My daughter and I recently hit the road and headed to Texas.
It wasn’t too far into our trip that I declared “I don’t want to eat at any chains on this trip.”
If you’ve followed the Chicks for a while, you know we try to support local and small businesses as often as we can, so no chains seems right up that alley. But it was early the next morning when I had to add an asterisk to my “no chains” rule. I made exceptions for chains that didn’t have locations anywhere near our home. And so, bright and early, I started a trek to a coffee chain I had heard about called Dutch Bros.
Dutch Bros. is one of those chains with a cult following. There are secret menus. Collectible sticker days. IYKYK kind of stuff. Thankfully, at 5:30 am there was no line, so I had plenty of time to quiz the bubbly young woman at the order window.
I’ve weaned myself from coffee sweeteners and even cream for the most part, so this would be a treat. My favorite holiday drink is a peppermint mocha, so I ended up with a Dutch Bros. toasted peppermint bliss cold brew. My second drink was an Americano with soft top. If none of these make sense, check out the Dutch Bros. website. I also accidentally ended up with a hazelnut truffle mocha.
All were deeee-lish. Positive messages on the windows and the drink tops. And the woman at the window was a total gem! Win all around.
Yes, it was a chain, but still something completely new and different. Get out and explore and try new things, wherever you may be!
I heard Mandy. I replied with Candy. Upon arrival I read Barbie. I may have giggled a bit at that point. What am I even talking about?
For those of you who know me I like to use an alias. I especially like to use an alias when I drive through to get a cup of coffee. Sometimes my name is is Penelope. That one gets a giggle when I am immediately asked to spell it. Sometimes I’m Felicia. Hay name is awesome to hear back when the person at the window say bye Felicia….then realizing what they did. Makes my day every time.
Sometimes it’s Frances. An old timer name but it’s my mother’s middle name so I use it for good reason or as a virtual cheers/toast to her. But today it was Candy. Maybe it was what I thought of the day after Halloween. Maybe it was because it rhymed with Mandy. Either way I giggled at myself. Sometimes you need to just giggle at yourself to lighten the load of the day.
As I drive around to the window I’m giggling to myself knowing that when the person sees my app scanned they will see my real name. But it’s okay as her real name was Barbie so I didn’t even hear her correctly. MandyCandyBarbie. They all sound good together.
As I enjoy my first sip feeling of my hot cup of coffee on this fall evening, I smile and think to myself how I can just add a little joy to my day with my imaginary names or alter ego and a warm cup of coffee. Simple things make me smile when the rest of the world seems crazy.
I also saw a ton of Barbie costumes this Halloween which made the Barbie name tag extra funny today. Halloween was a little lame this year but my day after made up for it.
Wonder what name I will be on my next visit? I guess it depends on my mood. Maybe once a year I use my real name. Funny nobody working ever questions my silly names.
We’ve talked about life being lifey lately. In addition it’s just been a busy, hectic time. Sports leagues, long days at work, volunteer commitments, owning businesses and all that goes with it…it’s just kinda out of control these days.
My county had a true fall break this year for the first time. A glorious five-day weekend in the middle of my favorite time of year, the fall. When I saw this coming on the calendar, I imagined a quick trip to the coast for some salt and sand therapy. Or maybe a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the leaves change. A long hike in the great outdoors or laughs at Dollywood. I dreamed of a getaway.
Life being what it is, enough little commitments popped up that a getaway wasn’t in the cards this year. Just too much going on and the lure of catching up mixed in with a few poorly-timed “have tos” would keep me at home.
As I scrolled through the posts of colleagues and local friends who had hightailed it out of town to Disney or even Napa Valley, I had to reframe my mindset. Instead of being stuck at home pouting, how could I find those moments of vacation in my days?
Coffee Break: I love my coffee in the morning, but it’s generally on a timer. I have my two cups then I’m out the door. I decided to reframe my mind to think of an extra cup of coffee at a leisurely pace as a morning getaway. Even just a slower pace can be a helpful break.
Day trip: I went to a town I had never been to for a few hours to hang out / support / cheer on friends. I ate at a local bagel shop. I saw some new places and things to wonder about. It was less than two hours from home, but just taking that little trip made me feel refreshed from my day-to-day.
Appreciate nature: I had some things to take care of at the farm this weekend. Although I had work to do, I tried to remind myself to stop and appreciate the beauty of the dahlias and fresh fall air. I ate lunch outside on the porch. I took a few extra moments to breathe it all in and notice it.
Maybe noticing is the secret to finding those moments of vacation in daily life. Slower coffee, looking around a new place, taking a moment to observe and appreciate the nature that I often speed by on my way from task to task.
I do still feel that pull to take a trip, but for now these little vacation moments will tide me over. They are always there if I take the time to slow down for a minute and notice them. Yet another instance of how we can choose daily.
I got a last minute invite to a breakfast spot I had never been to. I thought of why I shouldn’t go but then said I’ve never been so just go and check it out. I’m glad I made that decision.
