Northwest Roadtrip 2015

{On the road, hills covered with pines, firs, and oaks}
{On the road, hills covered with pines, firs, and oaks}


First the bad news: I got absolutely no writing done during these two weeks. I had hoped to pick up writing my last chapters of the upcoming book, but between being busy from the time I got up in the morning to the time we quit, and being completely exhausted (brain dead) after that, it didn’t happen.

The good news is that my daughter-in-law (who I will call Susan) and grandson (I’ll call Stanley, which is actually his middle name after my dad) are safely in Iowa and reunited with my son. His new job seems to be going well and hopefully they’ll be able to make a good life for themselves there. I’m already brainstorming the best way to visit them and wondering if I can book tour along the way.

The first week started off with my youngest daughter’s official move to her new digs. Not that she would let me do very much to help her, but I was completely distracted anyway. She didn’t physically move into her new place, however, as she had agreed to stay with Buu while I was gone.

I hit the road a couple of days later, glad it was overcast and rainy almost the whole way there.

{Dark clouds over parched California hillsides}
{Dark clouds over parched California hillsides}


Mount Shasta is one of my favorite landmarks on this trip – the last one before passing into Oregon. Seeing snow on the slopes in summer is always a welcome sight. It has been so dry for so long, I was afraid there would be no snow left.

{A glimpse of snow on the flanks of Mt. Shasta}
{A glimpse of snow on the flanks of Mt. Shasta}


The mountain was difficult to see because of low cloud, but I needed to stop for gas so pulled off the highway to Mt. Shasta City, a nice little mountain town (elevation approx. 3,600 ft) nestled into the southwest flank of the mountain. Close up, it was easier to just make out the stripes of white. I’d stopped there for gas before but never driven around the town, so I took a few minutes to explore. That’s all it took – it’s a very small town. It’s the kind of place I could imagine retiring to – very relaxed, small town vibe, somewhat touristy but quaintly so, a definite hippy element reminding me vaguely of Northern Exposure for some reason, and not too crowded. I have a feeling it’s more of a happening place in winter when the ski slopes are open.

Then on into Oregon. Grants Pass is a favorite stopping place and that’s where I spent the night.

Oregon is pretty but, just like California, almost completely dry right now (notice the grass in the first photograph). One of my problems with Oregon is its dearth of Starbucks. After several years of doing this trip, I’ve figured out where some are by now, but I’m always glad to get through Portland and into Washington. Then on toward the Canadian border to my destination.

Susan had already done a lot but there was still an enormous amount to do. Over the next three and half days we sorted, boxed, packed, threw away, and cleaned. Pretty much non-stop (and she did most of the cleaning). I rented a 15 foot U-Haul truck and took loads to the dump and recycle center, the thrift store, and the storage unit. I was sure we wouldn’t be able to get everything into the unit, but we almost did – using logic, spatial analysis (non-mathmatical, of course), and a little bit of physics. It also helped that I’m very good at puzzles.

Throughout this, two-year-old Stanley was amazing. Not perfect, but amazing. In spite of not seeing his dad in two weeks, watching his world dismantle around him, and enduring long days without much fun or close interaction, he remained (for the most part) sweet and happy. I guess he takes after his parents!

My original plan for this trip was to help my daughter-in-law get things done and then see her safely off on the road. Then I’d take a leisurely drive back home. I especially hoped to spend a day or two exploring the Olympic Peninsula. However by the time we were done with everything, I was exhausted and aching and all I really wanted to do was go home. She had heard of a town in the eastern Washington mountains, Leavenworth, that she very much wanted to visit. What with one thing and another, and sharing her curiosity, I decided to go with her.

{Blue sky, whilte fluffy clouds, mountainsides covered in evergreens, craggy mountain tops}
{Blue sky, whilte fluffy clouds, mountainsides covered in evergreens, craggy mountain tops}


{Evergreen covered mountainsides with craggy peaks beyond}
{Evergreen covered mountainsides with craggy peaks beyond}


We convoyed (all two of us) up the mountain road, her with a car completely loaded with the things she thought she’d need for the next two months or so – including Stanley and Ellie, the cat, of course – and me with my own things including a few things that didn’t fit into the storage unit (my son’s cello, a comforter, etc.) and bottles of my son’s delicious homemade wine.

