PNW Feature
Odysseys

In the spirit of exploration, Sperry partnered with Jessica Maslin, Josh Dubon, Nick Dubon, and Tess Cook on an Odyssey in the Pacific North West, Jessica Maslin is a creative director and artist, Josh Dubon is a director, musician and eccentric adventurer,  Nick Dubon is a writer and photographer, and Tess Cook is a fine artist and photographer.   

Written by Jessica Maslin.

With nothing but a road map, a rough itinerary, and a big box of Sperry shoes and apparel, my friends and I packed our RV and set off on an Odyssey. With little knowledge of what our trip would bring, we had no way to anticipate what we would need for our travels – so many unknowns lay before us on the road ahead. We knew where to go, but we had little idea of what we would be doing or what the weather or the road would bring.

Given that we didn’t know what we would face on our Odyssey we packed our gear with a focus on what hilariously seemed to be the only thing we could truly control on the road – our own personal hygiene. We were all in agreement that with four people in an RV hygiene simply cannot be ignored… outside of that, we were completely unable to prepare for what lay ahead. We all wondered what situations would we find ourselves in -and we soon found out.

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There were a lot of unknowns heading up the coast of the Pacific North West. Along the way we met new people, saw new places, and we uncovered certain micro-cultures of our America in the Pacific North West that we otherwise likely never would  have encountered.

As we made our way North and became more removed from our daily lives, we began to embrace our surroundings and dive into the experience. The road trip started out rather sane, but it definitely did not stay that way. We hit our first stop in San Francisco and visited The Wave Organ – a musical and unassuming art instillation at the end of a jetty, using the slapping of waves to create acoustical sounds. It’s always amazing seeing what forces small and strong can create.

At an RV park in Pacifica we made camp for a night, the tall seaside cliffs too reflected the powerful forces of more violent waves. The cliff’s edge was blocked by three sets of fences, each in place after the next as the threat of erosion deepened, carving out more space for the salt water to take hold.

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These cliffs, valuable for their manipulation of the wind, was where we met up with a crew and set sail into the sky. Strapped into paragliding harnesses, we ran head-on right off of the steep cliffs and soared straight into the oceanic horizon. Surges of wind lifted us up high above the earth and sent us out over the blue waves below.

Manipulating our glide parachutes and spiraling downward in patterned loops we were lifted hundreds of feet with ease by a simple release. We each soared at new heights, and experienced the closet thing so far in our lives of the sensation of flying (apart from the common experience of being crammed into the rigid coach-class seating on an airplane).

When we made out way back to solid ground we watched the sunset for a few extra moments hanging above the Earth’s surface as it sunk beneath the Pacific Ocean again for yet another starry night.

As we ventured up the coast in our RV on hairpin switchbacks hugging the ocean on one side and the redwood-lined cliffs on the other, we stopped frequently to check out all the little things others often just drive past. We explored abandoned docks and stopped in awe of dramatic and unobstructed views. There are few places where you can find an entire landscape untouched by industrialization, but this was one of them.

While these coasts were untouched, other beaches and coastline seemed to have suffered the burden of our activity. At Glass Beach in Northern California’s Fort Bragg, the beach is flush with beach glass (which, while beautiful can be a little dangerous for those strolling barefoot along the sand). Up until almost 1970, this small costal town used the ocean as it’s garbage dump; the waves of the ocean crashed and dragged our trash until those discarded pieces junk – and in the case of the sea glass, it then became something that we wanted again. People today show up by the dozens each day to collect a baggy of smooth beach glass from the aptly named beach.

After driving through the night and continuing our journey, we reached our Northernmost destination, Coos Bay Oregon. The day we arrived a commercial fishing vessel capsized returning with its catch. The captain of the capsized vessel was lost at sea for three days in the small costal town. We had come out to Coos Bay prepared to take on the 20 foot swells to go deep sea fishing, but after a second vessel capsized in the bay, we wondered if it was worth the risk.

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We put our trust in the experienced captain and skippers, who claimed their hull was smaller and didn’t pose the same threat. We got on board the ship and set out for open waters. As we peaked on the waves we looked down their windward sides and felt like we were riding unbuckled on a roller coaster.

With stormy seas, we had great luck fishing and were able to catch the full quota and returned to port, forging through growing waves and darkening mid-day skies. Surprisingly enough, that same ship we were passengers on did not go out to sea the following day due to weather conditions.

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That day we woke up before sunrise to catch low-tide, buckets in hand and marched out to the mud flats revealed by the ocean creeping backwards. The local bait and tackle shop owner gave us some tips for uncovering the clams nestled beneath the stinky mud: Look for a dime size hole in the mud, stick your finger in, and if you feel suction, dig.

We went clam crazy, as we dubbed it. We committed elbow deep in the mud and, as we pulled harder against the buried clams, the suction dug our ankles deeper into the mud flats (our feet were luckily kept mud-free by our Saltwater boots). As the water started to creep back in and low tide faded away, the sun came up to reveal a new scene of seagulls swooping in on our abandoned digging sites looking for small clams and creatures left behind.

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Being docked was not a bad thing in our case, as we were able to follow the days’ patterns to high tide, and cast crabbing nets off the sides of the marina to catch Red Rock Crab below. Of the dozens of crabs we pulled up, only six fit the bill of being large enough to keep. A neighboring group of crabbers helped our cause when they noticed our rookie maneuvers. We had been using the fish heads of our previous day’s catch as bait, but the local pros taught us that a punctured can of cat food was much more effective to catch large quantities of crabs AND it didn’t attract the scavenger sea lions either.

On our last day in Oregon, we took to the skies in a 1960s seaplane. What was once probably a magnificent red piece of machinery is today’s functioning relic for scenic tours above the coast. Once again our perspectives shifted as our pilot gave us a tour of the entire bay area that we had just driven through in our RV from high above, laid out beneath us as a live-view map. Proof that we had covered plenty of ground on our trip.

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On our exploration in these small costal towns of tight-nit communities, it was amusingly clear to everyone around us that we were not from “here”. We learned through these encounters that although you may be outside your norm or outside your comfort zone, that doesn’t own you. When you travel and experience something new, you take a piece of it with you, collecting internal gems from life’s many Odysseys. This experience has inspired me to adventure again; to adventure more often; to adventure more freely. No reservations, no commitments, just good old fashioned make it happen.

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Want to learn more about the crew? Read more here.

More about Jessica: As a creative director, Jessica takes every opportunity to travel, explore, experience new cultures, and document everything along the way. Her art is always incorporating “up-cycled” materials, bringing small cultures to life in mysterious ways, and exposing herself to experiences outside of her everyday norm.

More about Josh: Josh is a person lead by passion. As a filmmaker and director, Josh finds inspiration daily and incorporates his adventures into on-screen experiences and musical expressions. Dynamic visuals inspire Josh and push him to manipulate technology to bring once in a lifetime experiences to curious eyes.

More about Nick: Nick finds excitement through his lens, and inspiration with every step. His signature sense of adventure radiates in his short stories, penned works and photos.

More about Tess: The artwork that Tess cook has on solo exhibit shows a deep theme of sea creatures with whimsical flair. Her personality shines through her artistic forms as a curious adventurer with a strong imaginative spirit.

  1. Posted By Kim

    What a wonderous adventure. I would have loved to be with you all. Sounds like a great group on a terrific trip. The Pacific Northwest seems very rantic. Not in a girly way, rather in a visual and spiritual centering way.
    I’m an Artist too, like jessica. I also reuse and create statments that are intended to make a statment true to.the elements used. Water in all its forms touch deeply my soul.

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