Thursday, November 13, 2014

Winter's Arrival .

It's been a long time since I've sat down just to write. It's hard to find the time to do much of anything along those lines when I'm in school. As of today, I have about three weeks left of the first term of the year. The time has flown, really. Three weeks sounds so short... yet in reality that's a little less than a third of a term. I suppose it's longer than it sounds. The weather for today (yes, I'm really talking about weather...) is freezing rain, wintry mix, some snow... pretty crazy. But even though winter officially starts in December, I think that it usually just starts a little earlier in the PNW. That's definitely the case in the mountains, anyway. It can be depressing at times, and sometimes it's sort of weird because it makes you feel a little lonely in a weird sort of way, as if the weather robs you of your company. But at the same time it can be quite beautiful.

The schoolwork has picked up to the degree that I doubt I'll be able to do much in the upcoming weeks for fun. I have been keeping up with my workouts at the gym, but that's probably only because I put that as a priority above pretty much everything else. I'm itching to get outdoors more, even with the weather... I miss all the hiking I was able to do in the North Cascades during the summer. It makes me yearn even more for the crisp, fresh air and the feeling of escape, not to mention the wonder and elation you have being outside completely on your own. At times it's even unnerving... but as they say, it's good to be outside your comfort zone once in awhile. Just don't get lost out there.. haha.

On the subject of this blog, I know I have neglected it for far too long. Life gets in the way sometimes I guess. Maybe I just don't have the same motivation I did years ago. Or that I have convinced myself I don't have the time. In any event, I'm going to accept that I probably won't post too much until grad school is done in June. I think my email is on here somewhere, if you're interested in getting in touch. I also write a newsletter that I mail out every three months, so people can see what I'm up to. If you're interested in getting that, let me know!! Hope life is treating everyone well; until next time, whenever that may be.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Motivation & Giving Up.

We as a society want things to come too easily. We are too content to sit at our desks during the day at our jobs and expect promotions and new opportunities to fall into our laps. We lack motivation, drive, perseverance, and instead rely on upon the world of social media and living vicariously through TV shows and movies to replace the good vibes that occur ONLY with the results from hard. work.

I read a book a while back called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The book is all about how some people are predetermined for greatness, and certain circumstances have led them to be this way. While I respect that opinion, I'm calling bullshit. There is nothing we cannot do, nothing we cannot achieve, no goal we can't reach. Genetics aside, "free" time aside, opportunities aside, economy aside, war aside, when will we understand? There is not a single thing on this earth that can hold you back from what you want to achieve. All you have to do... is want it bad enough.

At the end of "Outliers" Gladwell talks about young students in school, and how over the years the amount of time we are willing to spend attempting something has gotten to be less and less. You see, in school we are taught that if we don't know the answer, all we have to do is wait and it will be given to us. What kind of lesson is that!? What kind of world are we setting up our children for? And we wonder why people struggle so much to succeed, to keep on their diets, to exercise regularly, to do anything that requires an ounce of motivation: Because we are trained to believe that if we can't do something right away, that we can just wait and it will come to us.

Here's your wake up call:

That's not how life works.

In the words of motivational speaker Eric Thomas, when you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, THEN you will be successful.

The time we have on Earth is so limited. Break it down to a decade, a year, a week, a day, an hour. Why not start now? Why not make the most of it? Honestly, what have you got to lose?

It's easy to be positive when everything is going your way. A steady job, good family relationship, steady girlfriend, loving wife, regular paycheck, gains at the gym... but that's not the point. It's what you do when you are kicked down that makes the difference. Because most people are content to sit and wait for things to get better instead of getting out there and doing something about it. After all, that is what we have been trained to do! Now imagine if every person who has given up decided that they wanted to keep. On. Trying. Imagine the resulting world we would live in!

There is no reason why you can't start working on your dreams today. There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to motivate yourself. There is no reason for you to EVER give up, and friends, there is no time like the present.

DO something with your life. Settle for nothing. DECIDE that you are going to be better.

And then just fucking DO IT.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Are You Successful?

What is success to you? Is it making a lot of money? Having a family? Being happy? Climbing the ranks in the professional world? Many people relate success to physical consequences of being successful. Success, is what it is to you.

It's not any one thing. No one person is successful or not successful. We all have this view in our heads of people that are successful, that have attained success. Why is this so often linked to wealth and fame? Let's look at this for a moment.

