Earlier this summer, I got a new teaching job that starts next year, and my college-age sister got laid off from her nanny job (with severance pay!). To celebrate both of our freedoms, we took a 10-day road trip from Oakland to Seattle and back.
I was completing research for my master’s thesis on top of being a full-time teacher, which meant I had spent very little leisure money this year, and failed to prioritize fun.
My sister is naturally adventurous and “spendy,” but was trying to save money for her upcoming year abroad. I am naturally boring and “savey,” but was trying to spend money toward my summer goal of enjoying life. We took turns picking up the bill. Here were the parts I paid for:
$88.00: Two nights for a “private room” (a windowless basement room a few feet larger than the bed) in Ashland Hostel.
$165.90: River Rafting adventure for two: The guy who met us at the river was 77, and couldn’t hear half of what I said on the drive to our starting point. I was worried, but it turned out he was one of the founders of the river rafting scene in the area, was totally buff and entertaining, and was leaving the next day for a 21-day trip on the Colorado River. At the end, he gave us cookies and I scolded myself for being so ageist.
$20.00: “Free” second nose piercing at the Jackson County Fair (I had to pay for the ring) (This was my second most I-am-an-impulsive-and-fun-loving-young-person moment of the trip).
$30.00: Fancy chocolates from a chocolate factory for host gifts and for ourselves.
$17.00: Late-night pita wraps for dinner. We slipped in just as the owners were closing early. One of the owners walked us out, and told us that he wasn’t sure how much longer he could keep the restaurant open.
$42.64: Gas—in Oregon they pump it for you! We weren’t sure if we were supposed to tip?
$24.23: Overpriced and over-spiced wraps at a hippie-ish cafe. This was very disappointing because I feel like if wraps should be good anywhere, it would be a hippie-ish cafe in southern Oregon.
$22.00: Thrifted silk teacher dress!
$18.00: Dinner at Drive-Up restaurant on the way to Portland
$89.00: Fancy new teaching shoes! On sale! (First-day-of-school outfit is SET.)
$6.00: Used collection of Sarah Vowell essays from In Other Words feminist community center. From there we went to an anarchist cafe where my sister bought me my first Kombucha ON TAP!
$10.00: Pizza and crepe from the famous Portland “food carts”—I was scolded that only ignorant out-of-towners call them food trucks.
$81.00: Mustache necklace birthday present, some jewelry I would usually never buy for myself (“You have a job. Treat Yo Self,” said my sister), and fancy soap for our hosts, all made by locals.
$51.00: Tibetan singing bowl for classroom mindfulness time! We got demos from old men in two different Tibetan stores and did a lot of testing (much to the annoyance of another customer who happened to be in both stores at the same time as us) before I picked this one.
$29.86 Five books at Powell’s (after three hours in the stacks and a lot of narrowing down my picks).
$8.00: Three vegan donuts from Voodoo.
$61.00: Dinner for three at Pok Pok, a hip Thai restaurant with the best-tasting drinking water I have ever had in my life. It was flavored with pandanus leaf, whatever that is.
$0.00: Sleeping on the couches of a college friend, going with him to a cool bar to drink fancy cocktails at a computer programmer party (and not getting any of the printed t-shirt coding puns), making a spectacle by dancing to the local bands at PDX Pop Now festival (apparently Portlanders don’t dance).
$43.69: New case for my autoharp. My old one broke when we opened the trunk and it flew out onto the ground. I need to work on my packing skills.
$0.00: Guest bedrooms and several meals at a college bestie’s house right before he moves East, two meals and a jam session at our mom’s cousins’ house (the husband is a professional accordion player!), two drinks and a taxi ride from a guy I had met once who happened to be visiting Seattle at the same time (my first most I-am-an-impulsive-and-fun-loving-young-person moment), only one sisterly fight.
Drive Back Down to Oakland
$23.45 Lunch in Eugene with an ex-Mormon we met playing promotional bean bag toss at the county fair.
$319.95 Fancy new (used) ukulele I named Petunia. With the sales tax I saved by buying in Oregon, I bought a music book. I later looked up the model and found that it should have cost $450. This was a huge splurge for me and I will never regret it. It is way easier to get good at an instrument when the instrument sounds like angels and stardust.
$52.79 Motel in Weed, Calif. The whole town seems to be obsessed with how funny it is that they live in a place called Weed. I neglected to buy any of the “I <3 Weed... California" souvenirs.
$43.84 Gas—back in California, where we had to get out of the car and push the buttons ourselves. :( :( :(
$9.51 Breakfast at the motel cafe. We had free coffee tokens, which was a genius marketing scheme.
$0.00 Hours to practice harmonies for our sibling cover band Sister, Sister, more hours to sing along to mysterious mix CDs from middle school (“But when I think about it, I’m so in love with her… every other time”), lots of joyful comments on the “lush” scenery.
Becky Bob-Waksberg is an elementary school teacher who plays the ukulele, but she swears she’s not adorkable.