{A tabby cat with white markings enjoying a rest stop}
{A tabby cat with white markings enjoying a rest stop}


I’m glad I went. The drive was very pleasant and the landscape beautiful. I was able to help her a little, keeping an eye on Ellie (another award-worthy trooper) while we took a break in a park and Stanley played. Then we drove on into Leavenworth, a cute “German” town in the mountains. It was already getting late and many of the shops were closed, including this book store, A Book For All Seasons, that I would love to go back and explore one day.

{"A Book For All Seasons" book store in Leavenworth}
{“A Book For All Seasons” book store in Leavenworth}


{Shops in Leavenworth, Washington look like they belong in the Black Forest of Germany}
{Shops in Leavenworth, Washington look like they belong in the Black Forest of Germany}


{Shops in Leavenworth, Washington look like they belong in Germany's Black Forest}
{Shops in Leavenworth, Washington look like they belong in Germany’s Black Forest}


Susan (of partly German heritage) had her heart set on German food, but time was an issue. We couldn’t afford to spend too long looking for a restaurant or waiting for food. We found a pub, which probably wasn’t exactly what she had in mind, but we were able to order sauerkraut and bratwurst and get on the road soon after. We had parked in different ends of town (parking was an issue) and I ducked into a gift shop on the way back to my car, not wanting to leave empty handed. I bought a pretty ornament for my son’s family (for their first Christmas in their new home) and pretty copper earrings for my daughters.

Copper and black earrings with butterfly and flower design
Copper and black earrings with butterfly and flower design


We spent the night just off the I-90 near Moses Lake. In the morning we filled our cars up with gas together before hitting the road. That’s when I saw the smoke. It was obviously back in the direction we’d come from, so Susan’s journey wouldn’t be affected, but mine might.

{Billowing black smoke from the fire off the I-90}
{Billowing black smoke from the fire off the I-90}


And so it was; a huge fire closed the highway in both directions and caused me to detour back to Moses Lake and many miles around (after dithering, stopping for snacks, and getting Starbucks!) In effect it cost me a day’s travel, but all’s well that ends well. After three days driving, I arrived home safe and the next day Susan, Stanley, and Ellie arrived safely in Iowa.

Two days later my youngest daughter moved to her new home. Leaving me the cat. Yay! Now to finish that book. . . .

Currently writing: Finishing TGJ Book 2.

Listening: Speak – Pedals

Reading: American Gods by Neil Gaiman and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente

Watching: Sherlock Holmes and Midsomer Murders



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com New edition coming!

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2015 B B Shepherd and China Blue Publishing.

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Artwork, Road Trip, Music! (Part One)

Sorry again for the hiatus. I had hoped to post before now, especially as I am officially on vacation, but life’s been go, go, go!

First of all, another piece from wonderful Katelynn Chambers. This time it’s Robin and her horse, Gali. I don’t quite picture Robin this way myself, but I love the picture anyway. The relationship implied between the characters is perfect, and I love her jeans! The colors and artwork in general is amazing. I just love her work so much!

Robin and Gali
Robin and Gali from The Glister Journals: Bronze


On to the road trip.

DAY ONE
On Monday I headed north, destination: the northernmost part of Washington (state) to visit a person very dear to me. I got a very late start due to errands that needed to be run, and tried to get as far as could without stopping. I don’t often get further north than Sacramento, so, especially once past Redding, I began to be a little more interested in the scenery. I was also looking for a potential Starbucks stop, but didn’t want to have to go looking for one. There were no signs, so I kept going.

I admit to being tempted by the little city of Dunsmuir (apparently “Home of the best water on earth” and, according to the city’s website, “the small-town home of 2,000 you wished you had grown up in.”), but eschewing the potential delights of the Dunsmuir Historical Gardens, I continued on. It was probably closed anyway.

I wanted to take pictures along the way, but there are very few places to actually stop, especially not where there’s anything interesting to photo. Here’s a picture of Mount Shasta, northern California

Mount Shasta

Not a terribly good picture; it’s much more impressive in person. By this time I was in need of tea and ready to venture off the beaten track in search of it, but this mountain town (I didn’t write down the name)



didn’t look like it would have a Starbucks. Just finding the way back onto the I5 was an adventure. Of course that could be said of most large cities too.