It was fabulous! The table of girls did a share order so we could sample and to my surprise I loved all of it. Not just one, but three amazing and oh so different crepes. First one was a sweet one. Big mounds of Chantilly (whip cream), fresh strawberries, and just a little drizzle of other sweetness. Great presentation and such a delicious delight that seemed so light. Maybe it felt light as we shared. No photo as it was gone fast.
Next one was eggs, chicken, and brie cheese. I wasn’t sure if I would like the chicken but it was flavored so well. Paired with the eggs and cheese was just right. It was not long until it was all gone. Every item on the crepe was just right. The seasoning. The presentation. The flavors. A repeat order for sure.
Number three was mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and strips of fancy bacon. A little crunch. A little munch. A lot of goo from the cheese. Oh was it tasty. Another one down the hatch. There were a lot of mushrooms but they tasted good and were sliced just right. I could see the care of presentation in this dish.
This little place was a great find. We all had so much fun we invited a few friends to go back the next day. Guess we needed to try some more crepe flavor combinations. So many to choose from. I am so glad I took a chance on a new place.
I almost forgot to mention I grabbed a coffee to go. It has a twist I couldn’t resist. Ice cream, caramel, espresso and Chantilly. Yes more whip cream. It tasted so good on my drive home. Sneaking a peek under the lid was confirmation of the goodness.
Until next time. Take a detour. Try a new place for a change. You might be surprised what you find.
I was aiming for a damn near perfect day away. Okay is there such a thing? Probably not but I’m going to make today a priority.
I’m going to see if I focus on the day if I can make it damn near perfect. I’m not sure what I will do yet. But I’ll write about it. I also know if it’s not perfect I’m going try again the next day. I’m on vacation. Why not try to aim for a near perfect day. I have time. I have a break from the chaos. I don’t have any have-tos on my list today.
The funny part about thinking about this is I have nothing to model my perfect day after. It’s what I make of it. It’s what I decide is near perfect. No benchmark for this stats girl. I guess I’ll just throw shit on the wall or the mountains and see what happens.
I was struggling with altitude adjustments in the Rocky Mountains on this day. Too many quirky “offs” to list them all but I was off in many ways. With such a rough start to how I feel today, could I even aim for perfect?
I hit the local village coffee shop first thing. I wasn’t expecting much as I had never been nor had I previewed the menu. What I did know is I was starting out local. I got a smile just by the name of my drink. Milky Way was a mix of coffee, chocolate and caramel. A hot treat on a cool and drizzly morning. A little local paper tucked in the corner to read while sipping and enjoying the coffee shop vibe.
I was slowly dusting off my morning crud. The tired eyes. The chilled body. The day’s adventure called for an outdoor activity. Miles away by car. Rain rain go away is all I could say in my mind. We were going to raft the Arkansas River and it was raining. Well I guess it wasn’t going to be perfect but I was going to get wet anyway so I wasn’t going to let the rain sour my outlook for the day.
The ride was amazing. More than I could have expected. From fog to clouds to misty air, the scenery was illuminated. A blink of sunshine. A fierce downpour. A spurt of hail. The mountains are full of mystery. So much beauty right in front of me.
Just before the Continental Divide I spotted a mountain camp or town around a factory. It was spray painted and desolate. I wondered about its history. What once lived there. Why did it shut down? Will it ever be reborn? So much to think about for my curious mind.
A quick pit stop in a quaint town with the oldest saloon I ever did see. The floors creaked. There were many old-time artifacts within. The saloon was bustling with locals and tourists. A cool sight to observe. So much fun to shop in the town stores. From the thrift store to the local homemade good store. The experience was one of a kind. New people. New places. Off the beaten path. My kind of perfect. Leadville, CO was the stop. Home of the Leadville 500 race. Another first experience for me. A race across the sky.
The road was empty yet mystical form of nature. My road to nowhere or somewhere. Just around the bend I would land at my destination. This is where I would meet my guide. His name was Joaquin and he was from Chile. His accent was cool and so was he. Joaquin spends his off seasons working in other countries while his homeland isn’t at peak season. Away from his wife and family. So fun to learn about his adventures. He has worked the rivers in California, Chile, Colorado and Italy to name a few. I felt honored to meet him. I enjoyed my time on the raft drifting and exchanging stories. Oh how we laughed. Oh how we paddled hard. Left forward. Right back. Paddle fast. We even rocked and rolled in the harsh rapids. A few rock jumps. Picnic by the waterside. Views of an abandoned railroad on the river side. So much history. A great experience for all.
My day was unknown at the start. My day could have been altered many times. I had a positive outlook amidst the bad weather and other variables. My attitude reflected my outcome. The road back was another rainy one but we stopped in the towns along the way to catch a glimpse of local life. I’m pretty sure I was in bed by 8pm. I would say this was a near perfect day for me.