As I expected, Readercon interrupted my ability to blog the rest of Josh and Rachel's cross-country trip on a daily basis. However, even though their journey is now ended, I can still give a daily report of what happened after we left them sleeping in Casper, Wyoming. And if all goes well, they'll be back on the Internet tonight and can send me corrections to these reports.

Lots of pictures coming up...

Read more... )

Rachel told me that crossing into Idaho they drove up a narrow, windy mountain path and down again, which terrified Josh. But beyond that was pretty farmland, and then they made it to their stop for the night, Idaho Falls. And, most importantly of all, they found a Starbucks at the Fred Meyer in Idaho Falls.

By the way, Josh recommended a book to me: Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture by Taylor Clark. I'm barely into the book, and already I've learned that Boston Harbor holds enough caffeine to give the fish a slight buzz, because, um, a lot of Bostonians drink coffee and that caffeine has to end up somewhere eventually.

As soon as I can, I'll post about Day 9 of The Great Drive, which includes a visit to the Craters of the Moon.

(New basic message: Rachel is now going to a midnight showing of the new X-Files movie tonight at the Eugene Valley River Center movie theater, and now has an extra ticket for the 10 pm showing on Friday night. If anyone wants it, let me know.)
Nomi and I went to Readercon this past weekend, and we saw a lot of friends and had a good time. I showed off the Advance Reading Copy of my book, and people seemed impressed. I myself am still trying to wrap my brain around it.

I was blown away by "The Dark Knight."

Josh and family have arrived safely in Eugene, Oregon, and I've got plenty more pictures in the gallery I devoted to their trip.

I'm very much enjoying my last two publishing classes. The best part of my class in book marketing and publicity is that it became an independent study, so the instructor is making my homework assignments practical. For example, my current assignment is to create the press kit for my own book. Given that I was going to need to do this anyway, I'm killing two birds with one stone, as the old saying has it.

I continue to enjoy working with Apex Publications. They're a breeze to work with, and have given me a bigger window into the process of publishing my collection than any other company would have.

I've gotten two blurbs for my book already, and I'm humbled and delighted by what Stanley Schmidt and Robert J. Sawyer have said about me and my work. I'll share them later.

I'm hoping to sell more pre-ordered copies of the hardcover, and would welcome any thoughts on how to encourage more sales.

My publishing classes are keeping me busy every night this week, and I suspect I'll be very busy over the weekend as well.

Sleep? I remember sleep. It would be nice to experience it again one day.
Josh called me a few times yesterday to tell me about the vast empty spaces that they were driving through in Wyoming.


The Vast, Empty Spaces of Wyoming The Vast, Empty Spaces of Wyoming



They had spent Tuesday night in Aravada, Colorado, with a friend of Rachel's. They had a picnic lunch and went to a beach on Big Soda Lake, but I forget if they did that on Tuesday or Wednesday. (At least, I think it's called Big Soda Lake. I'm having a hard time deciphering my notes from yesterday's calls.)

Wednesday morning (or maybe early afternoon) they got on the road again and crossed into Wyoming. Josh called me around 3:38 pm EDT (1:38 pm MDT) to tell me that they were on I-25 North, beyond Cheyenne, and that there was absolutely nothing on the road for miles.

"Wait, there's a house," he said at one point. He also spotted a post with four mailboxes on it. It reminded me of the time I drove from Los Alamos to Lamy, New Mexico. Very desolate, and very empty.

Josh wasn't surprised, though, given that the estimated population of Wyoming (as he recalled) was 493,000.

He told me that they only had a quarter of a tank of gas and no water, and miles to go to the next town, which has a very appropriate name for the area.

Chugwater, Wyoming, and that really is their website. I went searching for it to see if they had one, so I could tell Josh if there was a gas station there. Not only did I find listings for auto repair, but I also found Horton's Corner, a place where Josh and the family could stop for water.

They found it too.


Horton's Corner, Chugwater, Wyoming Horton's Corner, Chugwater, Wyoming
Civilization at last.



And they got water.


Water...water... Water...water...



Josh was desperate for a Starbucks as well, and as they were staying in Casper, Wyoming that night, he asked me to use the Starbucks finder to find him one. As it so happens, there's one at the Eastridge Mall, and I gave him directions. I presume he got his Starbucks coffee last night, but I don't know for sure.

