Life on the Road

Stop and Smell the Horseshoe

Cary2 comments1078 views

Last week, I returned from a 4-day business trip to Springfield, IL. Springfield is known for three things: the birthplace of Lincoln, the possible home of the Simpsons, and the Horseshoe. No, not equestrian footwear. I’m talking about this bad boy.


That mountain of cheese-smothered fries shelters two half-pound hamburger patties atop two pieces of Texas toast. Yum. Pretty much every establishment of merit in Springfield offers a variation on the Horseshoe. Some feature chicken patties or sirloin steak, while other “more healthy” variations encase a nice lean piece of fish in the 3,000-calorie outer shell you see above.

However you take it, the horseshoe is a beast. I consider myself a pretty mean eater, and I only got this far.


The trip itself was a commitment I made before we set out on this little adventure, under the assumption that we would be in the Houston area at the time. However, due to #slidegate and other factors beyond our control, we got stuck in Florida, which meant changing flights.

Originally, I was to depart Houston airport on Tuesday at 5:30AM, arriving in Springfield 4 hours later. The revised itinerary (which I promise was the best of very few options) had me leaving Monday night, taking 4 flights, and arriving in Springfield the following day at the originally scheduled time.

Let me build that out a bit more in your mind. That’s 4 flights, 17 hours of travel, one way, no sleep, followed by a full day of meetings. To say I was exhausted by the time I arrived is like saying Everest was a bit more of a hike than the brochure advertised.

But even with the grueling trip, I had one of the best client strategy meetings I’ve had in a long time. I’d say 10% of that was my contributions and the other 90% was the incredible people I was meeting with. As a freelance creative, I do a lot of work for faceless clients, mostly contracted through ad agencies I’ve built relationships with over the years. Although I always give these gigs my very best in thought and execution, there’s rarely a connection beyond the task at-hand.

Every once in a while, however, I have the opportunity to work with a client who is easy to get behind and believe in; one I connect with beyond the contracted work. This was one of those clients. We had two days of great conversations, resulting in a strategy I believe will take their marketing to the next level, and I look forward to helping them in that pursuit.

Springfield IL

On the way home, as I was boarding my eighth flight and reflecting on the past couple days, it occurred to me that this trip epitomized what our new lifestyle is all about: Connection.

Connecting to one another.

Connecting to the land.

Connecting to the people we encounter along the way.

To date, every plan we have made has fallen through, and I’m actually glad they have. Three weeks ago, we set out on this adventure equipped with an itinerary. We had to be here on this date for this thing and there on that date for that thing. Any deviation from the schedule meant missing something we had planned or extra travel time to catch up. Without realizing it, we had brought with us the very thing we were trying to escape: a scripted life.

So here’s what I’ve learned. Moving through life as fast as we can leaves nothing for us to grab on to. It robs us of the opportunity to stop and smell the horseshoe. To take with us a piece of every person, place, and community we encounter, while leaving a bit of ourselves behind as well. That’s what a connected life is to me, and that’s how I’m going to look at this adventure moving forward.

There’s loads to update you on as far as our travels, the camper, and our experiences over the last week, but I think I’ll leave that for another post. Until then, know that we are extremely grateful for the connection we share with each of you and are honored to have you with us on this journey.

Husband, writer, retro game enthusiast. Traveling the world with my wife Christy and Wonder Dog Layla in search of decent WIFI and a few zinger lines for my obituary. Current high score in Galaga is 762,470.


  1. So glad that you were able to meet “my people” of Springfield, IL. My hometown for over half of my life. Flat lands, horseshoes and great midwestern values. People who would give you the shirt off of their back, while they are working on the task at hand. I think I had shared the concept of a horseshoe sandwich with you, but as you now are quite certainly able to attest, the description defies the reality of the taste, texture and calories. The majority of my family members are there: mom, siblings, son and fiance, along with my chosen family . . . some of whom you met. Glad your week was a success. Wishing you and Christy much success and fun as your adventure continues. Hugs, Vickie

Leave a Response