People who are known globally around the world all have one thing in common. They are the best at what they do. They have worked, so hard, to reach whatever they consider to be success. And have reached this idea with such fervor and ferocity that other people noticed. They have given so much of themselves and poured so much of their efforts into one, single, focused thing, that they have had an impact on other people.

When we put our minds to something, one thing, we must stay focused on that goal. We must keep this in our sights: our view of success. It's not created out of hope, or hard work alone, or wishes, or luck. You have to make a decision to be a success in your own eyes. And no one can take that choice away from you. Because once that choice is engrained in your mind, there isn't a thing in this world that can take it away from you. Burn it into your brain. Make it the first thing you think of when you wake up, and the last thing you think of before you to go sleep. Dream about it, even. If you keep your focus on your version of success, there isn't any way that you can't reach it.

I challenge you today to look back on your life up until this point and rethink the things that you claimed as successes. Challenge your identity and the way that you view success. Rewrite the script and give yourself a critique of those things you have claimed. Have you earned your successes? If you haven't, they are no longer successes.

Success, to me is not about status. Money. A job position. It's about the challenges that I set in place for myself. It's about goals that are so high that it's impossible for me to initially reach them. Because when I have become a strong enough person to finally get there. Only then, can I call myself successful.

But it doesn't end there. That's only the beginning...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Life is calling. It's your time to shine.

I haven't sat down and written anything for this blog in months. I think my last post may vey well be from back in March, and now it is mid August. A lot has changed in that time, including myself. Let me preface this with an apology for how long it has taken me to get back to this little corner of the Internet that I started, not that I owe it to anybody. I started this blog with grand intentions in my sophomore year of college, and used to write every day. Truth be told, I really miss this space. The cathartic feeling that comes from putting words down, and the interactions between those who still remember this blog. So while I can't promise frequent posts, or even regular ones, I'll see what I can do. It just has to become more of a priority.

Back when school was going on, I attended a career fair and in hopes of landing a job for the summer. As many of you know, I am an architecture major. This unfortunately means that the amount of jobs out there is not always large, and landing internships without any experience is tough. However, I ended up talking with a few firms there, had my portfolio ready, and left feeling pretty good about a few prospects.

Long story short, I am now currently working for a good-sized firm in downtown Seattle. I've been there around 7 weeks now since I moved to Seattle, and I really am enjoying the job. It's a healthy work atmosphere, and there are a lot of great people that work there that I really enjoy spending time with. I am hoping that when all is said and done and I finish up my last year of school down in Portland, that I will be offered a job back at this firm.

Living in Seattle has been a dream. For any of you who have heard good things about the Pacific Northwest, I would say that Seattle is the culmination of all of the amazing things that this region has to offer. The first thing that is awesome is how excited people are about the place they live. People can't get enough of the PNW and the mountains and the ocean and rivers. Everyone loves the outdoors, so much so that you can't ever be outside without seeing a million people running or biking or rollerblading or even just sitting. I've gone on a trip almost every weekend since I got here, visiting Olympic National Park, climbing mountains and fire lookouts, visiting deciduous rainforests and the foggy coastline. There is so much here for me, and so much of it aligns with the things that I love to do. Seattle is a generally vibrant city, with people liking to work hard, play hard, and stay in shape. All the different neighborhoods have their different vibes and totally different lifestyles.

I live in Queen Anne, which is pretty much an amalgamation of intercity living and suburbs. Out my window I can see a lot of the buildings downtown in addition to the Space Needle. The Elliot Bay waterfront is a five minute walk west of me, and my commute downtown is only 20 minutes or so. It's safe to say I have truly fallen in love with this place. It felt like home almost immediately, and I can't help but smile when I drive home down the roads from a fun night out, whether in Montlake or West Seattle or Ballard; looking at the city skyline with its shimmering lights, and feeling my heart well up with a fondness I have for no other city. There is magic here, and you can always feel it.

There is still a lot of traveling I would love to do around the area, but whether my financial funds will support that yet; I don't know. I have found a new place to live in Portland for my very last year of school (in my life... how crazy is that) and will be moving there in September. I have truly been blessed in all my experiences thus far this summer; meeting new people and hanging with coworkers, going out for lunch, climbing mountains and going on overnight backpacking trips. I've got to get back to planning for the next big adventure tomorrow, which is a mountain in the North Cascade range, but I'll write back here again soon, so I hope to hear from all of you that used to read this blog.