I took some better pictures of Mount Shasta on my “good” camera (which I will add later–I have to wait to get home to download them) some place north of a town called Weed. Yes, that’s right, Weed. There’s actually a South Weed, a Central Weed, and even a North Weed Road (or something similar.) Weed is obviously a Very Important Place.

I was struggling to keep my eyes open by the time I crossed over the border into Oregon, but finally rolled into Medford about 10 p.m.

To finish off with MUSIC:

I had picked up three new CDs for the trip: The Black Key’s El Camino, Keane’s Strangeland, and I finally got Gotye’s Making Mirrors, which is wonderful. But more about that next time. For now I’ll leave you with Keane’s Silenced By The Light which is on the radio quite a bit right now. I got to listen to the CD once through, but I’ll listen again and have more to say about it on the trip home. I hope you enjoy!

Note: All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012 to China Blue Publishing.

The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and chapters at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

The chapters can also be read here at the top of my blog. (and also in a menu in the sidebar!)

And please “Like” us on Facebook!

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Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, and…wait a minute…

Where the heck did May go? And I had such great plans for it!

This is just a quick update to let you know what’s been going on and what’s going to be going on in the near future.I will probably be posting again tomorrow; a post that was started some while ago. On to today’s subjects.

On Cinco de Mayo I spent a lovely day with a friend at the Fiesta of the Spanish Horse held at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. It was not exactly what I had imagined, but it was a perfect day and so good to enjoy with a friend (thanks T!) I took some video which (yes, I’m sure you’re getting tired of hearing this) I hope to get edited, converted, and uploaded at some point. I have some vacation time coming up . . . we’ll see. I should at least get some nice pictures from it which I’ll add to this post. Anyway, details, pics, etc. will be added here or in a separate post later.

I’ve had many projects to finish at work which have kept me very busy and preoccupied, and I have just finished tweaking the cover of Bronze. All of which has left me with little time to blog.

More importantly, next Friday, June 1, 2012 marks the official release day of the hardbound edition of Bronze. The larger print paperback edition will be rereleased some time this week too. My publisher and I plan to host multiple giveaways, so keep checking back for the locations and sites for those. I’m sure that we’ll be giving several away through Goodreads, so if you’re a member there you can watch out for it.

I was so excited to find that Bronze was reviewed by Booklist Online. I thought the review reserved but accurate and very fair, and I feel honored to have gotten it at all! You can read it here: Booklist Online–Bronze by B B Shepherd

Another thing I’m immensely excited about is the release of some very special artwork I had commissioned. It will be released in several online locations. So I hope you’re hanging in there with me!

To celebrate these upcoming activities let’s have some music! How about some Maná? An older one, but one of my absolute favorites. (It’s even my phone ringtone :D)





All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012 to China Blue Publishing.

The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and chapters at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

The chapters can also be read here at the top of my blog. (and also in a menu in the sidebar!)

And please “Like” us on Facebook!

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Rodeo and New Music

It was a wearying drive there (horrendous traffic for the first good half of the journey and taking a wrong highway costing me gas as well as time) and a not-so-good stay at a hotel causing a not-so-good next morning (a VERY noisy night causing me to wear earplugs and sleep through my alarm. I woke up five minutes before I was due to check out and missed opening ceremonies!) The rodeo, in spite of all this, was well worth the trouble as it always is.

As you may already know, I am a big fan of rodeo but a HUGE fan of high school rodeo. These kids really put it all on the line, give it all they’ve got, have incredible heart and bravery, mad athletic skills, and they love their animals and treat them well (in spite of what some people would like you to think.)

Rain had been forecast for this weekend and I was afraid the event would be rained out at worst and very messy at best, but there was no rain though it got very cold by the last event. I don’t even know if they would have cancelled it. I have a feeling it’s like soccer or football: the game must go on! I may or may not post pictures and/or video at some later time.

Wanting new tunes to listen to on the drive there, I was finally able to pick up some of the new albums I’ve been wanting to get.

