Juicy Journals

Juicy Journals & Wild Words

Creating a Travel Journal

Capture moments of your travel adventures using a journal, art, and collage.

By Molly J. Anderson-Childers | Updated September 22, 2018

Excerpt from my journal, June 2008 — On Location in Ouray, Colorado:

Ouray Retrospective Original Multimedia Collage © 2008 Molly Anderson-ChildersOne thing I have learned on this trip: Life is never what you expected it to be. We had originally planned to celebrate our eighth anniversary in the desert at Chaco Canyon. But, at the last second, Charles surprised me with a trip to Ouray, Colorado, otherwise known as the "Switzerland of America." It was fabulous!

I miss the red rocks of Chaco, but a little mountain air, and a soak in the healing waters of a lovely hot springs behind the hotel soothed my soul. We relaxed in wooden tubs on the mountainside, watching butterflies and hummingbirds and ravens fly overhead. This is the sweet life!

After a soak, we drove to nearby Ridgway to check out the action. Just a typical day in this slowpoke mountain town. We saw a coffee-shop and bookstore, and went in to check out their selection. It was a tiny place, with just enough room to turn around with a book and a cup of joe in your hand. We also visited their thrift store, in the hopes of picking up some new tapes for the stereo in our car. (I don't care how much you love The Police and Steve Miller Band. I say you can only listen to them 1,000 times before they lose their charm!) Charles scored with a boatload of 80s bands (Go Bon Jovi!), along with some random classical, tribal and New Age finds. I surfed their extensive collection of second-hand books and was able to find TONS of great books to read, including a hardback copy of "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" by Susanna Clarke for only five bucks. What a score — and we were supporting a great cause. All of their proceeds go to the local Humane Society.

After our little sojourn in Ridgway, we drove back to the hotel along a county road to take in a different view. Red cliffs and forbidding granite peaks reared their heads at the sky, making me feel exalted... and truly insignificant. I realized that, although I had the best of intentions when I packed, that I would never be able to sketch everything I saw that day. Even a camera cannot capture the majesty of those mountain peaks.

We had dinner at The Bon Ton, a fancy restaurant in the St. Elmo Hotel. Our meal was delicious! I ordered their Tortellini Carbonara; Charles had Beef Wellington. The food and service were wonderful. To surprise me, he asked the waiter to bring a bottle of champagne. Bubbly for two, anyone? We couldn't wait to be alone, so we ordered dessert to go (Creme Brulee Cheesecake and the infamous Black Nasty, a rich chocolate confection) and took it back to our hotel room. Who knows where we'll be celebrating our ninth, next year?!?? Love in the Rockies is always a surprise, a delight. We found romance in the tiny town of Ouray that would make a Parisienne valentine blush!

Love in the Rockies Original Multimedia Collage © 2008 Molly Anderson-ChildersThe next day, on our way home, we stopped for breakfast at Baked in Telluride, home of the most crumbly, flaky, delicious ham and cheese croissants in the universe. We also drove outside of town to take in the view and see the waterfalls, including the famous Bridal Veil. It was a gorgeous drive — everything is so green! We had a banner year for snow, and high mountain towns like Telluride and Ouray are still benefiting from the snowcaps. We must have seen fifty waterfalls — from monstrous booming cascades to tiny unnamed trickles by the side of the road. We got out to stretch our legs a bit, and cruised downtown Telluride on foot. Monstrous Hummers and tiny eco-friendly golf carts battled for placement on the street; while tourists swarmed the galleries and expensive shops, locals panhandled spare change or rushed from one low-paying service industry job to the next. I saw a cautionary tale here — before too long, Durango could turn into another Telluride or Aspen. It's already trending that way. Soon enough, we felt out of place and decided to continue on the homeward trail.

As we drove out of town, I made a quick sketch at a gas station, looking back towards Uncompaghre Peak — the only actual art I did while we were on our short trip to paradise. Oh well. What is it they say about the best of intentions?

Wanting a little fuel for the fire, we stopped at High Grounds, a little coffee shack in Rico. It smelled like apples and cinnamon and yummy things baking, which is the way I imagine heaven must smell. The owner told us she was making an apple coffeecake. She was a little off-the-wall; those long winters in Rico can really get to you! She also told us she hadn't left town in over ten years, and that it was high time she took a vacation. We couldn't stay for cake, so we took our coffee to go. I had an iced mocha that was out of this world!

On the way home, I reflected on the last eight years with Charles. We have gone through a lot together, and somehow managed to stay strong. I returned to Durango feeling lucky in love and full of coffee-fueled inspiration and energy. Using some of the tools in Cynthia Morris's "Creative Toolkit for the Traveler," I created a collage in my journal with some of the found objects I collected along the way — stickers and menus and little souvenirs. I wanted to share it with you here, to give you a little taste of our journey's adventures.

Want to take your writing on the road? To create your own travel journal, you need the right tools. May I suggest a portable spiral bound book, sturdy enough to withstand being shoved into a suitcase? A hard cover is a good idea; this will prevent everything from getting squished and ruined. To make your own travel collage, collect keys, postcards, stickers, stamps, business cards, and photos of your trip in an envelope. When you get home, get out the glue sticks and glitter and go wild!

Wherever you may travel, wherever you may roam, take your journal with you, and don't forget to write!

Next: Creating a Writer's Notebook

©2008 Molly J. Anderson-Childers. All rights reserved.