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Going home again

September 26, 2011 1 comment

This weekend we made the trip to an “all-school” reunion at my home town of Childress, Texas. Few of my graduating class members made it, still I enjoyed seeing old friends and acquaintances. I’ve been back periodically over the years, less frequently since my parents moved away a dozen years or so ago. But we took the opportunity to pause and notice changes the intervening years have brought, and appreciated things which have stayed the same.

The local museum has gathered the county’s essence in the form of objects from its history. Amid exhibits of ranching memorabilia and World War II Army Air Base artifacts, a couple items in the schools collection caught my eye–old black-and-white school photos. A 1961 second grade and 1965 first grade class from schools I attended missed me by a couple of years each way. Sobering.

From our third-floor room in an almost-new hotel at the edge of town, I spotted two objects I could identify from my formative years: an old motel which used to be out west of town all by itself, and the town’s water tower in the distance. That was it. All the old familiar sites gone or obstructed by new construction. But down by the old park lake I frequented as a small child, beyond the concrete bench a band of WPA workers built some eighty years ago, ducks swam by muttering the same sweet refrain I remember from my youth.

Some things don’t change.

It’s a busy summer

My novel, The King of Silk, was released in February as an ebook, and now the trade paperback version is on schedule to be printed RSN (real soon now). It is, as they say, coolness.

Our local critique group is busy planning a mini-workshop this fall, so I’m studying up to teach a class in character and viewpoint. It’s enlightening. Teachers have to work much harder than students.

On June 7 I’ll be speaking to the Writer’s Voice group in Amarillo. That’s a Tuesday evening. We’ll probably discuss, I don’t know, maybe character and viewpoint? If you’re interested drop me a note for the details.

June 24-25 will see us at the Frontiers in Writing Conference in Amarillo put on by the Panhandle Professional Writers, an excellent group of writers professional and otherwise. A certain author will be there signing books (hint: see top of this post).

What else? Stick around and find out!

Categories: Uncategorized

On the road to Pyramid: Day 7

It’s an odd thing being at Pyramid Lake. The Truckee River runs from high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at Lake Tahoe, through the Reno area, northward through the desert, and finally into Pyramid Lake, from where the water escapes only through evaporation. It’s the lowest point around here, and yet it feels like we are up in the mountains. It’s hard to remember that the elevation is about 3800 feet, not much higher than back home in Lubbock, Texas.

Pyramid Lake High School

So anyway, on this crisp morning Rhonda and I got up and went to school. Yep, that’s right, high school. We were guest speakers in Mrs. Fuller’s four English classes. We talked about the importance of writing in college and careers and the joys and relative compensation of fiction writing. I hope they got something out of it, because we enjoyed the interaction.

Afterward I was able to visit with the tribal chairman about a couple of book projects. One is a picture book Rhonda and I produced after our last trip. They may be able to sell it at some of the tribe’s retail outlets and perhaps help the bottom line at the reservation. The other book is still a concept, but it’s set at Pyramid Lake and we’re here doing research. Whatever happens, it’s really been a rewarding experience meeting the people here.

El Guadalajara Restaurant

Then we decided to get something to eat. Isn’t that what life is all about? Off to Fernley, a town located on I-80 north of Reno about 30 miles. We wound up at Guadalajara Restaurant. The setting was nice, but the food…excellent. It was the culinary highlight of our trip so far. Rhonda had the chile rellenos that she allowed as the best she had eaten. I tried something new for me in the pork carnitas. Yum. We topped it off by sharing a flan. I don’t normally like these so much, but it was very good.

Juan, our host, said they have been at this place for eight years and for three years before in another location.

Juan and Josue of El Guadalajara

Two thumbs up for Guadalajara Restaurant.

Tomorrow: an interview with Indian activist.

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On the road to Pyramid: Day 5

Today is the day to catch things up.

It was the last day of the trade show for me, and my feet surely appreciate it. It’s been beautiful weather, up to about 70 at one point today when the high was in the twenties back home in Lubbock, Texas. Surely I wouldn’t rub it in with the folks back at the office. (hah)

I discovered on arrival here at the La Quinta in Fresno that I had left my shirt bag somewhere and had two shirts I could wear to the show. I’ve been washing them out in the sink and drying them in the guest dryer. Anyway, the shirt bag turned up at the hotel in Bakersfield where we stayed on Sunday and Rhonda made the two hour round trip from Tulare where the show was to get it. I am now fully shirted.

