This must be the place: You’ve got to get up to get down

Approaching the backside parking lot of Upslope Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado one recent evening, I was immediately greeted by the new normal when it comes to live music. 

This must be the place

It’s 9:29 a.m. on Tuesday at the Holiday Inn off Interstate 135 near the city of Salina, Kansas. Looking out the fourth-floor window, it was hundreds of miles of cornfields, grasslands, gas stations and truck stops. 

This must be the place: Ain’t it funny how the time just flies, don’t 
you think it’s time to get on board?

Nearing midnight here in Eastern Idaho. A landscape I used to call home some 12 years ago. The faces I chase down and interact with in these parts are familiar and beloved. The same faces I befriended when I first rolled through here to put down roots as a rookie reporter in January 2008 for the Teton Valley News. 

This must be the place: Oh, the day we met I went astray, I started rolling down that lost highway

It’s 4:41 a.m. at the Motel 6 in Laramie, Wyoming, which means it’s nearing 7 o’clock back at my apartment in Waynesville, North Carolina. My guitar sits atop the bed with fresh sheets and fluffy pillows, right across from my late grandfather’s old Coleman cooler on the floor near the door. 

This must be the place: I get the urge for going, but I never seem to go

Labor Day 2020. After finishing up my arts feature for this week’s newspaper, I jumped into the old Tacoma and headed for Lake Logan to swim and layout in the sunshine of a fading summer. Park down the gravel road and grab a seat on the dock. Pop open a cold beverage and hoist it high to those familiar and beloved faces surrounding you. 

This must be the place: Do you believe in what you see, motionless wheel, nothing is real

Stepping out of the muddy truck, I laced up my trail running shoes and disappeared down the Cataloochee Divide Trail for a few miles of trotting, wandering and pondering. 

About a mile and a half up the ridge, there’s this small opening looking down into Cataloochee Valley. I always stop there and gaze out, wondering who else is, perhaps, looking back at me from one of those faraway peaks. Last Friday, I stood at that spot and felt the first crisp breeze of an impending fall. 

This must be the place: But long as there are stars above you, you never need to doubt it

Pulling onto Lake Street last Saturday afternoon, an odd sense of self flowed through my veins while cruising through Rouses Point, New York. My hometown until I left for college, the tiny Canadian Border community had seen better days. And yet, Saturday was another happy occasion for my family, who has lived in that town for generations. 

This must be the place: High above the chimney top, that’s where you’ll find me

On Aug. 11, my late grandfather, Frank Kavanaugh, would have turned 100 years old. But, alas, it’s been some 13 years since Fred left this world (June 9, 2007). I tend to think of him quite often, especially as I’ve gotten older and continued to wander the backroads and highways of the rollicking, undulating landscape that is the United States. 

This must be the place: Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings

On Aug. 9, 1995, I was 10 years old and living in an old farmhouse on the Canadian Border of Upstate New York. 

With my entry into fifth grade just around the corner, I was starting to wind down another curious and carefree North Country summer of swimming, bike riding and backyard shenanigans.

This must be the place: Your neighbor isn’t out to get you, nor is your local newspaper

Stepping out of my pickup truck this past Saturday afternoon, I stood in the parking lot of the Maggie Valley Town Hall. 

In the front entrance of the building were an array of local law enforcement agencies from around Haywood County. Underneath the big trees in the front yard were Black Lives Matter protesters. On the lawn next door, with eyes aimed at those under the big trees, were the counter protesters. 

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