When it’s right, it’s right.

I arrived in Denver yesterday. The anticipation was killing me. I threw my bags together, packed the paints, the ink, the charcoal and the climbing gear. Brought three jackets and a puffy. Dropped the kittens off in the caring and experienced hands of Sir John Wilde.

Landed. That’s how this feels. I coaxed my way into a free upgrade on the SUV (Oh you’re from California? Oh, do you have anything with a flat bed? I’m going to sleep in this car and I’m going on a solo adventure and please, pretty please?) and now I’m feeling accomplished in a black Kia Sorrento (BEST bed ever, also clearance and AWD are really making a difference on dirt roads). My Little Car That Could is excellent, but this is a Big Car That Does and it’s such a treat.

I get straight on the road and take a deep breath.

This is where I’m meant to be. On the way to an adventure, somewhere in the mountains or the desert or the oceans. Completely self-sufficient in my vehicle, some folky tune on the radio and a neapolitan sunset glowing behind me. It feels so natural. I go to the grocery store and stock up on the usuals — trail mix, cashews, dried apricots, sharp cheddar, tuna, fruit, carrots, tea. Adrianne calls and we giggle together about future plans and skiing and climbing and holiday adventures. I convince her to spend money and buy a trailer. She convinces me to slow down and not buy anything yet. We are good for each other. In less than 45 minutes, I’m in the mountains. It’s darker and colder now.

Where am I headed? Somewhere in the direction of Santa Fe. On the way, I remember an Outside Magazine article about Salida being one of the best outdoor towns in the country. It’s a 30 minute detour, so I head there. I find a free campsite on BLM land off a dirt road (again, high clearance and all wheel drive? I AM UNSTOPPABLE!) and pull into a secluded site, set up the back of the car and snuggle up for the night.

The stars emerge, just a few, then a dozen, then hundreds, then thousands. I’m staring into the universe with the gratitude, humility and solitude only the night sky can inspire. Orion poses confidently above me. He is a sign; winter is coming.

I tuck into a coffee shop in Salida this morning. It smells of pumpkin bread and espresso, and it’s painted in teal and goldenrod and red. Chalkboards and kids paintings, hanging plants and mismatched furniture. The comforting mess of multiple personalities. Everyone knows each other, and the gossip about kids and grandkids begins. A baby coos in his chair, and three adults coo over him. My nose is cold, and I’m regretting the fact I didn’t bring gloves on this trip, but my heart is warm and content. The leaves are falling outside, and there are remnants of snow on the mountains above. Autumn light is unmistakable.

I shoot off a few work emails, feeling relief that I’m able to get some separation from the crazy, but admitting to myself that I can’t help but feel involved.

I’m sinking into this feeling. The warmth and chill, the fear and excitement. All of it. Change tingles through my fingers. What will I create from here?