Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

It was Memorial Day 2001 when I made the break from my past life. I loaded up my car with bare essentials and watched my four-bedroom, three-bathroom house with the "for sale" sign on the well-manicured lawn get smaller and smaller in my rear-view mirror. I was headed toward the coast and a new job and the wind was at my back.

I had been contemplating a move for a while, but just wasn't sure. When this job offer materialized I didn't hesitate. I found a furnished studio apartment with a killer view, then walked into my boss's office, sat down across the desk from him and heard a voice that sounded a little squeakier than mine say, "I'm leaving." After 18 years with a steady and kind employer I was stepping out of my comfort zone and making a move. Dennis looked me in the eye for what seemed like a very long time before he said, "I'm not going to try and talk you out of this. I can see you have your mind made up."

Yes. I had made up my mind to quit my job and move away from the town

where I'd raised my kids and lived for 20 years. At 51 I was running

out of time for career changes so I decided to grab this one. I held a

huge garage sale and divested myself of everything I didn't absolutely

love or need. Sadly, I was also leaving behind my family, friends and


As I drove into Brookings, crossing the bridge that spans the Chetco

River, just before sunset on Memorial Day 10 years ago, I wondered if I

had lost my mind.

I had taken a regional job that involved working in both Curry and

Del Norte counties. I drove back and forth between the Pilot in

Brookings and the Triplicate in Crescent City, with stops at the

printing plant in Smith River almost every day. I adopted a special dog I

named Martha to ride along with me. The two of us logged a lot of miles

together, never growing tired of the scenery or the people we met along

the way.

It didn't take long for things to fall into place. My house in Grants

Pass sold, the boys moved to Portland and Rick followed me to the

coast. For the next five years we cultivated friends and hobbies and

spent our leisure time among the sailing community onboard our houseboat

at the Port of Brookings Harbor.

When the Triplicate's publisher announced her retirement in 2006 I

applied for the job along with four others. The first question I was

asked during my interview was whether I was willing to relocate to Del

Norte County. Five years ago this week I moved into the publisher's

office and not long afterwards Rick and I moved into our home on Freeman


This has certainly been a decade of change, a decade that has

afforded me many opportunities and gifts. I am grateful for the doors

that have opened and for the people who have walked through them. I

arrived here a stranger with a carload of clothes and a dream. Now I

live and work here among good people I call friends. Thank you, friends.

Here's to the next 10 years!

Reach Michele Thomas, The Daily Triplicate's publisher, at

mthomas@triplicate.com, 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.