Meet Marty Davis

Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'

Every day brings a new destination, and no single day will ever be the same again for Marty Davis, former Portlander and publisher of Just Out. Marty ran the much-loved newspaper highlighting Portland’s GBLT community from 1999 to 2011.

The publishing business took hit after hit, and with heavy heart Marty finally concluded she had no other choice than to shut it down. Finding herself suddenly retired, she hit rock-bottom and knew she needed to find a way to recover.

“I guess the thing people were surprised to find out about me is that I really woke up one day and decided to travel. I actually did it. I am doing it,” she laughs softly.

Selling literally everything she owned, including her home of 35 years, this spirited lady had only one concern as she began to plan her travels: her beloved dog Shasta. Would she make it? Could she withstand a long journey on the road?

A tri-colored Australian Sheppard, Shasta is 13 years old and has some health issues, including arthritis and a large benign tumor on her chest. Marty worried how she would fare on the road. Their vet prescribed arthritis medication and a “let’s try this” approach. Her mobility has greatly improved. “Shasta said, ‘Oh hell yes,’ says Marty, adding that Shasta is loving life and thriving.

Marty grew up in Northern California and attended Shasta High School. When adopting her third dog in 2008 from Oregon Humane, she knew she’d name the dog Shasta, a name she’d always loved. Browsing ‘mugs shots,’ there seemed to be nothing but Pit Bulls, she says. Then suddenly, like divine intervention, there was a beautiful Australian Sheppard named . . . Shasta! It was love at first sight.

“She got right in the car and that was it — I had my dog. On the road everything is about keeping her healthy and happy. If she needs to stop we stop. She loves to play ball and explore with me. We wake up every day and do not know what is down the road or where we’ll end up. Sometimes we just find something wonderful so we stop; like in Oklahoma, we hung out at a lake and watched the turtles and frogs.”

“Right now we are here in Portland to visit friends, check in with the vet, and attend a few events,” says Marty. “Luckily I have my one decent outfit and my one pair of shiny black patent shoes. So my ‘shoe’ is the shiny black patent pair as they keep one foot in my old life. I wear jeans and walking shoes in my new life, and believe that life is too short to wear uncomfortable shoes,” she says.

Seeing small-town America is all part of the adventure as Davis has no interest in freeways, cities or tourist traps. Getting to the heart of America is what she finds most intriguing. Little out-of-the-way places, the back roads, are her idea of heaven.

“There is still a lot of what used to be out there,” says Marty. “Some of my favorite places have been the Black Hills of North Dakota, Southern Utah with its canyons, deserts and rock formations … it always seems to draw you back. Devil’s Tower National monument in Wyoming is just incredible,” shares this avid photographer.

“Travel, driving and photography are my passions. I have created a public page that includes photo essays on Facebook to document my travels and keep me connected while on the road. Most places have internet, except when I am really out in the middle of nowhere. I usually only go a day or two though, as I try to stay connected. It is so great that I have my phone and my laptop and can connect with anything or anyone. I have found some good apps, maps, and often Google a destination and then let it become where I am going and what is in between. It’s the ‘getting there’ that is the fun. Not knowing what I will find each day.”

Having Netflix, HBO, and Showtime keeps Davis company when she can get service. “I read a lot of books as I love to read. In fact, as a kid I loved to read Erma Bombeck; she was my favorite author, and I wanted to be a comic or humorist writer when I was younger. I have a subscription to Oyster, and for $10 a month I can download all kinds of books. My main companion of course is Shasta,” she adds.

In Portland for a couple more weeks, Marty plans to be back on the road for year two of her adventure. “The first year of my journey was really about my emotional recovery and healing. I am eating better, have lost weight, and feel this lifestyle has really brought great value to my life.”

“Year two begins with adding a bike and beginning my physical and health recovery. We’ll head north toward the Canadian border then drop down toward Wisconsin and Minnesota before heading to Dallas, Texas for the holidays. After that the plan is to spend the rest of the winter exploring the southern states.”

With no plans to ever go down the same road twice, this avid photographer, journalist and explorer is finding her own way on the back roads of small town America …just her and her beloved dog … finding a little bit of wonderful each and every day.

About our Sponsor

Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years.  In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare.  Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood. 

Melinda Thompson is a freelance writer with a degree in Speech Communications and a coveted "Ducktorate" from the Walt Disney World Company. She has been featured in many local magazines and newspapers.  She lives in Vancouver USA with her husband, son and daughter.