Best Pics from Life on the Road, 2010
By mid-August 2010 I was packed and ready to go to Alaska for six weeks. I left my car with a buddy in Michigan, hopped on the plane, and set forth having one of greatest times of my life. Karen Button, a fellow writing friend and former foreign war correspondent, agreed to travel to Fairbanks, AK with me (from her hometown of Anchorage). In her friend’s solar powered, rain-water fed tiny cabin off a trail off the road off the highway, we wrote and critiqued our work daily for three weeks. With about 20 hours of daylight on our side, we could stay at the desk all day and still get a good hike or bike ride in each evening. We usually took dinner late, around 10pm, and enjoyed breathtaking sunsets from the view of our sauna porch. We celebrated the end of our hard work by hosting a public reading in Fairbanks, then heading out for 5 days of bushwacking backpacking in the White Mountains a few hours north.
After Fairbanks, I spent three weeks in Denali with another writing friend Shannon, her husband Peter, and their sweet little son Sam. The tail end of their vacation was the beginning of my home-made solo residency, and as they left their cabin in my hands for a few weeks I missed their company but couldn’t have felt more grateful for the opportunity they gave me. As it turns out, the time with Karen and later the time in Shannon’s cabin turned out to be the single-most productive writing time of my entire life. I wrote over half of the war stories for my forthcoming book Flashes of War during that time and now it looks like Shannon and I will enjoy simultaneous book launches Spring 2013. I was lucky enough to preview parts of Shannon’s book, North of Hope, which I can’t wait to hold in my hands.
A few more side excursions rounded out the Alaska trip–some time with another writer and serious dog musher taught me the basics of sled dog racing and care, reconnection with a dear college friend in Anchorage got me out on some long bike rides and later a few trail runs in the fjords of the Chugach near Girdwood and along Turnagain Arm. Sad to leave, I flew back to Michigan, retrieved my car THE CLAW, and drove straight to Southern Pines, NC for a 1-month residency at Weymouth Center for Arts & Humanities. This residency was part of my prize for winning the 2009 Linda Flowers Literary Award and living in a 22-bedroom haunted mansion was a thrill in and of itself (not to mention the fact that I was alone for the first 11 days).
A quick jaunt over to Madison County, NC had me teaching as an “artist in the schools” for 2 weeks, then I left my car with my parents and flew to Banner, Wyoming for a month-long residency through the Jentel Foundation. Dinners together every night, more wine than any of us care to recount, loads of submissions and revisions, laughter like you wouldn’t believe, and frigid temperatures but warm hearts summed up my time at Jentel with five other artists who made the residency one of the best in my three years. The year finished with news that I’d somehow managed to break my foot (22mm fracture of the 5th metatarsal) and just in time to be home for the holidays where Gus, the Best Dog on the Planet, happily welcomed me home.