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Trading Palm Trees for Pine Trees: Why We Decided to Move

If you’re wondering why we ever made the move from San Diego, CA to Bend, OR – here’s the whole story of why we decided to move!

trading palm trees for pine trees | why we decided to move | the johnsons plus dog

Why we decided to move

I still remember the moment when the thought was actually going through my head….could we actually leave San Diego? I was in the back seat of my car, while Brad (my older brother) and Logan sat in the front seats deep in a conversation I clearly wasn’t interested in (I’m almost certain it had something to do with football). I was looking out the window on our way back to San Diego from one of my childhood friend’s weddings in Yreka. The trip to Yreka (way Northern California) had been much like the others we’d experienced the last few years – quick. We’d been in the car longer than we were actually home. For this wedding in particular, we arrived merely minutes before the lovely bride walked down the aisle and left early the next morning for a 12-hour plus day of driving back.

As I sat there looking out the window, a familiar feeling was settling in. It happened every time we drove down back to San Diego. It felt like the weight was slowly getting put back on my shoulders. It was ushered in while we passed Los Angeles and the horrendous traffic and stayed even when we got into Oceanside and you could see the Pacific Ocean (even though it was dark by the time we got here).

What I love about San Diego

Now, don’t get me wrong….I love San Diego. I am convinced it’s one of the most amazing cities in the world. The weather is unbeatable & you can go to the beach almost any day of the year. It is the 2nd safest large city in America. It has an awesome, well-connected commercial real estate industry (which is my day job). Most of all, my best friends and brother are there. Not to mention, I had a job I LOVED. Even as I am writing these great things, it’s hard to imagine that there was something missing…. but there was. And it had something to do with this sinking feeling I got every time I returned to San Diego.

San Diego was a city of pivotal moments for both Logan and me. We left home for the first time and learned to call San Diego “home” in college. San Diego was where I had learned my way around a big city, San Diego was where I had my first real job. San Diego was where Logan and I met, fell in love, and got married. I loved San Diego, I just didn’t love living in San Diego.

Picturing the future

Every time I pictured our future… you know kids, home, the whole sha-bang…I just didn’t picture San Diego. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I grew up in a small town (Logan did too). I’m not saying that you shouldn’t raise kids in cities… what I am saying is that we couldn’t. We just couldn’t picture it. Although we had been house hunting (and had even offered on one) in Poway, right outside of San Diego, We would have been pinching pennies for YEARS just to make ends meet. There is no chance to ever live off one income if life ever called for it.

The prayer

So back to that window. There were so many questions as I slowly began to wrap my head around the idea of moving. But I remember so vividly praying

 “God, if this is something you want us to do, please make clear to us.”

The answer

The next morning, we fought through the sinking feeling and went to work. When we got home that night, Logan said solemnly that we needed to talk. I plopped up on the kitchen counter and listened. He explained that his department at work was, more or less, getting dissolved and he was going to be laid off at the end of the month. I instantly told him about my prayer from the day before and we both sat there silently for a while.

And slowly I felt that weight lifting off my shoulders.

What happened after we decided to move

Over the next few weeks, we started to really wrap our head around moving. Things began to fall into place. I am completely and utterly blessed that my employer said I could work from home after we moved. I’m grateful that Logan and I felt the same way about San Diego and our future. We were so thankful that my dad had work for Logan up in Yreka for the time in between jobs, We visited Bend, Oregon for our first anniversary and in the first 24 hours knew that we could call Bend home. What can I say, it was just another feeling.

It certainly wasn’t easy to leave the life we had built for the eight years we lived in San Diego, To be honest, it was terrifying.


 “sometimes the greatest rewards come from doing the things that scare you the most.”

– Coach Whitey Durham, One Tree Hill

Yes, I just ended this post with quote from One Tree Hill… no shame.

tumalo falls hike

11 thoughts on “Trading Palm Trees for Pine Trees: Why We Decided to Move

    1. Thanks Case – We would love for you to come visit anytime 🙂 I was just telling Regan that we should do a office girls retreat in Oregon, wishful thinking, eh? I’m so glad I got to keep my awesome co-workers regardless of the move!

  1. It was so nice to be able to see this in written form. I sort of knew the big picture but not these details! I remember the exact night that similar thoughts crossed my mind a couple of generations before yours! Grandpa and I were both born and raised in southern Cali. Back then it was the cool thing to ‘cruise’ town and in particular the “Clock Drive In” which was a very popular hang out. (No one can afford the gas to ‘cruise’ much nowadays!). As we cruised “The Clock” in South Gate (where I had gone to school and we lived at that time) I noticed there was a security guard posted at the drive in. It hit me that things were already deteriorating ….and that was almost 60 years ago!! I had the same strong feeling /intuition that you experienced. I KNEW that night at the Clock Drive In that I did not want to raise my family in that environment! We made the same brave move that you and Logan did! Uprooted everything and moved to Yreka without even a job to come to! We left life long friends and family and parents and bought a teeny tiny trailer to live in. Of course theres a lot more to the story but just wanted to share the similarities in hearing Gods voice in directing us! You were in the back seat of a long car ride and I was in a car ride cruising the “Clock”! We’ve never regretted our decision and am sure you won’t either! I must admit I have wondered many times what our life would be today if we had not made that move tho! It’s funny how it all weaves together…..had we not made that choice YOU may not even be here today!!!
    I love you girl!

    1. Thanks for sharing this story, Grammie! – I had never heard that before. I’m sooooo thankful to be born and raised in Yreka, so thank you for taking the chance when you did!

  2. Well written, interesting, heartfelt, touching, introspective….just like I expected. I love your insights that seem to speak even deeper than the heart but the soul of your being. I’m glad you’re sacrificing the time it takes to do this…it helps bond those that love you with your lives. Also, I’m guessing it’s a much needed change of pace from the schedule that drives you crazy daily. Love you both.

    1. Thanks Pops! Life is going so quickly and seems to just be picking up speed, so we thought it was important to start documenting all of life’s big changes so we can remember these things we get old like you 😉 jk… oh and reliving high school and opening Logan’s eyes to the world of One Tree Hill and rewatching them ALL, so you can expect some more OTH quotes from me!

  3. Finally have internet and am catching up on your blog. I love it, great job Chels! I especially loved the OTH quote, I was just telling Chris that we used to call eachother on commercials to recap what just happened on the show! Miss you guys!

    1. Thanks Megs! Logan and I are actually rewatching One Tree Hill on Netflix right now, we’re on Season 3 right now. It’s crazy how many things you forget after all these years. Love you and miss you both!

  4. God puts us in certain places for a reason!! We left Upland, CA about 10 years ago and don’t miss So. Cal. for anything!! Living in the mountains of Arizona, things are the way that they used to be in CA…neighbors care, times aren’t rushed and it’s beautiful!! Hoping that your move will end up being so worth it!! #HomeMattersParty

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