I knew people were right, I could see myself on the West Coast. As the trip came to an end, I also knew I didn’t want to leave.
But this post isn’t my Taylor Your Travels For: Portland, Travel Guide, this post is just about my flight to the West Coast. And how those 5.5 hours spent cooped up in an airplane we’re just as amazing as the 3.5 days I spent urban exploring Portland. You know how they say life isn’t always about the destination, but the journey? This was one of those cases where both were f*cking awesome.
So real talk: I don’t love flying. It’s always kind of freaked me out. But I’ve gotten a lot better recently as I’ve had more experience in the air + traveling alone. The week leading up to the trip was hectic – I’d been so preoccupied with life, it took me until Thursday night (while packing) to realize that the trek to Portland would be 6 hours, not 3…..b/c timezones. I hadn’t taken the time to think about time conversions but honestly felt so dumb haha. Luckily, I got an entire row to myself for this epic flight.
As a result of my lingering anxiety when flying, I rarely fall sleep on planes. All in all, this was one of those flights where I was thankful for both a window seat and the inability to sleep. I downloaded the entire season of Ozark, I brought a book – but 90% of those 6 hours was spent listening to music staring out the window at the scenery passing underneath the wings of our Alaska Air 737. The other 10% of time was spent with my felt pen to paper, unexpectedly scribbling down every thought going through my head into my planner. I didn’t bring a notebook; I didn’t expect this surreal experience, the overwhelming emotion.
Flustered, confused, stunned, I wrote disjointed sentences and incoherent thoughts. All a testament to the feeling of awe I was experiencing, expanding my adventures beyond the East Coast and observing all the landscapes of the United States I’ve only seen in coffee table books or on National Geographic.
These parts of our country that stun tourists are the same that physically divide our population, provide our food, influence our priorities on Election Day, sustain life…that’s some big shit.
From my planner:
“Talk about perspective. I don’t know what state/country I’m even flying over right now, but all I know is that I could stare at the world from this elevation forever.
We don’t have anything like this on the East Coast. And I’m writing these words in awe of the geographical diversity of this country, now evident to me as we effortlessly soar over mountains seamlessly flowing into crop fields; crop circles disintegrating into deserts with craters larger than my imagination could have ever dreamt them.
Being on this plane has been eye opening (thank God I can’t sleep on flights.) The Midwestern fields seem so surreal when they’re settled between greenery and sand. I’ve seen pictures, but this is different. I can’t wait to go everywhere.
Words do this feeling of wanderlust little justice. I’m floored, and I’m not sure this feeling will disappear even when this plane sets its wheels on the runway. You never understand something until you see it, experience it.
I’ve spent this entire flight wanting to drop out of this plane into every mountain town, corn field, barren plateau, riverbank — I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to make this flight. Honestly – this plane could turn around right now and I’d still be ecstatic. Flooded with wanderlust. Enthralled with wonder at the boundless beauty of this nation. I would be tired as hell, but I would be happy.
Deserts dance into wide-mouthed rivers, canyons sit silent and humble wherever the f*ck we are. I’ve got one question left to ask: how do I see it all? How do I see the picturesque mountains with trees placed in perfectly, chaotic rows? Sand dunes with lines that could only be painted by the gentlest touch? Winding roads in the crevices of it all?
I really can’t describe my sudden infatuation with everything I’ve just seen – I just know I need to see it again. Is this the feeling everyone else gets when flying West? Is this feeling a product of my naive eyes? Or is everyone else too busy sleeping, watching movies, sitting with their windows closed to take it all in? Why aren’t everyone else’s noses pressed up against their small windows?
Meanwhile, I sit here – like a kid in a candy store – drooling over every mile above which we’ve soared. Waiting patiently, anticipating the moment when we’re reunited.”
Until next time, keep exploring.