by Kathy Cannon Wiechman
5:44 PM (Pacific Time), 11/12/12—a significant moment for me. But let me go back to the beginning.
When our recent Swagger reunion was proposed, I asked my husband Jim if I should make flight reservations or was this a good excuse for a road trip?
Jim and I love a good road trip, exploring sights across this beautiful country, gathering a collection of memorable moments.
Road trip it was.
We headed out of Cincinnati toward Nashville, where we picked up I-40 and followed it all the way to Barstow, CA.
When we drove through Oklahoma, we shared a high five. Adding Oklahoma to his list means Jim has visited 48 of the 50 states. It was #46 for me.
At a tribal craft shop in Arizona, we bought each other cheap rings—and I lost mine five days later. (We stopped at the same place and replaced it on the return trip, and Jim threatened to Super-Glue it to my finger.)
That return trip also included a walk across the bridge overlooking Hoover Dam. (We toured Hoover Dam a few years ago, before the bridge was completed.) We also visited Meteor Crater in Arizona (Amazing!) and the Route 66 Museum in Oklahoma. (Fascinating for a history buff like me, with music from each decade of the road’s existence. Woody Guthrie, Glenn Miller, Elvis, and the Beatles. What a kick!) And we stopped for a very special graveside visit in Memphis. (No, not Elvis.)
Heading into Memphis on 11/17, we picked up a radio station with Christmas music. I love Christmas music, but it was tough for two Ohioans to match the music with the shirt-sleeve weather.
Every trip has a glitch or two, and an extended detour cost us over an hour’s time and gallons of fuel, nothing compared to the price paid by those in the accident that caused the detour.
We made lots of observations on the trip: A multitude of trucks and trains criss-cross the southwest. (I love the sound of a train). Numerous teams of truckers are female. New Mexico has many beautifully decorated overpasses. Despite signs to be wary, the only wildlife we saw were cows and an occasional horse.
|Visiting Meteor Crater in Arizona|
It’s a hoot to read signs with names of places and features we pass: Mousetail Landing State Park (Is Disney involved?); Toad Suck Park (I’m sure it’s lovely); Dirty Creek (If you can’t say something nice…); Rattlesnake Wash (Isn’t that where outlaws meet up in old Western movies?)
But this was more than a road trip. Each Swagger was asked to decide on a specific writing goal for the reunion. I needed help on a loose thread in my current novel-in-progress, a novel whose idea first niggled its way into my brain nearly 20 years ago. It percolated in my mind while I worked on other projects over those years. I researched it, visited sites vital to its telling (road trips!), and began it several times.
During its progress, it changed repeatedly, and one of those changes created the loose end that needed to be tied up. In a full morning’s session, my fellow Swaggers listened to me detail the story’s progression, and they brain-stormed until we solved the problem. All I needed to do was write the remaining ten or so chapters, and I worked on them in our private writing time.
On our last day, as Jon drove Kim and Melissa to the airport, I wrote some more. When Jon returned, he joined me at the table, where we sat in silence, each focused on our own project, each finding the right words and building them into sentences.
And I finished the novel! My 11th! It’s just a first draft, and needs more details sprinkled here and there. It has to be smoothed and tweaked and polished. But I finished telling the story. At 5:44 PM (Pacific Time) on 11/12/12. Thanks, Jon, for making note of the time.