Michelle Malkin's career was on a rocket ship but her soul was mired in the swamp before she made the move to Colorado Springs eight years ago.
"When I left we were living in the Baltimore area," she said backstage Wednesday night at the Fox Aurora Theater Center before premiering her digital Conservative TV show, "Michelle Malkin Investigates."
"I'd take the train up and be in New York a couple of days. I would take the train back and see my kids for a day, then I'd rush down to D.C., and that's how it was. And my kids were really little then."
And her kids were there at the pancake restaurant when a heckler would go off about something she said on Fox News. And there were always the worries about threats and violence under the politically drenched D.C. cloud.
In 2007, she was a regular face on Fox News and guest-hosting such top shows "The O'Reilly Factor" and "Hannity" and had three books to her credit.
Unlike other women who have complained about sexual harassment that led to the ouster last summer of Fox News chief Roger Ailes, Malkin says she saw none of that.
"Maybe I wasn't his type," she said, then laughing.
That same year, in 2008, a rap song advocated killing Malkin and fellow Fox newscaster Bill O'Reilly.
For sure, Malkin has written and said plenty to invite passion and criticism. She is a hardliner on immigration. She was years ahead of Donald Trump with her 2002 book "Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces."
She reveled when Michelle Obama took exception to being called a "crony of color," a reference from Malkin's book "Culture of Corruption."
Geraldo Rivera, another Fox News personality, told the Boston Globe he found Malkin to be "the most vile, hateful commentator I've ever met ... It's good she's in D.C. and I'm in N.Y. I'd spit on her if I saw her." Rivera later apologized on "The O'Reilly Factor."
Malkin declined to renew her Fox contract and set her inner compass to Colorado Springs.
"There was pressure on me to move up to New York City," she said, referring to the Fox News headquarters. "And when I did that cost-benefit calculation of career and family, it didn't work in Fox's favor."
She liked that El Paso County had a conservative reputation, which meant fewer run-ins with liberals who might put passion into action.
That's not to say she's been given a pass from Colorado's progressive realm.
Alan Franklin, the political director for the state's largest liberal advocacy group, ProgressNow Colorado, cited a list of what he described as Malkin errors - from claiming illegal voters would steal the election in Colorado to a book defending Japanese internment camps in the U.S. during World War II.
"Michelle Malkin has a long history of fabricating information out of whole cloth," Franklin said. "This isn't about political bias, it's about truthfulness. Malkin says things that aren't true, and refuses to correct them."
The Colorado change served her career well. In 2008, the conservative blogosphere was in its ascendancy as President Obama was in his. Malkin built and sold two popular conservative websites, Hot Air and Twitchy. She wrote three more books, and she's been able to maintain a presence on Fox News as a guest, including to plug her new TV venture.
Now that her children are older, Malkin is taking on TV again with "Michelle Malkin Investigates," a documentary-style show that draws from her books and her other reporting for all 13 episodes of the first season.
And Colorado has helped her get fit. She said she did the Manitou Incline in 45 minutes. Her time was far ahead of that of the star of "Footloose," who posted his 54-minute climb in 2014.
"That became the new standard," she said. "Can I beat Kevin Bacon?"