Editor’s note: Whitney Henderson joins The Soap Boxers as a special contributor.  Today, Whitney takes on on her cross-country journey.

I planned this cross-country drive like I was Elizabeth Gilbert off to the ashram… It would be transformative, this drive.  It would show me things about myself I hadn’t noticed.  It would allow me to find peace within myself and ground me for the task ahead.  This drive?  It would CHANGE MY LIFE.

For those of you that do not read my blog (hello, all of you), let me first explain “the task ahead.”  I have been living in Colorado for three years.  It is indeed the most beautiful place I have seen and I have to believe among the most beautiful places in all creation.  It is also frakking expensive and I, a lapsed attorney, have a lawyer’s student loans but not her paycheck. So, when I recently decided that I am a writer and writers write and I needed to do that, my well-employed sister invited me to stay with her family in Charlotte, North Carolina for the summer, to focus on the writing.  I’d have to get a job to pay for my car other bills, and, you know, beer.  After my ski season job ended and no summer job in Colorado fell in my lap, I decided that was a dandy idea.  Thus, the reason for the drive.

Back to it, now.  I wanted to take my time. The drive from here to there could be done in 3 days, driving 10 hours each day.  I wanted to lollygag a bit.  See more of western Colorado.  Take my time, see the silly roadside attractions like giant balls of twine.  Stop when I wanted to stop, etc. I decided to swing west to Grand Junction, down to Durango, and over to the Grand Canyon. Then I would come east from there to my hometown of Memphis for a few days, and eventually straight up I-40 to North Carolina. But there were considerations.  Namely, Max, Dobby, and Merlin.  My dog and two cats would be traveling with me, and they aren’t all that into lollygagging.  Or the Grand Canyon.  So, while still on my bucket list, the Canyon was chopped from the list and the trip to Memphis shortened to 3 days instead of 4.  Then there were financials… and an extra night in a hotel suddenly seemed wasteful when I could just get to Memphis a day early and stay with a generous friend for free.

And there it was. The plan settled, three 8-hour-drive days: Day 1 to Santa Fe via Durango. Day 2 to Oklahoma City. Day 3 to Memphis.  The mountains of Colorado would be majestic and amazing. Take my breath away.  Remind me what I loved about my adopted state.  Make me feel small and inconsequential and give me perspective.  New Mexico would be magical, the desert beautiful.  Texas and Oklahoma would be wide open… prairies stretching for miles, nothing to see but road stretching out ahead of me, an invitation to the future.

And so I hit the road.

Read part two here.

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Whitney is a special contributor to The Casual Observer.

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