In any event, it’s our last night in Fresno and we decided to order in and do some packing. I’m afraid no packing got done, but we took a suggestion on DiCicco’s Restaurant and ordered Italian.

I, of course, am a fool for pizza, so it was the pepperoni for me. Rhonda had the toasted ravioli. She reported the ravioli excellent and the marinara sauce good and a little spicy. The pizza was good, but it did take a bit to get here. The microwave oven fixed that right up.

After day four’s dinner, this was a plus and we didn’t have to go out.

Tomorrow we leave for a new destination: Pyramid Lake. More details soon.

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On the road to Pyramid: Day 4

You have to strike out sometimes. There’s no shame, it just happens.

After a long trade show day on my feet, I went back to the hotel, collected Rhonda (again, sweet wife, hot girlfriend), and set out to find some recommended Asian food at Imperial Garden in Fresno.

The soup was good, at least that’s what Rhonda told me. Her Kung Pao chicken was okay and my chicken fried rice was all right, but I’m not much of a judge. I don’t care for Asian food, but I usually like the chicken fried rice.

The service, though, lacked. The waitress seemed to be counting the seconds to shift end and wasn’t very patient with us. Communication was difficult. In fairness, she’d probably had a hard day and was tired. General Vang Pao, a hero of the Lao-Hmong Vietnamese community, passed away and his funeral has been going on all week. I suppose there have been lots of people in the restaurant running them ragged. I hope that’s all it was.

Anyway, we had a decent meal but not great. Then it was back to the hotel, where I intended to get caught up posting this journal. But I pooped out quickly and vowed to do it “tomorrow.” Not much tomorrow left at this writing, but here it is.

More to come!

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On the road to Pyramid: Day 3

Day three started a bit late. After the long day two, six AM sounded much too early. But, we got breakfast and drove from Bakersfield, CA to Tulare, the site of the trade show we came for. Most of our exhibit was already set, but we spent most of the day detailing. Then it was off for some dinner.

We are on the lookout for off-the-beaten-track places and the Colorado Grill in Fresno seemed to fit the bill.

Colorado Grill, Fresno, California

It’s an old-fashioned burger place that features a 1950’s atmosphere. A “Big Burger” a child-size version, but they get bigger. Way bigger. The standard “Boulder Burger” weighs in with a half-pound patty. The “Quad Burger” is off the scale.

Rhonda had the Big Burger, while I ordered the Boulder Burger and steak fries. Marvelous.

I should have tried a milkshake, but bed called by that time. Maybe on the next trip.

If you get a chance, try these guys. It’s good stuff.

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On the road to Pyramid: Day 2

Okay, so it’s not day two anymore, but let’s pretend, shall we?

The second day of the trip was, uhm, interesting. After a day when my traveling companion (sweet wife, hot girlfriend) were a little at odds, we decided to deviate from our trip, but I touched on that already. This is about what happened after the wrong turn after the wrong turn, after…

In the middle of nowhere (all the Californians I met this week didn’t know it was there) appeared a light from heaven. Here’s a glimpse:

Ranch House Cafe, Olancha, California

Ranch House Cafe, Olancha, California

We remarked to each other that this seemed like one of those places that pop up in a horror movie. You know, the one that looks so good until the kindly old lady whacks you on the back of your head with a frying pan and drags you to the kitchen.

I’m glad to report that no whacking occurred. Just a good meal and friendly service.

We ┬áboth had the “Indian Frybread,” which features a flat piece of frybread (if you’ve never had this, I’m afraid I can’t describe it) loaded with pinto beans, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. topped with sour cream. A piece of peach pie and requisite ice cream topped off the meal.

Best was the service we received from the staff. They gave us directions back to civilization that save us hours of pointless driving.

Would I go back? Boy, it’s a long, long distance out of our way. But we’re glad we found it. And who knows? If we ever get back this way, we’ll be sure to stop.