Road Trip 2010 – Part 2

(Originally posted on LiveJournal)

Mythcon was lovely! And Co-chairs Jason and Randy did an excellent job pulling it together. It was so great, in fact, I’m going to save everything Mythcon for a post (at least one) of its own. In the meantime, I’m going to continue describing the rest of my adventures of the Road Trip 2010.

After Mythcon was over and we had recited our pathetic few complaints via the Drunken Hobbit Song (a sign that things had gone very, very well and there was little controversy), I got in my car and headed northward on US-75. I had loaded my bags back into the car before breakfast. There was a brief period of anxiety as I was getting ready to go, in that I couldn’t remember where I’d put my Bose headphones – I was afraid I’d lost them (but they were actually in a carry back with the book purchases I’d made at Mythcon – whew).

John Morgan Neal

John Morgan Neal

I was on my way to Sherman, Texas first, to visit a friend. John Morgan Neal (creator of Aym Geronimo), has been an online friend for over a decade, but we’ve never met before. He got to show me his true fanboy Trekker side at his place, with all his Trek oriented knick-knacks. I also got to meet his cat, Bootreer Float, and she was very sociable and sweet. And shedding like crazy – heh. John and I went off to have a very nice Italian lunch at a local restaurant, and we had a good time talking writing. We could have probably whiled away the whole afternoon, but I had more road ahead of me for the day. So I returned him to his home and was rolling again.

My end destination for the day was the home of writer/artist Larry Dixon and his wife Mercedes Lackey – in the countryside of Oklahoma beyond Tulsa. I’d never driven that part of Oklahoma before. Somehow my picture of all of Oklahoma had been more “plains-ish”. But the reality is rolling countryside, with much forestry. The trees seemed more scrub-short to me, but then my standard is the tall trees of Michigan. But it was beautiful to drive through, especially on the well-kept toll-road sections.

I arrived at the destination easily enough – but then I’m rabid about maps, and had multiple versions of Google maps in various scales of all my destinations for the trip. Anyway, the property is truly unique looking, but suits the residents. Larry showed me his Pantera (which he is having to part with). I love the look of the car, but I’ve always wondered how one sees out the back. He laughed at me and observed that when you’re in a Pantera, looking back is not an issue. And when he showed me the engine, it’s obvioius why. I laughed and asked if one is suddenly 80 miles down the road when the accellerator pedal is breathed on. Pretty much was the answer.

Larry Dixon

Larry Dixon

He then lead me into his studio, where he does his artwork and writing. Quite the set up! He fed me while we talked. Then he gave me a tour of the grounds – and introduced me to Misty (who was apparently working, so we didn’t interrupt long). They have many birds of the parrot family – as Larry said, it’s a noisy house, but a happy one. Outside, in their own pen, they also have pea-birds. One peahen has four chicks – who at the moment are still so small that they pop in and out of the fencing. The whole area for these birds had fencing above and around (keeping out predators) with wooden fencing around the birds’ compound. There were two peacocks lurking in the shrubbery, although only one was out where I saw him. He did not try and impress me by spreading his tail, but he was holding his head up high, showing off his jewel-toned neck. Larry’s Great Horned Owl Cheyenne was not at home at present as he’s having a mews built for her – she’s boarded with his falcon-master at the moment. After the owl’s adventure earlier this year (stolen then released to the wild – where she doesn’t know how to cope – and then, miraculously recovered), I’d hoped to meet her. But maybe on another occasion.

Larry and Misty are very much night people (they have a note posted on their front door that the residents are “day sleepers”). Me being heliotropic made for an odd mix, but I still had a nice visit. I also got to watch a bit while Larry and Misty played the online RPG City of Heroes with his father and cousin. His dad is in his 60s and an ex-commando and serves as leader of their team. His dad lives in Vegas, and I forget where he said his cousin lives. But they get together most nights for some rounds of the game. It explains so much Larry’s often slow response when I ping him on AIM to chat in the evening.

My visit was short, but worth the jaunt up into Oklahoma. It was nice to meet them face-to-face at last. When I got up in the morning they were all wrapped away in their sleep. I drew a thank-you note … a gold dragon before a dark griffon (griffons are Larry’s thing – his nickname being the Gryphon King), colored with my Faber colored india ink pens. It took me about an hour to do, sitting in the car in the morning sun. I clipped it to their door and then set off. I did check with him that evening that it had not been lost, and he decreed that it was a keeper (in spite of it being my first attempt at rendering a griffon). I wish I’d remembered to take a picture of it!

Back through the rolling ground of Oklahoma again, being semi-amused by the signs by the road that said “Do not drive into smoke”. For someone from California, where wildfires are an annual concern (we have “fire season”), the signs intrigued me. But given how heavily wooded Oklahoma is in comparison to California, I imagine the warning is very important. Anyway, my night’s stop was in Plano (a suburb north of Dallas).

Wednesday, I set out for Fort Worth, to visit another friend, a prayer partner. She had just moved to Fort Worth from Arizona, and this would be the first opportunity we’ve had to meet face-to-face. Cindy has been praying for me for… oh, about three years, and her support has been great. She was especially sensitive during the period where my Mom was failing – and in fact called me on the very day Mom died, before the news came to me. She had felt especially prompted to that day, and I was very touched by her action – the waiting had been very stressful, and to have her pray on the phone was very comforting. Anyway, our visit in her new home was a wonderful time of fellowship. I wish I could have spent more time with her.