For those of you who receive my newsletters, the next one is virtually on its way.. and I know it's late. And if any of you are interested in following along with my adventures visually, I post pretty much every day on Instagram; @pndub_live.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Death .

This past weekend at mass the pastor talked about death, reflecting upon the parable of Lazarus' resurrection. So often we pit death against God, blaming Him for taking away the people or animals that we love and have come to expect to always be there. Why is this? I think that it's really hard to deal with permanent separation. It's the same sort of concept as the end of a relationship, in a way, in that you probably will not cross paths with that person again unless you were lucky enough to have an amicable separation. However, death is much more permanent.

Death is a really intriguing and simultaneously terrifying subject to me, in that we really don't have a clue what is going to happen. Being a firm believer in Catholicism, I believe that there is a Heaven out there for us and that the soul never truly dies - only the vessel within which it lives for time spent on Earth. That much is comforting. However, passing on into another life where you have no idea what will happen is terrifying. I believe that there is this innate fear of the unknown in all of us; that even those who have seemingly unshakeable faith will be nervous on their deathbed. Life as we know it completely changes, both for the person passing and those around them. Wounds are incredibly hard to heal when they are so permanent, and to no longer be able to see, talk to, or touch a person you have loved for so long is one of the hardest things in the world to accept.

And yet, it is one of the few things we cannot control. Time always passes, often at a rapidly fast rate without us even realizing, and soon we feel like we are running out of time.

In the movie PS I Love You, one of the characters dies right in the opening few scenes. Being an Irishman, his funeral consists of toasting shots to him and placing the empty glasses on his urn. I feel like in a way, I'd like my funeral to be like this. It is my wish that those that I leave behind are not stricken with grief, that instead they celebrate my accomplishments, experiences, and passion for living life abundantly. There is so much in this world to explore, new places to go, new people to meet, experiences to be captured and things to do! Death is simply a new chapter in our eternal books.

And while it still terrifies me when I think about what the heck happens when I die and what it will be like, I have a long time yet (let's hope) before that point, and I will continue to try to make the most of every single day that I have here on this Earth.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Into Dust .

So many. So many lost and forgotten.
Crumbled from what they once were, disintegrated into dust.
The stories of days, weeks and years past
No longer around
No longer read
No longer remembered
Where have these people gone?
Where have they disappeared to?
Where have their lives brought them now?
Yet there are those that continue
That share their stories; their lives
There are those that comfort and console
Befriend and encourage
Motivate and compliment.
Forget not the friends of years past
Forget not the stories they told
of triumphs and tragedies
But of most forget not the people
behind those words.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Is God Dead ?

If you follow movies at all, you'll know that there are two "religious" movies that recently came out. Most recently is "Noah," but about a week before that, a movie called "God's Not Dead" made its debut. I had seen an ad and it piqued my interest, and began reading reviews, almost all of which were pretty sour on the film. Perhaps against my better judgment, I figured I would give it a shot and go see it anyway.

I must admit I was terribly disappointed. And I'd like to explain why. 

(please note that this will contain movie spoilers)

If you don't know, the movie's premise is that a guy starting college enrolls in a philosophy class led by a tyrannic professor that is an atheist. The professor begins the first class by having every student write "God Is Dead" on a piece of paper and sign their name. Naturally, the Christian boy refuses and the rest of the movie is spent following him attempting to prove God's existence (in three 20 minute class sessions allotted by the professor...the punishment for anyone who tries to go against him).

Already you should be saying to yourself, this is ridiculous. And you'd be right. The fact that there is even a professor like that in the movie is ridiculous. Such a person would immediately be removed from any level of academia, especially at a university. The absurd things continue throughout the movie.

From the opening scene, we begin following a multitude of people of all race and religion that have no real seeming connection to one another, except for the fact that they all live in the same town. Though all of their paths seem to randomly cross at one point or another, it's just too insane. The stereotypes are so evident it's borderline offensive: an Asian student studying abroad with an overbearing father heavily involved in business; a Muslim girl whose father makes her cover her face; and then of course the atheist professor and seemingly every other student at the school who seems to give no care to religion whatsoever. The movie is set up to victimize the one Christian kid in the movie. The fact of the matter is Christians are not a minority. And that's how they are portrayed in this movie. It's just not true! To suggest something like that in even the most remote aspect is ludicrous.

