When something goes wrong

It seems daunting to drive 3,010 miles across the country. When I first looked at a map and realized that I would be spending about two days in a car on a six day trip, I began to get worried about how I would stay interested in the trip for that long. I began to think of all the things that could go wrong as we travelled that far.

What if we get a flat tire? I don’t know how to change a flat tire. What if we get a flat tire and we have no cell reception? How long would we be stranded in the middle of nowhere? What if we get lost and can’t figure out how to get back on track? What if we pick the wrong hotel and end up in a sketchy unsafe area?

There are so many questions that ran through my head as I prepared to make the trek. While there are a variety of issues that can occur when making the long drive to Georgia, we were lucky to only encounter a few issues. We had made it all the way to Moab, Utah before we encountered our first problem.

As we made our way across the boarder between Utah and Colorado, we realized we left our swimsuits on the bathroom backdoor of our Motel 6 room. We laughed it off and were thankful that it was the only problem we had encountered.

Our luck didn’t last long when the next morning we locked our keys in the car the next morning. Although we had planned a hike for the day, we were lucky enough not to have too much planned for the day beside getting across Kansas.

We called roadside support and waited for them to arrive. We began to grow impatient as the hour mark approached. We wanted to get back on the road. Once roadside assistance finally showed up, we were able to get back on track.

We were lucky enough not to have too many problems on our 3,000 mile journey, but that’s not always the case. The main thing to remember when something goes wrong is to go with the flow. Sometimes the problems you encounter lead to other adventures. Because of our setback, we ended up getting to Kansas City at 9:30 p.m. Navigating the city in the dark in search of what we were told was the best barbecue around, we had an adventure.

Being open to changes of plans and making adjustments in you schedule may be important because it is nearly impossible not to have something go wrong so its best to just go with the flow.


The importance of rest stops

When driving across the country, you begin to appreciate those states that put a little extra effort into making their rest stops nice. Nothing is worse then stopping after being in a car for five hours and walking into a restroom only to be greeted by flies, dirt and a smell that makes you want to gag.

While I was appreciative of each rest stop on our journey, there were some that stood out more than others. Because rest stops are funded by the government, it is easy for some states to neglect their stops (I’m talking to you Kansas) whereas some states have put a little extra effort into their stops.

When I walked into the first rest stop in Oregon I was pleasantly surprised with how nice it was. Stone floors and clean toilets were just what I needed after being cooped up in a car all day. While other states had decent stops, some were just downright gross. While it is important not to be picky when it comes to stops along the way (when you have to go, you have to go) a nice rest stop experience can make the next leg of the trip that much better.

There are often welcome centers at the first rest stop after crossing the boarder into the next state. These can be helpful when you are looking for small things to do while traveling through the state.

As we crossed the boarder into Kansas, I had no idea what there was to do. As we started down the I-70, we saw a visitor center and decided to stop in. we found that there were actually a variety of activities to do along the way including an Oz museum.

Rest stops play an important part in every road trip no matter how far you are traveling.

Check out this map of how many rest stops are in each of the states we travelled through on our road trip!

Numbers from state transportation sites


Sour patch pick-me-up

Driving across the country is no small feat. There are a lot of things to think about , but most importantly, you have think about what will make you happy when driving up to nine hours a day. For some it might be the kind of music you listen to. For others it might be how comfortable the seat your sitting in is. For many it will be the number of stops you take and how to plan those accordingly (the middle of nowhere has fewer bathrooms than one might think). But for me it was sour patch kids. Yes you read that right, sour patch kids were incredibly important.

Yes all of those other things were important too, but when I think of driving across the country, one of the first things that pops into my head is the soury, chewy goodness of those small multi-colored candies.

It may seem like such a small insignificant part of travel when you think of everything else there is to worry about (hotels, gas, getting lost), but trust me, a good pick-me-up is just as important.

Once the three hour mark hits, there is undoubtedly a lull in the drive. Three hours into our drive typically placed us in very rural areas with few scenic changes and we began to get tired. As soon as we felt our eyes get heavy we knew what we needed. Sour patch kids. As soon as we had eaten a handful of these we knew we could conquer the 5-6 hours ahead of us. Or at least make it until we needed another handful.

How many bags of sour patch kids will get you across the country? Well we didn’t mess around and bought the big bag. The sour patch slogan is right- “sour. sweet. gone.” And gone they were. While it may seem like that should be enough for two people over six days, it was not. One 30oz. bag can get you to St. Louis before it is time to restock.

No everyone may be interested in sour patch kids, but the point is keeping something on hand that will give you the extra energy you need as you drive through corn field after corn field is incredibly important. There are also healthy options that can have a similar effect.

Traveling Through Time

Time travel is real. At least that’s how it felt as I drove into Savannah Georgia. It felt like I was taking a step back to another world of cobble stone streets and historical buildings. Of course there are still modern day amenities like cars and fast food, but there are also horse drawn carriages.

