Total chaos (but it worked out at the last minute)

Yesterday, I somehow made it into Anaheim in time for the First Time Author’s Panel at the ALA, in spite of a cancelled flight (mechanical failure), a delayed rescheduled flight (horrible air quality), and two missing pilots (they finally rounded up a couple of them somewhere.) On top of everything else, I got a ride from someone whose GPS system went haywire, so we ended up circling the convention center again and again and again and again. As if this weren’t enough, someone sent all my luggage to LAX by mistake, which meant that I was the only one at the convention who was dressed like a total slob. In spite of it all, I arrived at the panel in time to deliver my presentation, and it went very well. Next stop is Palos Verdes.

Upcoming Cactus-related events

I am about to head down to Southern California for more readings (and I’m bringing a newly purchased “wicked salamander” rubber stamp just for the occasion.) Here is the list. June 29, 2008ALA Convention 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.“First Author, First Book” panel discussion.Anaheim Convention Center, Room 203 AAuthors include Kaya McLaren (Church of the Dog, Penguin), Scott Douglas (Quiet, Please, Perseus Books), Mark Sarvas (Harry, Revised, Bloomsbury USA), Janelle Brown (All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, Spiegel & Grau), and Anya Ulinich (Petropolis, Penguin). Then I will sign and stamp books at the HarperPerennial booth from 4 to 5. At the convention, you will have many book-stamping options: rainbow-colored ticks, Opuntia cactus, yucca, range cow skull, coiled rattlesnake and, at long last, salamander. June 30th, 20082-2:30 p.m., book reading and signing.ALA Convention,Anaheim Convention Center. This will be part of “LIVE! @ “Your Library Reading Stage” at the center (just…

Mrs. Dalloway’s and Anaheim

Thank you to Mrs. Dalloway’s for a thoroughly enjoyable evening in Berkeley yesterday. (Full house, beautiful store, and dozens of people I’ve never met before.) Better yet, it was welcoming and very comfortable, like reading in someone’s living room. After the reading, I talked to a woman who had a situation that was scarily similar to my “cactus bite” situation (so I’m not the only one!) The turnout was a pretty even split between non-hikers and hikers, although there were a couple of PCT through-hikers from ’81, along with several people who are contemplating the trail. I gave them a list of recommended readings, including “The Pacific Crest Trail: A Hiker’s Companion,” by Karen Berger and Daniel R. Smith, which provides a solid, entertaining overview of the flora, fauna, landscape and history. In the coming weeks, I’m going to Anaheim, California, for the American Library Association conference at the convention…

Who is the Mystery Woman?

The mystery deepens. Yesterday, I reported on the “Crawlspace Letters” — a letter from a lovesick GI in Germany, to a sweetheart that he addresses only as “honey.” Well, today I was looking through the letter and saw a striking photograph of a woman wearing a mink stole and a furry hat shaped like a pith helmet. In her arms, she holds a bonneted child who looks to be about six months old. Who is the mystery woman and her baby? Is the woman the “honey” in the letter? To be continued. And, just in case you are wondering, I am making absolutely none of this up.

Editorial reviews: The Cactus Eaters: How I Lost My Mind — and Almost Found Myself — on the Pacific Crest Trail..

A couple of you asked for this round-up, so here it is. I give these to you straight-up, but warning: Spoiler Alert! ‘Cactus Eaters’: Rough trail, enjoyable bookJory John, Special to The San Francisco Chronicle Wednesday, July 16, 2008 The Cactus EatersHow I Lost My Mind – And Almost Found Myself – on the Pacific Crest TrailBy Dan WhiteHarperPerennial “I was so tired of feeling weak. I wanted to start my life over by tracking bears through the Cascades and washing my face in a stream spilling off a thousand-year-old glacier,” Dan White writes in “The Cactus Eaters,” a compelling, often laugh-out-loud-funny account of his time spent traversing the Pacific Crest Trail, an extreme 2,650-mile trek. Since its designation as a national scenic trail in 1968, the trail- spanning Mexico to Canada – has served as a monstrous challenge for even the most adept hiker. It is renowned for its…

The Crawlspace Letters

I live in an extremely old apartment — it predates the SF earthquake. It has some strange features that you don’t see in buildings these days, including a potato storage basin and a flour bin. Today, I was reaching into a dark and dusty crawlspace behind my bookshelf, which is deadbolted to the wall. I was just trying to get to a couple of pictures and books that had fallen way back into the crawlspace– but when I reached back there, I found a clutch of old, yellowing papers. It turned out to be love letters that an American G.I. sent to his girlfriend (or wife — I can’t tell…) from Europe in World War II. I’m hoping to use my research skills to track down the author of the letters (or the descendents of the author) and send these back to their rightful owner. More later.

Mrs. Dalloway (and Anaheim.)

This Thursday, I’m speaking at a beautiful (and well-run) bookstore called Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary & Garden Arts, in Berkeley’s Elmwood district. I will read two short pieces at 730 p.m. and answer any question that you might have. Also, I will bring some items from the trip, and a wide assortment of commemorative rubber stamps reflecting the flora and fauna of the western wilderness — including the “Psychedelic Range Cow.” The book store is located at 2904 College Avenue, Berkeley. Come here early to browse the shelves and check out their author’s events listings. You will love this place. I would hang out there all the time if I lived just a little closer to Berkeley! If you happen to be in the Southlands later on in the week, I will be at the American Library Association conference down in Anaheim. I will take part in a panel discussion called…

Golden Gate bison.

I live within walking distance of the bison paddock in Golden Gate Park. I’m proud to have them as my neighbors. If you want to see them, they hang out in a field along John F. Kennedy Drive (across from the Anglers Lodge.) Just remember that these bison are built for comfort, not speed. They like to hang out, and, to be honest, they don’t move a whole lot. They mostly just sit there, sunning themselves, or wiggling their hairy ears, and who can blame them? Apparently, someone transported the first bison into the park more than 100 years ago, when these shaggy creatures were facing extermination in the wild (although I am glad to report that the current bison population in the U.S. is now close to 200,000.) These park beasts trace their lineage back to three bison named Sarah Bernhardt, Princess, and Ben Harrison. And that’s not all….

Cactus Eaters: Number One travel book on Amazon. plus …Capitola Book Cafe reading (and did I mention that Fogheads Rule?)

Last night’s crowd was stupendous — the group included family members, Santa Cruz friends and a former Santa Cruz Sentinel colleague, a high-school pal, members of my Santa Cruz writing group, a former student and many other folks that I’d never met before. A big bunch of people followed my sister and brother-in-law to an after-party at a funicular-accessible restaurant in Capitola By The Sea. Also — I am very grateful to this blog’s readers for sending all your crazy adventure stories. Keep rolling them in. (and one last thing — “Cactus” was the number-one travel book on Amazon yesterday — a shock to my system to say the least; thanks for passing this around and letting me know about your own explorations and adventures.)

Zoe Ferraris

Don’t miss author Zoe Ferraris, who is giving two readings right here in the Bay Area. The author of the critically acclaimed “Finding Nouf” will speak on Tuesday, June 24, at M is for Mystery and More, San Mateo 7:00 pm. She will also speak on Wednesday, June 25, at Books Inc, Opera Plaza, San Francisco (601 Van Ness, SF 94102) 7:00 pm. Both events will feature readings, signings and discussion.