There is a clarity of mind that comes with the grind of asphalt under tires, a seemingly endless horizon stretched out before me. One person's monotony is my meditation. Given the choice (and the time), I will choose a road trip over air travel most every time. So, when the cost-benefit analysis tipped in my favor, I didn't hesitate to choose the open road for a series of work meetings in New Mexico and Colorado at the end of October.
Outside of the meetings and conference presentations, I planned nothing in advance this go round. I had no hotel reservations and mapped my route each night before hitting the road. I used the gorgeous Hotel Tonight app to book several of my rooms less than an hour before checking in. Adventurous? More like too busy and non-committal ;-) My fly by the seat of the pants methodology backfired twice, including a late night drive into Lexington (KY), confident I would find a room, only to discover that a national cheerleading competition had the local hotels on lock. I finally wound up with a room in a hotel in Frankfort, Kentucky whose heyday was around the time Dynasty and Falcon Crest were topping the Nielsen ratings.
I skipped my usual practice of perusing travel articles and local blogs for recommendations of one or two places I might visit. My saving grace when it came to local culture or pitstops was Google (for coffee shop research) and my friend Vanessa's insistence that I visit Tattered Cover (yes! yes! yes!) in Denver. I also spotted a donut box from LaMar's while hanging at their house and totally stopped in one morning before my conference. Check the donuts (above) that are bigger than a toddler's arm! Finally, I met up with Megan of The Nerd Nest while driving back through Kansas City, and she introduced me to the City Market Coffee House.
Interspersed between these visits were the suburban enclaves of Denver. Despite the backdrop of the gorgeous Rockies and endless number of bike lanes, it was essentially like being back in northern Virginia. Even trippy Boulder hasn't escaped the pressure of development.
Still, drive 30-45 minutes into the mountains or across the range, and any sense of escape I craved was satisfied. Over and over again, I was flooded with ideas, plans and possibilities. As the (almost) deserted highways of the Midwest delivered me back home, I continued to plot, wondering just where I'll wind up next.
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While I can romanticize the hell out of a janky gas station, that's not what we've got going on here. The places linked above are truly worth your time. Photos, in order, are: Frankfort, Kentucky; LaMar's Donuts; Estes Park Lake, CO; and what I used to call 'crack mountain' outside of Sterling City, Texas.