Home. Where Amy, Linus and I live. When my wonderful nieces visit, they call the Legislature building the fairy castle. Especially because in the evenings (at least in the winter) it is covered with white Christmas lights. This is part of Victoria's inner harbor.
About a week ago I got back from an amazing week-long journey. My brain has been so completely full and my body so tired, that I haven't yet had the courage to write about it yet. What an adventure.
My destination was the 10th anniversary Northwest Children's Book Conference at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. I've attended twice before and both times made a huge impact on me as a writer. Linda Zuckerman is the conference director and for ten years she has conducted this incredible labor of love. The talent of the faculty, both as professionals in the children's book industry and as teachers, is par with any writing conference out there.
As I've mentioned before, the other incredible aspect of this conference is that you get to "live" for five days with the faculty, sharing meals with them, attending presentations, critique groups, and joining them for stunning walks around the beautiful campus. As well as pajama parties and pillow fights. David Gifaldi has a wicked right hand feathered wollop, I know that from experience. Well, maybe I made that last bit up, but they sure SHOULD have pj parties and pillow fights. Who wouldn't want Ann Whitford Paul to tuck them in and read them a lullaby to fall asleep too?
But, I'm getting way ahead of myself. Because the proper telling of my adventure starts right here in Victoria, British Columbia.
I hate to pack. I'm allergic to it. I despise it. Abhor. Am prejudiced against it. Scared of it.
I'm also a worrier. Nice to meet you. Before trips like this I spend many sleepless nights worrying over everything, especially packing. My other issue is that I'm a dilly-dallier, according to Amy. She also just informed me I fiddle-fart around. Guilty.
Not Amy. When she gets a "hair up her @$$," she gets things done. Like, NOW. A dirty kitchen can take me weeks to clean, Amy knocks it out in minutes. Like a tornado.
So, when Amy saw me floundering in my packing-induced depression, she stepped in and, lickety-split, had me packed and organized. Packing. Done. She even had my entire journey planned out to the minute and handed me my detailed itinerary, with days to spare. I didn't know what to do with myself.
This is important because I was trying something different. Normally, when I head down to
Portland I drive. But because Amy had to work and had to worry about Linus too, I was attempting this trip sans car. And not being the most independent fellow in the world, was admittedly nervous and excited.
The first stage of my journey, Amy and Linus dropped me off at Victoria's inner harbor, at the Coho Ferry, also known as the Black Ball Ferry
Me being a big boy. Ready for adventure and wearing my trademarked gap tooth smile.
The Coho ferry crosses the Strait of Juan de Fuca, takes about an hour and a half. It is quite a trip since to the North is Vancouver Island with its stunning mountains. To the South, the Olympic Peninsula crowned by the magnificent Olympic Mountains and the jagged, snow-tipped Hurricane Ridge. West, if you kept going a long ways is the Pacific Ocean. East, the San Juan Islands and Whidbey Island, dwarfed by
Mount Baker and the Cascade Mountains behind. There's usually some kind of mysterious fog, making the Olympic Mountains look like a floating fairy kingdom.
You know you're in Victoria when you see these little water taxis.
And when you see these float planes.
They're called that because they're planes. That float.
And a fishing boat, salmon I think, heading past the jetty toward the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the United States, Washington, Port Townsend, Tacoma, and eventually Portland and Reed College.
My dad picked me up on the other side and drove me to my old home, about an hour away in homey Port Townsend for the night. After stuffing me with an incredible beef dinner, and getting a quick visit with my sister and brother-in-law, beautiful, sweet nieces, and my youngest smiley nephew, I tried to sleep knowing I was just getting started.
Stay tuned for the rest of my trip, including what the heck I'm talking about a nuclear reactor for, another two modes of transportation, and a bunch more stuff that will get other kid's book writers and illustrators all hot and bothered.
G-night. Or good morning when you'll likely be reading this.