Hello again from Home!
Looks like another winter locked in snow and ice for Prez and me. Luckily, we did manage to nip away for some sun time on a little trip I like to call, “Journey to the Land of ‘as’”.
You see, one fine day, after much digging of holes and nailing of wood, Prez said to me, “I’m going to play in the Deep Stack”. For the uninitiated, the Deep Stack is not a tower of pillows or something, it is a poker tournament held during the month of November, at the Venetian Hotel, in Las Vegas.
Now, while I wasn’t particularly interested in stacks of any size, I figured, as co-hole digger, I deserved a vacation of my own. But my destination was a much different ‘as’. I wanted to go meet my writing partner, Josh, in person, for the very first time.
So! First stop Vegas, second stop Texas!
(With many thanks to our various airmiles accounts for making these trips possible.)
I won’t waste much time on Vegas, since I’ve taken you there before. I will say that Halloween in that city is not to be missed. There were some truly amazing costumes. And then there was the never-ending parade of sexy _______ (fill in blank with occupation of choice) costumes. May I caution you, if you do decide to visit Vegas during Halloween weekend, and if the town is invaded by aliens or hit by a natural disaster, be careful which emergency responders you turn to for help. Hint: if the female police officer’s butt cheeks are showing, it’s likely she won’t be of much help to you.
We did make a point of riding the New York, New York rollercoast, which still scares the pants off me. (Hm, maybe that’s what happened to that female police officer?) Prez always insists that we sit in the front car and then, inevitably, as the car chugs up the first hill, tells me that this was probably a bad choice.
I will also take time to mention that Prez won 2nd place in one of his tournaments. YAY! The fellow he ended up battling in the end was also Canadian. (Most polite poker game ever.)
But that’s about all the highlights from Sin City.
So let me take you now to the oily fields of West Texas, home of BBQ and the Petroleum Museum and my friend Josh!
The first question everyone has asked me since my return is, “Well…? What was he like?” Well, let me tell you…
Josh was, in person, pretty much exactly as he is online.
That kind of lacks drama, I know. But it’s a good thing because it wouldn’t have been too much fun if my clever, funny, kind and insightful writing buddy had turned out to be a serial killer or, worse, a teenage boy who had just been trying to pick me up for two years.
We are an odd combo, though, Josh and me. Two very different people, off the written page. Without all those wires and tubes known as the Internet, even if we lived in the same town, our paths might never have crossed. All Praise Mighty Internet! I’m sure after three days with me and my…ahem…’energetic’ personality, Josh was probably ready for a very long nap.
(Have you recovered yet, Josh?)
Now, Josh lives in West Texas, which is oil country. (And GOD country, judging from the local radio stations I tapped into). And, I’ll be honest; it’s not the prettiest point on the globe. (Unless, of course, you really have a thing for oilrigs). But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t lots to love about my time there.
I met some of Josh’s family (Hi Linda! Hi Don!), his girlfriend (Hi Noemi!), his friends and classmates, (Hi James! Hi Chelsea and various other classmates whose names I don’t recall!). I even got horizontal with Enriquez, (Hi Enriquez!), Josh’s massage therapist (or massage terrorist, more accurately). Everyone was really friendly. In fact, everyone everywhere was friendly. Shop clerks, upon discovering I had come from the far and exotic country of Canada, treated me like visiting royalty. (Hi shop clerks!)
But of everyone I met, perhaps the two who made the biggest impact on me, and who I shall miss dearly, were Paddy and Bandit, Josh’s kitties. (Hi kitties!!!)
Here I must pause. Since so many of my 10 regular readers are from the Northwest, I need to give y’all (see, I’m half native now) a quick education in BBQ. See, here, we call anything that is cooked on a barbeque, well, barbeque. This is incorrect. What we are doing, is called ‘grilling’. That was not BBQ steak you ate this summer, it was grilled steak. BBQ is a very special process. I have no idea what the process entails but I have eaten it so I can state, definitively, that it involves magic fairy powder and ground unicorn horn and 12 years of aging in vats made of trees specially grown by Texan BBQ elves. The end product is beef so tender and mind-numbingly delicious you will fall to your knees and beg forgiveness for daring to call other unworthy food products ‘BBQ’.
Kozy, you must go there.
We also made a day trip across the line to New Mexico, to world famous Carlsbad Caverns. Now THAT was some scenery. I could fill pages with descriptions of this cave system but I am afraid WOW will have to suffice. If you’ve ever played Pong (I’m dating myself) and you recall what happens when the ‘ball’ gets stuck in a corner and goes berserk, that was pretty much me, hopping my way down into the depths of the most massive and stunning cave you can imagine.
(Have you recovered yet, Josh?)
Carlsbad Caverns is also famous for the huge bat population that spends the summer there. Half a million bats fly out of the cave every night, eating up to three quarters of their body weight in insects and climbing to heights up to 10,000 feet! Crazy.
Sadly, it was late in the season for the bats. But Josh and Noemi were super good sports and sat outside in the very cold, stone amphitheatre with me, to watch five straggling bats fly out in the dark. Thanks you guys!
On my last day, Josh and me actually worked, together, in person, for the first time ever! What was cool, and weird at the same time, is that we worked together in person exactly the same way we do online. Exactly. Well, except instead of writing “LOL” or “HA!”, we actually laughed out loud, together. He even got to hear me snort-laugh for real for the first time. (A life changing event, I’m sure). And, for whatever reason, our very different personalities mesh perfectly when we start telling our story.
Then I was on my way back to Vegas, then back to Spokane, a short drive to Nelson, and here we are. In the snow.
A million thanks to Josh and his crew for their hospitality! The next time we meet, I hope it’s at a book signing!
Until next time, I hope this finds y’all healthy, happy & lovin life!