The Grand 2018 North Carolina and Back Bookstore Tour was glorious. There are the facts: thirty days, 6,223 miles, sixteen gigs. But the splendor of the tour was really about people. There were the business owners who let the bookstore set up in their parking lots. There were the individuals who housed us. There were the fantastic customers who lingered to talk and who shared ideas, book titles and suggestions about where the bookstore might set up in the future. And there were the great co-pilots/booksellers who helped navigate, ease concerns, and hand the driver chocolate when traffic was bad.
Did we learn anything? Yes! As the primary planner/driver I realized there should be more days to just savor experiences on a long tour. Too many days in a row bookselling and driving creates an overload. There needs to be moments if not hours to reflect on all a traveling bookstore is about, on who we met. We learned Nebraska is more beautiful then we anticipated. We discovered the ladies parlor at the historic Sheridan Inn where Buffalo Bill used to hang was an ideal place to write postcards. We found surprises in Chillicothe, Missouri and a great Mexican restaurant in Oggalala, NE. And while talking food, the cornmeal muffin with sausage gravy at Lucettegrace Cafe in Raleigh is a treat to be remembered (and I hope to recreate that recipe some day).
Now with memories fresh and lessons learned, the next tour takes shape. It is shorter but no doubt will also offer amazing new experiences. It officially starts on June 18 at Ace Typewriter Repair in Portland. Then gigs at the SF Center for the Book (6/21-22) and at Mission Pie on 6/23 for our third annual Type-In there with those good folks. On 6/25 the bookstore sets up at the Port Orford Library for a day selling books, good conversations and then a Type-In from 2-5pm. A few more stops might materialize before starting out on the tour, but I do want this one to have time to reflect.
One might think traveling bookstore tours would get tiresome. On the contrary, they offer enough shared conversations, new insights on this country and driving time to ponder difficult questions that I suspect they will continue a while longer.
#missionpie #lucettegrace #acetypewriter