Five days ago I acknowledged on Twitter that I was home and would post on my blog the following day. Good intentions don’t always prove possible, and so here I am at last, ending my writing day with a blog post. Check tomorrow for pictures from our trip and the conference.
Our trip led us across the prairies and plains of the Oklahoma panhandle to the lovely San Luis valley of Colorado where we spent a couple of days visiting with Edna Hiller and touring a few local libraries and book stores to post medallions on the WILLA finalist award winner, Fly With the Mourning Dove. That’s where my New Mexico heroine lives nowadays. It’s not too far from her old homestead and ranch on the high desert of New Mexico, but she misses those days when she could arise before dawn to watch elk water at the Tusas River, then cook her breakfast on the wood burning cookstove and eat it out on the portico while watching the sun rise. Life has a way of passing and moving us from place to place, doesn’t it? Edna’s story, however, will live on as long as the book is available. And thanks to today’s technology, that should be a good long while.
The mountains were capped with snow from a recent fall that melted even as we drove south into New Mexico. The Sangre de Cristos were especially glorious as the sun rose and set to color them in blood red hues. From year to year, we almost forget how enjoyable it is to wander along the highway between the San Juans to the west and the Sangre de Cristos to the east, but our fall visits revitalize those memories. The ditches were filled with golden sunflowers of all varieties.
Soon, though we began to climb again, making our way to Red River, New Mexico, then across Bobcat Pass (9800 feet) to Eagle Nest where we rented a small cabin and my husband did some fishing. Each morning we could see our breath in the cold, dry, high climate and often scraped frost off the car’s windshield. While I snuggled inside with my laptop writing, hubby fished for trout.
Too soon, we had to leave and head toward San Antonio, Texas so I could pick up my WILLA finalist award. We wanted Edna to go with us, but she couldn’t make the trip. At 94 years that’s understandable. It’s a good long way from Red River to the city of San Antonio, nearly 900 miles to be exact. I joke around that it took us over a week to get there from Arkansas because I thought San Antonio was west of New Mexico, and I had a lot of backtracking to do. In reality, I did think that because I’m geographically challenged, but hubby had set me straight. We had our plans and we stuck to them, arriving in time to rest up an extra day before the Women Writing the West Conference.
It was so exciting to be greeted by everyone with congratulations on my writing award. Friday morning I sat on a panel with Laurie Wagner Buyer and Carolyn Wing Greenlee. We spoke to an interested crowd about our experiences getting published. In the audience was Susan Stoltz, publisher of Women Out West Magazine. She has recently founded a small publishing house.
Friday evening WILLA finalists and winners read from their winning books and enjoyed a get-acquainted gathering with luscious food. What great cooks Texans are.
Saturday was the WILLA finalists luncheon in which those 14 winners were presented with a lovely plaque honoring our work. Only three of us were able to make an appearance, but we were treated royally. I sat on another panel Saturday afternoon on Writing Small Town & Regional Histories, along with Gail Jenner and Cynthia Leal Massey, both of whom are superb writers and award winners. That night was the WILLA winners banquet, which was equally thrilling.
We pulled out Sunday morning, exhausted, but determined to finish our trip by spending some time on the Gulf coast. Padre Island greeted us with 85 degree weather and a fragrant sea breeze. We enjoyed strolling through the smooth, clean sand and dipping our toes in the ocean waters that filter into the gulf. My husband made sure I understood that I wasn’t looking at the ocean, but at the Gulf of Mexico. I said it was close enough to satisfy my yearning to once more wade in the Atlantic ocean. The sky was a brilliant blue and against the horizon rose huge white clouds.
On the trip we literally passed over mountains, crossed prairies, deserts and many rivers and frolicked in the ocean. Our trip home through Texas was a delight. One of my favorite states through which to travel because the scenery changed by the hour, as we headed north sticking to small out of the way highways and completely missing all huge towns. Only spent 18 miles on an Interstate all the way home, and did almost as good on our way out.
You can tell we’re country folk who don’t appreciate heavy traffic, the noise and odor of progress, the buffeting about by semis. Let me add, we do understand all that is necessary to keep this great country moving, but we just don’t like to be a part of it when traveling for pleasure.
When we arrived back in Arkansas green trees greeted us. When we left I’d been afraid I’d miss the fall changing of colors, but it’s very late this year and is only now at it’s peak. Because of a vast amount of rain, we’re being treated to burgundies, golds, reds and oranges of our native trees such as we haven’t seen in recent times. Ponds and lakes are filled to capacity and double our delight by reflecting the surrounding foilage.
This has been a very long blog. Perhaps it’ll make up for the weeks I haven’t posted. Have a great fall, and please don’t forget to vote tomorrow. We have some super candidates in Obama and Biden, McCain and Palen. So get out and choose.