Mini Cooper VS. The Pacific Northwest (A Roadtrip Reflection)

In the later part of my young life I have been taken aback by the beauty of the harsh northern pacific beaches, and the steep mountainsides. The Pacific Northwest (PNW) has all of this to spare. I have wanted to visit Seattle and Portland since I’ve graduated and started thinking about good places to live. I plan on getting my masters, and luckily there are two great programs in both of those places. 

Originally I had asked for these days off from work to go to Burning Man, but as it got closer I became more intimidated and I didn’t think I could afford it. When I realized this I decided to make use of those days off and drive up to Seattle and then make my way to Portland. My mom moved to Sandpoint, ID, and part of my Seattle portion of the road trip landed on her birthday. This was a great excuse to visit her, and spend time with her for her special day. 

Sandpoint is about 17 hours from Napa, CA, so I thought a good halfway point to break up the journey was in Ashland, OR. I loved Ashland when I was in High School Drama class, and it was a good opportunity to see what had changed. 
Getting to Ashland was no problem. It’s a 6 hour drive from here in Napa, so it flew by and I didn’t need to fill up on the drive. There are fires happening in Oregon so Ashland was super smoky and overcast. It made the town a little depressing, and it triggered a little travel anxiety. I walked around the town, had dinner, bought a book The Art of Hearing Heartbeats and went back to my Airbnb, which was an adorable old metro bus renovated into a bedroom. 

I left early for Sandpoint in the morning. This is where Piglet, my Mini, started acting up. 

I have only recently decided to name my car Piglet. It seems appropriate to do it after a road trip, after I have gotten to know it’s personality. One it is a good name because I am not sure what gender my car is. Obviously we know that Piglet the cartoon is a boy. But it isn’t completely obvious. Like my car. I will say “her” or “him” very willy-nilly. Also he/her is very sensitive, very open to emotions and will react to things that happen. Because of these reasons, I think Piglet is a good name for my car. Let’s get back to the roadtrip. I have left Ashland:

There was construction, so I had to stop and that was when my car started to overheat. The icon was only on for a minute but I started to get nervous. I was driving in a lot of areas that didn’t have cell service. And with the smoke, I got paranoid I was driving right into the fires. I stopped in Bend, OR to check Piglet out at a service station. At Jiffy Lube I found out I was really low on coolant. One fill up of coolant, and one breakdown later, I am back on the road. I get into Sandpoint right as the sun sets over the lake. 

My mom and I spent a full day in Sandpoint. We went on a 3.7 mi hike and then went to an animal shelter to pet the puppies. We did a little bar hopping and ended up at an outdoor bar where my mom’s coworker was playing music. Sandpoint is a super cute town; very quiet but pretty fun. I came in August, but it is a very good winter destination too, with nice ski runs. 

Oh boy, Seattle. It took us about 6 hours to get to Seattle. When we first got there my mom and I both thought it was similar to San Francisco. The people, the neighborhoods, the traffic. All very similar. We did the typical tourist stuff; Pike Place Market, Chihuly Museum, seeing the Space Needle, and taking a ferry. And we did things on our personal to-do lists. I wanted to visit University of Washington, and my mom needed to visit an alpaca farm for her work. 

Seattle is my new dream city to live in. I love the neighborhoods Capitol Hill, Ballard, and Fremont. The food was amazing, so easy to go out as a vegan. First my mom and I went to Oddfellows Cafe and Bar in Capitol Hill, because I found it on Pinterest purely from how instagram worthy it is. BUT it is very vegan friendly. I ate the risotto but had it made without cheese.  Apparently it is made without a dairy base and the cheese is added at the end. It was so good! We then went to Harvest Beat in Wallingford near Fremont. This is a “fancy” meal. It is casual but it is a preset 6 course meal. The food was mouthwatering, and so worth the price tag. The other vegan/vegan friendly restaurants I wish I could go to daily are No Bones Beach Club, Paxti’s Pizza, May’s Thai Restaurant, and Flying Apron. 

