Monday, June 27, 2016

Just say yes

When I returned to Oregon from Norway in 2015, I made myself a promise. I decided I was going to do Oregon a bit differently my second time around, that I was going to make it as much like Norway as possible. I had some specific goals in mind, but I also intended to give myself a general attitude adjustment. I decided to treat Oregon like a foreign country.

You see, when I travel, I have a set of personal codes I abide by. I try to be open-minded, to listen to those around me, to absorb their culture rather than imposing my own. And most importantly, I say "yes" to everything.

Jazz concert in a lighthouse? Yes. Weekend trip to a neighboring country? Yes. Trying new foods? Yes. (I will eat literally anything, as long as I know what it is before I put it in my mouth.)

So when I returned to Oregon, I decided to be equally open. I decided to say "yes" to everything and experience my own country as if I were a foreigner in it. The strategy has worked out beautifully, and I've had some grand adventures along the way. So when Mike, the intern from the lab downstairs, suggested we go sandboarding, can you guess what I said?

We rented boards and drove out to a sand dune just north of Coos Bay. You may not know this, but sand dunes actually cover a good portion of the Oregon coast. There's even a hiking trail named after an old Oregon Congressman that meanders through the temperature rainforest and then over about 3 miles of dunes to the sea.

Sandboarding is just what it sounds like - essentially snowboarding on sand. I snowboard regularly in the winters, so I was pretty confident that I could handle myself on a slightly different medium. Come to find out, sand is not quite as malleable as snow. There are no useful edges on a sandboard, so you can't steer at all. Basically, the strategy is to strap your feet in, point the board downhill, and hope for the best.

We all fell plenty of times, but by the end of the day, we had figured out a few tricks for staying on our feet. A few of us had rented sleds instead of boards, so we traded and each got to try out different ways to slide down the hill.

It was a great day, and I'm glad I got to go. Only in Oregon!

Sand for miles!
The group with our boards.
Making my way down the hill. Photo by Mike Thomas.

Waiting my turn as Ella slides down the dune. Photo by Mike Thomas.
So this also happened.
Photo by Mike Thomas.

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