60 Hours to Launch a Road Trip…

and I’m letting go.

No more completing four page To Do lists.

No more pretending Wonder Woman inhabits my body.

My fantasy life exploded deep inside last night’s thunder and lightning storm.

At 7 p.m., the power went out, the computer crashed and into the weather ethers vanished three hours of writing. DH and I bailed, checking into a nearby hotel. Our disappearing act followed power company candor:  ‘we’ll have your power restored…some time later in the evening.”

What worried hands grab in dark lightning.

House temps rising above 80 degrees sped up our split. So did a scary black sky. Misery threatened overnight with lightning streaks boomed down to light the night, four belts at a time. I looked at Chuck, he looked at me and, with flashlights in hand, grabbed familiar bags in the dark. 

The two red bags hold everything two ex‐crisis communications consultants once needed for client emergency response. Odd to be both client and consultant in a single run of hours last night.

This morning, with the sun shining, I looked at last night’s haul and whispered to myself, “Too much luggage for one night.” But from somewhere deep inside came the defense:  we didn’t know what we would need — and we couldn’t see in the dark. We just responded. 

I’ve learned a lot about plans and fantasies in the last 24 hours. To wit:

  • John Lennon was right when he (or someone) said: “Life is what happens to you when you have other plans.”
  • I’ve lost 24 hours that I’d counted on to finish several Very Vital, Absolutely Must‐Be‐Done Projects that demanded completion before beginning any of the road trip nitty‐gritty preparation.
  • This afternoon, I sheared off two‐thirds of the Vital from the above‐mentioned To Do list. I have 60 hours to finish Everything. That’s on top of several outside must‐keep appointments, critical errands (gasoline in the car, hello?), along with routine daily chores.
  • Vital Learning: Vital can wait. It must. Truth is — cough, cough — most of it’s been waiting a long time anyway. C’est le vie.
  • Vital Learning: Road Trip packing list got major‐sheared. As in I’m packing half of what I’d earlier planned. No way I have time to pack everything I’d considered Vital only a day ago. I’ve got more important things to finish.
  • Vital Learning: When did Vital become so important to daily living?
  • Speaking of, next trip I take, I’m adding a blank page to the front of my Trip To‐Do List. The paper carries a single two‐word headline: The Unexpected. That’s Vital, too.

When life rolls, I rock. What else can a RoadBroad do?

Writer as Detective Observer

Semi‐bored, I sauntered through the Sherlock Holmes exhibit. A passel of schoolchildren entered the hallway and careened along its blacken walls. I winced. Turning to my right, I glanced a casual side‐eye to spot the piece of paper. It seemed an afterthought in the glass case until I read its message. Eerily appropriate for this day, this time. Indeed, my life this year:

Richer storytelling inspired by unexpected sources

Holmes’ words around “The Art of Observation” propelled me back to his era. As quickly, my mind jerked me back to where I stood. A whipsaw journey for an ex‐reporter absorbing too much of daily surroundings, fast‐forwarding to a writer determined to grow her storytelling skills. Further afield lies a chauffeur‐in‐waiting, prepping for a 19‐day road trip.

Was the Universe trying to tell me something? 

I stopped and turned back around. The rousing antics of youngsters faded away. I leaned in to peer beneath the glass. Sherlock Holmes’ advice about seeing but not observing left me blushing “guilty!” He wrote of inspiration, forensic science, discovery.

I read on and begin to substitute words. Personalize. Connect. Words written in the 19th century morph into new meaning in the 21st.

Observations captured here, for later translation…

Storyteller becomes detective, exploring the why of characters doing things as they do, propelled by setting, mood, temperature, intangibles awaiting discovery.

I am a writer; observation begins everything in my profession.” 

My heart pounds, remembering what’s approaching. A road trip through three states across 19 days. With a fellow observer. There’s something for both of us to see, observe. Discover.

Thanks for the reminder, Sherlock. Or is that “thanks, Sir”?

We’re all detectives — or can be — if we see lightly, observe deeply.

Go Local, not Global

In advance of this weekend’s kickoff of the summer vacation season, Bloomberg published a glorious photo essay of what it called “the‐10‐best‐global‐road‐trips‐to‐try‐this‐summer.”

My reaction came fast and hard: go local, not global.

Think of all the things you can see right where you are. Or within a few miles from where you live. Or after a few days on the road.

This time next week, Ellen and I will have driven across the cityscapes of Houston and Dallas on into the rural grasslands and canyonlands of Texas before driving high into New Mexico’s mountain lands then leveling out over Colorado’s dry grasslands, ending two straight days on the road in the flatirons of Boulder.

That’s 16 hours of a one‐way trip only two days from home.

From the coast lands to the mountains, we’ll see beauty everywhere. Because we’re looking. Really looking. And that’s the point this Memorial Day weekend, the kick‐off of the summer vacation season.

Look where you travel.

Look local.

Of course, this comes from the RoadBroad who wrote in her bio that she’s determined to spend the night on all seven continents.

As an old newsman I adore told me once, “never let the facts get in the way of a good story.”

I won’t. Not on this blog post.

My Why for a Blog “Yes!”

The idea dropped in like a dream.

Start a blog for the road trip part of your Colorado writing retreat. Then use your earned knowledge and skills for the later novel road trip. 

After a lifetime as a hired writer for others’ words, I’m shoulder‐deep in my first novel. It’s a classic journey story about a woman who hits the road to reconnect with old college friends. She finds them — and, of course, herself — along the way.

I’ve been working on this novel for nearly 11 years now. Here’s a sampling of what’s accumulated:

Two of five piles: more eek!  
Eek! Here’s h‐a‐l‐f the jump drives that contain my WIP.

And that’s only part of it. Real Life got in the way. During one five‐year period, my extended family experienced a hospitalization or a funeral, on average, every three months. Non‐stop. Did I mention that 14 of those hospitalizations involved me and my brain?

Writing fell victim to healing. Despite the lengthy interruption and massive accumulation, I return to writing with a goal of novel completion this year. The plan includes this blog in that strategy.

Learn how to blog on a road trip. Make this fun. Keep it relaxed, and easy. As relaxed and easy as WordPress can be.

Write like a fiend. Remember, everything on the road is a potential blog post, be it words, photos, or video.

Report like a wise version of the reporter you used to be. Seek the unique in whatever form it manifests.

Observe, observe, observe.

Demonstrate what a founding member of the RoadBroads does. Prove it can be done.

You’re never too old to learn.

Besides, one good road trip must lead to another.

It all makes perfect sense.

I think.

About this Blog

This blog came to life, courtesy Ellen, who prefers road travel to soaring skyward. She suggested driving to a Colorado‐based writing retreat in June, 2018.

Melanie answered with two words, one of which can be repeated in mixed company. Young children, however, would probably be confused. C’est le vie — it wouldn’t be the first time either of us has been misunderstood.

Post‐writing retreat, we contemplated life sans RoadBroads. Should we continue this blog? We both proclaimed a loud two‐word answer, identical to Melanie’s reply to Ellen’s initial query. Amazing what happens when two women writers get to know each other on the road.

We’ve dialed back the blogging to one post each per week. Periodically, we’ll post a guest blogger — another woman writer, on the road — reporting some kind of trip and what she’s learned.

We can all learn from each other.

Looking forward to the lessons offered via observations, discoveries, and experiences. The good. The bad. The ugly. Adventure is all this, most especially the ugly. 

It’s only roadtrips. With two broads and some special guests.

Join us?