Category Archives: Portland

Does It Matter?

It’s a blunt question.  Does it matter?  It’s also a very useful razor.  When applied to so much of the drama, heartache, and confusion we see in everyday life, I’ve found that asking this question is a surprisingly useful exercise.

I’m scared of how hard it’s going to be to start my own business.  Does it matter?  Being scared will get you nowhere, what matters is your willingness to do the work.

I’ve been moving this week- cleaning up in Portland, setting up in Missoula.  I have an address.  I wrote a rent check.  Some of my stuff that hasn’t seen daylight since March has been unpacked.  I’ve done loads and loads, and loads of laundry.  For all the uncertainty, I still feel this place embracing me, and that feels good- that’s what matters.  Here are a few photos from the move, let’s just say I didn’t pick up anyone from Rideshare…

Leaving Portland on Wednesday, with perfect vis on Mt. Hood

Lots of driving... lots and lots and lots.

Notice how low the back end of the Jetta is- the wheel well compression is visible. Also the lack of a front passenger.

Packed to the gills.

The bike is itching to roll again...

Landing, and stuff explosion.

Portland #3: Lessons

After an unexpected full week in Montana, I drove back to Portland today.  The time in Missoula was just what I was looking for, and it’s exciting to say: I’ve found housing and a new community that seems to welcome me with open arms.  This time, the trip to Portland isn’t returning to home, but rather to bring my sense of home to Missoula.  Yep, that’s right, I’m moving- now that I’ve published it on the blog, I’m committed.

Typical Missoula sunset. Awesome.

When I decided to come back from South America, I knew I wanted to be in a smaller community.  I want to know my neighbors, live close to the outdoors, and try something different.  I don’t have a job lined up there, and I only have a few months of savings left, but somehow this simply feels like the right thing to do.

Where else can two adults have a perfectly stellar time riding a carousel without anyone raising an eyebrow? (Thanks for Hannah for a fun outing!)

More than just my belongings, I look forward to bringing many important lessons with me from Portland to Missoula.

  • Be discerning about the people you spend your time with- your friends an excellent mirror for your character and direction in life.
  • In business, accountability is all that really matters.  Accountability=integrity=success.
  • Live your life on your terms and no one else’s- you are an adult, and you get to make the call on what that looks like.
  • Success is looking back with no regrets, and knowing the next thing you do will be the best thing yet.

I arrived tonight feeling very under the weather, so this post is shorter than I’d like.  Suffice to say it felt hard and scary to think of moving my stuff out of here, of leaving regular contact with so many wonderful friends behind.  This next step feels like the greatest adventure yet, and that doesn’t come without some discomfort.  I’ll look forward to seeing many people in my next few visits (I’m making two trips PDX<–>MSO), please be in touch if you are here in PDX.  A few photos from the week:

Even better than my beloved New Seasons...

Even Miss Rasa (daughter of my friends Jeremy and Crissie) gets involved with the recycling effort.

In the West

I’m back in the west.  I can tell by the smell of the air, by the color of the land.  By the vast open spaces.  Late summer is dry and hot, with a crispness to the night air that is telling of impending fall.  I fell in love with the west as a teenager, and my roadtrips here then were usually at this time of year.  I was glad to leave the Nebraska cornfields behind, and giddy to get into Idaho range country.  The pull of home was irresistable after crossing into Oregon and dropping down to the Columbia River valley.  It was a good trip to remember why I have chosen to live here, and will likely continue to live here.

I rolled into Greeley, Colorado on Tuesday night to meet my friend Jen. She and I met through her boyfriend while I was skiing in Jackson, WY this past January and I didn’t realize I would have the opportunity to see her until she responded to my facebook post. We had hoped to spend Wednesday climbing some of the excellent granite in the area around Estes Park, but it rained like the end of the world, and we decided to enjoy some of Fort Collins other offerings.

I'm fortunate to have two great companions for a rainy day- Jen, and an Americano from the Bean Cycle.

Fort Collins might be second only to Portland for outstanding local brew.

I got back behind the wheel on Thursday, and met a load of nuclear waste traveling across Wyoming.  I believe nuclear power is an essential component to making the transition to an all renewable energy economy, but our lack of political will about how to deal with the consequences concerns me.  Currently most waste is stored under water at holding tanks next to existing reactors, a bare bones solution that doesn’t address long term consequences (just another example of not paying for the full cost of our decisions).  This article was written 14 years ago on the subject, and not much has changed…  These guys were apparently headed to the low level waste disposal facility in Clive, UT.  Lots more interesting information on nuclear waste and nuclear power.  I know there have been a lot of links, but this one is 30 seconds and you’ll be glad you did.


You see all kinds of stuff on the road...


Just after the Wyoming/Utah border, even the rest stops are in Red Rock country.

I made a quick stop in Ogden to start making good on my goal to learn harmonica, and talked to my mom during an amazing sunset on the Utah/Idaho border Thursday night.


A perfect western sunset.

I camped at the City of Rocks National Reserve, but still didn’t get any climbing in!  I did get out for a gorgeous morning scramble though, and look forward to coming back another time with appropriate equipment.


Good to get the lay of the land, this place is off the map.

It was hot in Idaho, really hot, and I started to feel a distinct pull for home.  Originally I had planned to meet the owner of the van for a day of climbing in eastern Oregon, but when I crossed the border back into the home state, I knew where I was headed.  I turned up the techno and rolled into Portland around 8pm last night.  More thoughts on exactly what rolling into Portland felt like coming soon.


I picked up the van at 203,446 mi... that's 3,398 all told.

Portland #2: Roots

Returning to Portland after 9 weeks in Alaska raises many questions- why do I come back here? What is next? Am I really ready to keep going?


My first apartment building in NW, just across from Trader Joes.

