It was Christmas, the Portland Northwest Hostel was packed with travellers, only we were dull.
We met international workers in the States exploring for the holiday, students on break, gap year wanderers, and the Australian who showered and breakfasted in the hostel but slept in his car.
I had no idea where we were going, this was Blaine's trip but I was along for the adventure. I had only heard of Oregon as I crossed north out of California three months earlier, my geography knowledge has evolved greatly since. The promise of ocean views and new friends was enough for me.
Our first day in the city we joined a historic tour of the neighbourhood, by that evening we were booted from a small bar for playing Pictionary too loudly. Have you ever played board games with a group of tipsy strangers speaking a second language?
Day two took us wandering the quiet streets with our new pals, drinking beers when we found them and taking photos of the fog. From the road of an outdoor market, I took a photo of the city disappearing in the mist. It's been six years and that view has remained in my memory and my archives.
On Christmas day we left Portland. The chaos of the hostel left us feeling like strangers, hostel mates were surprised to learn we'd travelled together. I enjoyed the arrangement, I felt safe yet independent. We spent the next few days meandering south: learning, hiking and unintentionally whale watching during sunlight, while sleeping in my truck at night. We were back in Canada before New Years.
Instead of going home, I welcomed the most influential year of my life with soon-to-be friends at the Kelowna International Hostel.