As I’ve been traveling, I’ve been observing the various cultures and climates in each location.  In part because one of these places may be a future home and in part because I want to memorize the variety of sets upon which I can place future characters.

So far I’ve determined that Kansas City is a mix of friendly neighbors, BBQ, muggy summers and deeply embedded criminal networks.  Given both myself as well as another coworker were robbed within weeks of traveling through, I can only surmise that crime is a problem.  I just lost a bike but she’d had her entire Uhaul trailer taken from in front of her hotel.  Kansas City is off the potential future home list but absolutely perfect for a gritty crime novel.

Denver is warm and sunny, welcoming and rugged.  It’s beautiful and sprawling.  I think I would have to take up an extreme sport in order to be allowed to live there.  I don’t know if it’s the limited oxygen or the abundance of breweries but the people are friendly and accessible.  Glenwood Springs was more remote but similar in climate and people.  Either would be potential future homes and I could see the landscape playing backdrop to a number of genres.

Moab is red, dusty, desert.  It’s tourists and heat, biking and burgers that only come medium or burnt.  It’s backyards with long yellowed grasses and sage bushes through which skunks play in the evenings.  It’s breathtaking pillars and windows crafted by the wind on the cliffs and canyons.  It’s a place worth visiting but not one where I would live.  It’s a place where a person could go who wanted to disappear, perhaps escaping the mob or the law.

Eden is lush and mountainous, small town and peaceful.  It’s a place of friendship where a lost bike is replaced by a gifted one.  Where deer graze in the backyard.  It’s the place you want to be when the world ends or the zombies attack.

West Yellowstone is isolated, a town created for tourists.  It looks like a movie set.  It’s a place where a blizzard blows in through the mountain passes and melts the next morning.  It’s friendly Park Rangers and wild bison and bears roam the meadows.  It’s lush woods and alien landscapes where acidic boiling springs meet geisers, making one think they’re walking on another planet.

And then there’s Portland.  It’s my home town only bigger and definitely cooler.  It’s coffee and composting, food trucks and ponytails  It’s recycled and artistic, grungy and friendly.  It’s not yet complete.  I have almost a week remaining here but so far this feels the most familiar of all the places I’ve been.

As I sit in this cafe, I fully expect one of my Goshen friends to pop in at any moment and invite me to a board game night or bonfire, and I wonder at the landscapes I’ll encounter on whatever time remains of this voyage.

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