Savannah is a unique city that was built on top of grave stones. Because of this the sidewalks often bulge up making it almost impossible not to trip while waling down the street. I made it almost three days with out tripping but alas my luck ran out when my toe caught on a crack in the cobblestone.

Tree lined runway
Tree lined runway

Savannah has a distinct feel and has a lot of southern charm. The branches of the trees twist and curl around each other like a girl how just woke up and has yet to brush her hair. Moss hangs off the trees in an eery yet beautiful as you wander through the many squares that are scattered throughout the city. I felt as though I was walking down a tree lined runway every time I walked down the street.

Savannah trees
Savannah Trees

One of the advantages of Savannah’s location is how close it is to the beach. A quick 20 minute drive lands you on Tybee Island. As I walked out onto the beach I was automatically transported to a Nicholas Sparks novel.

Tybee Island
Tybee Island
Tybee Island
Tybee Island

While Savannah is known as a historic and beautiful city, it is also undergoing some big changes. As my friend Daniel says, Hollywood is moving to Savannah. One of the many movies filmed in the area was Magic Mike 2. As we wandered down the beach we found ourselves on the same bench Channing Tatum had swung on on a scene in the movie. I was interesting to think about what Savannah’s role is in today’s world. It plays several different roles today. It is a touristy city where people can be taken back in time, but it’s also the place where the second Spongebob Movie was filmed.

Living Abroad

The first time I moved was when I moved into my college dorm room. I had lived in the same room in the same house in the same city my whole life. I was packing up 18 years worth of memories that had all happened in the same place.

I had travelled around the United States so I had a sense of other places and how other people live, but I was never in one place for a significant amount of time. Although I loved growing up where I did, I didn’t get to experience living in another culture for any length of time.

Kyle O’Leary lived in Lagos, Nigeria from 1999-2003. His mom, dad and brother moved from Washington to Nigeria so his parents could teach at the American school there. As an elementary schooler, Kyle’s childhood was shaped by this experience and has influenced who he is today. He was able to experience things he never would have if he had lived in Washington his whole life.

Not only was he able to experience African culture, but he was also able to travel throughout Africa and Europe. This gave him a broader understanding of the world and different cultures.

Here Kyle talks about how his time living in Nigeria made him more aware of cultural differences.

Here Kyle explains what it was like to live abroad and what he learned from his experience.

Living abroad can shape you into a more understanding and aware individual.

Appreciation of other cultures

As I drove through the flat lands of Kansas, I was taken aback at how different the culture was. I was surrounded by homemade ant-abortion signs and elaborate billboards of Jesus.

I couldn’t imagine seeing this sight in the Portland metro area where I grew up my whole life. Even though I was only 1,500 miles away from home, it felt like another world. Seeing how prominent vocal conservative views are in the midwest made me realize how different it is in Portland.

I was able to appreciate that while people are welcome to express their beliefs, they are not forcing them upon others.

Some cultures make you appreciate your own more or they can make you think of it in a different way. It can also make you appreciate the traditions of another culture or think of ways yours could be better.

I was able to have this experience on a micro level within the country I call home. Others are able to experience it oversees. Traveling to other countries can change your perspective and allow you to think of things you may not have thought of before.

Abby Ernst has had the opportunity to travel to Ireland, England, Canada, Spain and Italy. In her experience she has seen traditions that differ from those she sees at home. In seeing these differences she is able to appreciate where she comes from. Abby says that the two countries she travelled to that were her favorite were Spain and Italy. She travelled to Spain with her family and she went to Italy with her choir to sing for the Pope.

Here Abby explains some of the differences between the U.S. and other countries she has visited.

Abby’s perspective on the U.S. has changed through her travels. She also explains why she thinks it’s important to travel.

There are many reasons to travel. Seeing other cultures and using that experience to better understand your own culture is one of the most important reasons.

There’s no place like home

As a college student with a limited travel budget, I know how difficult it can be to go on all sorts of grand adventures. While I have been fortunate enough to travel sporadically, it is not nearly as much as I would like.While it may not be realistic for me to travel to China, the Lan Su Chinese Garden give you the opportunity to transport yourself to another world right in your own backyard.

The garden can servrve as a way to escape reality

Located in the heart of Portland, this peaceful haven provides the opportunity to get away for a few hours. The contrast between the city and the garden can best be seen when you look up and find yourself surrounded by high rise buildings, but that makes it all the more interesting. I began to feel a new appreciation for nature and simplicity.

Contrast between the garden and the modern buildings surrounding it
Contrast between the garden and the modern buildings surrounding it

The garden had a mix of intricate design and simple statements. This lead to the eye constantly finding new things to look at. The garden is not very large but there are plenty of activities to participate in.

