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We met at dawn, but this was never the plan. Volcanic dust coated my shoes, sleep weighed heavy on my eyes, and the gas gauge hovered above “E”— the spoils of victory. Together, I celebrated a new day with the sun.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I wasn’t supposed to be here yet—on the brink of a volcanic crater, looking down on what looks to be the grave of Albus Dumbledore—but as soon as I crossed the Columbia River into Oregon, things began to break bad. First, the iPhone, which now rests in perpetual slumber after a final snap in Astoria. Then, the plan for a night at Cannon Beach. With the iPhone out of commission as a navigational tool, a mad, two-hour dash inland sent me sprinting into a Portland Apple Store 20 minutes before close.

Finally, the fuel gauge. Unable to refuel until almost dawn thanks to an Oregon state law that literally makes it illegal for you to pump your own gas, I was perilously close to walking the highway. (Shops take this ridiculous law seriously, going so far as to put padlocks on the pumps at night.)

I could have given up. I could have chalked it all up to a day of doom and gone to sleep, but just before sunrise, I sputtered and popped into the tiny outpost of Chemult. The car was running on fumes: in Oregon terms, my last oxen was on its last leg. (The late night stop at Denny’s may yet kill me from dysentery.)

And now, the tide has turned. There’s fuel in the tank, a replacement iPhone in the console and enough time left today explore this volcano before heading south into California for an overnight camp at Mount Shasta.

I meant to spend more time in Oregon. I meant to visit friends in Bend and Medford, but sometimes the best laid plans go wrong. And, let’s be honest, you all know that I’m not “the best” at making any plans.

For now, I’m glad to have turned a bad day into a good one—even if I did have to cheat the night to do it.

The road goes ever on…

Written by

When my home was sold out from under me, I bought a tent and decided to live outside. Now, I'm a freelance writer for Travel Channel, INSIDER, Nat Geo, and Fodor's Travel and I'm on a never-ending quest to get out of my comfort zones and see the world.

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