Sometimes you can trace where you are now back to a single moment.
For me, that moment was during the Spring of 2016, on a sunny day in early May. I was at Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa in Galena, Illinois, for their annual Media Morel Hunt, a fun couple of days dedicated to that mighty mushroom.
On our way to the hunt, I was sitting behind Francesca, of The Working Mom’s Travels, and Traveling Ted and overheard them talk about a Facebook group dedicated to Midwest Travel Bloggers. I boldly interrupted them. “What is this amazing group of which you speak?” I asked. (Maybe with not so much flourish, but you get the idea.)
“Midwest Travel Bloggers…” they said.
I politely asked them (a.k.a. YOU HAVE TO ADD ME TO THIS GROUP) if they would add me, and they did.
This group opened a whole world of possibilities beyond the geographical limitations of the Midwestern states it covered. Even though I’d run The Local Tourist for years, it was basically a Chicago bubble. After joining this group, I met people who were doing what I’d wanted to do for as long as I could remember: traveling and telling stories.
I could see myself doing it.
And then I was doing it.
On October 22, 2016, I officially launched Drive By Towns.
Who woulda thunk that because of that one moment of eavesdropping, and my not-so-subtle interruption of their conversation, I would end up starting a whole new website, would write a book, and would rediscover my true calling?
The past year has been a gigantic learning experience. I’ve gone from being primarily a regional expert to learning how to be a travel writer. It’s been especially challenging to navigate two distinct, yet similar, brands. At times I thought of discontinuing The Local Tourist altogether. At other times, I wondered if I should just make Drive By Downs part of TLT, essentially turning it into a category of a larger travel-themed site.
I’ve struggled with how I could keep two brands going, and really, weren’t they similar enough to live under one umbrella? I put a lot of thought into that as I approached this anniversary and came to this conclusion: Nope. Well, sort of.
I’m an extroverted introvert, and these two sites represent that dichotomy. The Local Tourist is the extrovert, the urban do-it-all that can make a friend anywhere. Drive By Towns is the introvert, the quiet side that likes to sit under the stars and pick out constellations. TLT is a party in heels. DBT is a hike in the woods.
One year ago yesterday I announced this figurative and literal journey, believing with all my heart that I was doing what I was supposed to do. Now my first book, “Two Lane Gems, Vol. 1,” will be out in just a few weeks, and it all started from a simple moment.
If you’d like to eavesdrop on my travels, explorations of small towns, and hikes in the woods, I’d be honored if you’d sign up for my email list!