Today is day eight of the Great Drive, but I may not have a chance to update for a bit, as Nomi and I are going to Readercon tonight and will be away the whole weekend. So for those of you who can't wait, here's their itinerary for the last few days:

Day 8 (Thursday, July 17): Casper, Wyoming to Idaho Falls, Idaho
Day 9 (Friday, July 18): Idaho Falls, Idaho to Boise, Idaho
Day 10 (Saturday, July 19): Boise, Idaho to Prineville, Oregon
Day 11 (Sunday, July 20): Prineville, Oregon to Eugene, Oregon
Day 12 (Monday, July 21): Move into house in Eugene Oregon

And if you want to see a picture of the Dick Cheney Federal Building, be sure to check out the picture gallery, link below.

(Basic message repeats: Rachel is looking for a group with which to go see the new X-Files movie at the 10 pm showing on the night of Friday July 25 at the Eugene Valley River Center movie theater. She already has her ticket. Get in touch if you'd like to go see the movie with her.)

[Josh & Rachel's Trip Picture Gallery]
Not much seems to have happened during the trip yesterday. Josh did some driving...


Josh Drives the Car Josh Drives the Car



And they reached Colorado. (They stayed in Arvada, a suburb of Denver, last night.)


A Colorado Sky A Colorado Sky



However, one thing that did happen yesterday was the continuation of the coffee story. And since every time Josh calls, he reminds me of their coffee story, this is a good time to tell it.

Essentially, part of the reason Josh is insisting on finding a Starbucks store for their morning (or early afternoon) coffee each day is that they had a bad experience with a McDonald's coffee early in their trip. If I have the details right, they had wanted milk in their coffee, and they had wanted to put the milk in themselves. Instead, they were told that the restaurant only had cream, and furthermore, that the attendants at McDonald's were required to add the cream themselves. So apparently Josh and Rachel ended up drinking coffee that was saturated with cream and tasted less than refreshing to their sensitive palates.

So yesterday morning, after eating at the Vagabond Diner in Hays, Kansas, they went over to a nice-looking local coffee shop and discovered it was closed. There was no Starbucks nearby that they knew of, so they reluctantly decided to get coffee at a McDonald's again.

This time, however, they were allowed to buy a container of milk and add the coffee themselves.


McDonald's Coffee and Milk McDonald's Coffee and Milk
The way non-Starbucks coffee was meant to be.



Thus fortified, they were able to do their drive until they managed to hit the Starbucks in Colby, Kansas.

Today, they're planning to drive to Casper, Wyoming. I'll try to have a report on that tomorrow.

Folks who are enjoying this blogging of my brother's family's drive should note that due to the Readercon convention, the report about the last few days of the trip may be delayed. They'll be arriving in Eugene, Oregon, on Sunday, July 20, just as the Readercon convention comes to an end.

(Basic message repeats: Rachel is looking for a group with which to go see the new X-Files movie at the 10 pm showing on the night of Friday July 25 at the Eugene Valley River Center movie theater. She already has her ticket. Get in touch if you'd like to go see the movie with her.)

[Josh & Rachel's Trip Picture Gallery]
Josh just called me; Rachel had called about three hours ago. They are in Stratton, Colorado.

Josh asked me to share some more pictures from yesterday's part of the trip, when they spotted a wind farm in Kansas. This is the best of the lot.


Wind Farm in Kansas Wind Farm in Kansas



Either later today or tomorrow I'll post about day six, which includes a lack of Starbuckses and a story about getting coffee from McDonald's.
Monday morning, Josh, Rachel, the kids, and the cats got a late start, because they had gotten in late the previous night. They woke up in Kansas City, Missouri, and when Josh called me in the afternoon he said that they really hadn't managed to get back onto the road until around noon.

Thank God for Starbucks.


Joshua Enjoys a Refreshing Starbucks Coffee Joshua Enjoys a Refreshing Starbucks Coffee



They spent much of the day driving on I-70. At 2:05 pm they passed into Kansas, but missed getting a picture of the "Welcome to Kansas" sign.

