Loving Astoria, Oregon

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Why have we decided to stay in Oregon for nearly three months now? And why has most of that time been in this little coastal town of Astoria? And is it true we may be staying yet another month?

But perhaps most importantly, are we really “full-time travelers” if we’re not moving around daily?

To the point of Oregon in general, anyone who’s spent some time has probably realized that it’s a magical state. Snow capped peaks, all year round in some places, lots and lots and lots of greenery (even rainforest!), and a decidedly progressive lean in the majority of citizens all contribute to what makes the Beaver State stick for us. It was the contrast of the Cascade Mountains and the magnificent coast here that inspired us to live here for nine months while we cooked our son Winter almost four years ago.

Small business is everywhere. Local food is not just easy to find, it’s downright difficult to avoid. And you’re never more than a corner brewery or coffee roaster away from a smiling bearded face.

As to Astoria specifically, well that’s up for debate. Is it the gritty feel of a city that’s appealing to tourists for its location, small town feel and abundance of history but without that faux grooming many tourists towns paint themselves as? Perhaps that has something to do with it, but more than anything, it’s about community.

Of all the people we’ve met on the road, newly localized residents of Astoria, the Barenaked Family, have surpassed the realm of good friends and moved right into the circle of our family. Traveling around as much as we’ve done in the past several years, you don’t get a chance to make close friends often, and so when you do and have the opportunity to surround yourself with them, you don’t just pass that up for the sake of racking up more miles. But even if they weren’t here, Astoria is just one of those places where the locals accept newcomers quickly. We’ve practically earned assigned seats at our favorite local brewery and coffee shop.

So then comes the question of our status as true “full-time travelers”. Is there not some common sense definition that we’re breaking?

Not really, and if some folks want to paint that picture, we welcome them to their own opinion.

You see, we’ve been to nearly every state (Hawaii and Delaware still on the list). We’ve seen most of what we want, and aren’t in a particular rush to finish off any particular list. In addition, Winter is coming and we’ve spent so very much time in the Southwest (and all the time we care to spend along the Gulf Coast) that we really see no reason to rush out of the warmth of a welcoming town and into the deserts we’ve already become so familiar with.

That said, staying is as hard as leaving. Names like Joshua Tree and General Sherman and Painted Rocks and Pipe Organ Cactus are all picking at my imagination. Visiting more friends in Austin, Texas and lazing around white sands Florida beaches and longer term plans to roam through Colorado and Utah, and eventually hop the Atlantic to do it all in another language are keeping me up until 2am scheming at night.

So to everyone who’s worried about whether or not they’ll be lonely on the road, or if they’ll be looked at as full-time traveling failures if they don’t flip their odometer yearly, I say relax! Travel is not about moving, it’s about experiencing the new, about finding happiness, no matter how long you spend in those states of lesser motion.