Another thing that bugged me was that the protagonist's girlfriend begs him to give up this quest of proving God's existence, saying that he has to choose between doing this or giving her up. It is mentioned earlier in the movie that they have been together for six years. What kind of fucked up girlfriend is she? If they've been together that long, their love must be pretty strong. And a woman who loves someone that much would never ask them to give up something that means so much to them. I would know, because I have that kind of woman in my life, and while we have not been together for six years I well know that she would support me in anything that meant a lot to me unless there was some adverse consequence that affected my health or something like that. Not to mention that while there is no scene for it, it is mentioned that his parents also told him to give this up and just drop the class or sign the paper saying God is dead. That's bullshit too. There is this absurd "lone Christian against the world" mentality, and everybody basically gives up on the dude and then he of course comes back and wins everyone over.

I also wonder how much of an influence the Christian group Newsboys played in this. In the opening scene when Josh (the protagonist) is walking to confirm his classes, he is wearing a Newsboys shirt sporting their latest album "God's Not Dead", which, coincidentally is the title of the movie. If you thought that was it, you'd be wrong because they also contributed to the soundtrack, and even play a part in the movie, as they just happen to be coming to play a show in podunk Louisiana. The end of the movie consists of a giant concert where all of the "good" people (aka people who are Christians and not atheists) happen to show up and recognize each other. Product placement anyone? Maybe selling more albums for Newsboys took an even larger priority than the "message" of the film. One review described it as Christian propaganda for those almost militant theists that believe that any and all non-believers or non-Christians are going to hell. This will only fuel the fire.

The pure ridiculousness of the minister and his buddy trying to get to Florida with at least three cars that refuse to start is dumb. It's amateur and childish, and I found it odd too that Josh texted with a minister that he didn't even seem to know. After all we are assuming he just started college and he's far away from home, right? When did they become best buddies and start texting one another?

Then of course we have the Asian father who never pays any attention to his son and blames him for ruining the little brother's chances of studying abroad because of his religious study, the Muslim girl who gets beat and kicked out of the house by her father because she wanted to be Christian, and even Willie and Korie Robertson from Duck Dynasty (the fact that they are in the movie period is strange to me).

The message I'm getting here is that "everyone is a terrible awful going-to-Hell person unless they are a Christian" and that's just wrong. It's not cleverly done, there's no room for error, and it's a very in-your-face message, if you can even call it that. So much so, that as a Christian and a Catholic myself, I was even kind of offended.

All stupid scenes aside, perhaps poor acting aside, and even maybe a pretty poor premise aside, the worst part about this whole movie is how atheists are portrayed. One gets cancer, and her also-atheist boyfriend dumps her saying that love is a myth and she should've realized that. Then we have the boyfriend himself, who is a giant douchebag who doesn't even go to visit his dementia-stricken mother in the hospital for years, and when he does he just makes fun of her. We had Radisson, the professor who is an atheist and then at the end of the movie when he shows promise gets hit by a car and is killed. It is portrayed that the atheists have to be set up to die in order to come to faith, and that that for some reason is "beautiful" as explained by one of the characters in the movie! Immediately after Radisson gets hit by a car, the two preachers (finally on their way to Florida) witness it and don't call for help, but rather ask him if he believes in Jesus. Um, WHAT?! It's seriously just retarded.

The whole point here, besides the fact this movie is not worth watching, is that we are one people as a human race, and regardless of your religious beliefs, we can all get along. This seems like a film designed to pit theists and atheists against one another, or reinforce religious extremists in their torment of those of other beliefs. The fact of the matter is, some people believe and others don't. And we all have that choice. And no matter what happens at the end of our lives, or during our lives, or whatever, we will all have had the freedom to make that choice. Some will be born into their belief, others will grow into it over time, some will make a distinctive choice to pursue one or another, and others still will make a choice to switch from believing to not or vice versa. I know plenty of people that aren't religious that are amazing people. My buddy Tyler doesn't practice any religion, but has always been incredibly respectful of mine and even offered to come to mass with me just out of friendship. Everyone I have met that does not believe, or even is just struggling with it, always tells me that they are so happy that I have found something I can believe in so strongly, and sometimes even that they are jealous that I feel something when I pray. Why is it that we are pitted against each other? Religious beliefs simply do not dictate whether or not you are a good person. Everyone has their own idea of how they should live, and that's what they live by. Religion may have an influence on that (i.e. 10 commandments or the Bible) but in the end you decide how you want to live. I have been blessed to have people of other religions, beliefs and mindsets come into my life, because honestly I've had some amazing conversations with those people, just learning about what they believe and how they came to believe that way, or perhaps to not believe anything at all. 

