I was still glowing when I stopped to get some gas just north of the Twin Cities late Monday night.

I didn’t even bother to put on a coat. I probably should have. I was still wearing the shorts and T-shirt I’d put on that morning — in Mexico.

Despite the temperature being well below zero and my wholly inappropriate attire, I pumped away in the freezing temps, prompting the flabbergasted cashier to ask, “Are you from around here?”

I had to think for moment.

My week’s vacation to Mexico was not just a physical departure from Grand Rapids, but also a symbolic one.

I will be leaving the newspaper after a year and a half of covering city government, business and whatever else my wonderful editor decides to throw at me.

The Herald-Review was my first “real” job after graduating from the University of Minnesota and I can’t say there would have been a better place to start. I have learned a lot while working in Grand Rapids, about jobs and careers, relationships and friendships.

I had to think because my mind was in two places — three if you count the frigid air that was beginning to creep up into my khakis. Part of me was still back in Mexico, and part of me was excited for the career opportunity in front of me.

Mexico was the perfect vacation (especially considering the wonderful coincidence that it just so happened to be the coldest week of the year back home).

There was sun when we wanted it, shade when we didn’t; no sunburn, but plenty of color now in my skin that was not there when we left last week.

I had many amazing experiences ranging from riding a zip line through the jungles, to touring the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum, to simply laying out on the beach, listening to the wind and the waves and pondering my next steps.

So, with the refresh and reset freshly behind me, I will extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone in Grand Rapids who has made my job as a staff writer at the Herald-Review an enjoyable and treasured experience.

I will do my best to stop back and say “hello” someday.