In many ways, Portland is the city that I have become an adult in. I moved here on my own to work and live as an adult- my childhood was not here, my schooling was not here, my family is not here. I’ve lived here on my own, making my own friends, my own money, my own adventures, and my own mistakes on the way. This is the place that I first recognized the principles that I now feel re-dedicated to, and I’d be lying if I didn’t feel the roots of my adulthood sunk into earthy corners of this city.


Important progress on the front steps of The Commons.


My most recent contribution, and my first deck building experience.

Not surprisingly, I’ve had an intensely busy week since returning from my overnight bike tour last week. Great times with friends, significant progress made at the Commons project, and a few great workouts have meshed with more domestic tasks like sorting gear, buying bikes, and researching future travel options. There is a lot to do to recharge after my summer in Alaska, and in some ways I’m not quite ready to fire on another major adventure yet. Fortunately I’ve got a few weeks of smaller adventures planned, and sharing my plans with people here helps me re-motivate. I have the wonderful problem of too many great people to see, some of whom will have to wait. Tonight I’m headed north to fulfill some long overdue climbing goals in northern Washington State. Let’s hope the weather holds!


All of the recent residents of Breanne's house on Vancouver.


Med ball ring dips at Crossfit Fort Vancouver. More pain in my expression means more quality.

Portland #1: Community

“So how has this experience changed your personal relationships?”
My friend Luna was getting the update on my trip, except our conversation was markedly different from most of the other similar conversations I’ve had in the past few days being back in Portland.  Luna asks the most wonderful questions, and listens with an intensity that removes your ability to bullshit an answer.

The question provided me an opportunity to articulate a few important points that I’ve been thinking about often in the past 6 weeks, but that I hadn’t articulated succinctly- but the answer lies in a single word, community.  A few examples:

  • My relationship with my brother has grown stronger in the past 6 months than it has been in the past 6 years.
  • I’ve practiced building a new sense of community with an amazing group of climbers and travelers from Australia, England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, South Korea, and various US states.
  • I’ve learned to share what I have better, and accept what others offer me more willingly.
  • I’ve returned to Portland to find a community of friends eager to share my adventures, support my aspirations, and send me on the next leg of my trip.

Most recent mornings, I’ve woken up and taken stock of the day only to do a double take while wondering if it’s actually possible my life could be so good.

I’ve been in Portland since late Wednesday night, and I’m here to switch out my gear and fly to Alaska on Tuesday morning.  I decided to leave the valley when I did to ensure I had enough time to give a little more time to The Commons, see friends that I have missed dearly, and ensure I have ample time to consider exactly what to take for 2 months in the Alaska range.  To some, the preparations may seem daunting, but I’m grateful to say that the only overwhelming part of the past few days has been receiving the amount of good energy from so many wonderful people.  I can’t accept credit for having so many wonderful people in my life in one place- but I can consider it proof that “the universe is unfolding as it should.”  I’ll let the photos detail some of my recent activities.

Sunny local climbing at Broughton Bluff.

So exciting to see drywall in The Commons.

It was an exceptionally fun Sunday morning bike ride.

Real friends will let you sort your gear in their living room.

Being here feels solid and familiar.  Like home? Perhaps, but that seems too strong of a question for this stage of my explorations.  I’m thrilled to feel the energy, support, and strength that come from just checking in with so many of the people that I care about, and at the same time am unbelievably excited about the upcoming prospect of 9 weeks in one of the most inspiring places I’ve ever been. Booyah.  This is the most sincere thank-you to everyone who has made this place feel so grounding the past few days, Portland feels like the perfect launch pad for the next stage of adventure.

There is a certain romance to all cities dominated by their bridges.


First off- a huge shout out to all my Portland friends that made last Friday at Amnesia Brewing an incredible night.  I am so honored to have so many wonderful people in my life.  There was no small sadness for me in saying goodbye however, knowing that I won’t be able to continue to share experiences with all of you. I’m not sure where I will land, maybe Portland again, maybe not, but I look forward to continuing to carrying the lessons and shared experiences forward with me as my experience unfolds.

The blog has been quiet, mostly because life has been intensely loud.  These posts are a little out of order due to the fact that the time of events happening, time available for blogging, and availability of internet don’t always line up.  Even just recounting the myriad of events, people, and activity in the last week leaves me feeling exhausted.  I spent most of last week working at the commons as planned.  We finished installing ductwork for the heat recovery ventilator, insulating wall panels, and installing roofing details.

After 3 years of working in HVAC, I finally actually DID something tangible.

Evenings were filled with seeing people and last minute errands as I struggled to clean out my living space and organize my gear.  Doubly huge thank you to my good friends Colin and Danielle for hosting my ridiculous amount of stuff in their basement while I am traveling.  As much as I enjoy planning and sorting and purging, by Friday I was thoroughly exhausted.

I must really like this bed to put in the work to move it.

My room for the last 15 months, now empty... an amazing place to call home.

I'll be sad to see this bike sell, but excited to upgrade. Funny how my bikes always look the best right before I sell them...

After celebrating Friday night, I was up early to finish a few last details before leaving town, and then headed out to Smith Rock.  Despite a hangover, lack of sleep, and the effort of moving, I was undeniably amped to roll out of the Portland rain and into the Central Oregon sun.

Somehow this all fits in my Jetta?

Yup! Time to roll out...

Okay, now on to more posts about interesting stuff…


There was a girl at the show I was at last night.
I should have asked her to dance.
I didn’t under the excuse of “well… I’m leaving Portland next Saturday.”

The truth is, I was chicken.
I guess we all chicken out sometimes.
Posted here to remind myself not to miss the opportunity again.

Chinaman, 5.11b, at Frenches Dome, OR - where I finally came to terms with lead falling on bolts.