How the West Won My Heart

It began as a love affair with Spaghetti Westerns, then turned into a serious and lasting romance when I traveled to Vail, Colorado in 2015… sunshine, mountain air, wide open spaces and beautiful faces! I’d been dreaming of another trip out West for MONTHS. Photos of bison would make me tear up. Road trip songs melted me. I heavily campaigned to the Universe from my own heart for this trip for a long time. I politicked my sweet wish as a soft sell to my soul. The ballot was cast—and this is how the West won my heart once again.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I made dropped points on the map and roughly connected them. The schedule was loose.

My goals were simple: 1. Hit the road. 2. Go.

My plan: To see and relish in all the beauty.

I bought economy tickets from Miami to Denver, made the rental car reservation and notified a few important people I had to see that I was heading their way. My talk at the Highland City Club in Boulder had been on the calendar for a few months already, so it made perfect sense to plot the course of the trip around the solar eclipse and path of totality and the event in Boulder. I did get the dates sorted out as the trip got close, but there was no serious schedule except for the beginning (eclipse viewing) and end (Highland City Club).

I arrived in Denver, then immediately set off for an 8 hour drive to Jackson Hole, WY. With so much open road, roadside animal viewing and a pit stop at Penny’s diner in the Middle of Nowhere, Wyoming, I knew I was going to love this trip instantly!

Sketchy WiFi, I’m in. A real map to hold in hand, yes to that!

Spectacular Jackson Hole was the first stop for the rare and breathtaking eclipse in full totality. Then it was on to Big Sky, Montana to see Bo and Carol with 23 years of friendship under our belts. Homemade gluten free Eggplant Parmesan greeted us, along with two smiling faces. We gobbled the food and the company right up! So perfect after a long drive.

Yellowstone National Park was next and was predictably crowded, but oh, so majestic! We took the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway out of the Northeast Gate of Yellowstone, which links the town of Cody, Wyoming. It was the drive of a lifetime and my new favorite place on Earth! Get off the cruise ships and do this. Seriously. Nobody was on the road, and—thank my lucky stars—the car worked like a dream. For miles and miles, all you can see is godliness and endless beauty!

After a cozy stop in Cody and a 6 hour drive later, we were in the quiet comfort of Saratoga, WY to see our charismatic cousins Jerry and Ann. We ate lunch at Bear Claw, which easily became my favorite spot to eat on the trip. Why? Hand pressed burgers!!

Now it was getting down to crunch time, and time to leisurely transition back to work.

From Saratoga we headed toward Boulder to meet my colleague Kristen Alden. I went from spectator to participant at the Highland City Club for my talk on Why Inspiration Matters. After the lunch, our kind and gentle friend Erin Robinson—who helped coordinate the event—invited us all over for dinner. She and her husband made us all the BEST catfish we’ve ever had and introduced us to her charming friend and assemblage artist Pat Chapman.

Between the talk at the exquisite Highland City Club, the dinner at Erin’s, the historic Hotel Boulderado, the hike up to Flagstaff Trailhead to see Boulder from above, then back to Denver and to our amazing, smart cousin Danny’s house, my heart melted. I was also introduced to John Wooden’s book The Wisdom of Wooden at Danny’s place, which I adore and now sits on my counter for inspiration.

After a summer full of travel, there’s something beautiful about settling into home just in time for fall. We came home to three sweet souls waiting for us, too: Doug, Cisco and Maggie. Such a fun weekend filled with Florida sunshine and gorgeous grins making us laugh throughout travel exhaustion and hurricane preparation for Irma and the week ahead.

I was ready for her and so I channeled the fearless spirit of the West and the wise words of Wooden when Irma greeted me, though I barely felt her meanness. What a frosty wreck of a girl. She tried to kick our butts and lasso us in, but it wasn’t happening. The West had won my heart once again and Irma is just another notch on my belt.

build shelter against a rainy day john wooden quote

Thank you to all who made this trip fantastic.