Writing! All the writing…

Dear Cyber-Friends,

So, you might have noticed an absence of new posts recently. This is just a quick update to let you know that 1) sorry about that, 2) I will eventually have proper new posts again, even if it’s just the Goodreads Crossovers, and 3) tell you why I haven’t been blogging.

The past two-and-a-bit weeks, I’ve been visiting a friend of mine in Portland. We’re both basically unpublished writers, and we’re both working on our first novels, and have been encouraging each other towards this endeavor for, I think, about the past two years. We keep in touch on Twitter a lot, but getting to hang out in person to bounce ideas of each other and cheer each other on is so much better. While I’ve been here, my friend has finished their first draft, and I went from zero words to around 30k words for my second draft/kind of major rewrite.

It’s been amazing and unreal and so very very productive (for novel writing), but it also means I’ve done very little besides write a ridiculous amount of words every day and then tried to recover from the feeling of my brain starting to ooze out my ears a little. On a really good writing day, I have to recover enough to even form proper sentences and find the correct words when I’m talking out loud, because I’ve used up all the words I have for the day in my writing. Those are the days we pretty much end up sitting around laughing at the cat for an hour or so because the cat is hilarious and we don’t have the energy to do anything requiring more concentration. In fact if I seem a bit silly or rambling right now, it’s because I’ve already written over 2k words for the novel, as well as note for the plot. For comparison, NaNoWrMo says to average just over 1.6k to finish a novel-length in a month. I’ve been averaging well over that for less than two weeks.

The thing is, I don’t know how much longer I’ll have this much free time, and I know I only have a few more days here in Portland with my friend, so I really want to get as much done as possible while I have those advantages. Ideally, I think my goal is that by the end of the year I’d like to have this novel done and have started working on getting it proof-read and edited and looking into publishing. It’s been a long time coming, and I’d really like to see this story out there–at least on a small scale, but who knows?

Anyway, I’m not proof-reading this post or anything, and it’s already about twice as long as I expected, so I’m just going to sign off now and go to bed.

Keep chasing those dreams, friends, and stay safe out there.

Love,

GeGi.

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Trip Log: Destination, eventually.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

The end is in sight! Last post was pretty much it for photos, as I said, but clearly the trip doesn’t finish with my driving off into the sunrise on my way to Texas, since I’m currently in Colorado. So, despite not having pictures, I’m still going to complete the story.

After spending the day in Carlsbad and the night in a motel room, I headed off towards Fort Worth. I had two days to get there, but decided that one night in an actual bed wasn’t nearly enough, so I found a cheap motel to spend the night on my own, which was just as luxurious as it sounds after weeks of car-camping in the desert.

The next day, I finally arrived at my friend’s, and could actually and completely relax for a while. It was super fun, of course; I got to go to a geek girl meet-up at a comic book store, read stacks of comics, eat real food, visit with new friends, have internet without finding a library first (shout-out to the awesomeness of libraries having free wi-fi, fyi), and to top it all off, spend the weekend going to Scarborough Renaissance Festival! I had a fantastic time, saw wonderful performances, buy cool stuff, eat faire food, the whole nine. It was perfect.

But all too soon, it was time to head out again so I wouldn’t be late to my summer job. I considered more road-trip camping, but spending a long weekend sleeping on a comfy couch ruined me, and I decided to spend a loooooong day of driving to go straight to Fort Collins, CO, where I booked a bed at an international hostel for a couple days.

On the way, I accidentally locked my keys in the car at a rest stop and was rescued by a very sweet old couple in a huge camper van. Thank goodness for my AAA membership and the kindness of strangers taking pity on a very freaked out panicking young woman. (That’s all I have to say about that. It was highly embarrassing.)

Eventually I made it safely to the hostel, which was in a fabulous building literally built around a huge plant-filled conservatory. Apparently had been designed and owned as a private home for a photographer who liked a natural-light studio. Now it’s owned by a mother-daughter duo who are very welcoming and nice, and have lots of coffee and waffles in the morning for their guests.

I got to explore Fort Collins a bit, which was really fun, and stock up on various supplies I’d need for the upcoming summer — like my very first pair of actually grown-up cowboy boots! (I had a pair I wore a lot as a kid, but never as an adult until now.) Eventually the day arrived to get to the ranch, and I headed out yet again. I took a detour to drive through part of Rocky Mountain National Park (totally gorgeous, but at that point still snowed in at the top), and then at long last I started reaching familiar places from my previous summer on the ranch.

The time had come to stop moving for a while and actually settle in for a few months of work.

