From California To Oregon: Home is Where The Heart is

By Crista Tappan - April 07, 2018

It’s day six of my husband, Michael, and I’s seven day journey to Portland, Oregon, from our home in Newbury Park, California. It’s the first time either of us has lived in a different state, and far away from the security blanket of our friends and family.

We visited friends in San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, Mount Shasta, and our last stop - Bend, Oregon. I drove our Honda Element while Michael has been riding his Triumph Bonneville. We have traveled together through the changing landscapes, torrential downpours, dead-stopped traffic, and gorgeous hillsides.

Not long after we drove across the state border, we stopped to get gas.

The attendant, in a true Oregon fashion and welcome, filled up our tanks for us. I awkwardly handed him my card and he inquired about our travels. Michael told him we were moving from California to Portland, and he nodded knowingly, as if it was a trend he saw.

"Whatever you do," He said, closing up the gas tank on my car. "Don't bring the crazy with you from California."

That statement made me laugh, hard. Such a perfect little welcome to Oregon.

* * *

Sometimes in life, you feel a tug in your soul to make a life shift and take a chance.

For Michael and I, that chance was uprooting our lives and moving to Portland, Oregon.

Up until two years ago, I’ve lived in the same small sleepy beach town that I grew up in. Even after moving, I was still always within half an hour away. That’s pretty much my entire life, in one specific place.

Even though I’ve traveled often and have explored many corners of this world, I’ve had the benefit of being able to return to a well-loved home and community.

Unlike many people that move states, we didn’t do it because we hated where we lived. In fact, we both loved it. We loved the people, the energy, the gorgeous landscapes.

We chose to move because that’s what our guts told us - for the opportunities, for the adventure, and for the chance to follow our dreams.

Once we started putting the feelers out there that we were thinking about moving to the Pacific Northwest, it was like the universe sent down the reasons why we should go.

Michael found out there was an amazing tattoo school in Portland. He submitted his artwork portfolio and was accepted almost immediately. He starts at the beginning of May - the program is six months and after, well, let’s just say we both, in addition to all of our friends, are going to start to be covered in tattoos ;-)

I’m thrilled to also quietly announce the launch of my new marketing and design business with a friend, who is moving to south Washington with her husband in August. We felt a deep synchronicity when we both told each other that we wanted to move to the PNW (during our early talks about starting a business together). Once we are both in our new homes, we will be living closer together than when we lived in California. Incredible how things work out!

Dirtbag Runners is going to benefit immensely from the move to Oregon, both as a business, but also for our community expansion and opportunities to work with other outdoor companies. Not only is Oregon better overall for a small business compared to California (which is the worst for a small business), but we are also looking to partner with several incredible companies based out of Oregon and Washington.

The pull north is strong, and we are embracing that pull.

* * *

We stopped in Ventura, and visited with my Grandpa, Don. Our dog Penny ran through his backyard with wild abandon. Michael and I plucked a few oranges and lemons from my Grandfather’s citrus trees. I soaked in the sounds of my Grandmother’s old windchimes, sparkling notes into the warm afternoon breeze. 

I walked into my Grandmother’s old room, a place I visited often when I’d have the chance. I looked through old photo albums, and found myself in a deep state of peace.

I thought about my Grandparent’s lives. They traveled the world, as my Grandfather was in the military (both Vietnam and WW2). They lived in Japan, Europe, Washington DC, and Texas before finding their home in Ventura, California. Over the course of my life and asking them to retell me stories from their adventures across the world, my favorites were always the ones were they talked about moving to a new place and exploring the culture, foods, and national parks.

They embraced the nomadic lifestyle. They embraced change. They loved meeting new people, seeing new places around the world, and expanding their horizons.

I knew, deep down, that my Grandmother would be so proud of us for taking a similar leap of faith in moving to a new place.

Even moreso, I have grown to believe one major thing to be true about where you live:

Home isn’t one specific location or place where you keep your things - home is where the heart is. Home is within your relationships to others.

Luckily, I’m also a part of a large community across the world where the nomadic lifestyle is common.  There are events all over the country that we flock to on a regular basis.

Hilariously, I see some of my friends who live in different states more frequently than those who lived only an hour away. Borders do not bound us - we are connected, through social communities, and in many instances feel actively involved in eachothers lives, despite distance.

And we must support one another on our journeys, both in life and in where we choose to plant our feet, for that time.

I think what I’m trying to get to is, it’s so important to get out in the world and take chances. See new places. Travel. Go on adventures. Invite your friends along for the journey. Take pictures, share your stories.


Photos from our trip:

Smith Rock State Park, outside of Bend, Oregon

Michael and I, Smith Rock State Park, outside of Bend, Oregon

My Grandfather and I in Ventura, CA

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