Who would have thought that an 18-day road trip down the U.S. Pacific Coast would have such a huge impact on my life?
I’m permanently changed.
On September 1, my husband Patrick and I boarded a plane headed northwest. We landed in Seattle, WA, and met up with Patrick’s friends Jesse and Jeff. The four of us took over the “Dragon Wagon…” a slightly smelly, oversized van that we’d learn to call home for the next month…
*Cool fact: The “Dragon Wagon” was actually Imagine Dragons’ first tour van when they were just starting their band! We decided to recreate this picture they took in the van…I just need some brown, curly hair and a beard and this pic would be dead on. 😉
So…some background for you. A few years ago, Jesse lost his younger brother Tyler to pediatric cancer. Since then, Jesse and his family, along with the help of the band Imagine Dragons, have created an incredible foundation called The Tyler Robinson Foundation. TRF helps families deal with the finical and emotional burdens of pediatric cancer. It really is an incredible foundation, and I feel blessed to have been a part of it for a month.
Ok, back to our journey…
We followed Jesse and Jeff on their bikes as they rode from Canada to Mexico along the Pacific Coast Highway. 1,500 miles in 18 days! Any cyclist will tell you that’s an impressive feat. And the best part? Neither Jesse nor Jeff are cyclists. They learned to clip in the day before we left. What a hoot. Pat and I were the support crew and the film crew. We threw Gatorades and ProBars at the boys while they rode and put together a couple of videos documenting the trip.
Along the way, we stopped at 10 different families who’re struggling with the horrendous costs of pediatric cancer, surprising them each with a $10,000 grant. Honestly, no words can adequately describe how humbling this experience was. To learn the stories of these sweet families, and then watch as they realize what we just handed them…
To the parents, $10,000 isn’t just a sum of money. It’s freedom from their day jobs so they can actually spend time with their dying child. It’s the realization that they can now afford another round of chemo to try and save that child’s life. It’s relief and hope and a chance at survival. Watching those mom’s faces when we pulled out those giant checks was an incredibly humbling and emotional experience.
As I said, words really can’t do this justice. If you’d like to see for yourself, check out the video Pat and I put together of our experience…
Behind the Scenes:
It wasn’t all sweat and tears. We got to do a little sight seeing along the way too! We stopped in some amazing towns and saw some beautiful places…here are just a couple of the highlights:
Getting to see MY BROTHER ON HIS MISSION! Oh my gosh I was so nervous and excited. I felt like I was going on a first date or something…I hadn’t seen him in over a year! This dinner made my life.
Indulging in the “tasting platter” at Salt and Straw. It’s this incredible ice cream place in downtown Portland that serves crazy weird, but delicious flavors. I sampled garam masala with cinnamon cauliflower (which just seemed wrong to be eating Indian-spices in ice cream), blue cheese with pear and honey lavender. After a long debate and lots of sample spoons, we ended up choosing four scrumptious flavors… (Left to Right: Chocolate with potato chips and cupcake chunks, strawberry-balsamic with cracked pepper, salted caramel almond with chocolate ganache and carrot cake.)
Devoured in seconds.
Ordering a giant (organic of course) Falafel pita wrap from the food trucks in downtown Portland!
It would be a crime to drive through Tillamook without stopping at the Cheese and Ice Cream Factory…those waffle cones though.
We camped for a night in the Redwoods. Being under those MAMMOTH trees really makes you feel small and insignificant. We got some beautiful shots while we were there and even snuck in a couple of short hikes!
Of course we had to get some drone shots of the bridge. We also did a time-lapse, so we got to watch the sun fade behind the hill as the city lights slowly came to life.
One of the families we surprised had a “Make a Wish” on the same day. The girl’s wish was to meet the 49ers, so we got to be there for that. We took a tour of their facility and ate in their INCREDIBLE cafeteria. Those boys are spoiled, let me tell you. Pat and I felt like we didn’t deserve to meet the 49ers, because let’s be honest here, we don’t care about football one eentsie teensie bit. But, it was still a cool experience and for a few hours we got to pretend like we care…
Cute Coastal California Towns
This was the view from my morning run in an adorable coastal town we stayed at for a night.
Filming water droplets in a puddle…we get some weird looks from people sometimes.
Biking Big Sur
OK. If you’ve never driven Big Sur before, you HAVE to put it on your list. It was spectacular. I even put in a few miles on the bike! Gotta love that helmet. Not to mention the spandex…
It wasn’t all fun and games though. Videography can be VERY stressful at times. You depend completely on your gear working properly, and sometimes it just doesn’t cooperate.
But in the end, we made it to Mexico.
Along the way, we made some unforgettable memories, met some inspiring people and had an epic adventure in the Dragon Wagon.
I’m a better person because of this experience. I have a greater appreciation for my own health, life and belief in God. I will always hold on to this experience as one of the greatest 18 days of my life. Thank you Jesse and Jeff for letting us tag along on that incredible adventure. May the Dragon Wagon days live on…at least in memory if nothing else.