My friend, Hannah, and I found ourselves in the tea house after a half hour of wandering around the grounds. The warm tea was exactly what we needed after our chilly stroll. As we sipped our tea we marveled at how authentic our experience had been. Although neither of us have been to China, we felt as though we had gained some knowledge as to what traditional Chinese gardens may be like.

Delicious herbal tea served in the Tea House
Delicious herbal tea served in the Tea House

It is important to explore your city and see what opportunities you may find. I have lived in the Portland area for 20 years and hadn’t been aware of the Chinese Garden. A little adventurous spirit and the desire to try something new led me to the garden. You don’t have to travel far; there are so many ways to travel within your own city if you just look a little.

Inside view: Ketchikan

Ketchikan, Alaska is a town unlike most in the United States. An island situated in Southeast Alaska makes Ketchikan a secluded town in comparison to a typical town.

Sprawling mountains surround and rain forests surround the island making it an exciting 360 degree view. I ventured to the “last frontier” for spring break and was able to view traditional totem poles, whale watch and beautiful sunsets.

Alaskan sunset
Alaskan sunset

The peacefulness and seclusion of the island was like nothing I have experienced before. We were there on the off season so there were only a handful of people milling around, but I could imagine what the bustling streets would be like during tourist season.

Visiting Southeast Alaska during the off season provides a whole different perspective. Although I have never visited during the tourist season, but I have been told it is a very different experience. The small shops and family owned businesses feed into the small-town feel.

Seeing Ketchikan and experiencing a place far different than the suburb I grew up in gave me a new perspective on the ways other people live. It also gave me the opportunity to develop an appreciation for nature and the natural resources that are available in such a beautiful climate.

While I was able to get an outsiders view of Southeast Alaska, the perspective of someone who is from there is far more valuable.

Sara Gomez grew up in Ketchikan before moving to McMinnville to go to Linfield College. Her love of Alaska led her to lead a group of Linfield students to do sustainability work in the state. The Alternative Spring Break trip was such a success that she will be leading another trip this coming spring.

Sara finds Ketchikan to be like no other place she has ever been.

Sara says that there is a major difference between the off-season and the tourist season.

By getting the unique opportunity to live in Alaska, Sara has insight as to what is most important to those who live there— community.

Inside view: San Fransisco

San Fransisco is a vibrant city full of culture and sight seeing. I have been lucky enough to visit this city twice and experienced it in several different capacities.

My first trip to the city was when I was in the sixth grade. My family went on a road tripped down to the bay area and did all the normal sightseeing—The Golden Gate Bridge, Fishermans Wharf and Alcatraz. I fell in love with the unique city, but didn’t feel like I got as much of an insiders perspective.

A rainy and foggy day at the Golden Gate Bridge
A rainy and foggy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

I got another opportunity to go back my freshman year of college through the Alternative Spring Break program at Linfield College. This experience was vastly different than my first trip as we were volunteering at a Head Start pre-school. I was able to see what the daily life of a person in San Fransisco is like and develop a connection not just to landmarks of a city, but to the people.

When the pre-school went on a field trip to see the Golden Gate Bridge, it didn’t feel like I was a cliche tourist, but like I was seeing the city from the perspective of a resident.

Although I felt a deeper connection to the city, I was still only there for a week, which is not enough time to experience a city as exciting as San Fransisco.

To really know what it is like to experience San Fransisco and to know the ins and outs, one must talk to a person who has lived there. An insiders perspective can give a lot more information than a person who visited for a week.

Emma Beuerman is a Junior at Linfield and a San Fransiscan. Emma loves to talk about her city and share why she loves the place she calls home.

San Fransisco has many unique neighborhoods with exciting things to do.

She has also noticed a lot of changes in her community due to the many technology headquarters near San Fransisco.

Soarin’ Over Alaska

After a 3 hour drive to Seattle and a 2 hour flight to Ketchikan, Ala., we were almost to our final destination. The only thing standing in our way was a body of water.

Southeast Alaska is unique in that a good portion of it is made up of islands. Getting to these islands proves to be a difficult, particularly when you are going to a town with a population of around 490 people. The only ways to get on and off the island are by ferry and float plane. We were traveling in style a.k.a by float plane.

The float plane we rode in
The float plane we rode in

As we stood on the dock and watched the plane float to the edge, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people could fit in the tiny cabin. The 6 of us who were scheduled for the first flight loaded our luggage into the tiny back space and packed ourselves in.

As the bottom of the plane skimmed the water and we lifted off, I was taken aback by the beauty Alaska has to offer and immediately forgot about the tight quarters we were traveling in.

We were traveling in style a.k.a float plane.

Have you ever been on Soarin’ Over California? Well flying in a float plane is the Alaska version of that ride.

As we glided in the air toward Prince of Wales Island, our eyes got wide as we were greeted with mountains and clear blue water. This was the Alaska I had always pictured and there wasn’t a more perfect way to experience it.