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Oregon to Patagonia

Bridget Connelly

“You lose sight of things… and when you travel, everything balances out.”

Over the last few months, it has been easy for me to lose sight of things. Dwelling and over analyzing every part of life — from career choices, moving decisions, wedding planning, and family grief. When your body or mind is stressed out and consumed with emotions, it’s easy to focus on trivial things and become overwhelmed easily. I have found myself in that place one too many times in the last few weeks. When an opportunity came along to take a trip —  a trip I probably could not afford — I knew it was one I could simply not pass up.  I thought long and hard (well not too hard, to be honest) and booked it! Before I knew it I was boarding my flight to Patagonia…

Travel to me is an essential part of living, growing and evolving. Every time I experience a new place, learn about new cultures, create new friendships, I feel simply balanced out. I can feel my mind and body becoming in sync again— letting myself release my anxieties and stress that I cling too. I start taking deeper, fuller breaths, and appreciating every ounce of my surroundings. This quote resonates with me, “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience every day things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” This is what I love about travel. Each day I feel as if I’m experiencing life for the first time— new streets, new landscapes, new food, new languages. It’s invigorating (sometimes frustrating), yet always rewarding. 

When my friend Jedidiah informed me he was riding his bike from Oregon to Patagonia in Chile, I laughed. I honestly didn't think he was being serious. But then again if you know Jedidiah, you know that something like this isn't all that surprising. His passion for life and really LIVING it, is something to be in awe of. Being in his presence challenges you to think differently, to live more intentionally, to let go of fears and to really live a story. A story you are proud of and that feels authentic to you. He is one of the funniest, charismatic, intuitive and intelligent people I know. I knew that on this journey of his, I would find a way to meet him somewhere, somehow.

It would take him nearly a year and half to complete his journey. Along the way he swam with piranhas in the Amazon, rode horses in the Chilean and Argentinian mountains, he befriended everyone he met, he befriended every animal he met, he biked for hours on end in every type of weather you could imagine, climbed Machu Picchu with his nearest and dearest, and finished it off at the tip of Patagonia with myself, our friend Sophia and his mom. It was a journey of a lifetime that will inspire many for years and years to come. I am so thankful and honored I could be a part of it in some way. 

Jed isn't much of a planner. Things simply fall into place and if they don’t he makes the most of what happens instead. A true gift to possess and one that I don't exactly have — ha! I like to plan and know the details of everything we are going to embark on. I love that he has this quality about him. It actually forced me to relax more and go with the flow. Because of this, our trip was probably wilder then we could've imagined, but I would not have changed a thing! I also realized that getting a hold of someone that lives on a bike, in a foreign country, is not the easiest thing to do. I eventually surrendered to my planning — I booked my trip, informed Jed where I would be staying the first night, and kept my fingers crossed that we would meet up eventually after I arrived….

The flight into Patagonia was nothing short of jaw dropping. The scenes around me— the soaring mountains, raging waters, colossal glaciers, white snow, and fierce blue sky was unlike anything I had consumed before. I felt like a little kid, with my face plastered up against the window trying not to miss out on one part of the natural beauty encompassing me. It was nearly 9:30 at night and the sun was still completely illuminating the sky. My delusional, jet-lagged body thought for a moment that I could not be landing in the right place. But alas, I learned that because we were nearly at the tip of the world, the light remained late into the night. This worked out great for me — to start off the trip absorbing the dream-like environment around me. The natural beauty of this world, will never cease to amaze me.

I landed, quickly grabbed my bag, then informed my Spanish speaking cab driver, in English, where my hotel was.  In my mind, I assume that if I speak louder and slower in English to people who cannot understand it, hopefully they will?  I can hear myself getting smarter typing that. Probably not, but nonetheless he gave me a side glance, and whisked me away. I leaned my head out the window and inhaled the freshest air I have tasted in my life. I felt pure bliss looking out at the rough waters, the bright yellow and purple flowers, the endless farm land, and vast mountains behind them. At the same time, I felt slightly nervous about where exactly I was going too — hoping to see a familiar face when I got there. 

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We pulled into the quaint town of Punta Arenas, and up to a dark green and brick building. The driver pointed at it and I think told me "I was there" or maybe "To get out." Either way, I took this as our time to part. I jumped out, grabbed my bag and before I had fully turned around I was being embraced by a firm hold I recognized. It could only be one — Jed. We jumped up and down, scream-cried and freaked out together, in what can only be described as ultimate elation. Best friends, reunited in Chile, about to have an adventure together we would tell our children one day. I smile ear to ear thinking about it. We quickly threw down my bags, squeezed the life out of each other one more time, and we were off. The city of Punta Arena, Puerto Natales and Patagonia had so much to discover yet. But first, never ending conversations and WINE. Praise those Chilean wine makers.

More to come :)