Fly Me To the Mountains

I recently went on a family trip to Keystone, Colorado. I grew up going to Colorado for summer camping vacations. Sometimes, there are places where you know you belong. My soul belongs in the jagged peaks of the rocky mountains. I have lived at sea level in sweltering heat my entire life, but I have always known this was not where I belonged. When I sat down to write a story with characters who needed a wild and beautiful place, there was no question where it would be. I chose a fictional Colorado mountain town called Turning Creek.

The skyline in Keystone, Colorado.
The skyline in Keystone, Colorado.

Turning Creek, in my mind, is outside the mineral belt of Colorado, somewhere west of Leadville. Some of the mountains have similar names to other peaks in Colorado. Pikus Peak is a play on Pike’s Peak, one of the fourteeners. Silvercliff is a Christian camp my church takes our youth group to every year. It is a place I have found peace and joy as I watch young people I love find peace and understanding with the Lord.

Silvercliff is named for the silver white rock face shown here.
Silvercliff is named for the silver white rock face shown here.

It was a singular joy to go to Keystone this past week and see real, honest to goodness, road-closing snow for the first time in my life. We went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming three years ago and while there was plenty of snow, very little of it fell during our trip. I know some of my readers from the great white north are laughing, but I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen real snow. I have also never seen real fall leaves, but I digress.

This post is about the mountains and what I did there not how deprived of seasons this southern girl might be.

Everyone went skiing, except me. I am horrible at it and am not too fond of the endeavor so I sat for two days and consumed more caffeine than is recommended at a delightful place called Inxpot. As an unexpected bonus, Inxpot serves Mules, a colonial era drink featuring ale or ginger beer, alcohol, and lime. I had one with ginger beer, honey whiskey, and lime. It was wonderful. In case you were wondering, and I know you were, I researched Mules and a drink called Flip for Letters in the Snow, a Turning Creek novella featuring Iris, which comes out this summer. Flip was the drink that got Paul Revere drunk on his overnight ride to warn the militia.

Inxpot: excellent coffee and treats, plus books for sale!
Inxpot: excellent coffee and treats, plus books for sale!

I sat, drank coffee, and wrote the first couple chapters of Plagues of the Heart, the third Turning Creek book, featuring Dora. I walked around quite a bit breathing deeply and remembering all the reasons I love the mountains. Did you know that mountain streams smell different than other moving bodies of water? They do and it is a fabulous smell.

Mostly it was an amazing  trip because it has been a very long time since I was able to go on a family vacation with my boys.

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I wish all of you a place of joy in your life, where your soul feels at home and where there are people with which to share the view and a good drink.

 

 

The Best of San Antonio from a Native Texan

With RWA this week, I thought I would write a few of my favorite things about San Antonio down for all the people coming in for the conference. I am a native Texan and these are the things I never miss doing whenever I am in town.

Eat some TexMex and other local flare while you are here. In fact, eat it every day, for more than one meal. TexMex, or what we just call Mexican food, has a lot of cheese and meat and is sure to make you smile. I recommend a margarita while you eat your chips and salsa. If you have never had a breakfast burrito, do yourself a favor and eat one. Other fun Texas foods include kolaches, both the fruit and meat varieties, and BBQ.

There are a ton of places to eat on the Riverwalk, but if you are looking for great TexMex and want something more local, my favorite places in San Antonio are La Fogata and Rosarios. La Fogata is off the loop and will require a drive. It is family owned and started in a gas station. The food is excellent, the margaritas superb, and the atmosphere original. Rosarios has absolutely amazing food and cocktails and is within walking distance of the conference center though it is a bit of a hike.

I love craft beer, but if you are looking for a variety of brews along the Riverwalk, you will be disappointed. There are some fun nightspots, though they are almost all loud in the evenings with live bands. My favorite bars on the Riverwalk are MadDog’s British Pub, Durty Nellie’s, and Pat O’Brien’s. Out of all of these, MadDog’s has the best beer variety and their porch is nice. It is usually where I end up at the end of the night.

If you want to go shopping and have a real San Antonio experience, try Market Square. The restaurants here are pricey, like the Riverwalk, but there is a Mexican bakery in Mi Tierra which is well worth the extra pounds you will gain after visiting. I suggest forgoing actual lunch or dinner and skipping right to dessert. If you do not have a car, you can ride the local streetcars or take the bus.

We are extremely proud of our history here. The Alamo is free to visit and will give you a good overview of how Texas won its independence. The Alamo is close to the Riverwalk and worth an hour of your time. I have been there enough times I could give tours and I still go for a peek when I am here. There are also many local Spanish missions which you can do on a walking tour.

Overall, Texans are a friendly bunch and San Antonio is as nice as it gets here in the summer. Translated for all the visitors coming in: It is darn hot, but less humid than the coastal areas, where I am from.

Howdy, y’all. Welcome to the Lone Star State.

