I woke up to the first foggy and dull day in my entire trip. Welp, guess it’s time to leave. But I had a few hours to kill, and I was not about to head to the airport without getting breakfast! :)

 
 
Left: A fellow clown trying to bring back a little sunshine to everyone.  Right: There are about 6 of these fresh markets at Pike’s Market. But that’s A-OK with me because they hand out free samples of the most delicious fruit ever. That’s one way to get a girl some breakfast.

 
Ahh… Piroshky Piroshky. This is another, more traditional way of getting a girl some breakfast. Highly recommended.

But after breakfast, it was time to hit the road. My spontaneous, solo-travel trip was over. After 8 hours of travel I’d be back on the East Coast, and back to the daily grind. So here are the ten main things I took from my excursion:

  1. I can do this. I can go somewhere new, by myself, figure out how to get places, and make new friends. This trip was a big confidence booster for me. I realized I’m capable of being independent… capable of putting myself out there, out of my comfort zone, and still able to have a great time.
  2. I’m still afraid of heights. But I’m brave enough to face them. With the number of bridges, cliffs, and log jams I had to cross, I would say I  embraced the experience and tried my best to overcome these challenges. I definitely “drank the sauce” if you will.
  3. Drink good beer. And drink it slowly. Because it’s expensive out here. I advanced from my Natty light days to the lovely world of microbrews and… nicer beer. (Still working on the vocab, obvi) I also learned that a brewery is often the best and easiest place to not only meet people, but to also learn about a city.
  4. Being in a new city makes you way more observant. I probably know the city of Portland and Seattle better than Richmond or Raleigh. And it’s embarrassing. When I was learning about each city from some of the locals, I kept thinking to myself…geez I hope they don’t come to Richmond because I don’t have the slightest idea about where to take a visitor. But on the plus side, I improved my directionally-challenged mind and have become a lot more observant of people, places, and…street signs.
  5. People still get kicked out of bars out here. It was often refreshing to overhear the drunken conversations at the bar, the annoying complaints of a perturbed customer, and the overly dramatic conversations from teenage girls and/or homeless people. Yeah, it seems like a whole other world out here, and people are super nice, but people are still people. And that was a comforting feeling for sure.
  6. Fashion doesn’t matter when you’re traveling. Especially when you’re walking miles and miles a day. Suck it up, and wear your ugly tennis shoes. Oh, and don’t pack so much. (I learned this, but then again I ‘learn’ this every time I pack. It just never really sinks in.. I guess)
  7. Put yourself out there. I already touched on this in number one, but it was really the biggest takeaway from the trip. No matter how stupid you feel, how ridiculous the situation or the question is, or how much your “cool factor” might decline… put yourself out there. You never know what will come of it, who you’ll meet, or what you’ll learn. And if you want an easy place to test out this adventurous attitude, come to Portland. You’ll fit in just fine :)
  8. Bring water on hikes. Come on Shannon, you got this.
  9. It’s a freaking small world. Whether it was meeting up with Amy in Portland, figuring out the bartender went to Godwin HS, or realizing a new friend was about to work with one of my best friends from softball… I couldn’t help but think of how small the world really is.
  10. No matter where you go, you will always have a support system back home. I couldn’t have racked up the courage to travel by myself, much less go through with it without my friends and family’s support back home. Every step of the way (taking me and/or picking me up from the airport, letting me crash at their house, treating me to dinner, giving me a pep talk when I was down, paying for some of my hotel nights, driving across town and through rush hour to visit with me for an hour, reading my blog :), and just simply being interested in hearing about my trip), I’ve realized how great I have it, and how many people really do care about me. Being in such a new and different place made me very thankful for all the friendships and relationships I have made along the way (and even the new ones from the trip). So thank you, you know who you are. I couldn’t have done any of this without you!

I could go on and on, but I know I might have already lost you due to the length of this post. This technically marks the ‘end’ of the trip-blogging, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t mention it or remember something else about the trip down the road. Thank you thank you thank you for reading my blog and following me on my trip. It was definitely worth it, and it happened at the perfect time.

And to those of you who have never taken a trip like this, or have never studied abroad, I highly recommend doing it. You learn a lot. About people, the world, and yourself.

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