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  • Writer's pictureJennifer

32 Days on the Road - The Vanpire Diaries

My last blog post had us leaving Lawrence, KS with our monthlong tour being rescued by one super friendly auto mechanic. Big Bill saved the day, got us to our gig on time and and we were able to head to our hotel in Hays, KS that night. Our next mission - Trinidad, Colorado near the border of New Mexico - roughly a 9 hour drive between gigs - just a trip to the laundromat.

Most of that 600 mile drive is a slow elevation climb through prairies with few trees. I know a lot of people don't care for the austere landscape of Kansas but I think it is beautiful in a unique way, especially when the roads grow smaller. The elevation change and the distances you can see make any type of weather event more interesting.

We're Not In Kansas Anymore - Somewhere near Cheyenne Wells, CO - population of the county is 1 person per square mile.

After an hour on I-70 we followed US-40 - pretty much a tiny 2 lane road, turned left past a prairie dog colony and onto some smaller roads that felt almost like trespassing. It seems like you can see forever here - Sky and fields. Looking out the window is like hours of meditation. Your mind wanders to nothing, everything and back. Its so amazing to travel away from interstates into strange places and remember we are still on the same planet, in the same country. Among other things I thought about how grateful I was that our van trouble was the day before and not 300 miles from the nearest mechanic. And how odd it was that prairie dogs have been coming up in casual conversation. And how is it possible that I know someone that lived in La Junta or owned a farm there? Important stuff.....

Trinidad, CO

Not far from La Junta the sloping prairies began to give way to a rugged landscape more familiar to northern New Mexico - Such a beautiful area with lots of green, rust and blue, leading to Trinidad, CO - A pretty little victorian town where photos of the Rodeo Queens from decades past are proudly displayed in shop windows and cannabis dispensaries are prolific.

Trinidad stole my heart in exactly 15 minutes. Mind you, no, I don't use pot (that's an embarrassing discussion for another time). We met the proprietors of the venue we were at that evening; recent expats from Austin that just did it. Inspired, we unpacked our bags and never left. Thats how the story went in my head, anyway, after a short walk through town and some porch sitting. While on the porch I met a couple that relocated from Seattle after looking at property in Trinidad, California and stumbled upon this place. It seems there's gold in the green in these hills. There's a nice mix of people from different walks of life and a small town feel with creatives being attracted by the pretty landscape and cost of living. Also, what could be more enticing than a cat friendly venue?

The evening activities included wondering at a beautiful rainbow at sunset, and an outdoor show where we had the pleasure of meeting social media friends for the first time, talking to strangers and more porch sitting. I will say it a million times over - it is so important to meet people from different places, and share our experiences, and I am so grateful for the privilege.

Healthy Eating Challenge

No self-respecting blogger would resist posting annoying pictures of food, right? We are fortunate to often have the hospitality of friends, family and strangers on the road but the opportunity to sit for even 30 minutes to enjoy a meal is a luxury. 7 hours straight of driving with barely a wide spot in the road where you can find a gas station corndog doesn't help your cause. And, post gig munchies.

Recently, I started traveling with a lunch cooler, ice pack and Yeti. We don't have space for a big cooler and its not practical to stop for ice all the time. I get produce items that are ok with out refrigeration for a day or two, frozen items that don't necessarily need to be heated, and whatever healthish, ready to eat items I can find at a grocery store. My standbys are avocados, bananas, baby carrots, plain yogurt, snap peas, lettuce mix or pre packaged salads (i rinse and save the plastic bowl), and frozen protein blends or frozen rice/veggies. I also save condiment packets from home.

In Illinois or someplace a couple nights prior we stopped at Walmart (there's always a Walmart). We ate pre-packaged salads for dinner and I saved my bowl. When we stopped at the Taco Bell - adjacent truckstop late on our way between Lawrence and Hays - this happened.

I caved. Don't judge. One taco meets Birdseye mexican style protein blends and some avocado.

Breakfast the next day was a banana and some yogurt. Then, this happened for lunch on the way to Trinidad. This is my coffee cup from my morning hotel coffee along with leftovers and some yogurt on top instead of sour cream. I normally think yogurt in place of sour cream is gross but Fage yogurt is super awesome.

Honestly, super yummy, low in sodium, helping me get some protein that is not out of a fryer or wrapped in a never-perishable bread type thing.

This may seem extreme or haughty to some people. Why not just chill out and eat what's available? Well, take 3 meals a day x 30 days for this trip. Consider this for 18 weeks on the road this year. That is a lot of unhealthy food, a lot of sedentary miles, a lot of liquor, hugs, bugs and wet kisses being sent in your direction. It can literally become a death trap if you go with the flow constantly. Its amazing how much better you feel after a week of eating like this vs. even one fast food stop a day. And we don't want to be left out on the fun of Benignets, Brisket, or Bourbon when we are in the right places because we've been eating, and feeling like crap.

It sounds like a lot of trouble maybe, but its worth it. We are what we call Vanpires. Wandering the earth, pining for the sun, living at night and foraging for what we can ethically consume...Making our best bid at immortality - or at least a little applause.

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