Monday 13 April
- The Prius needs an oil change. I've done about 6,000 miles in it and the 'Maint Reqd' light is on. Arrange with Hertz to get it done at nearby Firestone facility, here in Houston.
- While I'm waiting for the work to be done, I wonder about going over to the Harley Davidson dealer across the street and taking a look at the machines.
- The street has 10 lanes.
- I look around for a zebra crossing, but there's no sign of one. The only way to go across the street is to drive.
- Stop at print shop to order more Unimagined business cards -- I am running out.
- Head for Austin in the afternoon -- a 2.5 our drive. Austin is much more pedestrian friendly. Park at the venue and walk to a nearby Starbucks.
- My event has been widely advertised, including being a 'recommended event' in The Austin Chronicle. It is very well-attended.
- Head back to Houston late at night.
Tuesday 14 April
- A day off!
- Do e-mails all day and advance planning all day.
- Sleep for the fourth night in the same bed!
Wednesday 15 April
- Collect 1000 more Unimagined busines cards.
- Say goodbye to uncle and family and head for Dallas.
- Arrive at church, which is in a very attractive and pleasant neighborhood, and do e-mail sitting in the walled garden.
- Ask about a nearby Starbucks and walk there. This is a miracle: something I need in Texas which I can walk to!
- Event was listed in The Dallas Morning News and has a good crowd. It seems to go well.
Early-comers in Dallas
- An enthusiastic woman says that she's going to have her book club read Unimagined. I offer to attend the discussion meeting by video-Skype. She seems thrilled.
- Use internet connection in church to find a hotel near a Whole Foods.
- Sleep well.
Thursday 16 April
- Stop by Whole Foods to buy more chocolate and nuts. Love the chocolate-covered ginger pieces!
- Hit the road to Oklahoma City.
- Nothing to report.
- Arrive at church. Many posters up around the place, and two newspaper articles taped to notice board, about this event.
- The event is well-attended and goes well -- what else can I say?
- Depart in direction of Kansas City.
- Somewhere along the way, when I feel tired, check into a Super 8.
- Yes, in the hierarchy of the cheapest hotels, Super 8 is now my favourite. (When I had a corporate job, I was Platinum at Sheraton ... sigh ...)
Friday 17 April
- Depart for Kansas City.
- Nothing to report.
Did I take a wrong turn?
- Arrive at Shawnee Mission Church in the late afternoon.
- Leave my smart clothes in the office.
- Go to rendezvous at Chinese restaurant with fellow-writer Maril Crabtree (we have corresponded for years, but have never actually met).
- Event goes well and is well-attended.
With Maril Crabtree
- Say goodbye to Maril and head in direction of Denver (600 miles).
- Force myself to do at least 100 miles, before checking into a Super 8 in the early hours.
- At the front desk, she laughs. "Denver is buried in a snowstorm. They are having one inch an hour. You ain't getting to Denver."
- Troubled sleep.
Saturday 18 April
- Just a few hours later, put on long trousers (as opposed to shorts worn previous day) and come down to breakfast in the lobby. She is watching the Weather channel.
- Impressive (and troublesome) scenes of Denver buried in snow.
- Should I abandon Denver and proceed to Phoenix? Internet shows that snow will end by noon. Go back to bed for two more hours.
- Head for Denver.
- It is sunny and clear most of the way, until I cross into Colorado.
- Evidence of recent snow, but the roads are clear.
- Various signs say that I must use snow chains on my tyres if the lights are flashing. "Illegal to proceed without proper equipment." Please lights, don't flash.
- Arrive in Golden CO with 90 minutes to spare.
- Quick meal in modest Chinese restaurant.
- The event is well-attended and goes well.
- Now, depart on the longest single drive of my life: Denver to Phoenix -- 820 miles.
- Cover 100 miles, before checking into a Super 8, somewhere in Colorado.
Sunday 19 April
- Sunny and beautiful day; snow on the mountains.
- Drive all day: Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona. The terrain slowly changes.
- Take a break to drive along Meteor Crater Road. The site is closed (it's after 6 pm) and the crater is completely fenced off, but the road is uncannily silent and the terrain makes me think of Mars for some reason. This is where they'll film the fake manned human landing on Mars.
Landed my shuttlecraft on Mars
- Arrive in Scottsdale and proceed to home of Mike(friend from GE)'s mother's friend's house.
- It's an extraordinary house, with unique decor.
- Indian takeaway and late conversation.
- Sleep soundly.