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A Postcard from Tour: Santa Cruz
White knuckled all night
It’s not a Christmas story, but it does include the word “Santa,” so here goes…
In the recent golden age of book tours, to stop in San Francisco also meant appearing at book stores in Oakland and Santa Cruz. You’d hook up with a local publicist, and they would squire you around to appointments. If you got lucky you got David Golia, who once punched a Santa Claus who’d been trying to hit me in the face with a pie. Good times.
On a different tour, I didn’t get to work with David. Instead, the publisher found an alternate. Not to name names, but this alternate publicist was a fellow writer. He’d penned a bestselling science-fiction novel some years before, and now he was paying the bills escorting writers on tour in the Bay Area. On the day of my jaunt to Santa Cruz, he took an inland route. The 280 freeway to SR 17, I think. I settled in at the Bookshop Santa Cruz, and my escort disappeared.
The event lasted a few hours, what with books to sign and people to meet, and long after midnight my escort/driver had yet to reappear. Eventually he arrived. We got in his car. And he couldn’t find his way back to State Route 17. Fog had drifted in, and the town was dark, and after circling for forever he found his way to the winding State Route 1.
Yeah, did I mention the heavy fog? And how the two-lane highway twists and curves along the coastline, so much so that he couldn’t keep the car in one lane most of the time? A highway patrolman pulled us over, leaned in the driver’s window, and smelled something. He asked, “How much have you had to drink tonight?”
Long story short, the guy driving me had spent the entire afternoon and evening at a bar near the book store, drinking. By the time we’d been pulled over it was three or four in the morning. The officer cut us loose, and we continued to weave north, arriving at my hotel around dawn. Just in time for me to grab my suitcase and catch the shuttle to the airport, then go on to Los Angeles to Phoenix to Denver. Who knows?
On today of all days I look back and feel grateful for all the times I didn’t die. That night in Santa Cruz was one.
What are you thankful for?
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