Today was the day. After nearly fifty-one years of calling Minnesota home in my life? Today was the day that I packed nearly all of my belongings and headed West. Likely to never call Minnesota home again in the future.

Don’t get me wrong, Minnesota can be a wonderful place, and I am leaving hundreds of wonderful people behind who mean the world to me! But fifty-one long, cold Winters is enough. More than eighteen years of living in a community where the wonderful, loving, generous (vast) majority of residents allows a small minority in their ranks to chronically bully and abuse others who don’t love, worship, look like they do, is enough. And as I told my oldest daughter, who is joining me on my trip West while my wife and youngest daughter hang back for several weeks (so that my youngest can work through some ongoing health issues): This move feels like “growing up,” to me.

I have crisscrossed the planet (at least the Northern Hemisphere), spending the equivalent of a few years of my life, “head on a pillow,” in all fifty US States and Canada. The European Union. The Middle East. Japan. But I have always called Minnesota home. Although since probably 1986, I have felt a gentle tug on my heart to head West. To the Pacific Coast. And when planets aligned to create the opportunity for me to live and work in Coos Bay, Oregon, helping to rebuild the economy of coastal southwestern Oregon as the Director of the Small Business Development Center at Southwestern Oregon Community College, serving communities from Reedsport, OR to the California border? I knew this was “the universe” tapping me on the shoulder and telling me it was time.

A few friends jokingly accused me of relocating so that I can add to my courses played collection! 🙂 However, my moving has nothing to do with my four-digit number attached to my name. In fact, course collecting becomes much more difficult moving to the Pacific Coast, since I can only head off in 180 degrees to find new courses to play, versus the 360 degrees I had to explore back in Minnesota! But this move is exactly what I need at this stage of my life. And to be given the opportunity to make a (hopefully giant) positive difference in the quality of life for the few hundred thousand people who call coastal Oregon home, while enjoying “paradise” when I am not on the clock? Yes, PLEASE.

Of course, I’ll be passing hundreds of unplayed courses between Minnesota and Oregon on my way to Coos Bay, so I need to stop and check out at least a few, here and there! 🙂 Today was mostly about chewing up miles as we made our way to Rapid City, South Dakota. And when we arrived in the late afternoon, I had a chance to visit a set of twelve tee signs I had designed for Lacroix DGC.

I teased my daughter in the parking lot, saying: WOW…I wonder who made those beautiful, great tee signs?!” After about the second or third time I was raving about how they were the best signs in the history of signs, she finally caught on. Lame dad jokes! 😀 They are great signs though, at the risk of sounding immodest. And it is always fun to get “boots on the ground” and see how DGA’s products are doing in the wild.

Beginning a New Chapter - Tonn's Travels
View from the Hole 9 tee at Lacroix DGC in Rapid City, South Dakota.

LaCroix was a lot of fun! The wind made the course a lot more fierce than its 3,814 feet should have been. I felt as though I needed to chip off a few inches of rust in trying to get my tee shots close to each basket…although that might have been the result of 6-7 hours in the car. But I made a couple of great tee shots and putts in the wind, ending up shooting a -2 (34) and an estimated round rating of 946. Nothing spectacular! But my “course collector rating” went up by another point. 😉

I hear we might be driving toward literal hurricane-force winds in Wyoming and Montana tomorrow, so I’m not sure how much disc golf I will be able to play. But if I can manage those winds, I will do my best.

Magic Number = 51 (1,949 Courses Played)

How it All Got Started: Tonn’s Travels >>
A main purpose of this blog will be to share information, helpful tips and tricks (everything from health and fitness to methods for saving money while you’re out “bagging courses” of your own), and ideas for better, safer course design. But I am also hoping to inspire others with my passion for the sport, via the stories I can share about all of the interesting experiences I have. All of the interesting people I meet. All of the amazing courses I am blessed to have the opportunity to play. If I can inspire even a handful of individuals to get off the couch, get “out of their bubble” or “security blanket” and explore more of this big, beautiful planet we all call home? Then I will consider this effort a success.

About Derek

Beginning a New Chapter - Tonn's Travels

Derek Tonn is a member of the DGA’s Ambassador Team. His company, Mapformation, LLC, has been DGA’s partner in the development of disc golf tee signage since 2012. The longer our two companies have worked together, and the more Derek has gotten to know all the great folks at DGA, the more he has wanted to formally sing the company’s praises. The more he has realized that “Steady” Ed’s (the father of disc golf and the modern-day Frisbee) vision for the sport and his company perfectly describes his own interests and priorities related to disc golf, and the more Derek has recently been encouraged to share his story.