I hadn’t been out of the car for a full 24 hours before I shot off the first link.
“11 Epic Fall Foliage Road Trips to Drive This Year.”
No sooner had it reached its recipient than my phone dinged with a return text.
“Look at you already jonesin’ for another trip,” Chad replied after putting a “love” react on the previous share.
And he’s right, I was jonesin’, indeed. Hard.
Feeming for the open road, hurting to be back out there in the world — stopping whenever and wherever the urge and his special hat took us, gazing up at glorious mountain peaks, across expanses of wide-open range so vast it boggled my mind.
I may have been lounging in a guest room in Park City when I hit that send button, but my heart certainly wasn’t in there with me.
Now those walls felt stifling, nestled though they — and I — may have been in a multimillion dollar home. A place I would’ve probably loved prior.
But that was before.
Before I hiked through all four seasons in one day. Before I saw a moose next to my car. Before I found out free continental breakfasts have unlimited oatmeal (and man, I dig oatmeal).
Before I felt what it feels like to let an experience unfurl around you, with no set expectation for how it will land, what it will look like, where it will go.
Before my first cross-country road trip.
Honestly, I’d have traded that plush down comforter I lounged under in a second for an at-dawn alarm at some roadside motel, a backpack full of watermelon jerky and bottled water ready to go by the door.
Even as I type this, I yearn for it — back in my own decidedly less expensive home, settled on my couch with my beloved dogs napping by my side, I have an ache. Sure, it feels good to sleep in my own bed again, eat food made in my own kitchen, watch decent TV rather than the terrible 10-channel selection every hotel has to offer.
But I’ve already got the calendar out, and have begun Googling the best time to catch the leaf color changes all over the U.S.
I miss the Rockies. I miss Jackson, Wyoming. I miss all the bits of Colorado and Idaho and Kansas and Indiana and Utah I viewed from my passenger seat.
I miss seeing everything and doing everything and driving everywhere and walking on paths and hills and slopes and maybe even that terrifying, treacherous bit of glacier we scaled that scared me half to death.
I miss taking pictures of mirror lakes and snowcapped mountains and wide, deep plains where barely anything seemed to grow for miles, then complaining about how those same pictures couldn’t do any of it justice.
I almost miss the girl I was before all of it — only because then I wouldn’t want to go again so badly, so soon.
Luckily, Chad’s wanderlust is even more insatiable than my own, so the “11 Epic Fall Foliage Road Trips to Drive This Year” link and my confession that the bug had bitten me bad were met with the most perfect co-pilot response possible.
“I wonder if we could do 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,” he wrote back with the thinking-face emoji. “I’ll get out an atlas and highlight all the routes.”
Love react, for sure.
Here’s to life’s adventures.
Katie McDowell is the managing editor and lifestyles columnist for The Dominion Post, who hopes to share some adventures and pictures here soon. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.