Actually, I hadn't taken a road trip since I was sixteen and went to Yellowstone with my family and on the way learned I had a grandmother still living that I'd never met. But that's another story!
This road trip was for a specific purpose... to pick up a rotating pool table Gerhardt had purchased on Ebay. Some friendly Canadians in Toronto had been kindly storing it for us all winter. Now school was out for Gerhardt and it was time to go collect his prize.
Gerhardt made out like a bandit in this deal because he not only got his pool table, he also got a truck out of the deal. And what did little Sheila get? Adventure. I think I've had enough adventure to last me for awhile.
Don't get me wrong. It wasn't all bad! While in Toronto I was able to visit the main offices of my publisher, Harlequin. Wow, what a treat! And what a great company! Everyone there was so darned nice. If I wasn't a writer I'd want to work somewhere in that office. People who work for this company simply never leave. It's a great working environment. And let me tell you, they know how to treat their authors well. I was delighted with the beautiful gift basket they had waiting for me at our hotel, had a lovey dinner out with my fabulous editor Paula Eykelhof, got to meet the people in the various departments who work so hard to bring their writers' books to life, got to do a conference with the New York office, have lunch with a bunch of the gang, and chat with CEO Donna Hayes, who is amazing. I was given the opportunity to do an in-house book signing where we gave away signed copies of my newest book WHAT SHE WANTS to the companies many employees (the company takes up 5 floors of the office building it's in), and was presented with a Tiffany pen. I don't think I'll ever be able to bring myself to use it, it's so lovely!
Later in the day I had the opportunity to meet with Anna Pingitore and her book club. These ladies were lovely to visit with and by the time we were done I felt like I'd found new friends.
From Harlequin, it was on to pick up the treasured pool table and get to know Richard and Marika who had been housing it. What a great pair! We had so much fun visiting with them, checking out their huge and impressive veggie garden and chatting with their neighbors it was hard to pull ourselves away. We may just have to go back so we can enjoy that Italian dinner Marika promised us. Oh, and do need to hand out with Anna's gang in Little Italy.
I learned a few things on this road trip. One: My technology must be updated. So frustrating not to be able to share pictures on Facebook or take advantage of Google Maps when we hit Canada. Which brings me to... Two: Buyer Beware. We purchased a new Garmin on sale from an outlet site online that should have been trustworthy. Purchased the one with lifetime map updates and maps of Canada. It even said maps of Canada on the box. But when we hit the border.... yes, I bet you can guess what happened. Talk about stress! Three: Don't trust all online reviews on motels/hotels. One of the worst places I ever stayed in (we dubbed it The Bates Motel) supposedly got good reviews. I'm wondering who they bribed. Unclean, torn blankets on the beds, seedy. It was a huge place and had probably been something in its day... twenty years ago! The police and medics came to haul away some unfortunate man in the night. Gerhardt didn't tell me because he figured I wouldn't sleep. He was right! Actually, if I'd seen that they would have been hauling me away... for husband abuse. Not every place we stayed was like that (fortunately for Gerhardt). But I have concluded that if we ever do this again (what am I saying?! We won't!) we'll be allotting more money for lodging. Four: Always bring along bug repellant. Saw the beginnings of the mighty Mississippi River in Minnesota and got attacked by the state bird: mosquitoes. A little bit of Avon's Skin So Soft would have done the trick.
As you can see, all's well that ends well. Here's Gerhardt with his prize. And for more pics (like the women's room sink in Montana that looks like a urinal), check out the pictures page.