• Justin Key

Weather or Not

Updated: Apr 11

Growing up in Wisconsin I always thought the weather was bizarre, that was until I moved to Colorado. There isn't a thunderstorm in Wisconsin history that can compare to the average storm that blows through the foothills in the spring. In Wisconsin you can experience all four seasons in a week, Colorado you can do that in a day, especially in early spring, when the weather warms up enough to fool the flowers into blooming, before a foot of wet, mile-high snow drops overnight.


Last year, the big storm came on Mother's Day. Tree branches closed road lanes and kept insurance lines busy from all the parked cars trapped under fallen limbs. Spring had arrived months ago and the new leaves had trapped more snow than could be supported. This year, the big storm hit a day before Sarah and I were scheduled to board a plane bound for southern California. All of Denver International Airport was shut down and the cancellations were abundant, including our flight. Luckily for us, the announcement was delayed until we were just about at the airport.  The disappointment was short-lived when we each received a voucher for a new ticket with a limited lifespan. You want to blow the mind of the traveler in your family this holiday season, give them $200 for a plane ticket they have two months to use. The kid in a candy store metaphor doesn't do it justice. The practical decision would've been to use it for a wedding in Wisconsin coming up that we still needed to buy tickets for. But those would only be $150. We had to get our money's worth.


When Sarah and I graduated from college, we decided to celebrate by taking a trip together. Six months' worth of indecision later, we finally decided on our destination. The beautiful thing about going to Maine in October is YOU'RE IN MAINE IN OCTOBER! It helped the government shutdown for our vacation. The late stages of the fall color change were in effect but the closure of the national parks system deterred the masses. Our trip couldn't have been more serene. 


We had five whole days of lighthouse tours and stuffing our face with ocean-side lobster. There wasn't a lighthouse on the southern half of the coast we didn't hit, including Pocahontas Light, the world's smallest registered lighthouse. We spent our nights meandering through the small coastal towns sampling all the local beer we could find. Our trip wrapped up with us joining the anarchists that were hiking Acadia National Park, even though the park rangers were very stern in saying, "Just be safe" in their attempt to stop hikers from entering the "shut down" National Park. That trip set the bar for not only every vacation to come but also, french toast.



Quick tangent: Seriously, I had the best stuffed french toast in Maine! Sarah found a Groupon at the ocean side Samoset Resort complete with breakfast certificates to their restaurant. Breakfast is in a four-way tie for my favorite meal of the day (I include brunch because I'll take any excuse for a Bloody Mary). Free breakfast is even better. We were staring out the window at the ocean shimmering in the rising sun when I was blinded by my meal from heaven. Three buttery golden brown slices of French toast with a sweet berry cream cheese oozing from between slices. It was topped off with fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries with a dollop of whipped cream. And If you ever go for breakfast within sniffing distance of Vermont and they do not give you the pure maple syrup that is so thin it beads on the plate, a mistake has been made! I have tried many a time to recreate that meal and have yet to come close. Every time I dig into my amateur stuffed French toast, I can still see the spectra dancing in that pure maple syrup as angels sing songs about picking berries with Tinkerbell and friends. 

With my mouth watering, back to it.


Our decision for Maine came down to a mutual affinity for the area. Neither of us had seen that part of the country and its reputation for fall colors made the timing perfect. With two vouchers and a big wide world to explore, we settled on another area we had yet to traverse, the Pacific Northwest. As an anniversary gift to ourselves, we bought two tickets to Portland, Oregon. 


I never thought I would see a place as green as Ireland, little did I know the top left corner of our country isn't far off. We spent our days hiking through moss-covered forests to roaring waterfalls, driving through wine country that fills in the gaps between national forests, and browsing new strands of roses at the famous rose gardens. Sarah did request some time on the coast, which wasn't a hard sell when I discovered Cannon Beach. 


For anyone that's been keeping up with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you've gotten a preview of our adventure. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be editing my photos from our trip. As I do, I will recollect our moments spent in those locations and bring them to you here. Hopefully, through the images and words, I can bring Oregon closer to where you are and implant a craving for adventure. Stay tuned and cheers!

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