Celebrating One Year of Drive By Towns (or, how eavesdropping changed my life)
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! You'll also have a chance to win a signed copy of my book (details on that coming soon).
Thanks for reading this excerpt from "Two Lane Gems, Vol. 1: Turkeys are Jerks and Other Observations from an American Road Trip." Want more? Visit twolanegems.com to learn about this epic journey, or get your copy now: