– CHAPTER 4-
I was in that marrow phase when I caught a glimpse of this stunning coastal picture on Instagram: those succulents, the color of the sand, the cliffs. My heart leapt, danced, and did a dozen cartwheels. I could instantly smell the ocean salt. I could hear the waves, feel the sun, and taste the Vinho Verde. Based on my knee jerk reaction, I made a smug conclusion that this picture must have been taken in Portugal or at least somewhere else in Europe.
I was wrong. It was the Pacific ocean (not the Atlantic), and it was right here in sunny California. That’s when my rose colored Portugal glasses shattered. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still madly in love with that country, but placing it up on a sky high pedestal made it impossible for any other experience to compete.
That picture of the California coast shut me right up. Pack up the pedestal, we’re done here. Apparently the U.S wasn’t such a lackluster place to be after all.
I’ve been to northern and southern California before but those trips were years ago and the memories are foggy. With that, I realized I haven’t spent enough time exploring ‘home’ in the greater sense of our nation. So Clay and I set out to do just that. We went nuts. Clay had been to Colorado but I hadn’t, and neither of us had been to the Pacific Northwest. Without overthinking we booked our flights. In just one summer we went to Seattle and Portland and Bend. Then we came home and 3 weeks later we hopped on a plane to Denver. From there we also explored Boulder, and Colorado Springs. We affectionately called it our Wild Wild West Tour (WWWT).
Then a month after that we took another week off to backpack our way through the entire Pictured Rocks shoreline in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Have you been? Every inch of that shoreline is stunning. And despite the torrential downpour, the thunder, the winds, the lightning, that trip remains one of our favorite backpacking trips of all time.
Needless to say, I took about a thousand pictures that summer; mouth to the floor the entire time; wide-eyed and in awe of everything. At the same time I was constantly taking mental notes as if I were on a mission to document every last ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’ so that I wouldn’t be caught with my pants down the next time someone asked me to talk up ‘home’. And when that summer o’ travel ended I remember thinking, ‘Okay Fernanda, ask me again. I’m ready to talk your ear off now.”