The West

Just finished ten days of the traveling bookstore’s 2019 Western States Tour. Two weeks to go but so much happened already, it made sense to write. In fact, so much happened, I need to write although I doubt I can capture it all.

Weather  Last year on the Grand North Carolina and Back Tour, the traveling 73F83AF2-BBC6-4943-8B84-B51A053A2DCAbookstore hit the road in early April. Having barely survived single digit temperatures, blowing snow, and fingers too cold to type, I decided to wait until mid May this year to start a major tour with the bookstore.  Thus a surprise to get hit by freezing rain in Wyoming and blowing snow in Colorado. Thankfully managed to dodge a major storm and made it safely through Glenwood Canyon the day after a serious rock slide closed the interstate highway.

15E4EDCC-B878-42F2-96E4-8AAF6868EA61Mechanics  Having a traveling bookstore by definition requires a vehicle.  Those mobile bookstores that stay in one city have the luxury of going to the same trusted mechanic whenever there’s an issue.  A travel-all-over-the-country kind of bookstore obviously requires a different approach. And then add the intricacies of a Sprinter van with a Mercedes diesel  engine to further complicate life.  There were indeed some intense moments.  I couldn’t bear to watch Aaron, a very patient tow truck driver, load the bookstore the morning it wouldn’t start (Sarah took the photo).  It was Farley’s in Casper that got us back on the road that day.  And when some issues persisted in Buena Vista, CO, All Valley Auto came through.  That mechanic didn’t have the necessary parts but managed to troubleshoot to get us to Grand Junction. There Scotty’s took over to get the bookstore squared away before the long Memorial Day weekend and the next leg of the tour.  I never had the opportunity to talk books with any of these mechanics but they all did their best to get the bookstore back on the road in a timely manner.  Only missed one day of gigs (Stella’s in Denver and Elevation Beer in Poncha Springs) and otherwise managed to get where we needed to be.

People How to describe so many good people met along the way besides the mechanics and tow truck 1FFAF4F6-B596-4D48-B609-42D942CF4BAAdrivers? It warmed my heart to open at Sheridan’s Black Tooth Brewery, and readers I met there last year showed up to buy books.  Virginia graciously housed us in Casper even when it required an extra day and she had never met us before.  The waitress at Johnny J’s Diner let us sit for hours over coffee and pie while waiting for the bookstore to get fixed. Connie and Duff held dinner til we finally pulled into Buena Vista, and served great White Chicken Chili to thaw us out.  Plus their neighbor donated a box of books to help my inventory! Cafe Dawn and Eddy Out @whitewaterwraps made room for the bookstore to set up in Salida.  A customer there stopped by to bring chocolate chip cookies and buy books. At Glenwood Springs during a non-bookstore stop, had the good fortune to meet Darwin Raymond who has a wonderful typewriter repair shop and an amazing Moluccan cockatoo named JJ.  In Grand Junction, a very kind soul traded two dozen fresh eggs for a book and told us stories about her chickens.  Besides the people who purchased books, there are those who provide space for the bookstore to open, put me up, offered meals, let friends know where I’d be setting up next, and in many fine ways support the quirky existence of a traveling bookstore.

Thank you.

Begin at the beginning

A time of year when it is hard to keep up with all that is going on. The 2019 Western States Bookstore Tour is about to begin.  You can find dates and places at the end of this post or more details on the bookstore’s Facebook page. Quite the tour!  A few cities where the bookstore has set up before and some new ones.  Look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new people. And of course, talking about books and life.  I am reminded as the tour gets organized, how much we are part of a wider community.  Beth, whom I haven’t seen in years offered to help with the bookstore’s gig in Denver and she put me in touch with her cousin Virginia who lives in Casper. I have yet to meet Virginia in person but she helped sort out where I could set up the bookstore in that part of Wyoming.  A friend of a friend in Grand Junction, old friends who moved to Buena Vista, Anne’s family in Sacramento, and on and on.  I don’t know how one would go about setting up a traveling bookstore tour if it wasn’t for the amazing network of people who are willing to help by making calls, suggesting sites, and/or offering housing.  Thank you!IMG_1480

