Monday, July 27, 2009

Country mouse visits the nuclear reactor Part Deuce

<-- dad taking a picture of me as hundreds of thousands of tons of angry metal whiz past me from behind. do I look nervous?

I believe I left you last, breathlessly wondering if there is any more to my trip than a ferry and car ride. In other words, get on with the bloody story already. "Come Watson, the game is afoot." (sidenote, Sherlock Holmes movie previews)

Early the next morning, I awoke on American soil to a surprise visit from my baby nephew. All my morning travel preparation plans went right out the window and we had some too-rare Uncle Ben time. Nothing better. (grandpa's post with nephew cameo)

Dad drove me to the train station in Tacoma (about an hour and a half drive) so of course we talked about writing and books the whole way.

Author, illustrator brainstorm session at the Tacoma train station.

Dad clearly violating the stay behind the yellow line rule. That's actually a rule I believe in.

I haven't been on a longer train ride since I was in seventh grade and my family went to the middle east and Europe. And I was really looking forward to it.

The train goes from Tacoma, down right along the Puget Sound, then heads straight down to Vancouver, WA and then Portland. Beautiful scenery.

This isn't the Puget Sound, this is some lake on the left side of the train.

No, this is the Puget Sound. Which, I might add, isn't too far from where all you lucky writer dogs get to have your WWA SCBWI Retreat on the Water with Cheryl Klein, Jolie Stekly and company.

Did you guys know that you can write on a train? Yeah. Imagine that. What a cool way to travel. Very romantic and gives you an extra boost of inspiration. I think I even found my muse on the train, albeit briefly. Or it could have been a ghost.

World's biggest egg, apparently. They made a big deal about it on the train but it was disappointing. A concrete egg they painted white. I told my dad about it later and he very meanly suggested that someone should build a bigger one, just to mess with them. He was joking, but you can see where I get it from.

And at last, with great excitement, I arrived in Portland, Oregon. Home of Powells City of Books, Jim De Bartolo and Laini Taylor as well as a whole HOST of talented writers/illustrators, and a joint everyone raves about called Voodoo Donuts. This city has so much culture but it still maintains a small-town kinda feel. There are so many old, craftsman-style, Green and Green influenced homes. And relatively affordable too, at least compared to Seattle and Victoria. Small wonder it is on the top of Amy and I's places to live list. Pretty incredible hospitals too.

The train was late, which I hear isn't rare, and we had to wait a while for our luggage. So, with a stuffed backpack, HUGE wheeled suitcase and my itinerary I nervously walked to the bus stop a number of blocks away. I'm not a savvy bus traveler. At all. And my perfectly planned itinerary my wife had for me was now obsolete. Little nervous.

My bus stop was across from a pretty seedy apartment/hotel, where the owner was outside talking pretty loudly about how the SWAT had just left over some incident and that he was going to be on the news. Great.

When a bus did come, the very kind bus driver talked to me the whole drive, telling me about his wife and his trip to Victoria and where I needed to go next, then wished me luck at my conference. At the next stop, a lady with two wild-as-hell boys, helped me figure out the rest of my journey from there. We had about forty-five minutes to wait for the bus, but I was kept entertained. I was really grateful. Real nervous, I asked her if her boys read and she said they loved to. So I gave her my book about a wild-as-hell boy on a class field trip as a thank you. The bus came right after and then one of the boys came up and asked me to sign it. Then for half the bus ride I could hear her reading my story, loud enough for the whole bus to hear (who were now staring at me), to her wild-wonderful boys. Very surreal, pretty special experience for me.

The next stop was Reed College. And my amazing writing conference.

And a nuclear reactor and other stuff. I'm actually gonna try to get another post about this again today since tomorrow I'm heading to Seattle for book signing/reading thing.


  1. Boats and trains? Dude. Tell me you take a plane home to complete the modes of transportation trinity.

    Also, that's very cool to hear your book read aloud like that. I can't imagine how awesome that would be.

  2. still waiting for the writer brawls.......sigh.

    Reed College looks awesome!

    Yeah, I'd donate to the "Make a Bigger Egg Fund."
    'Cause I'm mean like that.


  3. Ghost on a train! How cool is that, you must write it--after the tree, of course.
    I am thrilled to hear a mom read your book to her kids. And you signed it, and everybody oogled you. *sighs, smiles, sighs*

  4. Sounds like an awesome train trip...unlike my family of origin's AmTrak trip from N.O. to Amish Country via the "poo poo choo choo." :)

  5. fast does your dad drive? An hour and half to Tacoma?

    I love your bus story. That must have been surreal. And I bet that mom and those boys were meant to have that book (your awesome book). Then I double bet it's something they'll never forget. :)

  6. Yeah, sorry this has become such long posts everyone. I'm going to try and make it more snappy... Right after the NEXT post. (since that's already done).

    Thank you Natalie, it was a very surreal experience, under really weird/neat circumstances. Should I disappoint you know or later Natalie about the planes... BUT I did take, ferry, train, car, bus. I should have taken a short flight somewhere just for the trifecta though, you're right.

    You're funny Shelly. I LIKE IT.

    Thanks Tricia, if you can help me keep track of all the need-to-be-written stories, someday I'll get right on that! I think people were staring at me because they thought I looked like a hobo who just gave some kids a book. It was really neat. I kid because of the whole, trying-to-act-humble thing kicking in. What I mean is thank you very much.

    Yeah, hour and a half right? Unless you're driving Miss Daisy. Thank you Jolie. They were talking about taking it to school and showing their teacher and other kids. cute little wild marketers.

  7. I'm enjoying living vicariously through you. Thanks for the awesome posts! (I'm also strangely excited by the train. A TRAIN. NO ONE takes trains here anymore!)

    And I should have known you like Laini & Jim. They're two of my most favorite-est people in the entire world.

  8. Ben, I'm just catching up! What an ordeal to get to the conference. Wish I had known you then, I'd have picked you up at the train depot.

  9. Sorry Stephanie, I somehow just saw your post. Trains are refreshing nowadays. I wonder if you've seen the movie Station Agent? Don't know if you'll ever see this post, so I'll ask you somewhere else. Jim and Laini are incredible. I'm going to gush about them on a post someday in the future. You seem like a L&J kinda person too! Talented, funny, and incredibly nice.

    No worries Deb, it was pretty fun for me. But were being so generous to other Reedsters, giving rides and such. I got a ride to the train with Suz's funny husband. I'm still trying to catch up too!