My mom and I only used my car once the entire time we were in Seattle. We ubered but we could have easily used public transportation. I love how walkable Seattle is and how inexpensive it is to get around Seattle. The people were very relaxed and open. It makes me excited to eventually move there. 

After 6 days, I left for Portland. The plan was to be there for 5 days. Piglet had other plans. I left Seattle at 12 PM, but it was cool and misty. Not like the previous 5 sunny 80 degree days we had experienced. I drove the 3 hours to Vancouver, WA (where my Airbnb was) on the border of Portland, OR. Five minutes before getting to my accommodations, Piglet overheated, so I stopped to let her rest. 

After my car had cooled down, and I had checked in to my Airbnb, I took him to Jiffy Lube because I had assumed my coolant had leaked, which caused Piglet to overheat. The mechanic had found a leak, but he wasn’t sure if it was the coolant tank or the water tank. After a long conversation, he made me feel confident that I could MAYBE make it home without a break down if I refilled the coolant. 

So. The original plan was 6 days. Then it became 5 days. It was going to get up to 107 degrees in Portland. I decided to leave after 3 days in Portland, to leave before the heat to reduce the chance of Piglet overheating. My dad suggested to stay with my grandma (who lives 1.5-2 hours away from my home) so I could let my car cool down in the hottest part of the day. 

After deciding on this plan, I had made the choice to enjoy the 2 full days I had in Portland and get to know the city as much as possible. I arrived on Thursday, so Friday was my first full day. I walked around the Hawthorne District in the late morning. This was a recommendation from a good friend. I found some cool shops and bought some unique souvenirs. I stopped at Harlow for lunch; it was so good! Then I went to N. Mississippi Avenue. This was a stop I saw on Pinterest as a must see. I walked up and down it and stopped in some unique shops and enjoyed the sunshine. After that walk I went to Cathedral Park for a short time. It was so peaceful and calm. For dinner I went to Homegrown Smoker; also delicious. The burger could fool a meateater! The flavor was amazing. 

The next day I went to the Saturday market in Downtown Portland. It is the largest market in the States, but I couldn’t help but think that the Indie Market in St. Petersburg, FL was much better. However, I did enjoy myself and spent the morning walking around the market and grabbed a healthy veggie burrito for lunch at one of the stalls. I made the stops at the tourist stops in DT Portland like Powell’s City of books. For dinner I got a pizza from Sizzle Pie. I was originally planning on getting a simple vegan pepperoni pizza but the cashier gave me the recommendation of the buffalo jackfruit pizza. Again, so delicious! I ate most of the pizza, but had two slices left over that came in handy for my drive to my grandma’s house. 

Traveling is when people say you learn the most about yourself. I thought it was travelling abroad that this saying applied to, I was so wrong. I have anxiety. It is definitely situational. I get anxious when things may go wrong during travelling, whether it be in India when I am on the other side of the world, completely alone. Or if I am in the middle of a state surrounded by forest fires on all sides, 7 hours from a loved one. Or if I am one stretch from the last hold on the bouldering wall thinking what if I slip and fall 15 feet onto a padded mat? 

While I discovered my weaknesses, I also became strong in other ways. I am better able to understand what is wrong with my car. I can find my way around a city I have never been in. I struggled with figuring out where North- South, East-West is. Now my directional skills have become much more developed. 

I have been home for two weeks. I have realized my anxiety is shifting, from travel anxiety, to a general fear. A fear of the most irrational things that I used to not fear as a child. It breaks my heart that my childlike fearlessness is disappearing from my soul. 
Travelling has exposed a part of me I didn’t know was there. I grip too tight. The trees that break in the storms are ones that are inflexible. I need to align with the breath. Align with the wind.

My strength is that while my fear has grown, I don’t let it control how I live my fullest life. I still rock climb while afraid of heights, and I still plan on travelling to far off places. Life exists outside of your comfort zone.

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