I knew that, even traveling in my own country, I’d encounter people whose worldviews differed from mine. This is one reason I decided to stick to western states on my book tour. Still, venturing outside my comfort zone so close to home has revealed some of the most challenging differences of all, the ones so small you can trip over them before you see them.
Last Tuesday in Anacortes, Washington I was loading laundry into a washer at the home of my friend Heather’s landlady, Robbie. Robbie would be throwing a party for my book reading that night. We’d never met before. “I’ve been moved on this trip by how many people have stepped up to help me,” I told her. “It’s been a little overwhelming. I’m usually very self-sufficient and it’s hard for me to ask for help.”
“Then maybe that’s something you needed to learn on this trip.”
I nodded as this simple insight sank in. “Riiiiiight…” Someone recently told me that helpless people never ask for help – strong people do. Maybe I’m growing stronger.
Heather and her friend Bill took me to lunch at the bowling alley, where I enjoyed some of the best fish and chips I’ve ever eaten.
Later that rainy day Heather and her friend Bill took me to lunch at the bowling alley, where I enjoyed some of the best fish and chips I’ve ever eaten.
On every journey, I pick new things up and leave old things behind: belongings, attitudes, friendships. I love Alaska so much that it wasn’t until after my talk in Bellingham, Washington that I realized something had dislodged inside me on my last visit to the Last Frontier.
I had fun talking with the small but enthusiastic group at Village Books.
I had fun talking with the small but enthusiastic group at Village Books, yet my insides felt chaotic. I wondered why. Part of it was due to something I normally wouldn’t talk about here, but then, I suppose this is the perfect place to talk about it…
If I were a visual artist, I’d draw my book tour for you in a series of sketches: half-finished lines and curves full of electric highs and exhausted lows, the faces of old friends softened by nostalgia, the faces of new friends clarified by discovery.
My friend Angie and I became rock ‘n roll groupies for Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real.
Thursday night in Seattle, my friend Angie and I became rock ‘n roll groupies for Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real. Off my itinerary, I was headbanging and swaying like a smitten teenager, as Lukas and his band tore up The Showbox.
This story ends at the Seattle talk show New Day Northwest, where I appeared right after musician Lukas Nelson, son of Willie Nelson, and a unique talent in his own right. I’d never heard him before and I was impressed:
Lukas Nelson is the son of Willie Nelson, and a unique talent in his own right.
How did I get here?
I’m not doing this right. Every time I travel, that thought occurs to me at some point. I woke up yesterday morning at 7:30, and was ready to go by 9:00, which made me feel so grownup and responsible. Then I remembered I hadn’t yet checked the driving directions from Cheyenne, at the southern end of Wyoming, to Lovell, at the northern end. I regretted my lack of a GPS or smart phone — though I don’t know how I would have swung that, when I had neither enough cash nor credit for this trip until a couple of days before it started. Ah, panic: sometimes I rationalize that this is what adventure is made of.
It was a gorgeous second day of spring, but wow, I’d forgotten how windy Wyoming is!
I copied the directions off Google Maps, then decided to call the Fort Causeway Hostel for specifics, because I might arrive there at dusk. I thought I had the phone number, but I didn’t. So I checked the website, but the number wasn’t listed. Odd. I thought I made my reservation by phone – how did I do that? I gave up, and hoped to arrive before dusk. So, I left at 9:30. No problem. Google said the drive would take about six hours, 45 minutes. I had budgeted eight, including a lunch break, gas breaks, and a few stops for photos. Plenty of time.
It was only two hours to Cheyenne, Wyoming – a drive I’ve made before. The first time was just over twenty years ago when I interviewed for a reporting job at a local TV station. I suppose it’s for the best that I never got that job, or I wouldn’t have become a reporter in Alaska. And if I hadn’t gone to Alaska, I wouldn’t have written a memoir about my life in Alaska (and my trek around the world). I passed through Cheyenne again seven years ago, on my way to Thompson Falls, Montana. I spent a month there, cleaning out my deceased grandmother-in-law’s house, and working on my memoir.
Cheyenne was the first stop on my four-week book tour for They Only Eat Their Husbands: A Memoir of Alaskan Love, World Travel and the Power of Running Away.
So, here I was again on a straight stretch of I-25, Rocky Mountains to the left, Great Plains to the right, cringing as my car threatened to rattle itself to pieces at “Speed Limit 75,” actual speed slightly more. Why? To reach the first stop on my four-week book tour for They Only Eat Their Husbands: A Memoir of Alaskan Love, World Travel and the Power of Running Away.