Monday, August 15, 2011

What an Adventure!

My summer has been happily spent working on a great book for Raintown Press which I'll start talking about in the next few days, but first I have to share the disastrous adventure I just survived.

Not to get too personal, but I'm getting married sometime soon (he's taking my last name, since I don't think I can live up to the sugary cuteness of being called Robin Robison) and this summer seemed like time to do some Meet The Family stuff.  His folks are in Iowa, my folks are in Indiana--in a small town called Whiting which has little going on there other than a big crazy food festival called Peirogifest (foodies may have seen this featured on the Food Network.)  So our plan was to drive with a van-load of art to sell in their arts and crafts show, where people are usually starved for some nice illustration that doesn't have anything with Justin Bieber's face glued onto it.

For the first two days, it was a magical trip.  We worked on some story development, drew piles of character and environment designs, drank a lot of iced tea, and enjoyed watching most of Oregon, all of Idaho, a chunk of Utah, and rolling hills of Wyoming go by.

Then our transmission died in the middle of Nebraska.

Our adventure sounds like an updated Greek myth: we were sweltering on the side of the road, desperately trying to phone AAA for about an hour--and when we finally did get through, we got a grizzled guy with a lazy eye named Steve. 

He took us down to a place called Julesburg, Colorado, where we were installed in a road motel operated by a friend of his.  On the way, however, we stopped to help a whole lot of other poor folks who'd broke down as well.  Steve informed us that between Memorial Day and Labor Day, he was pretty much constantly rescuing vacationers.  The bets part was when we had to pull over within sight of his garage because a massive storm rolled in and pelted us with quarter-sized hail!

So after determining that it was the car's transmission, and therefore a week (and $2000)'s worth of work, our ferryman dropped us off at this motel so we could plan our next move.  A week was about seven days longer than we wanted to wait, so we knew we had to find a way out of there--but how?  This town was so small it didn't have a bank, let alone a rental car or inter-city bus!  It didn't help that we couldn't find a vehicle big enough to haul all our gear within a hundred miles when I called around.  The bets I could find was a pickup.  It seemed like our best option.  I reserved it.

Luckily the motel owner knew a guy who would drive us to the nearest rental car--90 miles away in North Platte.  We had quite a ride with this nice fellow, getting lost a few times along the way, but we made it in one piece.  Once we had this vehicle, we had to drive all the way back to Julesburg to load as much of our gear as possible into the back of the pickup.

This was taking precious time we needed to get to my relatives in Indiana and set up our tent in the art show!  We drove like crazy quite late into the night and the next day we busted through Iowa, got caught in Chicago traffic, and finally pulled into my grandmother's driveway at 8pm.  After so many days on the road, and so many days not being as on the road as we would have liked, we were so sick of sitting and road food that we started on my family's wonderful fresh fare while standing up in the kitchen.

We opened up shop the next morning at about 9am, and that heat and humidity was killer!  Good food though.  And hello to anyone who bought art from me, it was nice meeting so many people.

Really eveyrthing else went fine, though we did get caught in a sister storm when we went back through Nebraska and felt gale-force winds rock the pickup!  The hail was only dime-sized that time.

Sadly we had to go back to North Platte, which we'd had quite enough of by that time, to pick up the newly-overhauled van, but we sort of hope never to see Julesberg, CO again--the nicest little place you'd never want to be.

So that was my adventure!  In between we met each other's relatives, caught lots of toads, and did lots of research at the Chicago Art Institute, one my my favorite places in the entire world.  Here's a pen sketch I did while en route there on the Metra.

Stay tuned for actual pertinent news about my book!