We’ve spent the past few days chronicling “tough drops” around the Pacific Northwest with our friends, Corning Incorporated, known for their Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4. On our first day, we hiked Mount St Helens to commemorate the 35th anniversary of its eruption. On days 2 and 3, we visited Multnomah Falls, the Lava River Caves, and the Painted Hills.
We’re focusing on “tough” destinations for adventurous travelers, since Gorilla Glass 4 is Corning’s toughest glass cover yet for our devices. That’s why we’re chronicling our adventures with a Samsung Galaxy S6 (which features Gorilla Glass 4), to see how well our phones hold up to the challenge (and to capture some incredible pictures with what I still can’t believe are phone cameras).
But what is a real “tough drop?”
About to enter a one-mile-deep lava cave. Yes, it’s going to get very dark.
The days we’ve spent on incredibly beautiful, yet physically taxing adventures have given us a lot of time to think about what a “tough drop” really is. It would be an understatement to say we’ve been challenged. How often do you gather together with a group of strangers who you must rely on as your only support team as you conquer unexplored territories and unexpected obstacles?
The “tough drop” challenge has been more difficult, more powerful and more life-changing than I think four bloggers ever anticipated on a trip to Oregon. It has allowed us to push the limits of our own physical and mental ability, to test our stamina, and to share our experiences with our amazing readers in the process.
Possibly one of my biggest internal “tough drops” was sleeping with this wildcat in my bedroom in one of our hotels. It took some real strength to have this for a roommate!
There is nothing that will take away my moments sitting on Mount St Helens, creating a small cairn to pay homage to the lives lost there 35 years ago, in an area that has been almost untouched by humans since that tragedy.
There is nothing that will take away my time with the real quiet of the Painted Hills, gazing at miles and miles of bands of brilliant reds and yellows that decorated the landscape like a sand art project constructed over tens of millions of years.
There is nothing that will take away the laughs that our team has shared while exploring new places, helping one another, and sharing deep stories about our families and our lives that I haven’t shared with such new friends before.
Renewal in the Alice Walker Room
In the evening of Day 4 we stayed at the Sylvia Beach Hotel, an adorable inn in Newport, Oregon right on the ocean. It dedicates each of its guest rooms to a different writer from history, furnishing the rooms in the style of the writers’ eras or literary themes. The hotel is proud to have no Internet and no television – it is a real writer’s retreat to take a quiet moment and reflect.
I was given the Alice Walker room, a small, bright, cozy room with sunny yellow walls adorned with pictures of Alice, African handicrafts, and batik curtains, paying homage to her roots. In the corner is a hand-painted mural of women diligently washing their laundry in a stream. Inside a cabinet are copies of many of Alice’s novels, as well as books about African and African-American history and culture.
Next to these books is a small journal with a pen.
What’s inside this journal is truly special, as it’s not a regular guest journal with “wow, what a great night!” or “just moved in with the kids and loving this room!” Instead, the journal shares stories of grief, of unrequited love, of loss, of healing, of renewal. The people who have stayed in this room before me have left their stories and their emotions for other guests to find later. I read one story that a guest wrote about taking her two small children and leaving her husband. As I read, I could feel the depth of her sadness in her handwriting.
I left a note as well, hoping to touch the lives of the people who return here.
We all have tough drops
At the top of Smith Rock with the popular climbing destination Monkey Face in the background.
It was a special moment to come to this Alice Walker room as we near the end of our time on this “tough drops” trip. I have learned so much about what I am capable of, about what challenges me, and about where I find my sources of strength. In a way, we all have our own “tough drops” – our moments of trial – and our goal is to reflect, re-energize, and strengthen ourselves so that we can continue to take on the inevitable tough drops that capture us in our lives ahead. To be prepared for the worst, and to give ourselves time to recharge when we need it.
Experiencing the beautiful Multnomah Falls after a long and wet hike up
I couldn’t imagine a better place to learn these important lessons, and am so grateful to Corning and Samsung for their excitement in empowering bloggers, showing us their values, and helping us capture our own lessons along the way.
Of course, you can adventure with us, too
As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the Gorilla Glass 4 team (our crew of bloggers) is giving away Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphones over the next few weeks (May 18 – May 29). Check out the contest details here.
Note: This blog post was sponsored by Corning Incorporated. However, all opinions are our own and we stand by them! Click here for our full disclosure statement.