Day 17: “I am the Light”

As of now, three days in Oregon seems woefully inadequate. However, I am racing the weather as I sit here.  The country up here is absolutely stunning and my drives have been long but enjoyable in that the scenery is very different from Southern California and there’s a lot to see.  One of my points of emphasis on this trip was to find the “old California” and it’s ironic but you can almost see more of it in Oregon.  What I think of as the “old West” is what Oregon looks like to me. – October 7, 2017, 10:51pm, Umpqua Lighthouse, Oregon

I woke up at Oscar and Cindy’s house early as the sun was rising. Oscar gave me a ride to my car and I set out, leaving Portland to get back towards the coast.  My time in the city was incredibly fun but I was ready to get back into camping mode.  I went to the grocery store and stocked up on all my supplies for a couple night’s out in the wilderness.  The date at this point was October 7, 2017.  I mention this because it was starting to get colder and I was terrified of the rain with my porous camper shell.  I wasn’t hurdling towards a return home eagerly but I was beginning to see the wisdom in getting south quicker than I had intended.  That meant that this would be my last day and night in Oregon.

From Oscar’s house, I set out to Beaverton with high hopes of getting into the Nike Headquarters.  Me being a huge “Nike-head”, I was desperate not only to see it but to at least try and get in the place.  I was calm and calculated as I circled my way around the entire facility searching for a weak spot to exploit and make my way in.  Unfortunately, their security system thwarted my invasion attempts so I had to go the old fashioned route and talk to the guard at the gate.  I rolled up to the main gate and in front of me was a crisp and clean orange Nike sign.  Feeling excited, I rolled down my window and put on the happiest face I have in my arsenal and explained my situation: “I don’t have an appointment, just wanted to go on a tour, walk around, etc.”  I got the whole speech out before she looked at me with a serious face and said “It’s closed to the public….”  Heartbroken, I left Beaverton but at least now I have something to go back for and despite being turned down, it’s still #nikegang all day.

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Nike, HQ. Beaverton, OR

Since I had failed at Nike, I figured I’d check out somewhere I knew I wouldn’t get turned down: The University of Oregon.  The drive to Eugene wasn’t bad but I quickly realized, it was a game day.  As I got closer to Eugene and the university, the traffic began to increase.  I saw big Oregon “O’s” on windows, bumper stickers, duck flags and everyone was wearing a jersey or some variation of green or yellow.  I started to second guess my decision to visit the university but at the same time, I was excited to see the school in “game-day mode.”  When I pulled up to campus, the parking or crowds weren’t too bad but I also made sure to park as far away from the stadium as possible.  It was still relatively early, around noon/1pm but as I walked the campus grounds, I saw groups of students marching towards what I assumed was the stadium. Most of them were drunk, some of them were rowdy but all of them were excited.  The atmosphere was electric and everyone was out milling about campus decked out in their green and yellow school colors.  I walked the length of the campus observing and marveling at some of the buildings and all the trees spliced between the buildings and walkways.  Eventually, I got to the end and I realized where all the students were heading.  The Oregon store was to my right but every other establishment in the vicinity seemed to be a bar.   Over here, the students had congregated between them all making this the most packed area I had seen.  I went in the book store that was packed to the gills but I managed to get some souvenirs and by that point, I had enough.  I was ready for the solitude of a night under the stars.

I landed at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park.  Once I established my camp, I took the short walk up the hill to see the lighthouse.  That first time, it was still daylight and to be honest, it wasn’t that impressive.  The view of the beach from where the lighthouse stood was beautiful but I found the actual lighthouse to be bland.  The history of it was interesting in that it was the first lighthouse in the Oregon territory, built in 1857 but moved to it’s current site and rebuilt in 1891 and it also has a distinctive red light.  That red light being the key….

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View from Umpqua
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Umpqua Lighthouse

I left my campsite in the dead of night and made my way up the short hill to the lighthouse.  During the day, the walk had been quick but now… I was seeing shadows everywhere as the eerie red light swerved around the surrounding area.  I got to the top and looked up at the flaming behemoth, finally able to recognize it’s greatness.  The light was bright; illuminating not just the ocean in front, but the entire area around itself.  Two white flashes of light before a red one blazed through an opening, setting the sky on fire with an eerie red glow.  In all it’s glory it was pretty stunning and I felt like an idiot for judging the lighthouse before actually seeing it lit.  It was a fitting last night in Oregon and the plan was to cross the border into California to stay at a State Park I had circled on my agenda for a long while….

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Umpqua Lighthouse at night

A lot more thought and reflection is needed for me to figure out who I am and what I want to do. I think about the end of the trip but I need to continue to stay in the moment because I am doing something most people only dream of doing. If I continue to live everyday like it’s my last and not think about what the future holds but simply focus on my short terms goals for the day, good things will happen. Live for every moment and in the end, I will have no regrets. – October 7, 2017, 10:51pm, Umpqua Lighthouse, Oregon

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