Atheists are not automatically assholes and Christians are not automatically victimized Saints and martyrs, and it would be ridiculous to assume so. We all believe what we believe, and as long as we feel strongly about that, it's all goo. And while I may go to mass every Sunday, celebrate Catholic holidays, and read my Bible, you are more than welcome to do anything else you like, and we can still be bros. Because at the end of the day, if you're just a good person, I have nothing against you at all.

If you've seen this movie, or are planning to, feel free to leave some comments. I'm interested in what people have to say about it. Please be respectful in your comments should you leave them.

Spring Break 2014 .

As of March 18th, my winter term was finished. That day I had my last exam in the morning, and also my last little presentation that afternoon. But alas, there was no time for delay, as I jumped straight into my plans for Spring Break. I went home and showered and then was headed to Portland to meet my girlfriend, who was flying into PDX. On that day, it had been 70 days since we had seen each other... but we were both ecstatic that we were going to have a week to spend together.

Over the week that she was here, we did some big things, like spending time in Portland, Seattle (actually had a job interview up there), and driving out to the Oregon coast, in addition to some smaller things, like grabbing frozen yogurt at Yogurt Xtreme or hiking Spencer's Butte or going to Voodoo Donuts.

The fact of the matter is that it is so great to be able to actually spend time with someone that means so very much to you. And given that it's really not often we get to do that, it was pretty flipping great. Some people would like to argue that long distance is not for everybody. But I'd like to think that if someone means enough to you, you'd always be willing to give the world for them. Every relationship takes work, and if you don't accept that, I think you're naive. Ours might just need a little more work sometime since we can't always be together. The best part, though? Remembering that one day, the distance will close. And that's something worth fighting for.

I've always been a firm believer that seeing life is better than just hearing about it, so here are some photos from the week we spent together:

view of Seattle from the conference room of the office

the Space Needle

downtown Seattle from the Space Needle observation deck...

...and me 
looks cool from the bottom too!

view from Highway 101, the Pacific Coast Highway

the babes

me running down to touch the water; the dunes were slippery!

i was a happy camper

it doesn't even look real

always the adventurer... i wasn't supposed to be out there

but i wanted some pictures, so.. *shrug*
and there were sea lions!

the bridge by the beach we watched the sunset at. doesn't look like much but... certainly was

found this place on the walk up to the lighthouse

and it was like something out of a movie

decided to walk back down to the beach to watch the end of the sunset

but not before snapping a few pics

my idea for reflections in the water; it looks wet but it was just a thin film of water!

the HUGE Garbage Collector burger at Beachcomber (it was amazing, by the way)

hiking up Spencer's Butte

the Oregon "jungle"

with a worthwhile view

this sort of view all the way round
This break was probably the best one I've had yet. It was jam packed with a lot of stuff to do but also plenty of down time. We return to school on Monday, and though I am far from ready, I know that the next term will go quickly and soon it will be summer. Even more amazing still, I'll be halfway done with grad school at that point, in addition to moving to Portland for the second year. So many changes on the horizon!

If you ever have the chance to make it out to Oregon, or even just the west coast, do it. It's so worth it. And if you're a mountain person, you'll absolutely love it, just like I do. My motto for Oregon goes a little something like this: It may rain a lot here, but on the days it doesn't, it's absolutely perfect. It blows my mind that it was sunny in all places typically rainy (Portland, Seattle, Eugene etc.) while Mary Kate was here. But I think that maybe we had a little help from upstairs, watching over us and smiling.

Before I part, little shameless plug here, I write a quarterly newsletter about my adventures and what I've been up to. If you'd like to be added to the mailing list, please email me your address and I would be more than happy to include you! I promise I don't mail junk and I usually include a handwritten note as well. International is totally cool as well, for any of you non-USA readers. Cheers to you all, and thanks for being a part of this blog!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

instagram .