I listened to Build A Rocket Boys by Elbow (scroll over the name on their site–very cool) on the road there. Elbow has done some amazing songs that I really love, such as ‘Mirrorball‘ and ‘Grounds for Divorce,’ but it’s not a group I can listen to all the time. I think I’m going to enjoy listening to this album while drawing or other non-verbal creative endeavor, something where I’m able to let it drift through me. It’s music I need to just feel and hear and not (necessarily) listen critically to the lyrics. There’s something about a lot of their music that reminds me of my favorite composer, Debussy; a ‘tone poem’ quality that’s lovely to dream and imagine to, but would not be my first choice for music to drive to. This is the title track:



Chevelle, on the other hand, is perfect for driving to. I had high expectations for their newest album, Hats Off to the Bull, having loved every track of their last, Sci-Fi Crimes (my favorite being Shameful Metaphors*) which were completely justified as track after track proved they’d done it again, at least for me. After each track I wanted to go back and listen to it again, but resisted, preferring to get to the end of the album and listen to the whole first. They’ve proven their consistency to me and I definitely count them now as one of my favorite bands. I haven’t had a chance to listen to this again yet, but it will be the first thing on the player when I get in my car in the morning.

Very often my favorite tracks are not the ones that grab me on a first listen. They’re the ones that I have to hear a few times before I start going, “Wow, I really like that.” Then that will be the one(s) that end up speaking to me the most, for whatever reason, whether it’s something in the music itself or something in the lyrics hits home. I try to get the gist of lyrics on a first listen, but honestly, I’m just listening to the music. If the music doesn’t grab me first, I may never discover what beautiful/clever/otheradjectivehere lyrics the song has. In fact I may need to listen several times before I decide whether I really like something, and then it’s worth investigating the lyrics, but that’s just the way I’m made. This album, however, has caught me completely already and I’m looking forward to listening over and over. It’s much too early to say which my favorite track off this album is, but the opener, ‘Face to the Floor’ will certainly suit my purpose here:



Another album I had been looking forward to greatly is Port of Morrow by The Shins. Although they’ve been around for a long time, I’ve really only become aware of them in the past year or so, and that was because of Caring Is Creepy which I first heard on the radio and loved on first hearing. I had to have the album and wasn’t quite sure what I’d found, but after listening many times I loved them more and more. I still get very tripped up by their lyrics which I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of and here, I’ve got the new album to decipher! Another favorite track off that last album Oh, Inverted World is New Slang.

I listened to Port of Morrow mostly on the way home and got through it a couple of times (some tracks even more). Fall of ’82 really caught my attention for a lot of reasons. It has a mid-era Beatles (Sgt. Pepper) feel to it, though the verse also reminds strongly of an old Thin Lizzy song. Elements I really loved on this track were the retro instrumental sounds (maybe even a little Chicago in there?), a very tasty muted trumpet solo, and lead singer James Mercer’s (I assume) lower vocal register.

The other stand out track to me is ’40 Mark Strasse.’ Very haunting music, very cutting lyrics. It reminds me of something . . . but I’m not sure what. Something also from the late 60s or early 70s. I’ll have to think about that.

Then there’s ‘Port of Morrow’ itself, which makes me laugh every time I hear it. I don’t really know what the lyrics are about (yet-yes I could run and read them right now, but I really want to finish this post TODAY!) but it sounds like the way James sings in Broken Bells, which I also love but had forgotten he’s in also. Anyway, it’s a great album, I loved every track and look forward to picking apart the lyrics later when I can concentrate on them. Here is the track being played on the radio most right now:



Sorry for the VEVO 🙁 I’ve avoided it where I could.

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012 to China Blue Publishing.

The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and chapters at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

The chapters can also be read here at the top of my blog. (and also in a menu in the sidebar!)

And please “Like” us on Facebook!

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The Ren Faire

This is just a follow up to last weekend’s outing:

I arrived with one overwhelming, burning question . . . where is the jousting? Lead me to your horses!

The fields around Casa de Fruta, an oasis in the Central California Hills, had been converted into the likeness of an English village circa 16th century and was filled with merchants, artisans, musicians, and merry-makers dressed in varying degrees of period authenticity. There were also a few small boys ‘slaying’ princesses in ballerina skirts and somebody complaining that someone else’s wings had just poked her in the eye.