From Cindy’s place I set out for Odessa, Texas. The north Hill Country was a very pleasant drive. The rolling sweep of the landscape was fun to drive. But eventually I hit the plains, which are flat-flat-flat. In every direction. And mostly the road runs straight on. It gets hard on the eyes because there’s no variety to look at. That and the fact that I was not drinking enough water ended up making my eyes tired and dry. And when I arrived in Odessa, Google maps failed me, planting my hotel on the map in the wrong place. But since I also had the street address, I eventually got around to the right location (the streets there are also weirdly laid out – but at least I had a map).

Odessa, Texas

Odessa, Texas

I got rolling again early the next morning, since the Odessa to Tucson leg would be my longest one. More of the flats of West Texas – mesmerizing in a bad way. I stopped a couple of times for short cat-naps because it was hard on the eyes. Strangely enough, if your eyes get tired, you get groggy. Happily about the time the I-20 meets the I-10, the landscape changes to rocky hills, and roads that curve around slopes and up and down valleys. I ended up on the road about 12 hours by my watch, although that included at least two half-hour stops and a handful of shorter breaks. But I reached Tucson safe and sound.

I’d chose a hotel near the airport, so I didn’t have to drive the city rush-hour traffic. Actually, given time zone matters, I’d gotten there well ahead of rush hour. I pulled into the hotel property very tired. I checked in and was given a room around one side. So I moved my car to the entrance nearest my room. I got out my wheelie and the computer bag, and headed into the hotel grounds…. and found steps. By now, I’m really tired and stiff, and I have to haul my wheelie up about six steps just to get to the courtyard. Steps that were not indicated on the cute little grounds-map given me at registration. Frustration time. But I got up the steps, and up to my second-floor room door (fortunately there’s an elevator for that). And I inserted my key-card. It didn’t work. Tried again. Still didn’t work. Tried the second key-card. Same thing. Multiple times. By now, I’m not only hot, tired, sore, thirsty — I need to use the restroom too. So, no surprise that I hit the “tears of frustration” stage. I call the front desk from my cell phone to say that the keys don’t work. They sent someone up – he was very nice about it. And yup, my key-cards didn’t work. He let me in with a master key, took my key-cards and went and got a new set. Meanwhile, I was just glad to be able to sit down and stretch out. I had, happily, booked myself into a suite-hotel, so having the space was VERY comforting after the day’s drive. When he returned with the new key-cards, they too were problematic. He tried cleaning the lock with a thingee they use, but it only helped a little bit. But since I wasn’t going out it didn’t matter. I ordered dinner from room service – not caring about the price on this occasion. The food was good. I relaxed and got plenty of rest.

Today, I shall stop and see some friends in Phoenix on the way to LA. And hopefully arrive home at some reasonable hour.

Not that the month’s adventures are over after that…. I have a busy weekend ahead of me, and then down to the San Diego Comic Con on Wednesday. Hopefully, I’ll have caught up on my rest for that.

All in all, it’s been a very good trip for me. Lots of little things to think about. I’m glad I could make this trip.

Comments

visualweasel – Jul. 16th, 2010

Enjoyed reading about your drive

I’m impressed that you’re taking the time to see this much of the country “from the ground”. I’m looking forward to reading your post on Mythcon proper. 🙂

Best,
Jason

scribblerworks – Jul. 17th, 2010

Re: Enjoyed reading about your drive

Well, some of it is that I do enjoy road trips (although I could have used a driving partner this time out – oh, well). And I do enjoy seeing the expanse of the countryside — always a good thing for a writer. This trip in particular, I was paying attention to the sense of distance — it’s hard to describe something in fiction when you don’t really have an experiential feel for it. I got fairly good (for a totally urbanized gal) at picking distances in the 3 to 6 mile-distant range, which was gratifying.

When you fly over the country, it’s easy to forget out BIG our land is, and what variety it holds.

translatorius – Jul. 16th, 2010

Quite the trip!

Hi …

As I decided to possibly re-enter my Livejournal, after only ever so short using it back in the days when I established it, I decided to take your announcement on Facebook as a trigger and come over to have a read. Turned out to be a good idea; very pleasant travel journal – and obviously, you are not done yet, but Comic Con is due still.

Well, I’ll make sure to drop in as soon as the next update will be online.

CU then, and have a safe trip plus loads of fun at the convention :-)!

~Michael

scribblerworks – Jul. 17th, 2010

Re: Quite the trip!

Thanks, Michael!

Even though I am now home and tired (in fact, my suitcases are still in the trunk of the car), I am very happy with the trip. I had a good time, it was great stopping to visit with friends, and I’ve given myself some things to think about.

And hopefully, I’ll get enough sleep before Comic Con that I will be all rarin’ for that experience.

sartorias – Jul. 16th, 2010

Awesome country to drive through. Glad you had fun!

scribblerworks – Jul. 17th, 2010

Thanks! Yes, it was something to see, and be reminded of “real” landscapes. Memories to draw upon when writing.

The pathetic thing is that although I had my camera with me, I hardly took any pictures at all! Bleh.

Road Trip 2010 – Part 1

About Sarah Beach

Now residing in Southern California, I was born in Michigan and moved to Texas when 16. After getting my Masters degree in English, I moved to Hollywood, because of the high demand for Medievalists (NOT!). I love writing all sorts of things, and occasionally also create some artwork.

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