Today is the first day in a long while that I have been able to sit back a take a deep breath without some outside demand on my time. The sun is breaking through outside after being pounded by rain all day yesterday by Tropical Storm Colin. My travels are done and I’m starting to recover from the toll it has taken on me, not only physically, but emotionally as well. I got a good night sleep last night, the first night back in my own bed and it was quite comfortable. A lot has happened in this past month, more than I originally expected when last I wrote on this blog. So where do I start? Probably from the beginning and diverge when I have to.
The month started the morning of Friday, April 29th. My mother-in-law had a friend in Newport Beach, Ca. who was moving to Florida. A place about a mile or two from our place to be precise. I agreed to fly out to Southern California and drive her car across country for her while she flew to Florida a week or two later. So, the morning of April 29th, I took off from Tampa International Airport heading to John Wayne Orange County Airport, by way of Denver. My one hour layover in Denver was interesting because it was snowing and it was the end of April. That alone just blew my mind. But it was exciting to me because it had been just over three years since I had last seen snow. I’ve been living in Florida and it doesn’t snow here. And my flight was a little delayed taking off to Southern California because the plane had to be de-iced.
I get to Southern California and take a cab over to the lady’s place in Newport Beach. The car was already loaded and ready to go. She gave me some money for the road, I threw my bag into the car, and I was off heading back to Florida. In Friday afternoon Southern California rush hour traffic. UGH! I eventually got out of Southern California and stopped for the night in the middle of the Imperial Valley. It had been a stressful day. But I was treated to a beautiful sunrise the next morning rising over Yuma, AZ.
Now, my original plan was to drive straight through to Florida. That plan changed shortly before I departed to Southern California. One of my aunts who I had been close to and was battling cancer took a turn for the worse and was in the hospital. My Dad, who was in the middle of preparing to move (more on that later), flew out to see his sister (my aunt). I decided to make a detour, even though I had been looking forward to driving road I had never driven before (namely I-10 between where I-20 split off and Houston). I took I-20 when it split and headed for Dallas. And I am so thankful that I did. I spent a couple days in Dallas visiting and supporting family as best I could. My aunt came home to hospice care and I took my Dad to the airport before continuing on to Florida. The hope was that I would see my aunt when I came through again in a few weeks. It was not meant to be as she passed away a week later.
I got back home to Florida and back into the loving arms of my wife. I got a few days at home before we took off on a bit of a mini-vacation. My wife is the Director of Connections at our church and she had put in a lot of hours at work getting the church ready for Easter as a renovation project was wrapping up at the church. Our pastor, her boss, decided to give some of the staff who had put in the extra time a vacation at his vacation home on the east coast of Florida, just a couple blocks from the beach. They just had to book the time with his wife. So, in early May, we took a three day vacation to the east coast of Florida and had a good time relaxing. And I was able to outline a few chapters while sitting out there on the beach. But that was the last break. We got back and we had to pick up the lady whose car I drove across country at the airport. And then I was on a plane the next evening heading for California (again!).
A couple of paragraphs ago, I mentioned my Dad was in the middle of preparing for a move. He & my Mom flew out to Florida in March to catch Spring Training. While here, they decided to look at some houses and feel out the market, as a move to Florida was something they were thinking of doing maybe a year or two down the line. Well, they fell in love with the last house they looked at and put in an offer for it. And it was accepted. So they were now moving to Florida.
I flew out about a week and a half before they were leaving California to help with any last minute packing, as well as help my brother move into an apartment. And I also wanted to see some of my close friends still in California one more time, as I don’t know when I will next be out there. My brother’s move took more than I thought it would (he has a lot of stuff). Then we drove down to close to Santa Cruz for a game night. At least we tried to, as my brother’s truck decided to die on Hwy 17 going over the Santa Cruz Mountains. But we got it towed and my best friend, Duane, came out and got us to game night. And that was a lot of fun. Drinking and Settlers of Catan is an awesome combination. The next day was a hassle as my Mom had to drive down to get us and we had to do some running about to get my brother’s truck scrapped.
The rest of that week is a bit of a blur as the movers came and took away most of my parent’s stuff. What was left, we took downstairs to a staging area for the Budget truck we were renting to drive across country. My wife flew in very late Sunday night and early Monday morning, we picked up the truck and loaded it up with everything that was left. And that was very tiring work. My parent’s place in California is built on the side of a hill with a very steep driveway. Going up and down that driveway gets very tiring very quickly. Finally, we loaded up the last of the things early Tuesday morning and we got off on the road.
For the trip across country, we had a two car caravan. Usually, the Budget truck would be out front and my parent’s PT Cruiser would follow. Also note, in the PT Cruiser, we had two pet cages holding my Mom’s three cats (one big cage and another smaller cage). Travel was a bit slower than we would have liked. And we were stopping in the Dallas/ Ft. Worth Metroplex for a family gathering in honor of my aunt who died (see several paragraphs up). The trip to Texas ended up taking three full days and we were all very tired at the end of it. We spent three days in Texas, the third of which was the family gathering. My brother flew out from California, which made possible something that hasn’t happened since at least the 90s. All the cousins on my Dad’s side of the family were all in the same place. For me, that was a highlight of the trip.
The next morning, we got my brother and my wife to the airport before getting on the road. My wife had been driving with us on the first part of the trip but had to fly home to go back to work. So, the last two days to Florida, we had to work out a rotation system of drivers. It work and we made it back to Florida, even with a longer than expected stop in Tallahassee so my Dad could take care of some stuff related to the house deal. We got back to Florida and they closed on their house and we unloaded the Budget truck.
And now I am home. This past weekend, my church celebrated its 35th anniversary, and it was a bigger production than usual. And I was running sound for it. So, that extended things a bit. But now, things are starting to quiet down. The movers are scheduled to deliver my parent’s stuff to their house tomorrow. I hope to get back to working on the next book soon (tentatively titled The Mirror Initiative). All the driving did give me a lot of time to work a lot of stuff out in my head. And I was very excited to find my binder with my original notes for the world my book inhabits at my parent’s place. The extra reference material will come in handy.
Well, this turned out to be a wall of text (though I have pictures to go along with it). I’m hoping to do another Character Origins next week, this time with the Lady Chameleon. It’s a post that I wanted to do two months ago, but stuff happens. Until then, be safe.