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  • Bartender and Author Johnny Welsh Releases His New Book, Weedgalized in Colorado: True Tales From the High CountryRead full press release

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Interview Topics & Questions for Johnny



What are Five Lessons Learned While Traveling Unplugged?

 After agreeing to certain rules, my girlfriend and I embarked on a 16-day road trip using paper maps and no apps. I journaled each day and captured the pros and cons of traveling unplugged in today’s world. Here’s what stood out:

  1. Heads up, see and interact more. The most positive lesson we learned was that going phoneless and screenless opened the inviting world right around us. We met more people and fellow travelers on the road. Our heads were raised upward in social settings instead of in the typical poor posture associated with smartphone use — the hunchback position. It was so noticeable that servers and bartenders showed curiosity in our awareness.

      “You guys look super chipper,” they said. “What are you up to? Where are you from? Where are you heading?”

       Those questions were repeated to us at several stops. I guess we looked like meerkats by the way we were looking left and right to see how we might occupy our spare time. We had so much extra time since our hands were empty and our attention was free and clear. It was so pronounced at one restaurant that the bartender thanked us and, after learning of our digital detox trip, said that we changed her perspective.

  1. Real conversation = romance. Our communication between us was more fulfilling. I imagine this can be a challenge for many couples. The ability to speak and respond fully is so refreshing. We felt a renewed spark in our relationship. During a night out for dinner, I remember the only light on our table was the candle. It was refreshing not having an LED sitting out. At the time of this trip we were boyfriend and girlfriend. We are now engaged to be married.
  2. Weight lifted. There is an increased feeling of freedom when the digital leash comes off. It felt like a weight was lifted and we were able to enjoy being present and actually on vacation.
  3. No online bargains. The biggest negative about not having access to Google was hotel pricing. We could have saved money by comparing hotel prices and/or booking online. Instead, we employed the old-school method of driving in, asking, driving on. We repeated that several more times until we were too tired and settled just to get out of the car.
  4. No shortcuts. Another time-saver that would have been helpful was the use of Google maps. It would have saved us time by rerouting around traffic, closures, and accidents. So technology can be useful but the fine line can be crossed into overuse without knowing it as it does to me if I’m not careful.


Other serendipities worth noting: The inspired friends who adopted a version of our rules for themselves completely on their own was our favorite. We saw our friends placing their phones on airplane mode and living more in the moment. This, in turn, re-inspired us as well.

    One of the most comical episodes we encountered was trying to track down an old clock radio/alarm. We allowed ourselves the use of this relic as a source of music. When we couldn’t find one in our hotel room in Las Vegas, we called down to the front desk on the room phone. We asked where we could locate an old clock radio and they began to tell us the current time.

    “I don’t need the time; I need an old radio so we can listen to music.” I explained.

     Then they were silent for a good minute, like they forgot those clocks played music. We ended up finding one in an old custodian closet so we could jam out while getting ready for night festivities in Vegas. We had to laugh at that one.

     We felt the need to use our phones several times throughout the trip in order to find answers to random questions or trivia. In the end we realized it’s okay not to know instant answers and revert back to enjoying the old-fashioned company of each other. It felt good to engage in the lost art of conversation.

      Our goal was to be 95% unplugged. We left room to text our mothers and let them know we were okay. There was no way around that. My mom has been known to organize search parties and serve me up a big portion of guilt if I don’t call.

      Postscript: After this trip we did resume our usage of our smartphones and social media leisure scrolling. However, it was different. We now make a conscious effort to listen and put down the device when we have conversations. It is not always easy. Sometimes we both stop talking mid-sentence until eye contact is made and eyes are off all screens. I joke with Kristy and say that even though she has stopped texting and is looking me in the eye, I can still see her thumbs mimicking a texting motion — like a dog’s leg that stills kicks after you stop scratching them.

     It is a great way to practice patience with your partner. Warning It can be a real test, given today’s addictive apps.



Q. Tell us a little about your writing process.

When did you decide you wanted to write your first book on the legalization of marijuana?

Johnny: I have been writing off and on for over twenty years. I’ve got five unfinished books in my drawer! None of those topics captured me as much as the legalization of marijuana did. It was so much fun to hear the stories and gather more. By interviewing those leading the industry, I honestly felt like a little Napoleon Hill, who interviewed many successful business owners on the topic of success.

I remember when I decided to write the book. It was February 2014 and I was closing up the bar. I was thinking about the funny evening I had telling so many weed stories to the tourists, and the never-ending array of questions.

You said in the book that many of the stories came to you as you were bartending, but you also did a lot of research, met with locals, and traveled around the state. Was it difficult getting people to talk to you?

Johnny: No, not at all. The people on both sides of legalization were more than happy to discuss it. When I finally was able to talk to those in charge, it was easy. The hardest part was hearing back from some of the busy business owners.

Q. Please share one of the craziest stories you heard.

Johnny: The craziest stories are the ones involving alcohol when I compare weed to alcohol in the book. If one cannabis story stands out, it has to be the story Rhett Jordan told me about Diesel, the dog. You’ll find more details in the book, but basically Diesel (the dog!) was taken to jail after a traffic stop involving fifteen pounds of marijuana.

Q. It’s been a couple years now—what changes have you seen to the weed culture since since it was legalized?

Johnny: The businesses are growing and becoming more professional. I think that because of the stigma of marijuana, they are going out of their way to show that this industry is not only thriving, but deserves the utmost respect. I have also seen an enormous influx of people to the state, both tourists and new residents.

Q. Has it had any impact on your liquor sales?

Johnny: I would say that since the state has had an increase in population, the restaurants and bars seem busier.

Q. How do you think the rest of the country is going to respond to the book?  Do you expect the stories and information to appeal to people outside Colorado?

Johnny: I do think it will appeal to those outside of Colorado. The curiosity levels are still high. After all, it was the questions from the out-of-state tourists, guests, and visitors that first inspired me to write the book.

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