Travel and Imagination

Tis the summer travel season. So, First Reader and I drove halfway across America to attend the graduation of my Eldest Granddaughter.

Now, neither of us are fans of Tornado Alley. Frankly, we’d prefer to avoid that area of the country when Mother Nature is so active, but when an event as momentous as graduation occurs, suck it up, Buttercup, we’re going.

Driving across half the country takes you out of your comfort zone for sure. Even though First Reader and I have traveled that route every year for the last twenty-something years, we generally make the trek closer to full on winter when the air is cold, and the possibility of blowing snow could ground us for an extra day or so. The drive feels more ominous when being blown into Oz is the more likely probability. I’ve experienced the edge of a tornado once, thankyouverymuch, and would prefer not to do it again.

With a little imagination, one can turn an uneventful trip into quite an adventure. A traffic jam through an unfamiliar major metropolitan area during rush hour can become an exercise in frustration, but by imagining other peoples’ stories as they race through traffic or sit along the side of the road, it eases the vexation a bit. I need to get better at it.

The trip out was uneventful, thankfully—well other than the rush hour experience. We got a late start the first day, so didn’t get as far as we wanted, which meant a longer drive on day two. Aside from a little wind the first day and the beginning of the second, the weather was perfect. We managed to find a bubble of fair weather and ride that all the way to our destination.

We can only hope for the same luck when we head home later in the week.

Today, though, we are preparing to take a side trip to finally meet a man I only know through voice chat and writing—Sam. Now, as with most online personas, his is a nom de plume, if you will.

Sam Lee Bowman is a frontiersman, a scoutmaster, and an all-around storyteller. The thing about Sam is that he has some great sea stories—and a boatload of no-shitters. I love picking his brain for story and character ideas. And since he and his family live about a three-hour drive from Youngest Kid, I thought we would take the opportunity to drive a little further to meet the man.

As we pack for an overnight trip, I think back to the stories we’ve developed and the characters we’ve discussed. I know that every character I’ve written has a little bit of me in them, I’m sure that’s the same with most writers—including Sam.

I’ll have a full account of our meeting next week. For now, anticipation is all I have.

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