Tag Archives: Utah

R is for Road Trip


by Lillian Csernica on April 21, 2016

I love a good road trip.  The fact that I usually take them with my best friend, collaborator, and partner in crime Pat MacEwen does help.  Here are my Top Five Reasons Why I Love Road Trips.

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Staying in hotels — Air conditioning, big beds, and maid service.  What’s not to love?  Of course, there was that one haunted hotel….

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You see life in detail — Little jukeboxes at every table in a Utah diner.  Entering the city of St. Louis, Missouri.  Black Butte, the cinder cone near Mt. Shasta.  Traveling down the California coast on Hwy 101 and stopping to see the waves crashing against the cliffs.  All the stars you can see at night out in the middle of nowhere in Arizona.

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Plenty of time to work out story ideas and/or problems — Pat and I have discussed many of our works-in-progress while on the road.  It’s usually up to me to take notes.  Now that I’ve started doing my share of the driving, she’ll have to play scribe.  I don’t think we’ve ever had a story conference quite like the Night of the Lavender Oreos, at least not while we were on the road.  Safety first!

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The variety of food is great — The Black Bear Diner.  That BBQ place Pat and I stopped at on the way home from RadCon. The Mongolian BBQ in Stockton, CA.  The reliably low-cost comfort food at various Denny’s locations all over the Pacific Northwest.

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The people I meet:

The Man From Glasgow.  I met him on the casino floor of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.  He was trying to find his way to the elevators.  Suddenly we were arm in arm, laughing and chatting.  He wouldn’t believe me when I told him I wanted to see Glasgow more than Edinburgh.

The nurse on duty with us when Chris, Michael and I had to spend the night in a Red Cross Shelter because it rained so hard that winter our house was in danger of being flooded.  Turned out she was regional director for the Red Cross with NICU experience.  She got stuck where we did by the landslides, so we all huddled together.

My Ohio cousins.  There are more than a few.  The first time we met, they ganged up on me, tied me to a tree, and blasted me with Spiderman squirt guns.  My family is so scattered that I haven’t had a lot of that kind of group family mayhem in my life.  Now I’m old enough to know how precious it really is.

To say nothing of the wide and wonderful variety of folks I meet at science fiction conventions….

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N is for Nowhere (the Middle Of)


by Lillian Csernica on April 16, 2016

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In Everybody’s Autobiography, Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, CA, “There’s no there there.”  This is not true of Oakland, but I have seen many places where there’s just nothing there.

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On one of our trips to Ohio, Daddy decided to take the southern route on I-15, which meant driving through a whole lot of very hot Nowhere in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.  We had to put beach towels on the car seats.  If I didn’t, and I was wearing shorts, my skin would stick to the slick upholstery.  Peeling myself off of that was no fun at all.  Have any of you ever had to do that?

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Off California Interstate 5, just before you get to the Grapevine, there’s a little town called Lost Hills.  The last time I was there (late ’80s/early ’90s), the town consisted of one stoplight, one gas station, a Motel 6, and one lonely tumbleweed blowing around in the hotel parking lot.  I’ve always wondered where the people lived who worked in Lost Hills.  Maybe they all stayed at the Motel 6.

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My mother likes to travel.  This includes booking bus tours out of the local community center or some other local organization.  I’ve always been fond of castles, so when Mom decided to go to Hearst Castle she took me with her.  Hearst Castle is located in San Simeon, CA, two hundred fifty miles from both Los Angeles and San Francisco.  It’s in the middle of nowhere quite literally because the ranch it sits on includes two hundred fifty thousand acres!  Hearst Castle also sits atop some really steep mountains, so getting there was a challenge.  I was profoundly grateful to know Mom had the sense to leave the driving to a professional tour bus driver.  If coming home from Pasadena had been difficult, getting to and from Hearst Castle could have been a nightmare!

On the drive back from Las Vegas, where Pat and I had attended KillerCon, it was cold and dark and very empty outside our car windows.  Then a sign appeared, a sign with the three words you see in the photo above.  Out in the middle of nowhere, near the Interstate 15 and Hwy 286/288 interchange, in perfect territory for an alien abduction, stands the Alien Fresh Jerky store.  I tell you, “Hotel California” by the Eagles might as well have been playing in the background.  We had to investigate.  How often does an opportunity like this come along?

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Pat got lost in the hot sauce aisle.  Neither of us had ever seen so many different varieties of hot sauce in one place.  I like Thai food so I’m OK with spicy, but some of the labels on those hot sauce bottles should have included HazMat symbols.  Ye gods!

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