Around 3 pm they spotted and passed by the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka. The problem with this trip is that even though they're passing through quite a lot of interesting places, they can't just leave the cats alone in a locked car. Either Josh or Rachel needs to stay with the cats at all times during the day. So even though one of them could take the kids to see something, that would mean leaving the other one alone and bored for an hour. (At least, I think that's what the issue is.)

I do wish they could have seen this place, though.


Oz Museum Sign Oz Museum Sign
One of the many places Josh, Rachel, and the kids were unable to visit.



Then again, I'm more into Oz than they are...so now Nomi and I have a reason to visit Kansas, so we can see the Oz Museum in Wamego.

Josh and the kids did get a chance to get out of the car at a candy factory called Grandma Horner's in Alma. He sent me a picture of their sign, but it came out blurry, so I won't bother posting it here. (It's in the gallery with all the other, unposted pictures.) Josh claimed that Grandma Horner's has a website, but I can't find it; if anyone else can, let me know.

And even if they don't have a website, they apparently have horses.


Josh, Emma, and Horses Josh, Emma, and Horses



Unless that was somewhere else.

Or maybe this is the candy place.


Josh, Rosa, Emma, and Noah Josh, Rosa, Emma, and Noah



It's hard for me to keep track; Josh and Rachel send pictures when they can, and I've spoken with them on the phone each day, but sometimes it's hard to figure out which picture goes with which event. Also, not every picture is clear. He took a picture of a road sign that I think is supposed to give miles or population, but the text is unreadable. Anyway, it's in the gallery if you want to see it. (There are two pictures of Rachel from today there as well, but I didn't post them because I think they originally came out mirror-reversed. However, I think I've fixed that. See the Starbucks cup in Rachel's hand? The logo was originally flipped, and I don't think they do that.)

Anyway, last night they stayed in Hays, Kansas. Josh told me that they were looking to stay in a place halfway between Kansas City and Denver, and they had contemplated staying in WaKeeny, Kansas, but their travel advisor informed them that Hays would have more of the services they would need for their long trip. (I hope no one in WaKeeny takes offense at that; from their website, it does look like a nice place as well.)

Today they drive from Hays to Arvada, a suburb of Denver, Colorado, where they'll be staying with a friend of Rachel's. And I've discovered the joy of tracing their route on Google Maps.

(Basic message repeats: Rachel is looking for a group with which to go see the new X-Files movie at the 10 pm showing on the night of Friday July 25 at the Eugene Valley River Center movie theater. She already has her ticket. Get in touch if you'd like to go see the movie with her.)

[Josh & Rachel's Trip Picture Gallery]
Josh and Rachel have called me twice from the road today. They've also been sending me more pictures, and I'll be posting about their day again this evening.

Josh asked me to share a few other things that he missed telling me before:

  • In West Virginia and Kentucky, they found themselves driving on something called the Purple Heart Trail. They didn't know what it was all about, but I think that website explains it.
  • The highest price they've paid for gasoline so far (regular, 87 octane) has been $4.199 per gallon in New Baden, Illinois.
  • The hotel they stayed in last night was across the street from the stadium where the Kansas City Royals play.
  • Their GPS is apparently named Samantha, not Sue.
  • Last night, he did three loads of laundry and slept in a chair from about 1 am to 4 am.


Also, he asked for a shout out to Chelsea at the Kansas City Starbucks off I-70 at exit 11, who was kind enough to sell them a New York Times as well as coffee through the drive-in window. Chelsea, my brother thanks you again, and this time on the Internet, where it's forever.


I'll Have a Coffee and a Sweet Roll...ah, I mean a New York Times I'll Have a Coffee and a Sweet Roll...ah, I mean a New York Times




(Basic message repeats: Rachel is looking for a group with which to go see the new X-Files movie at the 10 pm showing on the night of Friday July 25 at the Eugene Valley River Center movie theater. She already has her ticket. Get in touch if you'd like to go see the movie with her.)

[Josh & Rachel's Trip Picture Gallery]
Sunday morning, Josh, Rachel, the kids and the cats woke up in St. Louis, Missouri, and they spent the day driving across the state. Even though Josh has driven across the country with Rachel once before, I think he's experiencing culture shock, given some of the photos he's sent me.

