This Isn’t Kansas Anymore: A Midwesterner’s Take on the West Coast
At TrAk , we believe in the philosophy of Living BIG: setting goals, stepping outside your comfort zone, and seeking new adventures. We created our Live BIG Adventure Coaches Program to provide our coaches with funding for their own adventures so they can inspire our community to push for more.
Not many 24 year olds can say they’ve never been on an airplane, but I can.
I grew up in a family of five, so flying anywhere, let alone big trips, was kind of out of the question.
Once I started being involved in sports, vacations as a whole were taken off the table when competitions and training started to take over. When I continued my football career at the college level, my experience with travel became limited to away games.
Now that I’ve graduated, I’ve realized that I’m 24 years old and there are a lot of things I haven’t done. I’ve never been on a plane, and I’ve never been further west than Wisconsin, so this past summer I decided to dive in and explore the West Coast.
Coincidentally, my girlfriend’s mom just happens to live in a tiny town in central Oregon, right in the middle of Deschutes National Forest. I figured this would be as good a place as any to begin, so with the help of the LBA Coaches Program I planned a 10 day trip to travel through the mountains of central Oregon and explore the coast of Northern California.
This is the town where my girlfriend’s mom lives, and it was one of the coolest towns I have ever visited. Sisters is home to less than 1,000 people. The town gets it’s name from the three Sisters Mountains: Faith, Hope, and Charity. Being from the Midwest where mostly everything is flat, it was absolutely surreal to wake up every morning with mountains towering over us.
Even better than seeing them up close was climbing them. We drove most of the way to the top, and when we got there the view was absolutely amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it.
The Oregon Coast
After four days in Sisters, we headed out to the Oregon coast. We made a quick stop in Eugene, home of TrackTown USA and the Oregon Ducks. Being a huge college football fan, I made sure I got a selfie in front of Autzen stadium.
Five hours later I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Cape Blanco State Park was a pretty even match to the view from the mountains, and after hiking down a hill the water was finally at my feet.
Our next stop was traveling on the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s exactly like you see on TV, with the beautiful views of the ocean and dangerous curves. There’s nothing further away from a classic Midwest experience than driving at sea level past tsunami warning signs. Once we made it into California we called it a night about seven hours from our next stop, San Francisco.
San Francisco/Alcatraz Island
We spent the seventh day of our trip in the City by the Bay. For me, the best part of visiting here was getting to tour Alcatraz.
This was hands down one of the most memorable experiences of my life. We were able to take the audio tour and spend the day where some of America’s most dangerous criminals were once housed. We heard stories about Al Capone, Robert “the Birdman of Alcatraz” Stroud, riots, and rebellions. It was insane to walk around while hearing their stories. The only thing missing was Sean Connery.
After our tour, we were able to meet up with Mike Regula for a cup of coffee and, as always, interesting conversations.
Growing up in a small town in Northwest Ohio can skew the way you view the world. It’s almost as if you are made to believe life should be lived a certain way. As Woody Guthrie once said, “All you know is all you can see.” Traveling the West Coast showed me that there’s so much more to this world to discover, and now that I have experience with flying I’m excited to plan my next adventure.
One of the things I love and appreciate most about being a part of the TrAk Family is the constant push to get out of my comfort zone and expand my horizons. It isn’t just talk around here, as a coach, I got help planning and paying for this adventure so I can inspire others to do the same.
It’s exactly that BIG picture thinking that makes this place special and unlike any other gym I’ve ever encountered. My hope with sharing my adventure is that other members of our family at TrAk will see that it doesn’t take much to climb mountains and dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean, and they’ll want to experience it for themselves.