It is Sunday afternoon, and I’m ready to write again. I love writing fiction, but I’ve missed the blog—the chance to write about life as I know it, not life as I imagine it. So today I’m catching up on life, saying hello to old friends, and hopefully a few new ones as well.
This winter we hunkered down indoors with a fire blazing from December through March. I’m a hermit over the winter months, curling up on the couch with a book or my laptop. It’s a cozy happy way to watch the snowfall, but I’m out of hibernation now and ready to wander out into the world again. It’s the time of year when the fires migrate from indoors to out: bonfires under the stars, steaks and chops grilled over an open fire, beans bubbling in a pot and peach cobbler in a Dutch oven. It just doesn’t get much better than that. Below is a photo of my brother and uncle grilling 32 chicken halves and 9 slabs of ribs this weekend to celebrate my aunt and uncle visiting from Texas. Family, sunshine and barbecue – a perfect mix.
There’s something about the increased activity outside that makes me want to connect with people again. Tilling up the garden, treks to the nursery to drag home more tomato and pepper starts than the rows will hold, splitting crowded flowers in the border and trading with friends, cleaning out the fire pit for the first cookout of the season. And, eventually, venturing outside of the four walls of Indiana. With my daughters both ready to move out into the adult world, we wanted to catch them both for one more big trip as a family before they start their own careers and lives away from home.
June 14th is my last day of work until August. On the 15th, we’re heading to West Texas and the Four Corners region for two weeks. We’ll spend our first three days in the Big Bend National Park, rafting and hiking. The rest of the week we’ll explore my fictional city of Artemis, a dusty spot along the Rio Grande. I’ve never been more excited about a vacation. I’ve written about Artemis for five years now. My storyline and the places that I write about occupy my thoughts much like peripheral vision: the people and places are always with me, but I’ve never actually set foot on the soil my characters call home. I’ve been close, skirting the area outside of San Antonio, exploring the desert in New Mexico and Arizona, but this summer I step into my daydreams. I imagine it will be a surreal experience.
Key spots along the way include three days in the former ghost town of Terlingua, situated between the Big Bend Ranch State Park and the Big Bend National Park. We’ll be staying at the Big Bend Holiday Hotel, which advertises free parking, indoor plumbing, no cable television and no telephones. The best I can tell, it’s a combination of a few hotel rooms and ghost town houses that have been beautifully renovated on the inside, but kept intact from the outside to keep the authentic feel of the area. The hotel boasts a 30 foot front porch where the locals and the nomads connect and swap stories. Sounds like a corner of heaven. While we’re there, I hope to visit with Bill and Lisa Ivey, owners of the hotel, to get their take on life in the West Texas desert.
Following are a couple of pictures of the house we’ll be staying in. You can see a glimpse of the Chihuahuan Desert and mountains beyond. I’ll be adding more pictures and posts as we plan for the trip, and sharing the West Texas experience as we make the journey.