” I feel like it’s time for you to come here so we can have an adventure.”

I posted that on my friend Lizz’s facebook wall a couple months ago, completely serious, but not knowing where it would lead. My wanderlust was just acting up, and I missed Lizz. So I said so.

Side note: To be transparent, I try to persuade people into adventures much more often than they’re able to happen. Lizz has gotten good about saying no when she needs to. But she’s also getting better at being prepared to say yes!  This makes me happy. End side note.

Quickly, a mutual friend of ours (we met him and his family when we studied abroad at EuNC in Switzerland) chimed in (I love facebook’s option to comment on most anything these days). “You guys should come to Portland!” He suggested. And then he let us know that another married couple that we knew from EuNC who still live there were going to be coming to his church in April to speak.

Lizz texted me quickly about dates, time off work, logistics. and then her tickets were booked.

Last Thursday she flew to Sacramento, and then we left after I got off work the next day and we drove to Portland (9.5 hours, piece of cake). We were off on our adventure!

We actually ended up seeing/reuniting with several people along the way: The Veach’s (whom we stayed with, and got to meet the newest member of their family, beautiful baby Anna). The Glendennings (Martin and Cezi, who were definitely not a romantic item the last time I saw them 5 years ago in Switzerland). Lizz’s second cousin, who we got to enjoy the deliciousness of Salt and Straw ice cream with. Adrienne, a mutual friend from college who has lived on another continent and moved back since we’d last seen her — also who we didn’t know lived in Portland, but she saw our pictures and reached to meet up with us. And we got to see my good friend and brother Nathan in his life in Eugene (and he let us take over his room. His mama raised him right!).

This weekend we did a lot: We drove, stopped for sight-seeing, hiked around the mountains and waterfalls, ate at the food carts, experienced the wonderment of Salt and Straw ice cream, ate too many donuts at blue star donuts, drank a nauseating amount of chocolate at Cacao — which we were happy to do — spent hours browsing Powell’s bookstore and drinking coffee while reading, got to visit our friends’ church, got to see the lookout point of Eugene, and got to gaze at the beauty of Crater Lake (after struggling to climb up the snowing embankment to get to the view).

This weekend we shared a lot of stories: We got to spend hours sharing painful stories about our lives since we’d last seen each other. We got to hear giddy stories of how our friends got together as a couple. We got to hear the stories of churches planted, lives moved, seasons lived. We got to share in funny stories about pregnancy. And about life after college. We got to be together: around the table, over coffee, over breakfast, on the floor of the living room, in the seats of cars, sitting in plaza squares, and in tiny spaces with delicious food and a colorful crowd of people pressing in all around us.

This weekend we got to adventure: The adventure of driving through the snow right after Lizz talked about how she can’t drive in the snow.  And then the adventure of the windshield wiper breaking off mid-downpour on the highway. (We pulled over and got it to re-attach, thankfully!) The beauty of the river gorge and the forested paths. The beauty of the aisles and aisles of books. The wonder of a whole block of carts offering all different foods. The snowy road up to a gorgeous lake when our GPS stopped working soon after Lizz said “I can’t even imagine road tripping with just a paper map, without GPS. I mean, I probably could do it, but I never have.” The adventure of stopping at the view point of Mount Shasta with no one around except a motorcycle. “Where do you think the motorcycle owner is?” asked Lizz. “Peeing.. or poopin,” I said quietly. “Ha! Peeing or pooping,” she repeated laughing. Then he emerged from the bushes and looked down as he walked to his bike and left without looking at the mountain.

The beauty of our weekend was that it felt like we did a lot, and had a lot of time with the people we were with, and it never felt rushed. And the reason why, is because that’s how you have an adventure. You go out of your norm. You decide it’s going to be an adventure.  And then whatever happens next, is one.

If you would like to have an adventure, check back for my post tomorrow:

10 Steps to Adventure(ing like a responsible adult)













Joanna O’Hanlon is an adventurer and storyteller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.

Other places are

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