Still with me? Onward! (Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, today’s post is guaranteed 100% potty-free…)
The last of my trio of recent trips was a local one. Well, sort of local. Long-distance local. Because PIES & PREJUDICE was nominated for an Oregon Book Award this year (my friend Emily Whitman’s wonderful book WILDWING was the winner), I was invited by Literary Arts, the organization that sponsors the awards, to go on a mini-book tour. I jumped at the chance! For one thing, it’s an honor to be asked, and for another, it’s just plain fun.
So I packed my suitcase, and off I went to a stretch of the Oregon coastline I’ve never seen before: North Bend and Coos Bay.
I have to admit it’s cool to blow into town and see your “wanted” poster plastered everywhere. Here’s one on the window of Ciccarelli’s, the restaurant where we ate the first night. (Yum!) One of the best things about these tours is the chance to get to know some other Oregon writers. I was incredibly fortunate to tag along with two delightful and incredibly talented people — George Estreich, whose book The Shape of the Eye, a moving, heartfelt memoir about raising a daughter with Down Syndrome, won the award for creative nonfiction; and Geri Doran, a poet whose lovely collection Sanderlings was a finalist in the poetry category.
Our fearless guide for the tour was Susan Denning from Literary Arts. She’s a peach.
And she was a willing partner-in-crime, too, when I suggested we skive off and do a little sight-seeing. We made a beeline for the ocean, of course, and landed in a great spot called Shore Acres State Park. Can you believe this view?
There used to be a fancy mansion perched on this cliff, the home of pioneer lumberman and shipbuilder Louis Simpson, but it’s long gone. Too bad. Like Emma Hawthorne, I’m a sucker for old houses, and I would love to have seen it…
All that remains are pictures, alas. Oh, and the estate’s formal gardens. Which brought Susan and me to our first dilemma of the morning — which to visit first, the gardens or the beach?
We opted for the gardens. All I can say is, wow!
I want a fountain like this one in my garden:
And rhododendrons like these:
And a Japanese pond like this one, please:
That’s not too much to ask, is it?
There was a greenhouse, too, where we admired a variety of beautiful flowers …
… and gawked at a VERY odd plant that looked like a pussywillow wearing a feather boa:
Does anyone know what this is? I’m clueless.
When we were done touring the garden, it was time to hit Simpson’s Beach. Oh joy! We were the only ones there!
Is this gorgeous or what?!
Such a stunning setting definitely called for kicking back, relaxing, and soaking up a few of those rare Oregon rays …
It’s times like this that I’m convinced I have the best job in the world.
I could have lingered in this beautiful spot all day, but there were workshops and readings and school visits ahead, so Susan and I reluctantly pried ourselves away and headed back to civilization. I taught a writing workshop that afternoon, followed by a group signing at the lovely North Bend Public Library, then the following day I visited a couple of schools, including North Bend Middle School, where I hobnobbed with the fabulous librarians from there and from North Bay Elementary School:
Oops, there’s that purple shirt again! Where’s Megan when I need her? I really have to go shopping…
The students gave me a fantastic welcome, as you can see.
They’d all read my SPY MICE books, and I had a blast talking to them about my path to becoming an author, and about books and writing. And then we brainstormed some fractured fairy tales together, which was great fun.
The kids also made some beautiful notes and letters and artwork for me, too, which totally bowled me over:
You can’t tell from the picture, but this one below is 3-D! Glory’s (the mouse’s) nose and ears have a sort of sandy texture added to them. Really cute!
An entire class collaborated on that one, and on this amazing collage below. I’m planning on getting it framed to hang on my office wall:
See why I’m convinced I have the best job in the world?