Friday, July 06, 2012

California Book Tour

Want a free California vacation? Here’s my two weeks along the coast of California, one tweet /post at a time!

Packing for California with a little help from the family.

In the misty morning in LA, I spotted two Coyotes roaming across Mulholland Drive ... so begins my tour of California.

So everyone's right: the weather IS perfect in San Diego.

Enjoying the pool tides and high peaks of Cabrillo National Park.

After curling over the Coronado Bridge, I grabbed a taco and burrito at Coronado's best take out place: "Mexican Take Out." Now I am sitting at Hotel Del Coronado before strolling onto their beach.

In Baltimore: 98 and humid. In San Diego's Balboa Park: 68 and sunny.

At the San Diego Museum of Man, there's an exhibit on childbirth. It made me think of WOMB, currently with my literary midwife (agent) on the other coast.

Balance: Balboa's Botanical and Alcatraz gardens are just the thing after the Museum of Man and Timken Art Museum.

There is a model railroad museum in San Diego's Balboa Park. Perfect place to leave some swag for TRACKS: A Novel in Stories ...

I'm off to see the wizard ... the wonderful Wizard of Oz House on Coronado.

Yes, the Marston House is more lavish than the Oz House. But L. Frank Baum wrote several Oz books in his simple Coronado home, so it kinda evens out.

Wanna relocate to San Diego? The Gaslight Quarter's famous Yuma Building is for sale. I'll consider over coffee @ Cafe Luna.

Back to Balboa: the San Diego Museum of Art was closed yesterday. It rested well and is performing perfectly today.

Mexican lunch in San Diego's Old Town before plotting the next attack ...

"San Diego's best Mexican restaurant" was good. Coronado's “Mexican Take Out” was better. Now, strolling Old Town.

A railroad crossing near San Diego's Santa Fe Station says “Tracks 5.” Hey, I haven't even started Tracks 2 yet!

And finally: San Diego's contemporary art museums ...

Watched the sun set from the top of the Hyatt, but no flashing green lights. Bring on the scotch flight!

Visit to Torrey Pines State Reserve before leaving San Diego for LA.

Watching the waves @ Torrey Pines reminds me of Ten Thousand Waves @ the San Diego Contemporary Art Museum. Nine screens displayed an artsy film from different perspectives. One extended scene took place on a commuter train, the people watching each other watch each other. An interpretation of TRACKS?

Hello sunny Santa Monica. Suddenly all I wanna do is have some fun. I have a feeling I'm not the only one.

Hundreds of people crowded Santa Monica Pier as I read from TRACKS. Not that many of them were listening, I'm just saying ...

It was fun connecting last night with friends who went to school with me in Sasebo, Japan. Appropriately, we had the house margaritas with sake.

If you had one full Saturday to do LA, where would you go go first?

Great suggestions—keep them coming while I slip into this tar pit.

Out of the tar pits, into the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).

The impressionism and soap bubbles were great. But I think the best find at the LACMA was the Japanese art pavilion (given our Japanese reunion).

Got to LA's Museum of Tolerance to find it's closed on Saturdays. Guess it's only fair to tolerate that.

Saturday night on Hollywood Blvd.

Even the wax museum figures in Hollywood appear to be plastic!

Last night I had an unexpected encounter with Angelina Jolie. Brad wasn't there.

Traded in the clunky old Versa for a brand new, candy apple red Focus SE. Much nicer rental for the cruise up the west coast.

Is the traffic on 101 going to average 15 mph all the way from LA to SD, or just these first few hours?

HWY 101: 4 1/2 hours, 130 miles. Have to skip the Hearst Castle today and head directly to San Francisco.

Stopped in King City for fuel. I must be east of Eden.

Finally made it to San Francisco (a few hours and an old friend ago).

If you had a free day in San Francisco, how would you spend it?

Morning sun reflecting off the shore, Golden Gate Bridge glistening in the sun. Cup of coffee and a walk along the piers. Cool, salty breeze. Ahh, San Francisco.

Everyone said to buy Alcatraz tickets early. I figured it's Monday morning, no need. Everyone was right; next available ticket is for JULY 7! I'll just look at the island from here on the end of Pier 39.

If you say "wish you were here" when at Alcatraz, is that an insult or a compliment?

The sea lions are barking, “hello.”

Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl for lunch in Fisherman's Wharf. Then a trip across the Golden Gate Bridge. The view from Vista Point is great.

Two years ago, I was in San Francisco when my agent called with the good news of a publishing contract for TRACKS. I'm in San Francisco now for a few days and just got an email that my agent is following up with publishers about WOMB. Perhaps I should extend my stay?

The view from Telegraph Hill isn't bad either. Now, back to the roller coaster. (That is, the streets of San Francisco.)

When the sign said "park at 90 degrees," I didn't realize it meant park the car on its side!

Ah, Golden Gate Park ... Last time I visited I spent an entire day here. It could happen again.

It did.

