Elena Hight flew out to the Oregon Coast and then flew off it as part of the second annual Hotel Tacoma adventure weekend.
Two-time Olympian and Dew Tour Superpipe Champion, Hight hit the Pacific Northwest for the invite-only activity camp hosted by her longtime sponsor, Toyota. The weekend included everything from paragliding and dirt biking in the sand dunes, to fly-fishing, mountain biking and massages to make all the aches go away.
Not one to shy away from the outdoors or adventure, Hight was one of the 100 selected campers that took nothing for granted and went all out on the signup sheet in order to make the most of her second hands-on experience with Hotel Tacoma. When she finally had her fill, we sat with her for a few minutes to take us through every bumpy ride.
Photos by Chris Ortiz
How was paragliding? Was it what you thought it would be? Did you have fun?
I've always wanted to paraglide. It is such a cool, peaceful activity. I was so excited to get the chance to try it.
It was pretty much what I thought it was going to be. It was awesome to have time to learn what it takes to [personally] fly the [30ft] kite, because it is definitely different than what you would imagine.
Then, being up in the air. Floating in the wind, like a bird. Flying... it was very calm, very mellow. It made me want to do it again.
What other activities have you done? What has been your favorite so far?
I don't typically ride dirt bikes, so it was really fun to do some motocross. I was able to learn a little bit and slide around on a machine that I never really get to play on.
This place is just filled with activities, it is hard to pick out just one. Definitely, the fly-fishing at the lake has been so serene and beautiful in the mornings with completely sheet glass surface. Also, the other fun activities with everyone set up around camp. Last night they had archery and axe-throwing, which sounded super dangerous but awesome. (laughs) I went for the archery. I also did the leather and wood branding.
It's a cool variety of things you wouldn't normally do. It opens your mind with a bit of creativity. This weekend was about low stress, creativity, spontaneity and fun!
How was the Ride-N-Drive?
What I love about the Ride-N-Drive is that I have my Toyota Tacoma that I love and baby, but we have these trucks that you can just rally and do whatever you want without having to worry about scratching them or doing anything wrong that may mess them up. It was really cool to be able to see what the truck is capable of. It's such a badass vehicle.
What were some of the Oregon Coast sights you saw?
The Ride-N-Drive brought us up through logging roads to various scenic outlooks, this place is just so beautiful. There is no place like the Oregon Coast. The Northwest is just the most green place in the entire world--I don't know how it gets so green.
Toyota created this Hotel in the spirit of the Tacoma, and it's a vehicle made for playing. It's made for the people that want to go out, enjoy their weekends, and play. I think that embodies what they have built here--it's a weekend of play, spontaneity, being creative, and letting your inner child out.
It's so easy to get caught up in to-do lists, and what you are supposed to be doing in our society, and we tend to forget about what's really important in life--being outside, enjoying nature and enjoying like-minded people's company. This weekend is pretty cool.
What do you think of the resort-style details throughout the Hotel?
This is truly like a 5-star nomadic hotel. It's this 5-star hotel that has been created in the middle of nowhere, and they thought of everything. From having hot water bottles in your bed at night, to having candles and fur rugs everywhere. There are blankets in the cars in case you get cold.
There is amazing food and a Stumptown espresso machine and team so nobody has to go without their latte in the morning, and a spa so you can get a massage if you worked yourself too hard--which I think a lot have people have. (laughs). This place is definitely all about the details, and it shows.
How did you and Toyota begin to partner?
I started riding for Toyota about 9 years ago. My sponsorship came to be when they became a partner of Dew Tour and they wanted an athlete to go along with that partnership. I was lucky enough to be one of the original athletes they sponsored on the snow side, and I have been with them ever since.
You mentioned on the way to the paragliding session that you thought Toyota's presence in snowboarding has really helped its growth.
I've been snowboarding professionally for 14 years and over that time you come to realize how important companies are that truly support the sport. Companies that invest in the events, invest in the athletes, invest in the TV time are the ones that keep the ball turning--they are the ones that keep it possible for me to realize my dream to be a professional snowboarder, and be competitive.
What's on tap for you before Dew Tour?
Breckenridge is one of the Olympic Qualifiers again this year, and that is the main focus for the next 9 months-- training and qualifying for the Olympics. Dew Tour will be a great platform, as an Olympic Qualifier, for everyone to go and show off what they have been working on.
For me, I focused on fine-tuning my snowboarding by spending a lot of time on the snow. Training to make sure that I am strong and in the best condition I can be in, but also have a lot of fun and learn some new tricks. Hopefully, I will be going into next year feeling strong, confident and ready to take on the world.