Nathanial Garrod

No Maps

“Yeah, I noticed your post on roads was a bit car-centric.”
“That doesn’t seem unlikely, though it wasn’t intentional. I miss my car.”
“You should get a ZipCar tomorrow and go for an adventure.”
“Yeah… But… Money.”
“Well, that shouldn’t stop you.”

After a delicious breakfast this morning with my friend Josh and his son, Josh commissioned me to make a delivery to lower Southwest Portland, which meant I grabbed a ZipCar, because I was already thinking about renting one for a couple hours today.

I had no particular destination in mind – there are no short trips I have on my immediate list of Places Outside Portland. Almost all of the places on my list are a bit farther away. So I picked a direction, without maps or guidance or destination – though partly a friends suggestion – and drove east. I followed signs, arbitrarily making decisions based on appeal and prior knowledge.

I took Interstate 5 up to Highway 84, and headed East. I decided to pull of 84 at a sign for the Vista House.

My first stop was the Womens Forum State Park.

A photo posted by Nathanial G (@nathanialjg) on


This is the first time I have been to this park without it being absurdly cold and windy, which was nice. From there, the road East next stops at the Vista House.

A photo posted by Nathanial G (@nathanialjg) on


Again, nice to be here without it being freezing cold.
Next up, Latourelle Falls.

A photo posted by Nathanial G (@nathanialjg) on

When I visited Latourelle Falls around this time last year, with a friend, I actually ended up getting soaked by venturing too close to the base of the falls when a gust of wind picked up some water and drenched me in freezing cold water. This time, I did not venture that close.

Then I drove past a few places to Multnomah Falls. I decided to park and get out. Last time I was at Multnomah Falls, the bridge was out, so I was excited to at least walk the 0.2 miles up to the bridge. As I walked, there was mist from the fall. All of the trees were covered in a vibrant green moss, and I felt my affections stirring for Christ.

About a month after I moved to Oklahoma, I lazily flipped my Bible open, hoping for some encouragement in a difficult time. I rolled my eyes as the Bible flipped to a page in Deuteronomy. Specifically, 30:1-5. Then I read the verse. I feel like after the time I spent in Oklahoma, I am now in my land of prosperity. I feel like a promise was made to me, and it was kept. The moss, the mist, the perfect temperature, the constant damp around me, it was all so perfect.

I made it to the bridge, then kept walking. Soon I was away from water, and it was hard to even remember that I was walking to the top of a waterfall. I thought about how tired I was, then I saw parents with strollers and a parade of children and realized that I could keep going. Maybe just one more switchback. But if I have already made it this far, why would I not go the rest of the way?

Near the top, the trail changes from paved to dirt. Given the amount of rain we have received over the weekend, a dirt trail is more like a mud trail. The trail turns downhill, then to stairs, then to a tiny, circular overlook platform.

A photo posted by Nathanial G (@nathanialjg) on

I watched as the water fell over a mountain, and thought about how even as close as the parking lot, the water falling over this mountain could barely be heard.

Then I headed back up the trail a bit and played with the timer function on my camera before walking back down to the parking lot and driving away.

A photo posted by Nathanial G (@nathanialjg) on

I think No Maps is important. I think people rely on maps and knowing where they are going, and that is all well and good. Shoot, I look at maps a few times a day to see which bus I am going to catch to work, then back home. When I friend wants to meet at a new place, I look at a map to see how I will get there. But whenever I can, I want to travel without a map. I want to experience life and the world around me without a guide, but for what it is.

The important things have signs, after all.

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This entry was posted on January 19, 2015 by in Adventures!, Faith and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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