Wanted all you guys to know that even though I haven't been posting here as much as of late (I am often simply too busy to really sit down and write) I do post pretty regularly on instagram and have what I would like to think are some half decent photos on there. So that said, my instagram account is @pndub_live . Hope to see you there!

And if you're dying to read more, just be patient because I definitely will eventually get to it. The next two weeks are pretty much devoted to working on my final project for the term for architecture school. So until then, friends, I'll still be reading your stuff but probably won't be writing much! See you soon!

PS thanks to those of you who have written me in true letter format (cough, Angie). If anyone else wants to get on my mailing list and write letters, feel free to email me with an address. I send out a quarterly newsletter about my life in the northwest and I'd be happy to add you to the list.

a haiku. because shit, why not.

forget about it.

eliminate negatives.

different focus.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oregon, Land of Fog .

I don't get to write as often as I would like anymore. Time is something that becomes precious and you have many internal quarrels as you try to prioritize things and yet at the same time give them all equal attention. Thankfully I have been able to read others' posts often and keep up with what's going on here in the blogosphere.

The winter season in Oregon is long, cold, and wet. It rains a lot. It mists a lot. And a lot of times there is so much moisture in the air that you just feel wet all the time even if it's not actually raining. Picture walking through a cloud that actually is the density of about 10 clouds.

The weird thing is, you can get up and see the world before the fog rolls in. Around 530am, which is the time I normally roll out of bed, if you look out the window the world is still. The traffic ceases to exist. Sometimes the rain patters against the window and the street, and the world is distorted through the streaks that form on the glass.

Several times a week I go to the gym with a friend and when we wake up, it's totally still outside. You can almost always see your breath, and our voices pierce stagnant air, disturbing it from its peace. By the time we get out of the gym, despite it still being dark, you can't see. The fog is so thick you could cut it with a knife. It's truly unlike anything I have ever seen. I'd take a picture, but it probably wouldn't even look like anything.

The coolest part is when you are driving through and it's like you come into bubbles of clear air. It's like swimming out of the ocean for a moment and then diving right back in. But when the sun does finally come up and clear out the fog, damn the days are gorgeous. Makes you remember how beautiful the weather really can be.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

cold .

The air practically singed on its way down. A deep inhale, followed by a deeper exhale. My breath instantly silhouetted against the moon's light. No one else ever believed this was a respectable time to awaken. Checking my laces once more, I tightened them and knotted a double loop. The reflective strips along the soles shone, but the rest of me lay in shadow. I was a ninja of the night. Another inhale, another exhale. The cold crept into my lungs, alighting a fire inside to keep me warm. My heart raced with anticipation and I grew impatient. Propping my leg up on the handrail to my apartment steps I cautiously leaned over and touched my head to my knee. My hamstrings screamed, but they did not falter. Switching legs I glanced around. Not a soul in sight -- just the way I like it. The dark takes no prisoners, only victims. But this was different. I owned this place. This was my realm.

My instincts took over. Another inhale, another exhale. Adjusting the hat on my head, I brushed the hair out of my eyes, shifting in the hoodie and pants that had kept me warm over the years. I had gone miles in these clothes. I had pounded my feet in these shoes. My knees may have lost some of their ability to rebound, but my legs remained strong. Muscles built on years of pain and abuse kept them in place. I pushed myself, each, and every, day. And today was no different.

With one final glance behind me, I disappeared into the night. All that was left was the sound of my footsteps echoing down city streets, and the swirling mist left in my wake in the amber glow of the lights..

Thursday, January 2, 2014

she .

she is the light to my eyes:
a guide in a world of dark
a hand to grasp at sometimes
and a loving matriarch.

she whispers to me, i feel her close
she speaks of love,
something upon which you can never overdose.

i feel her close to me,
my heart bursts with joy
for a future together
is the life i plan to employ
and near or far i am comforted.

for we always make it work.

as sure as the sun sets and rises
and the moon pulls the tide,
as sure as a mother loves her child
and the poet's words are comprised,
i will love her.
may she forever know what she means to me
may she never forget she's the love i need

some nights we spend alone,
others we are together at home.
though all the while we feel, we ache, we love.

i live for her. we live for each other.
a hand, a shoulder, a pillow; laughter.
love: now, forever and

it is she.
out of all of the "she's" one could ask for
she gives herself to me and i am forever bonded with her.

it is she.
the one who makes you smile on a day
filled with bleak senses and tragedies away

it is she,
who i love.
 who is the one.