Apparently this is “Fantasy” theme weekend, but really, I’ve never seen so many sparkles, tutus, or fairy wings outside of Disneyland (or a very small girl’s party). Then there’s the goth side too, with the black spiderweb hose and, well, mostly black everything. And wings. *Sigh* But there was plenty of true(ish)-to-history apparel too, and lots of noisy shenanigans all around. I especially loved the young man cantering around pretending to ride a horse, in peasant’s clothing and a crown on his head, followed by another cantering peasant clopping coconuts together. Extremely silly and I loved it.

Soon after arriving I found an area that seemed suitable for equestrian maneuvers, but nothing was happening so I continued on my way. The best costume I saw was a man dressed as a tree, very cleverly too. I thought, “He’s meant to be a bandit, perhaps from Sherwood.” I asked him if this was true and he seemed disappointed that I didn’t recognize him as an ent. Apparently my imagination is lacking. But then, I had forgotten that this was “Fantasy” weekend. It was an awesome costume though.

As usual, I was mostly drawn to the areas where there was music being performed. I was able to get short videos of this, so when I finally get my editing program figured out I’ll put them together for you.

One of my favorite vendors was a man selling leather journals. (Gee, I wonder why that caught my attention?) They were lovely, all different sizes, and filled with cotton paper. His website is here: The Journal Guy Eventually (when The Glister Journals has enough fans) I would like to give one of those as a prize. Allison would love them.

I want to keep this post positive in nature so I am NOT going to mention the food.

I am still looking for the software that came with my camera so I can download the photos I took (I had lost it before I moved, then found it again, but haven’t seen it since. I am still wading through boxes!) When I do, I shall let you know!

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012 to China Blue Publishing.

The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and chapters at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

The chapters can also be read here at the top of my blog. (and also in a menu in the sidebar!)

And please “Like” us on Facebook!

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Garlic Watermelon?

Really?

I just saw a lady on the 10 o’clock news eating garlic sprinkled on watermelon. How is it the Garlic Festival always passes me by? I always miss it! I have occasion to drive through Gilroy from time to time – usually on my way from Point A to Point B – but have pit-stopped there frequently too; it’s one of those places where everything is right off the freeway (oh, wait – except Starbucks and Peets!).

Don’t get me wrong – I actually like Gilroy. It’s a lovely area and has good shopping. When I lived on the Central Coast it seemed to be “The Place” to shop – unless you could afford to go to Hong Kong. I’ve never been able to go to Hong Kong for shopping or anything else, but I wouldn’t mind going. Oh wait . . . I was talking about Gilroy . . .

I’m sure you get used to the aroma (is that why there’s a town not too far away called Aromas?) I guess the smell loses its potency once you’ve been there an hour or two shopping, or looking for a coffee shop, but if you’re just driving through it sure does a number on you. Especially if you’re hungry.

So apparently it’s the Garlic Festival all weekend, and I know about it. Now I have to consciously make a decision whether to go or not. Will the lure of garlic watermelon prove irresistible?

I’ll let you know . . . .

*Edit*

My friend and I thought we’d go check it out, just for a few hours, but the closer we got to where we assumed ‘the action’ was, the slower the traffic actually moved. Then I remembered I hadn’t bothered to find out if there would be an entrance fee. Everything has an entrance fee. I can’t even go for a walk in the park anymore without paying a fee. (The fee was $17.00 for the Garlic Festival, apparently)

Then I also remembered there would no doubt be a parking fee too. Last weekend I’d been happy to pay for the Salinas Rodeo, but hadn’t thought about parking. It had cost $10.00 to park on a baseball field and it was worth it. But that was for rodeo. This was for garlic! I wasn’t so sure $10.00 was reasonable for parking for garlic. I’m not exactly made out of money.

It turns out that parking was free with a shuttle service, which is good to know . . . for next year. Next year – if I go – I will leave much earlier and probably on a Saturday. Judging from the website, it looks like it would be fun, not to mention the food of course. Yes, next year sounds good.

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012 to China Blue Publishing.

The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and chapters at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

The chapters can also be read here at the top of my blog. (and also in a menu in the sidebar!)

And please “Like” us on Facebook!

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