The 2019 Western States Bookstore Tour runs from May 16 to June 5 which gives me a few days to get home before the local Creative Arts Center‘s annual Trash2Flash event on June 8th.  This arts center does so much to enhance the community where I live that it is obvious I need to contribute to their event.  And that meant creating my outfit prior to taking off on the bookstore tour.  I can’t reveal too many details about the outfit (we each keep ours secret until they hit the runway) but I will say I wanted photographs to be part of it. I put out the word and before the blink of an eye, people were dropping off large envelopes bulging with photos.  So many beautiful ones!  So many that inspired ideas for stories.  I will use some but have bundles that I won’t use in case you want to use them in your own project or to illustrate a book.

Needless to say, my kitchen table is presently covered with books to be sorted, photographs to be sorted, papers and maps, fabric, scissors and thread.

May 16:  Clark’s Fork. Bozeman, MT

May 17: Black Tooth Brewing. Sheridan, WY

May 18: Funky Junk.  Casper, WY

May 20: Stella’s Gourmet Coffee and Such.  Denver, CO

May 20: Elevation Beer.  Poncha Springs, CO

May 21: Cafe Dawn. Salida, CO

May 23: Kannah Creek Brewing. Grand Junction, CO

May 24:  The Christi Reece Group: Grand Junction. CO

May 26: TBA.  Salt Lake City

May 28: Drakes @ The Barn:  Sacramento, CA

June 2: Extracto Coffee.  Portland, OR

June 3: Ace Typewriter. Portland, OR

June 4: Populuxe Brewing.  Seattle, WA

June 5: TBA. Seattle, WA

 

books and maps and time

I suppose there are people out there who think if one has a traveling bookstore that certain months would be easy. Park the bookstore, stay at home, curl up with delightful books and read through the winter.  And then when Spring actually appears, get out the key, turn on the bookstore and hit the road. Although I am ever hopeful there will be more traveling bookstores in this country (and abroad), I should dissuade you – this is not the case.  There is a bit more work involved.IMG_1441

First there are the incoming books that pile up and pile up and PILE UP until the garage/warehouse is overflowing, and the top of the washing machine (don’t ask me why except it is a flat surface) is full of books and the floor space next to the front door has boxes of books which tip over when visitors come by and everything has to be sorted so the very best reads can then be put in the bookstore or boxed for upcoming trips.

Then there is applying to festivals (Yaak River Fest, Libby’s Riverfront Blues Festival, Montana Book Festival, Baltimore Book Festival, etc) and setting up trips.  The first long distance trip this year is scheduled May 15 – June 7 and is called in my notes, “The Western Bookstore Adventure”. This means getting out the maps, the phone, the computer, and starting to talk with anyone and everyone who might know something about Sheridan, Denver, Grand Junction, Sacramento, Ashland, etc etc etc.  How many miles is it from Casper, WY to Buena Vista, CO?  Who do I know in Salt Lake City who might put me up when the bookstore is there?  Is it a good idea to set up in Winnemucca the last weekend in May during the Run-A-Mucca Motorcycle Rally?  Will the owners of Populuxe Brewing who I briefly met let me set up in their parking lot when I am in Seattle? And how do all these places fit into a three-week travel schedule?  The mantra becomes Pace Yourself. Balance. I am typically not good at either.

Because of course there are so many places I would enjoy taking the bookstore. And there are invites from people whom I would dearly enjoy seeing and meeting.  But for some reason whether I use a paper calendar or the one on my phone, there are only so many days in a week, weeks in a month, months in a year.  There are community commitments in Eureka, MT up until May 14 and the Trash2Flash fashion show/fundraiser June 8. These make bookends for when the traveling bookstore can be out-of-state.  Of course the rest of June and July, the bookstore will set up in Eureka and other parts of Montana, land of my heart.

But for now, its back to organize books, maps, phone, computer, and oh, remember to order business cards, set an appointment for the bookstore to get a tune up, pace yourself, and balance.