Oregon Bound: pt.12

This will be the final chapter of this little series that I started of so long ago. There's simply a lot of stories to fit into a drive across the country! But I'll reminisce more towards the end. First on the agenda today, we finally reached OREGON. Naturally, even just crossing the border into the state had its own little bit of drama.
 Upon crossing the border from Idaho to Oregon, we wanted to pull over and take a picture with the sign. But the minute we crossed the bridge into Oregon, we passed by a group of state trooper police cars sitting on the median. No sooner had we passed and pulled into the visitor center for Oregon, then a state trooper pulled up as we were walking to this very sign. He inquired as to where we were going and what we were doing, and though my dad was very put off by all of this (as he later told me, "It's profiling!") the cop eventually dropped his guard and we had a nice little chat about Oregon. I found the whole situation to be quite comical, actually. I mean honestly, some kid and his dad driving a packed and loaded car with two bikes on the back. What could we possibly have been doing? I suppose we were a suspicious party simply because we had New Jersey license plates.

As the cop told us during our little chat, eastern Oregon pretty much looks like a desert. Though once you cross through the mountains (not sure which ones those are) you will soon have, as he put it, "more trees than you know what to do with." Upon passing out of civilization a bit, it was very clear that this desert foreshadowing was exactly on par. We even hit some seriously nasty rain storms (pics to follow) and it kinda felt like we were in Oklahoma or something. However needless to say rain is, as we soon realized, one of the staples of Oregon. (After a whole term of living there, it doesn't really bother me anymore!)

Oregon.... desert?
here comes the rain!
 As we headed toward Bend, though, the skies parted after going through one of the mountain ranges, and the sun came out for the evening! Though driving through rain is never really that fun, I think that it makes you appreciate the sunshine that much more -- and there is simply nothing more beautiful than the sun showing its face after a nice rain storm.

After reaching Bend, Oregon (one of the earthiest places I've ever been to) and a slightly rushed dinner at Shari's (Oregon's equivalent of diners, though it is a chain), we headed to Klamath Falls, to a little motel that would hold us hostage for the night and unleash us the next day upon the cliff roads of Crater Lake. Crater Lake was one of those things that was definitely out of the way as far as getting Eugene, but both my dad and I wanted to see it. My dad had heard stories about it growing up and said that it really was something that had always been on his bucket list. And so we went. Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful, tranquil, and incredible places I have ever been in my life. Not only that, but we had an absolutely perfect day for it too! There's a little path that sort of winds its way up to viewing points in places, but other spots are literally just drive-your-car-up-and-look spots. I couldn't get over how blue the water was, nor how quiet everything was! The view was, put simply, spectacular.

This little rock formation is known as the (hold on, let me go check my facts...) Phantom Ship of Crater Lake. It's basically a bunch of pillars, and when it's super foggy, it actually does look like a ship coming through the mist. Obviously we didn't exactly have fog around to test that theory, but I'll take their word for it, and it does look kinda like a ship. I ended up taking some really cool shots of this place, but that often happens when you're at a place with views like this. But let's both pretend I'm good at photography for a moment, and I'll tell you with pride that I actually took a panorama I took on my phone, blew it up to 12x36 and framed it and gave it to my parents as a Christmas gift! It was a hit.

obsessed with the water droplets

My dad and I even found a few short paths to check out that involved some truly barren soil (above), gnarly trees, and even a sweet little action shot of dad (it was a little slippery). The paths like that are cool, and not just at Crater Lake but in general in the outdoors because they sort of segregate you from the cars we depend on oh so much in our every day lives, and allow for an unobstructed view of nature's beauty.

action shot 

That fun little mountain bit in the middle is actually a part of a volcano that (I think) is still active and that's how it was created in the lake. In fact, the lake itself used to be a humongous volcano, but the gaps inside were too large and the whole top collapsed, hence the crater! Fun stuff, eh?

a beautiful day... just makes you wanna spread your arms in the air

One of the coolest things about the lake was how calm the water was. It yielded a pretty damn near perfect reflection of what was happening outside the water, and with a sky that blue, the water looked pristine.

