I was on my second cup of coffee when the feeling hit me. Sitting in the beam of the morning sun streaming through the window, I had just finished my bowl of yogurt and berries, and was thumbing through the local paper. It felt like home.
But I wasn't home — I was at the Charmant Hotel in La Crosse, Wis., in the midst of an extended weekend. While "feeling like home" on the road might sound odd or even unattractive to some, to me it signaled a rare moment of relaxation while traveling, something I often find hard to achieve. I'm passionate about discovering new places and uncovering new experiences. I love to wander. But those inclinations also come with some stress: the anxious hunger to do everything, see everything, eat everything when I'm journeying. It's not unusual for me to come back from an extended trip and feel like I need a vacation.
Finding a balance between exploring and resting is still something I'm working on, but on this short jaunt, I felt I'd found it.
When I arrived late on Saturday, I ate at the hotel. The next morning, still in my workout clothes, I picked up coffee in the hotel parlor. My long weekend was filled not with checklists but lots of aimless strolling, ogling the fall colors and popping in stores I passed. I still had a few plans — having lunch at the Waterfront restaurant, taking a short hike around Grandad Bluff — but I allowed myself to fulfill them at my own pace, with room for tweaks in the schedule, like deciding to linger on the river walk and take pictures for a while. My last morning in La Crosse, I opted for sleeping in, ordering room service and a large pot of coffee and enjoying the rays in a pillow-strewn chair. It was like the best parts of home, only without having to do the dishes or rush off to my next appointment.
When I hit the office the next day, I felt refreshed. Relaxing while traveling? What a concept.
Amelia Rayno covers food and travel for the Star Tribune. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @AmeliaRayno