One last photo, of my area of the shared bedroom:

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And that, my friends, brings this tale of travel to an end. I hope you all enjoyed the photos and stories.

Until next time,

Love,

GeGi.

Trip Log: Carlsbad Caverns.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Remember what I said that other day about this is mostly just lots and lots of photos and sorry to your internet connection? Yeah, I’m doing that again… But first, more story! Please see last post if you want the actual words I had to say about leading up to Carlsbad Caverns. Also, I managed to get it down to about 40 photos instead of 60, so I’m just going to be ridiculous and post them all at once right now.

When I got there, a huge storm was on the way, and there were only a few parts of the cavern system still open due to a concern about possible flooding. I went on the self-guided loop first, then a paid-for ranger-guided loop (the ranger was this awesome hilarious old guy with all kinds of stories about the caves — very fun, and totally worth it). On that hike, I met another fellow traveler — a girl around my age or younger, who was also living out of her car while on her way to a ranch job for the summer, in a different part of Colorado from “my” ranch.

She and I talked during the and after the guided hike, and then I joined her for a second (for me, first for her) round of the self-guided hike, still talking. At that point, we both decided neither of us wanted to camp in the rainstorm outside, so we agreed to split the cost of a motel room (and later, split the cost of a pizza for dinner). Best decision ever; it felt so amazing to sleep in a real bed, have a hot shower, even soak in a hot tub for a bit. The next day, she headed north and I headed east to Texas…

But before the story continues, here’s the last batch of photos from my Spring Road Trip. Most of these were taken without flash because my camera is kind of awesome for being so affordable. Interestingly, using the ambient light from the various low-lights the park service installed throughout the caves had the effect of making the place look like some kind of underwater coral/ice palace. To my eyes while I was there, I didn’t see nearly as much colors in the rocks. To the camera, however… it was extra magical. (oh yeah, and there was actually a place call the Bottomless Pit…)

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I hope you managed to get through all those! Obviously it’s way better in person. I’m so in love with this place. I literally spend most of the day there, deep underground, and was probably the happiest I’d been in days.

Next time, more words! More story! But no more photos, because I’d gotten lazy and had basically stopped taking them.

Love,

GeGi.

Trip Log: Photo Album, part nine.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I promised more words and fewer photos this time, and I meant it.

At this point in my trip, I had been camping outside Island In The Sky district for nearly a week. I was actually starting to get a little burnt out on this part of my trip, mostly because I’d reached a place where everything was reminding me of my family and how much fun we’d had doing family vacation road trips like this, and how much I wanted to share this experience with them by having them there, and how much better everything would be if they were with me.

In short, I was ready to move on to something new and distracting.

But before I did that, there was one overlook in Island In The Sky that I hadn’t been to yet:

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I have to admit, seeing this really made me want to be on that river, having an Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire experience of my own…

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Finally I headed out for good. I was so glad to be on the road again, that I very nearly didn’t want to stop for anything. However, I knew I couldn’t just pass somewhere as incredible as Mesa Verde without at least a peek at the famous cliff-dwellings.

There’s just one photo I really want to share of that; mostly it’s a you-gotta-be-there kind of place. There’s so many sites with so much information — honestly I just kept thinking of how much my Mum needed to come there.

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I continued on to New Mexico, camping overnight before reaching Santa Fe, heading down to see Billy The Kid’s grave, and finally stopping for a couple days in Roswell. Those last two were primarily to make my sister envious; in her words — Billy the Kid and aliens = so her. Someday, she and I will have to road trip in New Mexico together.

I had pretty much stopped taking photos for this part of the trip. I was getting exhausted, honestly, and I just wanted to take a break. I was putting in long days of driving broken up with days of doing pretty much nothing. I was focused on the goal of this entire trip: reaching Fort Worth in time to meet up and stay with a Twitter-Friend, and go to a Renaissance Festival with her. Not doing a lot of exploring of the places I was passing through meant I was actually ahead of schedule and had a few extra days before I had to be there — hence my last-minute addition of Roswell, and Carlsbad Caverns, to my trip plans.

I had grown up in a place that lacked natural cavern systems, but I had read about them and dreamed about exploring them since I was a little kid, and one of my favorite things about living in Hawaii was getting to explore lava tubes. I love being underground, in caves and caverns. When I get in them, I want to never leave. There’s something so peaceful and reassuring and exciting and right about being surrounded by total darkness and utter quiet stillness. I feel safe there, embraced and welcomed by earth. I never get claustrophobia or even a little bit nervous or scare, even when I’m squeezing through a tiny space in a lava tube or in complete pitch black. It’s probably weird, but I always feel totally fine when I’m underground.

