Monday, February 4, 2013

To Phoenix and Back: A Road Trip

Kim Harrison recently released her eleventh Hollows novel, Ever After.  I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book.  I re-read the last six books, stayed up until 1am Monday/Tuesday night/morning so I could download the book the instant it was released and start reading it.  Then I got so sucked into it that I ended up staying up until 6pm Tuesday night to finish it.  I was up for 32 hours, just so I could read the new book.

I’m a fan.  To say the least.  

I’m never surprised when an author’s book tour fails to take them through Salt Lake.  I mean, it’s Salt Lake.  The big out of state authors rarely come here, probably due to the belief that there’s no good coffee.  (This is a lie, out of state authors, we have some really great coffee here!)  For Kim Harrison, her tour was taking her to Phoenix and Denver.  Sad, but like I said, not at all surprising.

I was pleased as punch when she Ustreamed the Q&A from Seattle.  There were great questions, and I got to hear her talk about her books and characters.  I was happy with this.  

Friday night, my sister came over, and we spent some time doing things.  Then, knowing she’s almost as big a fan of the Hollows as myself, I had her sit down and watch the Ustream with me.  I don’t remember how exactly it happened.  It might have been an “I wish we could go to one of the signings,” but somehow we decided it’d be a grand idea to do a road trip to go to one of the signings.  

My vote had been for Denver, because it was closer.  The problem being my sister has classes she didn’t want to miss.  

There was a signing in Phoenix on Sunday.

We could do it.  We could drive down on Saturday, staying for the Q&A, get some books signed, then drive back.  I’m a night person, so staying up late to get the sister home in time for her classes wouldn’t have been a big deal.  

There was some vacillating, but in the end, the trip was a go!  (The actual text my sister sent me to tell me she was game was “Let’s do this chumps! Leeeerooooy Jeeeeeeeeeenkins!” If you’re not a gamer, I can forgive you for not getting the reference.)

We set out Saturday into the rain and fog.  It was damn nice getting away from Salt Lake and all the nasty haze.  Southern Utah, what we could see of it, was beautiful even if it was foggy in patches and cloudy everywhere else.  In Kanab, we took an accidental detour.  Instead of going east toward Page, we kept going south, on US 89A, through the Kaibab national forest.  (We’d gotten distracted by the need for food.  On the way back, when we got distracted again by food, we decided that we made really bad drivers when we were hungry, since we became very single minded.)  It was beautiful with the trees and the fog.  Lord of the Rings jokes were made.  

The most nerve wracking, and at the same time totally amazing, point was when we came out of the forest.  The shoulder dropped away on both sides so the road looked like it was spanning a small land bridge, with fog banks on either side.  It made for a very tunnel-like experience, and left us both wondering what sort of view was hidden behind the fog, and just how far the drop off the edge would be if the car went off the road.

It was spectacular.  

Outside Kaibab forest, still on 89A, there was this sign for “Cave Dwellers.”  There were some very impressive rock formations that we got to see because we’d dropped below the cloud/fog line.  Canyons. Lots and lots of seemingly flat landscape that wasn’t flat at all once you were on top of the rills and gullies scattered across it.  

We were really amused when we finally joined up with US 89 again.  It’d been pretty obvious we’d gone off the beaten track, though neither of us cared.  It’d been worth the detour to get a look-see at some of the sights.  Sightseeing wasn’t the point of the trip, but it was good to see something, and it made the missed turn worth it.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful.  Lots of driving up into fog and then down into rain.  We arrived in Phoenix around 10pm, making our drive 11 hours, with short pit stops for food, gas, and potty breaks.  

We were absolutely floored by the temperatures.  In Flagstaff, we stripped out of our coats and scarfs and marveled at the 40+ degree temps.  In Phoenix the next day, it was 60.  There were flowers! And sunshine!  And a delightful lack of inversion haze!  And there were cacti!  Those big ones with the arms that you always see in cartoons, but I’d never seen in person before. 

I squealed the first time I saw one.  No lie.  (Cause I’m a dork like that.)

Sunday morning, we set out to find the Barnes and Noble where the signing was going to take place.  The sister bought Ever After, and I was disappointed that they didn’t have any of the Hollows Insider in stock.  So I ordered it online.  Anyway, the nice lady that was so impressed with our driving down from Northern Utah just for the signing told us to come back early so we could nab good seats.  We’d planned on finding a local coffee shop to hang out at, but we figured it might be better to just hang out at the Starbucks so we’d get good seats.

And boy did we.  Right on the front row. (I'm in the purple and black, the sister is in the hat, and we're both doing the Hollows signature bunny eared kiss-kiss.)  Next to a guy with family in the Ogden area.  The same Ogden area I happen to live in.  Cue It’s a Small World.

The awesome thing about the signing, and made the trip worth it just for that, was she answered my question.  Well, not really a question.  I asked her if she could give us the elevator pitch for book twelve.  And she did! The extended version, even.  

Is it 2014 yet?  I want the next book now

Since we’d gotten to B&N pretty early in the day, we didn’t have to wait forever in line to get our books signed.  They’d been handing out wrist bands with letters on it.  A’s first, then B’s.  We were B’s.  We got our books signed, and she was impressed by our dedication to drive 11 hours in one day to come out and see her.  Then we got our picture taken with her.  I thought it very sweet of her to stand up to take a group picture.  

Then we started the long trek home.  

I think we would have made it if we hadn’t hit snow right outside Kanab.  It was bad.  Blinding white in the headlights, the road vanishing.  After creeping along at ten miles an hour we decided to turn back and get a motel for the night.  Our mom did some online mapping (from home, she didn't go on the trip with us) and told us we could go through Hurricane to reach I-15, which would take us all the way home.  We set out again, and hit snow again.  At least this time there were tire tracks in the snow I could follow, which I did.  What should have been a half-hour trip turned into over an hour, but we made it down into Hurricane without much issue. 

On the interstate, we hit snow again right outside Cedar City.  It was 1am, and while I could have kept going, there was no chance of the snow letting up the further north we went, and Cedar City was our best choice for hotels.  So we stayed there the night.  The sister was going to miss her classes, despite our efforts to get her home.  

Monday we set out bright and early.  The roads were slushy most of the way, but we made good time regardless.  

Then we were home.  How’s that for a climatic ending?

It was a great trip, and getting out of state was good for both our souls, I think.  It’d been a long time since I’d traveled last, and I’d missed it.  The spontaneity of it was a surprise, and a lot of fun, too.  

Next time we go to one of Kim Harrison’s book signings (we’re planning on going for the last book in the Hollows series) we’re going to do a bit of advanced planning.  Just so we have more time to enjoy the sights and do things other than sit in the car all damn day.  It’ll be good.

No comments:

Post a Comment