GABST: What a long strange trip it’s been…

photo (64)Well, this is it. As I write this post, I’m looking over at my packed luggage, a rolling suitcase I’ll have to both check and probably pay an additional weight fee for — as it’s about 75% full of books — and a duffel bag I bought in SLC to house the remainder of my belongings, silly things like “clothes” and “my laptop.” I may not be going home a better person, but definitely one with more stuff.

In some ways I can’t believe that the Great American Bookstore Tour is over. I’ve been planning and talking about it for so long that I wonder how I’ll convince people I’m an interesting person who does interesting things after this. But in other ways, it feels like I’ve been gone forever, and looking back I almost can’t believe that Seattle was two weeks ago, not two months, or that I took my gorgeous trip to Alcatraz last Friday, not last year. I think I ultimately wound up with an ideal vacation — one that included plenty of opportunities for kicking back — but I also packed my days with interviews, eating, sightseeing and bookstore visits, and it’ll be hard to top my 4-mile-a-day walking average once I get back to New York (even though it’s New York). Continue reading “GABST: What a long strange trip it’s been…”

GABST Days 11 and 12: Denver denouement

Queen Anne B&B
Queen Anne B&B

I have to admit that my first impressions of Denver were negative. After a solid 8 hours of driving (around five of which were in Wyoming, i.e. 99.9% snowy hills. Like literally, 350+ miles of just snowy hills) I was road-weary, and ready to roll up to a good first-impression city. Denver …is not so much that city. After exiting off I-80 (so friendly had I-80 and I become that actually said goodbye to it, out loud) I found myself on I-25 South, a highway that takes you into the heart of downtown Denver, via the city’s super generic suburbs. Bounded on either side by shopping complexes, big-box retailers, Starbucks and gas stations, I-25 is nothing to write home about. In fact, it reminded me a great deal of suburban Maryland, where I grew up. Even Denver proper, a low-key city (aesthetically speaking) is just kind of suddenly….there, with little fanfare save the sudden increase in building height. 

Continue reading “GABST Days 11 and 12: Denver denouement”

GABST Day 10: SLC, punk

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So I think I’ve got a system worked out. It goes like this: Spend one day walking around for so long that my legs threaten to defect from my body, and spend the next day sitting for so long (in a car) that my brain threatens to abscond unless I give it something more challenging to do. It’s all about the yin and yang.

After a brief and lovely 3-hour drive this morning, I arrived in Salt Lake City already impressed. Nestled among the mountains, you almost don’t realize SLC is happening until suddenly it does, a small sea of low-rise buildings and wide streets, with a background of snow-caps in almost every direction.

Continue reading “GABST Day 10: SLC, punk”

GABST Day 9.1: An Elko adventure

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Another fascinating day on the Great American Bookstore Tour. And for reasons that have pretty much nothing to do with books.

The entire goal for Monday was to get from San Francisco to Elko, Nevada, a small town I chose primarily because it’s about 8 hours away from SF, and I figured that was the maximum amount of time I’d want to drive in a single day. I left shortly after 7 a.m., which put me on track to reach Elko by around 3 p.m., a bit on the early side for a town that boasts little besides motels and casinos, but I wanted to give myself plenty of time to stop along the way. That idea proved well-founded, since literally every second of every minute of every hour of the drive from San Fran to Elko included one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen in my life. It was like driving through a default computer desktop background, and were it not for the pesky obligation of “driving safely” I would have probably been taking nonstop photos/video the entire time. As it was, I extended the trip by at least an hour in pulling over to almost every available gas station and rest stop to snap photos, which do maybe 15% justice to the majesty of seeing the whole thing in person. If you’re ever in the mood to drive from SF to the ass-end middle of Nevada guys, I highly recommend it. In the meantime, I put together a little photo gallery at the bottom of this post. 

Continue reading “GABST Day 9.1: An Elko adventure”