We'll start with this sign.


We're Not in NYC Anymore... We're Not in NYC Anymore...



Rachel told me that they're assuming it's okay for customers to bring in their rifles, so long as they aren't concealed. (Although how does one conceal a rifle? The mind boggles.)

The highlight of today's drive for their oldest daughter, Emma, was when they made the decision to stop in the town of Emma, Missouri, population 243.


Emma Gets Her Own Post Office Emma Gets Her Own Post Office



I suspect that she'll return there one day and run for mayor.

When they got to their hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, they found this bus emptying itself of passengers.


Holy Bus, Batman Holy Bus, Batman



According to what I understood from Rachel, the tourists spotted Josh and thought he was there to give them directions. I'm not surprised, given that his name is Joshua, after all.

When Rachel called me tonight (well, given when I'm posting, maybe it was last night), Josh was at a Walmart, buying cat litter for the cats. This is how they've been spending most of the trip, so I'm not surprised that they needed more cat litter.


Get Me Out of Here! Get Me Out of Here!



Monday they're driving from Kansas City to Hays, Kansas. Hays may have only 20,000 residents, but their website and Wikipedia page suggest that they may have some interesting stuff to see while there. Assuming they have the time.

In the meantime, I should really try to get to sleep.

(Basic message repeats: Rachel is looking for a group with which to go see the new X-Files movie at the 10 pm showing on the night of Friday July 25 at the Eugene Valley River Center movie theater. She already has her ticket. Get in touch if you'd like to go see the movie with her.)

[Josh & Rachel's Trip Picture Gallery]
Saturday was the third day of Josh and Rachel's Great Drive; they woke up that morning with the kids and cats in Louisville, Kentucky, and they went to bed that night in St. Louis, Missouri.

They continue to send me pictures and updates, but it's catch as catch can, so some of what I report may not be completely accurate. Anyway, here goes.

On Day 3, they left Kentucky and spent much of their day driving through Indiana and Illinois.


Have We Arrived in Illinois Yet? Have We Arrived in Illinois Yet?



At the border, after they crossed into Illinois, they arrived at the Skeeter Mountain Rest Area.


Skeeter Mountain Skeeter Mountain



I'm guessing they liked the name Skeeter Mountain.

They visited a 1950s style McDonald's in New Baden, Illinois. They sent me one photo, but it wasn't very good. Maybe someone out there can find a better on on the Internet.

When they reached St. Louis, they drove past the famous arch.


The St. Louis Arch The St. Louis Arch
Wow. It's an arch, all right.



In St. Louis, they went swimming with friends of Rachel's and then went out to dinner with friends of Joshua's. They went to Kobe, a Japanese steakhouse, and Emma apparently hid while the food was cooked in front of them.


(Basic message repeats: Rachel is looking for a group with which to go see the new X-Files movie at the 10 pm showing on the night of Friday July 25 at the Eugene Valley River Center movie theater. She already has her ticket. Get in touch if you'd like to go see the movie with her.)

[Josh & Rachel's Trip Picture Gallery]
Today is day two of the Great Drive, and Josh and Rachel made sure to send me lots more pictures for everyone's amusement.

They started in West Virginia, where they stayed last night. They went to an Amish farmer's market to get snacks for the trip, and before they left the state, they made sure to view the state capital in Charleston.


The Capitol Building, West Virginia The Capitol Building, West Virginia
07-11-2008



They eventually made it to the border with Kentucky, thanks to Sue's help.


Sue, the Marvelous GPS Sue, the Marvelous GPS
07-11-2008



Josh told me that they passed the Daniel Boone National Forest at some point. He also says that they keep seeing three crosses on the side of the road, like they did yesterday. He's wondering if it represents anything specific. Anyone know?

Apparently, they had a bad experience getting coffee at a McDonald's, but Josh was trying to tell me about it while his cell phone signal was low, and I was working, so I'm not clear on the details. However, there was a point at which all three kids had an hour-long temper tantrum when they stopped for food.

Also, apparently at one point they were attacked by vicious bales of hay, that rolled down the hill and tried to crush them.