Back Again

The Rochesters are headed back to Costa Rica for a week. I am looking forward to seeing family (augmented by the local liquor of course), drinking the excellent native coffee, and soaking up the amazing beaches. It will be the Wee Bairn’s first international trip.

I am prepared with three books to read. It should have been for but alas one did not arrive. I am taking:

    World War Z by Max Brooks
    Captain Wentworth’s Diary by Amanda Grange
    The Demon Librarian by Lillith Saintcrow

The book that did not arrive:
The Highlander and His Lady

I guess if I run out of things to read I will have to actually pay attention to my family.

–Jane, it’s only the inlaws!

Old Books and Love




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Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre

The Rochesters were in Boston this past weekend and we had a great time doing all the history tourist things, plus a few fun things as well. We walked the Freedom Trail, went to Harpoon Brewery, and attended the Red Sox v. Orioles game.

One of the highlights for me was going to one of the oldest bookstores in the country, the Brattle Book Shop. I was in raptures.

They let me up on the third floor where they keep all the old tomes. I walked the aisles, running my finger along the faded spines. The air was heavy with history, dust, and places seen. I was in heaven.

Sadly, I did not see any of my favorite authors that I collect though there was a complete collection of the Brontes that gave me palpitations. Alas, it was far, far out of my price range.

The weather was great and the company wonderful. The Wee Bairn charmed all who saw him and issued nary a peep on the plane ride.

–Jane, loves books will travel

Saratoga, CA

I am traveling this week in California, teaching two more classes for Infopeople. For the first time, in a long time, I am traveling sans camera, so I will rely on my pregnancy swiss cheese memory to relate my travels to you. Tuesday, I was in Saratoga, a quaint, little place nestled in the trees and hills with friendly people and great food.

My class was at the Saratoga Public Library, a building renovated in the last 4 years to meet the growing needs of the community. It is bright and welcoming. While I was there, the parking lot was always full and there were many people coming through the doors. The librarians and staff were lovely and made me feel right at home. Joan, Head of Adult Services, even looked up the local Trader Joe’s for me (I had never been to one of these stores and decided, why not?) and printed me out a map. I am sure she had more important reference questions to answer, but I appreciated her help immensely.

I had a small, but very talkative group Tuesday. For the first time, it was also a very homogeneous group: all public librarians from the area. It was a fun group with many good ideas. I love teaching enthusiastic librarians.

This morning, the misty clouds were hanging over the hills, urging me to sit and sip coffee with a book on a warm porch. Alas, Baby Rochester demands no caffeine and I had to pack and depart, leaving no time for reading.

I am in San Jose Airport, typing this, waiting for my flight to LA where I repeat my song and dance on Thursday. I have never been to L.A., so my goal is to find some good, cheap Mexican food and try to spot someone famous.

Update:
I am in my hotel in L.A. and I have accomplished one goal for my trip. Cuba Gooding Jr. was standing next to me getting his bags at the airport. If it was not the man himself, it was someone who looks, sounds, and laughs just like him. I smiled at him and he smiled back. He had happy eyes. Hee, Hee! Now, off to the Farmer’s Market to browse the shops.

–Jane, wishes it were sunny in L.A.

Midwinter Round-Up, the good bits

This is the round-up post minus the soapbox elements. In this post, I write about the things I liked about my trip and the things that made me feel good about ALA. There were, of course, some not fabulous things about Midwinter, but I am putting those in their very own post. Just for you, readers, because I know how you sometimes like a good bitch.

ALA Midwinter was fun, if very quick, for me this year. I flew in on Saturday and left Monday. Philadelphia was a nice city to visit, even if I left one rainy cold city for the same weather at home.

The best meeting I attended by far was the Jim Rettig Presidential Advisory Board Meeting. It was a good meeting for two reasons:

First, it was very well run and efficient. Second, at no time during the meeting was any idea turned down with a no or dismissed. We instead discussed how to make each idea feasible, even if it meant giving the idea to a group who could handle it better. I left feeling positive about the possibilities for the group’s initiatives and it was the best meeting I attended all conference, including the one that I helped run. It affirmed my belief that there are plenty of people in ALA who want to try new things.

The ALA Publishing Reception was at the Mutter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. I liked the babies in jars and fetal skeletons displays the best followed closely by the syphilitic skulls. I have not seen so many cool skulls since Physical Anthropology in college. Fabulous. The Terminal Street Market was wonderfully full of delicious food, spices, fruits, vegetables, and handmade items. It was a feast for the eyes and the belly. I had some veggie samosas from Nandi’s Kitchen that were fantabulous.

This is likely be my last ALA until Annual 09 because I plan on staying home from traveling for a year after Baby Rochester arrives. I still have virtual commitments to several committees and that will continue. It made all my meetings with friends bittersweet, knowing I would only see people online for a large amount of time until I start the conference circuit again. It was nice to see old friends and meet some new people, as always.

