Hey Ho for the Open Road – – –

Since moving to the U.S. I’ve had many a long road trip. Coming from a country where the opposite coast could be accessed by a  2-hour drive (but the trip required packets of sandwiches, a thermos flask of coffee, and other emergency supplies) you can imagine how I’ve adapted to a place where 7 or 8 hours is the norm!

Usually Wendy and I do these long trips together and she does most of the driving. In a couple of weeks, though, I head off solo to Colorado to attend the annual PVS conference (Prison Visitation and Support, and by the way thank you for all those postcards).

Wendy was originally slated to go with me and visit with old friends who recently moved to Pueblo, so she organized a couple of book gigs along the way: LuAnn Locke’s Afterwords in Edwardsville, Illinois and in Wichita, Kansas at Al’s Old and New Book Store, managed by Anita Siemer. And we’d hoped to meet Hilda, owner of BookMedley, who helped arrange the KS gig.

And then—-

Unable to find someone to mind the shop in rapid succession over four road trips (we have the Southern Festival of the Book this weekend and a trip to NYC in November to see Wendy’s agent and visit Word Up Bookstore) not to mention the small matter of finding time to write her new book, and the brand new cafe upstairs in our bookstore, forced Wendy to call off. So it’s over to me.

My first big US road-trip solo! 8 hours on Tuesday to LuAnn, 7 1/2 hours on Wednesday to Anita, and 6 hours on Thursday. Then the whole thing backwards in a straight shot homeward, no stops, when the conference finishes on Sunday.

I suppose my biggest worry is navigating through the cities to find the bookstores and the conference hotel. Talking with the book clubs and guests at bookstore events is fun. Wendy wrote the book, but we both lived it, and over the months we’ve been doing events patterns of questions have emerged, yet pleasant and surprising insights as well.

Then as soon as I get back we prepare for New York, but that will be (at least partly) a train ride. And we will get to visit with last year’s live-in shopsitter, Andrew “perfect” Whalen, who promises to show us a good time in Brooklyn.

Should we be afraid, do you think?

Meanwhile, I have nothing to fear but the drive itself. I used to think, when a little boy, that the annual summer holiday trip from Dunfermline to Aberdour (about 15 miles) was a long journey and a real adventure. We took a break halfway at Otterson Loch–in the words of the famous old ballad: Half Ower, Half Ower, tae Aberdour–where I’d catch minnows and put them in a jar.

That was then, this is now! I’ll settle for finding the hotel.

Editor’s note: Wendy would like to mention that Jack may not be worried, but she is. He keeps telling customers that he’s driving to “Arizona.” She has pointed out several times that Colorado is a different place, but Jack just waves his hand. “Pshaw, it’s out west someplace, and it’s all America, isn’t it?” {sigh}


Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, publishing, Scotland, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, writing

6 responses to “Hey Ho for the Open Road – – –

  1. jeannstewart

    Jack – If Wendy can’t go with you, I would hope she could find someone else to go along with you –

  2. Donna Chapman

    When you go to Brooklyn, visit the Brooklyn Tabernacle for a once in a lifetime worship experience.

  3. afterwordsbooks

    Very much looking forward to your visit at Afterwords Books, Jack! We are sorely disappointed that the Mrs. won’t be accompanying you, but are certain that she will find her way to her little bookstore eventually. Happy travels!

  4. Tony

    Well Jack, my friend, I’ll be doing my part in holding you and Wendy both before the Light. Prayers for guidance and safety on your behalf – and strength and peace for Wendy. Just remember – no Cokes ’till you get to the hotel room. 😀

  5. Mario R.

    “Pshaw, it’s out west someplace, and it’s all America, isn’t it?”

    Jack (if I may be permitted the familiarity of calling you “Jack” when we haven’t met) — I hope, if that’s your understanding, that among your “emergency supplies” you number not only sandwiches and coffee but a tent, firewood, fishing pole, skillet, several changes of clothing, bear repellent, rattlesnake repellent, Bigfoot repellent (well, heck, doesn’t hurt to be on the safe side), a Chupacabra trap, and a large helium balloon on a long tether so the rescue helicopters can find you. Just sayin’ …


  6. Elizabeth Cooperstein

    Just follow the GPS, Jack. Colorado, NOT Arizona!

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