Life before 2020 is still a little blurry, but thanks to Linkedin anniversary reminders, I know that HeidiTown turned 15 this month.
A lot has changed in 15 years. The face of travel and the festival industry has transformed significantly, especially over the last couple of years. I’ve witnessed a lot, and while Colorado has been on a continual upswing when it comes to festivals and travel, a World Wide pandemic has resulted in highlighting some issues like lack of affordable housing and staffing woes (both things have had a severe and visible impact on Colorado’s tourist towns).
Despite the struggles, there has been an optimistic tone among tourism professionals. The show must go on, and if I have learned anything over the last 15 years, the folks in this industry are a strong bunch.
Ironically, my standout trip this year was our Dust Bowl Road Trip. It was not an official HeidiTown trip as nothing was hosted. We paid for the entire trip on our own. It resulted in multiple blog posts.
I am not sure the average person realizes that if it were not for free stays, free meals, free activities, and occasional monetary compensation for trips, travel writers would be unable to do what we do.
There’s little doubt that receiving something for free will automatically lead to a less-than-authentic experience. After all, travel writers are humans too. The fact is, the only way to survive as a travel writer is to become part of the marketing plan of a destination. This is simply the way of things.
So, perhaps it is not entirely odd that the Dust Bowl Road Trip was a real road trip. I was unbeholden to any destination, brand or business. We were on a trip of true discovery and I think that came through in my prose about the journey.
We spent happy times at other destinations this year, including the underrated city of Pueblo, the far western town of Meeker, the iconic village of Leadville, the luxurious towns of Vail and Beaver Creek, the Wild West settlement of Belle Fouche in South Dakota, and we played at the Monarch Casino Resort Spa and the Gaylord Rockies Resort.
I hope that these trips have inspired you to plan an outing to one of these special locations. I am well aware that very few of you will take a Dust Bowl Road Trip, after all, this will not result in glamorous travel. These places do not have Twitter or Instagram accounts.
I honestly believe, however, that a trip like this gets to the heart and soul of what I strive to do as a storyteller. I always enjoy narrating my trips through words and social media, but to hunt down a story and see it unfold through travel; there’s nothing quite as inspiring to me as a writer.
In the 16th year of HeidiTown, I want to explore more road trip themes like the Dust Bowl Road Trip, and I already have a couple in mind. It’s a way to engage with you, the reader, and it is a way to spark my creativity.
How this endeavor will be funded is unknown, as the world is a different place in 2022 than it was in 2019, but I am going to try.
The road ahead is a little foggy and I have no doubt that there are hidden potholes. However, there are some scenic byways too, and hopefully, lower gas prices. Thanks for going on this ride with me. I am doing what I can to keep the car on the road.
I appreciate those of you who have stuck with me through it all. Ryan has been at my side during this 15 year adventure, and he is the best road trip partner a gal could ask for. In fact, the Dust Bowl Road Trip was his idea!
Here’s to 15 years of road trips. There is more in store!