Tales from the Remains Trail

Let’s face it, starting a book tour two days after coming home from two weeks in Europe is. . . well. . . nuts! It wasn’t just two weeks in Europe. It was two weeks with 18 people in Europe–kids, grandkids, and a few additional friends and not quite relations–on a Rick Steves Family Vacation. (Vacation isn’t exactly the right word.) Vacations are supposed to be restful. This was anything but. We started in Rome and ended in Paris with stops in Venice, Tuscany, Austria, Germany, Switzerland along the way, ending in Paris for the flight home. Incidentally it was sizzling in Paris while we were there.

We traveled in a full sized bus with a terrific driver and two wonderful guides. We’ve done Rick Steves tours several times before. In a way, traveling with a busload of strangers is easier than traveling with a busload of family because all the complications of family–both good and bad–are packed into the bus right along with the baggage.

But it was also glorious. I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, wait, maybe I would change a couple of things. I could have used hotel rooms with softer pillows and a comfortable chair or two, but let’s not quibble. What we wanted to do was infect our kids and grandkids with the joys and challenges of travel, and I think we succeeded. The grandkids took to travel like ducks to water.

As for starting a book tour while we were all still waking up at 3 AM because of jet lag? Here’s how that happened. My editor contacted me sometime last spring to say that Remains of Innocence would be out on July 15. “No,” I told her, “I don’t think so. I’ll be in Switzerland. If the fifteenth is it, you’ll be starting the tour without me.” We ended up agreeing on the next week for the on-sale date which. For some unknown reason, book tours always start on a Tuesday? Why? I have no idea!

So here I am on day three of the Remains of Innocence tour. I’m sitting on a very comfortable chair in the “old” Davenport Hotel in Spokane. Last night I spoke to an enthusiastic crowd at the Bing Crosby Theater. In a little while I’ll be flying from here to Payne Field in Everett to do a fundraising luncheon for Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish. Tonight I’ll be in Bellingham doing an appearance on Chuckanut Radio. After that it’s Tacoma, Port Angeles, and points south.

The good news is that last night I went to bed at 10:30 and awakened at six. That’s a big improvement over the night before the tour started when I went to bed at nine, woke up at three, and had to do three appearances that day. Half an hour before the third one, an evening event at the University Bookstore in Mill Creek, I was dragging and didn’t know if I’d make it. Then we went to the store where I encountered a roomful of enthusiastic fans who buoyed me up with their good wishes. That’s the thing about fans–their questions and comments sustain me and make what I do worthwhile.

So now, properly coffeed and breakfasted, it’s time to wash and iron my hair, put on my makeup and my book tour duds (different from family tour duds), and hit the road. How, exactly, you might be wondering, is she going to get from Spokane to Payne Field? I’ll be flying on a private jet–a tiny one–where I don’t have to arrive an hour before flight time and fight my way through TSA security. It’s an expensive bit of convenience, but it’s also not bad for the girl who arrived in Seattle in 1981 with a U-Haul’s worth or worldly goods and a lifetime’s worth of broken dreams. I came to Seattle for a new start, and I can say unequivocally that I found one.

Yes, I’ve come a long way, baby. But I couldn’t have done any of it without my readers and fans. And that’s why, jet lag or not, I’m doing this tour with a happy and grateful heart.