The Blog Salon was fun, as usual, and was in a wonderfully large room this year. Sadly, there were no shower caps, but I did see a group in Second Life off to one side. I also met the creator of the “March of the Librarians” video, Nick Baker, who is a lovely person.

As I was uploading pictures to Flickr, it dawned on me that I take less pictures when I am not drinking. My set for Midwinter is very small as a consequence of my being in Philadelphia for a shorter period than normal and for the distinct lack of alcohol consumed. I still have a handful to get online.

The wifi, though occasionally spotty (as wifi sometimes is), was usable in most areas of the conference center. Thank you, ALA. It is much appreciated and was noted by this blogger. I hope this is a precedence that only improves.

–Jane, it’s raining in Houston today

Travel Day to Rochester

My first evening in Rochster, NY included a trip to Wegmans, which lived up to its hype. We ate at the grill counter and I had a delicious pork tenderloin and veggies. What a wonderful end to a day of traveling. The company wasn’t too shabby either.

On the way here, I had a layover in Cleveland, OH. As we landed and took off, I was able to get some great views of the Fall foliage. The only trees I have ever seen change are aspens, which are a lovely shade of gold. The trees in Cleveland were all shades of red, gold, and orange. It was the first time I have ever seen real Fall leaves. Amazing and beautiful.

–Jane, appreciates the actual winter weather

Geek Librarian on Parade

Today started a string of travel for me. I am in Denver until Sunday to attend LITA Forum. I will be giving two talks:
David and Goliath take on Social Tools and Learning 2.0 on a Dime.

Monday, I leave Denver for Virginia Beach to talk to the public library there about Web 2.0 and how it can help them engage customers. I created an outline and entitled it Making Your Patrons More Than the Audience. I got an email back from Nancy, who has been working with me for the trip, saying that they refer to their patrons as customers. I gladly changed the wording of my presentation. It is nice that the mentality of patrons as customers is already in place in Virginia Beach.

I have long thought it short sighted of libraries not to admit that we are competing for people’s attention and that makes us like a business. If you follow that logic, our patrons are indeed customers. If we really planned things this way, would we offer different services?

I think that we would move a lot faster and keep up with demand better. In the real world, companies that do not keep up, go bankrupt and fail. In the library world, this does not happen, but you do become obsolete in your community. I think the ability of libraries to survive despite a lack of innovation has hurt our culture. I believe that is beginning to change because we are competing for people’s attention and money, but oh, the change is so very slow.

We need to start thinking like businesses and get over our hang-ups about that.

–Jane, well that post went off on a tangent!

WWBD?: What Would Buffalo Do?

I had such a lovely time in the Black Hills of South Dakota and in the mountains of Wyoming, that I was sad to return to the over one hundred degree heat of Houston. I tried to convince Mr. Rochester that we could both get jobs in a bar in Jackson, WY and just stay. He said we had to come home to get our puppy dog. I guess if anyone asks, I will say, I came home because of the kid. We are doing it because of the kid.

I learned some important life lessons in the mountains. I always do, but with Mr. R in tow, some of the lessons were more amusing then if I had been solo or with my family.

Lesson #1 – WWBD? If your lady friend is giving you problems, wanting to go one way when you already told her that way was forbidden, what should you do? You should think, “What Would Buffalo Do?” Buffalo would grunt at the lady, head butt, and then kick her in the right direction. A bit grumpy, but it works every time.

Lesson #2 – In the mountains, there should be no stress about time. You get out of camp when you get out. Breakfast and dinner are to be savored. Air is to be breathed of deeply. An afternoon shower simply means you are to cover the wood, sit under a tree, drink a drink, and watch it rain.

Lesson #3 – High altitude makes alcohol go straight to your head.

Lesson #4 – (This is for the ladies) Ladies, when your man is chopping wood for the fire or building the fire upon which you will cook dinner, you should always comment about how manly and sexy the man is while completing the above tasks.

Lesson #5 – Even mediocre food tastes awesome cooked over a fire.

Lesson #6 – I do not ever want to drive through Kansas again. I have no idea how people live in that place.

Lesson #7 – Mr. Rochester must acquire at least one speeding ticket per trip. He does not appreciate it when I find the speeding ticket hilarious.

Lesson #8 – The first shower you have after 6 days on a camping trip is like heaven, but the smell of the campfire lingers on your skin. I love that smell.

Lesson #9 – If you go on seldom traveled trails in Yellowstone in search of a beaver pond, you may find a herd of 30 mule deer instead.

Lesson #10 – You can avoid the crowd, and the sun, at Old Faithful by grabbing a beer at the cafeteria and sitting on the shady porch which overlooks the timely eruption.

Lesson #11 – A morning spent in a kayak on Jenny Lake is completed to perfection with a beer in Moose,WY, overlooking the Grand Tetons.

Lesson #12 – The Grand Tetons, named by French trappers, means “large breasts” in French.

To see all of the pictures, check out my flickr set.

–Jane, back in the saddle