Transitioning Back: Checking in From Astoria Oregon

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

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A huge part of leaving on an extended trip is coming back, but coming back to where you grew up – as the quote above points out – is in no way the same as never leaving. Though we are now back in Oregon, and have moved back to the small town Kevin grew up in, we both see our beautiful state with new eyes and a fresh enthusiasm for living here. One of the biggest reasons we moved back here was to be closer to family, and hanging out with our awesome nieces, having big multigenerational family dinners, and going on weekly camping trips has made the move worth it.

We spent the weekend watching one of our nieces. She is a blast!

We spent the weekend watching one of our nieces. She is a blast!

We have spent the last month living in Kevin’s brother’s basement which has been fun – especially because they have three amazing girls – but now after weeks of paper work and appointments, we are finally moving into our own small apartment which overlooks the Columbia River. Between living with five other people, finding and starting new jobs, and doing errands such as opening bank accounts and acquiring phones (no!), we have been busy and haven’t had a whole lot of time to explore. Even so, after our six day rafting trip at the beginning of our return we did spend a weekend sailing and crabbing (with kayaks) on the Columbia, we visited the “duck shack” (a small floating house upriver a ways), and we completed our first weekend Oregon cycle tour. We hope to backpack, cycle tour, kayak, fish, or camp almost every weekend from here on out in order to explore Oregon, and though this will mean leaving right after work on Friday, and coming home Sunday night in order to start another busy week, we both feel like it’s worth it for those two or three days of bliss outdoors.

Here are a few photos of Astoria, Oregon, with more to come in the following weeks and months.

This trolley runs through downtown Astoria.

This trolley runs through downtown Astoria.

Astoria use to have a booming economy and many of these old canaries are now old empty buildings, while others have been restored as restaurants.

Astoria use to have a booming economy and many of these old canaries are now old empty buildings, while others have been restored as restaurants.

That's Astoria on the hillside!

That’s Astoria on the hillside!

The sea lions are a nuisance as they ruin the docks but they sure are fun to watch.

The sea lions are a nuisance as they ruin the docks but they sure are fun to watch.

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The Astoria bridge which leads to Washington which is right on the other side of the Columbia river.

The Astoria bridge which leads to Washington which is right on the other side of the Columbia river.

There are a whole lot of old Victorian houses from the 1890's and early 1900's when the economy was doing really well. Now, rich people from California are buying these huge old houses and renovating them.

There are a whole lot of old Victorian houses from the 1890’s and early 1900’s when the economy was doing really well. Now, rich people from California are buying these huge old houses and renovating them.

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Another restored Victorinan style home.

Another restored Victorinan style home.

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And cycling wise, Astoria is actually a great place to live as there are hundreds of touring cyclists who come through this area every month as it’s an end point for the trans America route, and along the route from Canada to Mexico as well. Since we haven’t had our own place this last month we have simply been handing out snickers bars and wishing them on their way, but now that we have our own apartment, we can start inviting people back for a meal and a night under a roof. As much as we want to invite cycle tourists in as a way to pass back some of the kindness we received along our tour, we also (selfishly) want them at our house so that we can hang out with like-minded folks again. One of the hardest parts about returning from a long trip is that no one wants to hear your stories, and though that’s all you have lived for the past years, if you constantly talk about it, eventually people just find it annoying. With other travelers and cycle tourists it’s different; not only do they understand, but they are also interested in swapping stories and automatically understand parts of the lifestyle which are hard to explain to people who haven’t lived it. We have very rarely ever met a cycle tourist we didn’t like, so we can’t wait to start befriending those passing through!

A few weeks ago Peter – a cycle tourist we have known virtually for over a year – passed through Astoria with a friend so we enjoyed a full evening of pure cycle touring goodness. Peter is the guy who bought us all of our own gear before the South American section of our tour, so it was an honor to meet him in person!

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Kevin is currently working for his brother at his small heating and cooling business, and I am a teacher’s aide 20 hours a week at the elementary school, and work at Parks and Rec part-time teaching fitness classes and working at their after school center. It’s sometimes hard to see that we made the right decision by moving back as everyday is busy and less exhilarating than it use to be, but we are learning to look at the big picture by setting long term goals. When we reflect on the times we stopped by noon in order to spend the whole day hanging around by the river, or the days and even weeks we spent at Casa De Cicyclistas literally just hanging around, I miss the simplicity of our previous life and want nothing more than to load up our bikes and head on out. But when we get to join in on an impromptu after dinner family kickball game, or when we search for land and yurt designs and realize that soon we will be able to start one of our other dreams, it makes the temporary craziness all worth it. I grew up far away from my relatives, and though for Kevin this is all normal – the fact that you can walk into any Dugan’s house and sit down for dinner any night of the week – I’m really enjoying this new family experience and look forward to what the future holds.

For a photo of the day and other updates follow me on facebook here, and for some awkwardly cropped photos from our journey, follow us on Instagram @awanderingphoto!

14 thoughts on “Transitioning Back: Checking in From Astoria Oregon

  1. I remember that part of coming back – after living for 4 years of the war in Bosnia and Croatia – people’s eyes glazed over when I shared stories. That’s tough. And to this day, I don’t much talk about it. But that’s another reason to write! And that, you do beautifully!

  2. Nice to hear your perspective on this. I often feel like a life of travel spoils you for a life back at home — it’s hard to ever settle for a “normal” life again. Glad you and Kevin are finding adventures at home.

  3. I am retired military and have experienced many of your coming home thoughts. It is not all or nothing as in you will never have any more traveling adventures. Enjoy this block of time (Parks & Rec ~ interesting) and who knows where you will be or what you will be doing 5 years form now. I really enjoyed cycling vicariously through your blog and I am sure you make the best out of any situation. Remember, change is good ~ especially if it is your underwear.

  4. Wow, my best wishes to the two of you! You are an inspirational person (I now use the Mooncup after reading one of your posts, ahah).
    Looking forward to the next post 🙂
    S

  5. Astoria is a wonderful slice of heaven. Although I live in Cali, I am not a rich Californian. I bought one of these houses that was Mother Nature was taking back. I love the house and the town. Astoria is awesome. Heaven if there ever was one. But, if you are a transplant, be respectful of the town. She is perfect. She doesn’t need change. She needs love.

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