I tend to pay too much attention to what is immediately before me. The weekend plans, a ticket I have to a show that night, a deadline, breakfast... I can be a poor long-term planner. I am impulsive even with more lofty goals of "what do I want to do with my life" thinking that I have to rush into the next exciting thing with vigor. I've moved headstrong into a number of pursuits in the past year, the short list being a landscape architect, small business owner, a travel writer, food blogger, restaurant owner, herbalist, a graphic designer, set designer, and going to grad school. While I was in college and a deadline for a project was heating up under me I was focused only on that, giving up everything just to keep ahead of the flames licking at my heels. Even though I feel like I have stopped to smell the roses so many times in my life and really, I have experienced a lot, I can't help but feel sad about all those little things that I have missed out on. Whether it was a little joke between my friends, that Andrew Bird show in Atlanta I gave up a ticket to, the drunken karaoke night, the mountain house trip where everyone got snowed in, or a cozy movie night, I feel like these moments have been stolen from me.
Moving out to Denver has been exciting and many of my thoughts the past month have swarmed around Denver and the drive cross-country. The day we planned to leave my inflating travel thought bubble got popped with the very real popping of my car radiator. The following day revealed my head gaskets had been leaking oil internally into my engine and silently ruining my car. Even though I moved from Athens almost a year ago, nostalgia has slowly crept through my body in the same way. It has kind of popped my outlook on what I want to do with my life. I feel so fortunate for having lived in Athens and discovering my tribe of friends and interests. The things I've learned and experienced the past 6 years has given me such a love for life that I only want to do the things that I really love. It has made pursuing a career very difficult for me, sometimes I wonder why it is so hard on me; I just cannot seem to accept certain realities. Like picking one thing means closing the door on everything else and I hate that feeling of limiting my freedoms. Almost as if there is a wire unplugged somewhere in my brain disconnecting that flashing, bright light saying "here I am, here is the answer!" Of course life is a path and one thing isn't forever but it becomes a part of you, a part of where you have been and where you are going. Sometimes I forget.
I've moved into this next stage of road-running across the country with a little sadness for being so separated from the many people whom I love on the east coast, and whom I want to always be a large part of my life. Also with the knowledge that I never want to miss those sweet little moments because of something else that is directly in front of me. You just have to live in what you love. Loving too many things isn't a bad problem to have.
The drive out was beauty. Blissful beauty filled with curious sites and lots of car snacks. After a several day delay spent solving our car troubles, we relaxed a few day in NC visiting family. Then we began our long venture to the west with the first day ending in Nashville, TN. Along the way, we stopped at a curious place called the minister's treehouse - also the largest treehouse in the world. After a few hours drive and a hop over a fence we got to explore this fantasy land. A beautiful structure of mis-matched pieces of disregarded wood assembled into an astonishing treehouse castle that seemed manifested straight from a child's storybook. I was afraid that if I blinked it would disappear. We spent the night in Nashville in a lovely couple's spare bedroom through airbnb. I was extremely happy when they told us Nashville was home to a Jeni's ice cream shop. If you have ever had Jeni's ice cream then, without a doubt, you know why I was ecstatic If you haven't tasted it and you seen a pint of it in the grocery, please do yourself a favor, suck it up, and buy the (super-expensive) 9 dollar pint of ice cream just once. It definitely is worth it once. It is probably even worth it more than once. It is the best ice cream you will ever have.
The next day we drove up through Kentucky and Illinois stopping at a unique place tucked away between the forests and wildflowers of Illinois called giant city state park. Some of the most exceptional rock formations that appear to have "streets" cut through huge expanses of rock in such a way that it takes on the illusion of building faces. It feels very much like an alley in a city, well, a city for giants. Our dogs enjoyed sniffing around the crevices and stretching out their paws, tails up, after a spell in the car. We stayed the night in Kansas City, MO that night in a graduate student's beautiful loft in the river district. I didn't know what to expect from Kansas city and it surprised us how much we enjoyed it. The Missouri side of Kansas City is filled with delicious and cozy places and has a gorgeous trail complete with an overlook on the river. A great place to peer across water reflecting back, in little ripples, the cities lights at night.
The last day was reserved for the long drive through Kansas. I was very excited about our treck through Kansas, I thought it would be interesting to witness a place rather flat and tree-less since I've never been somewhere in the like before. The first half of Kansas was unexpected. It was not very flat at all but soft, gently rolling hills coated in spring green and dotted with clusters of trees. Beautiful and peaceful. By half way through Kansas the landscape has turned into a flat expanse of earth. Imagine peering across an ocean of farmland, the horizon vanishing into a crisp line beneath the sun. We stopped at rock city state park smack dab in the middle of Kansas. We had the state park all to ourselves as a personal wonderland for the afternoon and it looked like ancient giants had played a game of marbles from giant balls of rock and then abandoned them mid-game. We picnicked admits the forgotten game and climbed along the rocks until we had to move on. As we approached the Colorado border some storm clouds had begun to develop and hang like weightless blue anvils over the green ocean. A surreal Dalí painting. Deep, stormy blue, cooper afternoon sun, and misted green; a sight for weary eyes.
The rockies first emerged like a mirage over the desert having me doubt if it was real until they triumphantly came into view and puffed out their chests proudly at the travelers. They have a very different personality to the east coast Appalachians who welcome you with a sleepy yawn and stretch on peacefully, bumping along a heavy-lidded dream.