Sunday the 10th, I set out for Minneapolis with my car loaded with snacks and entertainment. My enthusiasm carried me to Tucumcari and through the corner of Texas and Oklahoma. The CD player was a little spastic, but I enjoyed the sights and thought about who might be already in Minneapolis.
Day 2 was a 468 miles jaunt to Des Moines, IA…frankly, the bloom was off the rose. After 2 hours on the road, boredom set in. The CD changer spat the audio-book CD out 5 times, no matter how I tried to re-arrange the order. That’s major suckage, especially after listening to the first chapter of “Middle of Somewhere” by Cliffie Henderson. Mucho disappointo.
We’ll discuss the panoply of radio stations on another day when I can be more objective. For now, let’s just say that NPR was my best option, most of the time.
I had a few chew marks on my leg by the time I reached Des Moines and opted for a tier 2 motel which was worth the extra $20. Apparently there was some kind of NCAA something going on because the place was full of women. Dinner very pleasant. The room comfortable and the next day I had only 246 miles to go.
Iowa and Minnesota were lush and green, evoking wonderful memories of growing up in the Midwest. The Hilton Double Tree was easy to find and a pure delight. Roomy, spacious, tastefully decorated, and some of the finest hotel employees I have ever encountered. The prices were reasonable and there were some great dining options nearby. Oh yeah, and warm chocolate chip cookies!
To echo many other happy Con goers, the Con was well organized and flowed smoothly. This was only my third, but I appreciate the hard work of the Board and the volunteers to create this grand reunion and celebration of books. So many old and new friends. Again this year I invited 3 Con Virgins –all of whom had a great time.
This was the first time for me as a published author and let me tell you there is nothing like meeting people for the first time who’ve read and appreciated your work. Wow. Sitting alone at a computer every day I never thought what it would be like to face people who generously provide comments and feedback to me. I am humbled by the kindness.
I sat on two fun panels. One was for newly published authors, the other a terrific discussion on Women Who Serve and the effects on them and their families. I got a video and hope to salvage the sound track.
The awards ceremony went seamlessly. I was nervous because I presented with Erica Abbott, I had a speech in my pocket for another writer who couldn’t attend, and was deer-in-the-headlights to see my book flashed on the screen as a finalist. Surreal and heady. I celebrated the whole Con with champagne and good memories.
Then the Trailblazer Award for Marianne K. Martin. A gentle woman with a steely core who keeps a low profile while doing the right thing for all of us. I’m proud to call her friend. Both women are shining examples of what we could all be.
Sunday was bittersweet as we tearfully bade farewell to new friends and old. There’s always a little sadness. Next year Dallas.
I napped, packed, ordered room service and slept. Monday I hit the road for Wisconsin for family, friends, and a bookstore stop. Note: I had some serious second thoughts about adding another 800 miles to my already long journey.(I shoulda listened.) Tuesday I made it to Milwaukee and Racine, but could not face a drive into Chicago. I abruptly changed plans and headed home at 7:15 Tuesday night.
Made it to Beloit,WI, crashed, then started early for Nebraska (439 miles). I stopped on the Iowa side of the river for the night. Poured rain- for the first time (and last). I had a great dinner at Cracker Barrel. Skeevy motel, but some function was happening in Coucil Bluffs, IA. What evs.
Wednesday would be the Nebraska marathon 730 miles. Surprisingly it went quicker than I thought. I-80 was a frustrating mix of Semi’s and construction for at least 100 miles. Eventually, I cut down through Kansas to I-70 then it was smooth sailing. I was prepared to spend the night in Limon, CO,but it was only 90+ more miles to Colorado Springs so I went for it. Great motel welcome and a good dinner.
Remember the lack of entertainment? While in Wisconsin I bought an iPod shuffle in order to transfer my iTunes files–including the books. Could.Not.Get.the Files.to transfer. F*** So in an effort to entertain myself, I used my digital recorder to map out the story line for a new book, make a to do list. Then having shot dozens of ‘flat-lander’ pictures…I made videos of the prairie! Hysterically boring–except for the bugs on the windshield.
By early Friday morning I was ready to head home on the last stretch! 356 miles-6 hours!! It was intermittently lovely, mountainous,hazy, flat, dry, vacant. But I do love the west. As soon as I crossed out out Kansas, everything began to change. I saw the hazy grey silhouette of mountains and knew I was home.
I pulled up to my house at 2pm –7.5 days on the road. 3,147 miles. Stick a fork in me I’m done. I’m home, I’m Safe, I’m well, and my furbabies were thrilled to see me. My house sitter cleaned, vacuumed and took care of my girls.
Now I’m going to use some the inspiration and get back to doing what I love–
Until next time…Barrett the Weary