Joey, Sarah and I are all very politically-minded. I won't bother saying which side of the fence we fall on, but we all fall together, which probably plays a big role in why we all get along so well.

During the presidential primary season, when we'd all settled on whom we'd be supporting independently, sure enough, we were all behind the same candidate. So I made a regular habit of visiting Joey and Sarah in their former place of residence in Mt. Holly, Nj. - sometimes as often as every week - for what became a Tuesday tradition of primary results over delicious, homecooked meals, courtesy of Sarah.

As the cable news channels darted from state to state along with the primary schedule, we got to talking. Our stomachs full of food, and usually a few drinks, we talked about Joey and Sarah's spur-of-the-moment decision about a year and a half prior, when they piled into Joey's Xterra and drove to San Francisco and back in under two weeks during a winter break from college. They'd invited me and I couldn't go, as I'd already filled my schedule with work. And they had a blast, but had a strict time limit, which prevented them from seeing as much as they really wished they could.

After not much deliberation, we decided that we all needed a change of scenery. For god's sake, I've never lived outside of the state of Pennsylvania, and haven't been further west than Chicago (a brief stop during a plane ride to Michigan). And we decided we wanted to move to Portland, Oregon, a city we knew as a progressive West Coast city and, noted amply by yours truly, a favorite locale for my favorite band, the Grateful Dead, in their heyday.

We wanted to amplify this decision with an American exploration of sorts - a race from city to city on the way out, up the East Coast and back down, north through the Midwest and back down to Dallas, and eventually up the Pacific Coastal Highway to our final destination. We gave ourselves a month to do this at first.

Until Joey said, "What's the rush?"

So we committed ourselves to this goal, knowing full well that the best time to go would be during the warm summer weather. But we didn't have the money for such a venture at the time, and we all knew it. We've devoted ourselves to a year of planning and saving, planning and saving, holding regular meetings together to pool money and plan our destinations.It's a lofty goal, but one that's holding up with the collective force of the three of us behind it.

And who knows, maybe we can get more on board before we go.

-Tom Stanley

Photo courtesy Travel Portland/Brent Bradley

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