Spain, Colorado, and Texas…

What do Spain, Colorado, and Texas have in common? Well, now they have me in common. And perhaps more…For some time now I have proclaimed how much I love traveling and even now as I travel more, this is still the case. Even with the type of busyness that it can bring, I am simply the kind of person that prefers that kind of busyness say compared to the busyness of a cubicle or office job. Traveling is my kind of pace. Two weeks ago I arrived in Denver after being in Italy and Spain for the past eight months. What does the next month entail for me? Hmmm…let’s see…as of right now it looks like I’ll be in Colorado, Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and D.C. All before returning to Denver and eventually Spain. Does that make you want to follow along? Hope so…

Since Denver is my US home-base, I enjoyed catching up with many wonderful friends, making new friends, and moving the things I have stored there. As much as I love Colorado, I knew I could only spend so much time there since the holidays are upon us and my family and I were clamoring to see each other again. So Tuesday I loaded up my mini cooper with some stuff and drove all the way to Dallas. Now, I have visited Texas before, but never spent too much time there. Tuesday night I stayed with friends in Dallas before continuing on the next day to my family just outside Houston. I got a bit of a late start leaving Denver, which meant that the 13-hour drive put me at my friend’s house just after 1am. Road trips and I get along pretty well. I enjoy driving and I like the idea of getting myself from one place to the next on my own four wheels. The drive took me through New Mexico for a bit after heading south and through the lower south-eastern corner of Colorado. The scenery was vast, open fields of dry grasses. Once I started heading east into New Mexico, the mountains were left behind me and the terrain rolled with hills.

IMG950201Stopping in Dallas my first night in Texas gave me a chance to rest and enjoy breakfast the next morning with wonderful girlfriends who I had not seen in years. From there I finished the last four hours of the trip, arriving at my dad and step-mom’s new home in Cypress. It’s a suburb just outside of Houston and is where they just moved to from my hometown in Florida. I’m super excited for them to be enjoying this new adventurous time in their life. My dad has worked a long time for Shell in the same position and he really wanted an exciting change. That change has come and the company moved them to Texas. It’s not quite Colorado, but hey…it’s progress west! It feels great to be spending time with them now during this holiday season. Another thing that traveling has taught me is how important family is and how much I appreciate them.

Even with all the changes that my traveling lifestyle encompasses, there are still consistencies. They are that much more special to me than perhaps the more easily seen consistencies. Rather than a house or furniture, instead of the same streets and downtown areas, it comes to me through themes and the spirit and heart of a place, of the people. I’m aware of this even now as I’m writing this because I am once again experiencing a local coffee and wine bar that I discovered today in Cypress. My first one to enjoy in Texas. If you’ve followed along with my travels you have probably picked up on the fact that I love local coffeehouses and wine, great restaurants and bars. So not a shocker to me or others that on my second day in this new area, I’ve already found a great new spot.

2012-12-20 16.58.15Cork Cafe Wine and Coffee is set in a typical American shopping center just off the main highway here, 290. There is nothing typical about the cafe though. I arrived here at 4:30pm and the place is playing great music at a pleasant level, not too loud and not too quiet, and the environment is wonderful. It all comes together to produce a great ambiance with a good vibe. The tones are brown and beige with natural woodwork along the walls housing tantalizing bottles of wine. The space has a nice open feeling to it thanks to large windows in the front and a high ceiling. Straight to the back is an arched set of doubled glass doors that slide into the walls, revealing a classy sitting area lined with more dark wood shelves of stacked wines, dimly lit lamps, and sofas and love-seats to cuddle on with a glass of wine, a special someone, or both. The seating is a variety of small round two person tables, tables for four, tall and low tables, and an elegant classic bar to pull up to. Dark brown leather is the consistent theme of all the chairs, adding to the luxurious comfortable feel of the place. Even as I’m writing this, I am loving the relaxed state I am in, nestled into the plush chair I’m seated in. I’ve got a great view of the setting sun just outside the front door, the beautiful bar across from me, and the great sounds of a group of women laughing, gathered together for some good girl time while enjoying wine and apps. My choice of beverage is an Americano that I am savoring in a large ceramic mug. The strong espresso is rich and tasty with less acidity than what I have experienced in other Americanos. Great quality of espresso? Check, check for this coffee and wine bar. And from the looks of happy faces, sounds of cheerful voices, and increasing clientele, the wine selection and appetizers must be wonderful as well. The Barista behind the bar has been friendly and kind, offering great service not only to me, but also to every visitor that continues to come in the door. I enjoyed watching her do some pretty great art work in two mochas she made for some customers. It was impressive!

I love these kinds of places that support and capture this aspect of cultures and friendships. They seem to be found everywhere I’ve traveled to. Sometimes they look different from what I expected, yet they embody the same joys of life and for me, of traveling. Here’s to Spain, Colorado, and Texas and the great things they have in common…me, great people, and fantastic local coffeehouses and bars.