Clinton Harris is quite familiar with the University of Northern Colorado. Perhaps too familiar.
On weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in an office in McKee Hall, Harris works as the scheduler for the College of Education at UNC, placing courses in classrooms. He coordinates with administrative assistants, faculty and other staff. Harris’ objective is to reach “academic pedagogy.” Don’t be fooled. The position is less glamorous than it sounds. Maybe it’s the lack of windows in McKee. Harris says it feels like a prison.
“We have the only windows in my office, but they overlook a parking lot,” Harris said.
When he was a student at the university, Harris had worked just down the hall from his current office. Back in the ‘90s, he was an English major.
Harris had a brief stint in the private sector before returning to Greeley. He has worked at UNC since 2001. After spending six years in the registrar’s office, he transferred to scheduling. It’s a safe job, he said, that provides a reliable income for him and his family.
Micah Wilborn, a barista at Dutch Bros, chatted Harris up at the window and became invested in his story. Each subsequent stop for coffee turned into a chance to catch up.
“I didn’t even know his name for the longest time,” Wilborn said.
Routine quickly turned to monotony. For years, Harris would go to work, come home to take care of his family, sleep and repeat. He was the sole breadwinner. After Harris’ divorce at the age of 39—he’s 44 now—he finally got to experience a change of scenery.
“There were years I hadn’t left a hundred-mile radius of this town,” he said.
After getting teased by his friends that he needed to “get out more,” Harris did just that. Initially, branching out was daunting. Lonely, even. With the opportunity to do more things, he became frustrated with the way social media influencers took their luxuries for granted. They were flying around the world and for what? Another Instagram post? A sponsorship? Clout?
“Because I didn’t get to travel very often, I thought ‘If I actually got to go places, I would just write about it. I would just really immerse myself in the experience,’” Harris said.
Through a mutual friend, Harris discovered the ins and outs of travel writing and then started his travelogue called “Getting Out More” in 2018. Although this platform was his first documentation of his travels, Harris began writing long before that.
He stumbled upon his affinity for writing in high school and furthered that as an English major during his undergrad, hoping to write fiction for a living. The urge to write was nearly insatiable.
“It’s this monster you have to feed or else you’ll go crazy,” Harris said.
His first article detailed a trip he took to Tucson in a single weekend with his cousin. On the way, the two stopped in New Mexico for a state staple, Blake’s Lotaburger. Harris was met with “two quarter pound patties, onions, tomatoes, pickles and Hatch green chilies to top it off.” Another post recalled a road trip to California he went on in the ‘90s.
“One of the things I wrote about was how we nearly ran out of gas in the middle of the desert in Nevada,” Harris said. “It wasn’t fun at the time, but it was fun to recollect and write about it.”
Now, Harris embarks on a variety of trips, accompanied or solo, planned or spontaneous. Some days he packs up his car and takes his son and girlfriend along for the ride. Or he crafts an entire itinerary like he did this summer, traveling to London on his own.
“I went in completely cold,” Harris said. “I had actually only been out of the country once.”
Stepping outside his comfort zone remains imperative.
“After a while, if I wasn’t scaring myself on a trip like that, I was bored,” Harris said.
While the travelogue targets an older demographic, Wilborn regularly keeps up with new posts. Also, the generational gap separating Wilborn and Harris does not hinder their friendship. In fact, Wilborn notices parallels between them. Both have creative passions, Harris with his travelogue and Wilborn with his band, Play Wr!tes.
“I have a pet project that I really love and want to pursue and I want him to do just as well,” Wilborn said.
Harris shared a link to Play Wr!tes’ newest music video and Wilborn promotes the travelogue on social media and by word of mouth.
The parallels do not end there.
“One of the things I found out when I was abroad was your attitude is everything,” Harris said. “You should approach people with an open, happy disposition.”
It is that openness and cheer he strives for that keeps Harris coming back to Dutch Bros, day after day.
“They have a continuous narrative,” Harris said. “They might not see me for a week or two because of their shifts and they remember what I did two weeks ago and follow it up.”
Currently, Harris tries to publish new content at least once or twice a week. Recently, he wrote about his birthday weekend featuring a lavish dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and a trip to Glenwood Springs the next day. Within a couple of years, Harris wants to become a full-time travel writer. He has generated plenty of content, now it’s time to figure out ways to promote and expand his presence. It’s time for “Getting Out More” to get out more.