And this, my friends, is pretty much where the journey ends. After visiting Crater Lake in the morning, we got back on US 97 and headed North, where we picked up OR-58, which took us more or less right in Eugene, Oregon. Over 4000 miles of pavement, and what had to have been 70+ hours of driving (including all of the "fun" driving like stuff around parks and things like that) and we had made it. Lo and behold we arrived on a beautiful sunny day, not a cloud in sight, with a toasty 70 degree temperature. It is a trip I will never forget and a time I will always treasure. It is not very often someone gets to experience the entire breadth of the country in such a hands on (or perhaps wheels-on) way.

And now, with one term of six before I finish school already under my belt, I can't believe that this trip took place 3 months ago. Shit, I can't believe that my Barcelona study abroad program was years ago now (I came home around 2 years ago)! I hope that you all have had a wonderful time over the holidays with your families and loved ones, and that the New Year will bring fortune to all. In the coming months I hope to continue with blog posts, and while they may not be daily, I invite you to pull up a chair, warm your hands and sip some cocoa, invite your friends, and listen to a good story every once in awhile. That's what this is kinda all about, right? More to come my friends. And until then, I bid you adieu.

Oregon Bound: pt.11

Our days in Yellowstone were finally done, though the wonderful views contained by this country's national parks was not quite finished yet, for connected to Yellowstone is another of Wyoming's treasures: Grand Teton National Park. To be perfectly honest, there is a lot less to see here than in Yellowstone, and unless you plan on parking the car and going on a long hike, you won't really get too up close and personal with the mountains. However, I've been told that these are the very mountains that "purple mountains majesty" was named after! A vast plain separates the road and the mountain range, but it seemed that in the spring, when all the snow melts and water flows abundantly down the slopes, this vast plain actually became a lake. Just like Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park offers a slew of pull offs to be able to see the mountains, and though you know you're always looking at the same collection of them, you end up taking a kajillion pictures because each view seems more picturesque than the last! The pictures pretty much speak for themselves here, so peruse away!

the parking lot of the visitor center

one of my favorite pictures i took -- would be worth printing out!

Funny story about the next picture, I actually wasn't in a car to take it. As we were driving along the road, I thought that this would be such a cool shot, given that the road looked like it was about to crash straight into the mountains. There wasn't much traffic along the road, but I decided that I was going to pull off and try to take a shot from the absolute middle of the road. Sure enough I found my break in the traffic, but there wasn't much time! I must have looked crazy running into the middle of the road to take a photo, but I love the result!

Upon leaving Grand Teton National Park we came upon Jackson, Wyoming, home of the famed ski slope Jackson Hole. I suppose it's named as such because the town seems to literally sit in a hole in the mountains. Despite its small size, I even knew of Jackson Hole because of the slopes open for skiing and they even have their own airport! I would imagine that there are a great many people that go directly from the airport to the slopes and the ski resorts and never actually visit the town itself. However, our stomachs were grumbling and we made a stop at the Shades Cafe in Jackson. Shades Cafe was actually a Foursquare find, as I had been using it to find out cool local places to eat with good ratings. The place was really nice, with a little veranda out on the side you could sit on, with notes of jazz seeping into your ears.

Leaving Jackson Hole was not quite as easy as rolling in. The US highway that takes you out climbs through a mountain pass, and it is a 10% grade. For those of you who don't know, 6% grade is usually enough to get a sign posted warning truckers of steep grades and the need to use low gears. The hill was so steep (and perhaps my engine so weak) that I literally had to drive 10 or 15 below the limit in third gear in order to make it up with a full car load. Once we got to the top, we pulled off to have a look. Sure enough, there was Jackson, nestled into the valley, the one flat spot amongst the mountains. It was quite a sight, and as per the usual, pictures simply do not do it justice.

you can barely make out the buildings, but they are down there if you look close!
 The next stop was Idaho and as we finally got back onto an interstate highway, we racked up the miles quickly and made good time. We even escaped a massive storm on the way! Boise was not a place where we really had planned to do much of anything, but rather just a stop along the way that was convenient and easy to find a hotel at. As the land flattened out again as we made our way out of the mountains, all I could think about was whether or not I was finally going to see some real Idaho potatoes... my dad and I made a game out of trying to guess which farm fields were potatoes.

massive storm clouds

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