C'mon, San Francisco, let's get lit tonight! Meet me in the Makeout Room tonight, 7 to 5. Bring your friends and we’ll have a good time!

That's 7 to 9. Unless the readings are REALLY good.

Tonight in San Francisco: Inside Story Time: TRACKS in The Makeout Room, 7 to 9.

Had a California scrambler in Redwood with my friend before heading to San Jose. Goodbye San Francisco, for now ...

Ah, San Jose, place of my birth. Good to see you.

San Jose to Monterey with Salinas in between. I grew up here, so I know the way.

Having pie and coffee at The Steinbeck House, where John Steinbeck grew up and wrote such early works as THE RED PONY and TORTILLA FLAT. For dessert, the tour.

Getting ready to visit the National Steinbeck Center. And what's cool is that they're expecting me!

Inside story: I've been corresponding with someone at the Steinbeck Center for a few weeks and we were trying to set up an event, but couldn't in the time I'm in the area. So I arranged to donate a copy and hope to read next time I'm in town.

John Steinbeck: I nearly always write—just as I nearly always breathe.

I'm happy to report The National Steinbeck Center now has a copy of TRACKS: A Novel in Stories.

Glad to report that the John Steinbeck Public Library in Salinas now has a copy of TRACKS: A Novel in Stories.

Enjoying "Monterey County's Best Coffee" on Main Street in Salinas. The coffee is good. But the atmosphere at Steinbeck's boyhood home was better.

The liquor store between the Steinbeck House and Steinbeck Center is called Cal's liquors. Named after the surviving son in EAST OF EDEN, or coincidence?

Made it to Monterey.

Sly McFly's was voted best blues joint in Monterey. And it's right next to Cannery Row's Steinbeck monument. I'm going in.

Good music, drinks, and atmosphere. But what would you expect—it’s Monterey!

It's 55 and sunny in Monterey. That's practically half of Baltimore’s temperature!

News as it happens: Supreme Court: Health care law upheld! Health care for all!

John Steinbeck isn't the only literary legend associated with Monterey. Robert Louis Stevenson lived and wrote here too. Maybe that's why Steinbeck quoted him?

“Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.” And here I am.

I really must do something nice for Doc.

I am parked in the carport in front of my childhood friend's place in Monterey. If I knock, will a 14 year old come out to play?

My old place is gone, new houses built. But the community center where I spent Friday nights watching movies, listening to music, and playing video games is here. So is the convenience center.

When I lived here, I babysat for Mike Mullins, recent Joint Chief of Staff. I had an ad to babysit and mow lawns on the La Mesa community bulletin board. Now, the same board has an ad for TRACKS, by a former resident.

Driving through Steinbeck Country listening to a Steinbeck audiobook. How perfect is that?

On my way to Santa Barbara for tonight's TRACKS party!

Hey Santa Barbara! Join me tonight for a TRACKS party @ Cominichi's with live music by Nate Lane! Tonight, 6 to 9!

Had a great time last night at Cominichi’s!

Montecito, Santa Barbara, and vicinity: join me tonight for TRACKS AT TECOLOTE BOOK SHOP at 5 p.m!

Jewel-blue lake, dust-brown mountains flowered with green trees, a hawk gliding in a cloudless sky. Vista Point next to Santa Barbara is a great place to rest.

I'm excited about my TRACKS reading tonight at Tecolote Books. I'm even more excited about meeting some of the expected guests!

Tonight's book event was absolutely marvelous. More on it later. Now the PCH ...

One last California sunset along the PCH ...

I'm back in LA where I started. One last day before flying over the wildfire on my way to Baltimore where the power is out after the storm and it's in the humid hundreds.

It may only reach 99 in Baltimore today.

Doing the entire Hollywood walk of fame. In the first few minutes, surprises like Dr. Seuss, Pee Wee Herman, Edward Murrow, Ray Bradbury, and Gene Autry.

Did you know Ray Bradbury and Gene Autry are directly next to one another on the Hollywood walk of fame?

The freaks come out at night? On Hollywood Blvd, they come out during the day, too!

Worst part of the trip: LAX!

Back to Baltimore, hot, humid, hundred degree weather, storms, no electricity ... there's no place like home.

The TRACKS reading at Tecolote in Montecito may have been in a valley, but it was the high point to my California book tour. Thank you to Thomas Steinbeck and Gail Knight Steinbeck for helping to set it up, promote it, and support it.

It was a thrill to meet Mr. Steinbeck at Tecolote Books and to talk with him about writing. Great storytelling runs in his family, and it was such a compliment to have him speak highly of TRACKS. Sincere Thanks to an author I admire.

Another surprise: old friend and fellow writer Manisha Gadia Bewtra showed up at my TRACKS event in Montecito! She read early versions of TRACKS stories when we were in a workshop together a good seven years ago! Nice to see her and her family there.

The power is back on after severe storms. The AC is working. Take that, hot humidity!

The sun has set on my California book tour. I’m back in Baltimore with the family, electricity is working, AC is on, the office is in operation. Still California Dreaming, but things are back to normal.


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