All that said, when I checked out my road map and figured out timing, I realized I had plenty of time to take a detour to Carlsbad. Obviously, there was NO. WAY. I was going to miss this chance. A day exploring a famous huge cavern system? That sounded like a perfect way to relax and recover, something just for me.

Next Time on Geek Girl Travels, see part one of the approximately 60 photos of being in caves that I’ve narrowed down from probably over a hundred I took.

Love,

GeGi.

Trip Log: Photo Album, part eight.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Here are the over-twenty photos of my quick drive through Needles District, Canyonlands National Park. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I hope you have a fast internet connection. I also hope you really like Utah landscape pictures, because that’s literally all I got for you this post.)

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Someday, I’ll come back here and explore more. Possibly by hot air balloon and/or river rafting.

Next post I’ll have more words and fewer photos. Promise.

Love,

GeGi.

Trip Log: Photo Album, part seven.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I’m getting this post ready ahead of time to publish later, so I can try and actually meet my goal of finishing the trip photos before I take my next trip…

As promised in the last post, the next day I drove down to Needles Overlook. This isn’t actually in the Canyonlands Park itself; the Needles district is beautiful but mostly only accessible for back-country desert hiking or river rafting. Needles Overlook, which is on BLM land, gives you a chance to see the amazing landscape from a distance and a nice high vantage point. Unfortunately, zoom = pretty hazy here, but you can get an idea still.

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It was also a good place for a couple people to launch their quadcopter, presumably getting some incredible footage of the National Park.

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And, of course, I made another lizard friend. Because it’s me, and it’s a desert, and OBVIOUSLY. Handsome fellow, wasn’t he?

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After that, I headed back down the dirt road to the highway, and towards the entrance of Canyonlands Needle District. On the way there, I stopped at extremely interesting Newspaper Rock Archaeological Site.

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It was especially entertaining to listen to various silly-just-for-fun theories that the other tourists were coming up with as to what the different petroglyphs meant.

After that, I finally headed into Needles District proper. There’s just little bit that you can get to via paved road, so it was a quick trip as I didn’t feel like hiking in the hot desert of lower elevation (big surprise, I’m sure, to those who are familiar with my utter dislike of getting overheated). But there were a lot of pull-out points where I could hop out of the car and take a ridiculous amount of photos… which, since selecting photos to post is the longest hardest part of this process and therefore in the name of being productive and expedient means I’m going to post ALL of them, I’ll be posting as a separate entry on the blog.

Until next time!

Love,

GeGi.

Update and Trip Log: Photo Album, part six.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Well, so much for posting ANYTHING the ENTIRE month of August… Sorry about that.

So, since last I wrote, I’ve been dealing with a shoulder injury and (not unrelated) rather severe depression. One of those things is much better, the other is slowly leveling out. I’m gonna leave it at that for now, because I’m sick of talking about either at the moment. I’m doing mostly okay now; enough that I’ll make it through the rest of the season, at least.

I’ve also been making preliminary plans to move to Portland, OR, for the winter. Partly because of this and partly because it’s absolutely disgraceful I haven’t finished yet, I’m giving myself the deadline of finishing posting the photos from my Spring Road Trip before I leave the ranch, which should give me about three-and-a-half weeks… Wish me luck, or better yet, motivation.

Anyway, when I last left you, I was driving through Arches National Park for the second time… I stopped at a little overlook place, and noticed something interesting was happening:

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Given the view I could photograph from the ground, I can only imagine how amazing it would look from up there:

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Next, I headed further up the park road to Double Arch trail, where I could first check out North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch.

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(This one made me think of a huge troll peeking over the horizon, with the arches as eyes and the middle bit a big bulging nose, and that rock on the right his hand or finger or something. Seeing it like that made me think of how much fun I’d be having if my family where there with me and we could joke about it in person.)

Finally, I took the actual path to Double Arch:

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This place was very cool. I took a lot more pictures, but these were the best two. Mostly, though, it’s one of those places you just need to go to in person. You can climb all around under the arches, and see places in the cliffs where more arches are starting to form, and the whole thing is really accessible and fun. It’s another spot that reminded me strongly of how much I wished this was a family vacation.

I finished out the day’s adventuring with a quick peek (yay for a good zoom lens, because I did not feel like hiking up there. Something for next time!) at Utah’s most iconic Delicate Arch:

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Next time, tune in for Needles Overlook and Newspaper Rock!

Love,

GeGi.