Bales of Hay Bales of Hay
07-11-2008 "Oh, no! We'll be hit by a bale of hay!"




But they escaped and stayed on the road...


On the Road On the Road
07-11-2008




More Road More Road
07-11-2008



And then eventually found a Starbucks.


Ah, Starbucks Ah, Starbucks
07-11-2008



(Pop quiz: name who else is in the photo, on the right side.)

Interestingly enough, around 4 pm they were near Lexington, Kentucky, and I IMed my publisher and suggested that he get in touch with them. But alas, it is not to be, as Josh & Rachel & co. are settling in at a Louisville hotel tonight.

Anyone in Louisville who wants to meet my brother, let me know.

(Basic message repeats: Rachel is looking for a group with which to go see the new X-Files movie at the 10 pm showing on the night of Friday July 25 at the Eugene Valley River Center movie theater. She already has her ticket. Get in touch if you'd like to go see the movie with her.)

[Josh & Rachel's Trip Picture Gallery]
I spoke to Josh today and mentioned that I was thinking of blogging their trip across the country. For some reason I can't fathom, he was very excited about the idea, so here goes.

Today Josh and Rachel drove from Richmond, Virginia, to Charleston, West Virginia. I was actually in Charleston once to visit a college roommate, so I keep thinking of all the things they could be doing as tourists...but the timing probably won't work out. They've got three kids and three cats in tow.

Anyway, Josh sent me a few photos from day one, so here they are. Here's Rachel driving the car:


Rachel Driving Rachel Driving
07-10-2008



Josh made sure to purchase a copy of the New York Times at a Starbucks in Virginia, in case I had a letter in it. He tells me he plans to stop at a Starbucks every day so he can keep up with the Times:


New York Times From Waynesboro, VA New York Times From Waynesboro, VA
07-10-2008




This was the first sight that greeted them as they crossed the border from Virginia to West Virginia:


First Sight in West Virginia First Sight in West Virginia
07-10-2008



And here's a sign from the first rest area/tourist spot they stopped at:


Rest Stop in West Virginia Rest Stop in West Virginia
07-10-2008



Finally, Josh asked me to pass along a request.

Rachel is an X-Files fan. I mean, a major X-Files fan. She is such a big X-Files fan that she already has a ticket to the new movie "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" for the 10 pm showing on the night of Friday July 25 at the Eugene Valley River Center movie theater. Note that is only one ticket, not two, as Josh isn't interested in seeing the film. So Rachel is looking for a group of people with which to see the film.

In short, if you're in the Eugene, Oregon area and would like to go see the new X-Files movie with my sister-in-law, let me know. I'll pass the message along.

Milestones

Jul. 10th, 2008 02:07 pm
Three years ago, I mentioned that my younger brother and his family had moved to Richmond, Virginia so that my brother could take a new job as the Associate Dean for Career Services at the University of Richmond School of Law. (See Meet My Younger Brother, but note that the first link no longer works.)

It was a big move for Josh and a milestone for all of us. For the few years before, Josh and his wife and family had been living in New York City, so I always knew that when we went to visit Mom we'd be able to see Josh as well. After he and his family moved to Richmond, it seemed unlikely that I'd get to see him as frequently as I had before.

Indeed, that turned out to be true. Nomi and I made it down to Richmond only once in the past few years, and that was primarily to attend RavenCon in 2006. (My RavenCon 2006 reports can be found here, here, and here.) As I reported, Josh picked us up from the hotel after the convention ended and took us to spend Sunday night in the house. It was the one and only time I visited him in Richmond.

And now he's moving on.

Today, Joshua, Rachel, and their three kids are beginning a ten-day drive across the country. What with Mom having died last year and other life issues, they've decided they want to be closer to Rachel's mother, who is their children's last surviving grandparent. So, in a few weeks, they'll arrive in Eugene, Oregon, where Josh will take on the role of Assistant Dean and Director of Career Services Office at the University of Oregon School of Law.

Josh, knowing me as I do, keeps pointing out that Eugene is a center for science fiction and fantasy writing. Maybe with him there, that'll finally give me the impetus to check out the Pacific Northwest.

I just hope that with the time difference we'll still be able to keep up our habit of talking on the phone a few times each week.

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