Your mid-march Under The Stars update: travels to Tucson, upcoming big travel writing conference, continuing recuperation, and kicking myself for not ordering the Tres Leches cake in Tucson

Feeling under the weather back here in Santa Cruz, CA, but I sure had a big time out in Tucson. For one thing, I’ve never seen so many other Tilley-hat-wearing people in my life (and I made sure to greet every one of the Tilley people. We Tilley folks need to stick together.) It was pretty cool to hang out at the famous El Charro, and with Matthew Parker and Mark Woods as company. They have a specialty out there called carne seca — it’s like a haute Southwestern version of beef jerky — they hang the steak strips in the sun, in cages no less, swinging like gibbets over this restaurant, and then they reconstitute it with water and spices, and it is mighty good. Kicking myself for not ordering the tres leeches cake. (I didn’t know that was a ‘thing’ at El Charro. The waiter was so enthusiastic about the carne seca but just said ‘would you like any dessert’ without specifically mentioning the cake, which I would have taken in a to go box for sure.) I also loved the spirit of the Tucson Festival of Writing — pure enthusiasm, and there was this one panel, honoring the memory of Jim Harrison, that had me in stitches the entire time; sounds like that man had some camping disasters that would fit very neatly into Under The Stars. If I hadn’t been quite so tired, it sure would have been cool to stomp around the backcountry and peep at saguaros, as I did last time I was in your beautiful, strangely time-zoned state.) Anyway, I’ve got one more big March writing-related event on the horizon, and I hope you all can make it if you’re out here in the Bay Area. I’m appearing on day number two of the really cool inaugural Center for Literary Arts’ Travel Writing conference. That’s on the 22nd of this month. Coming right up in other words. I’m going to be on a panel with Susan Orlean, Cathleen Miller, and Michael Katakis. So that’s 7 p.m. March 22nd. Can you be there? I sure hope you can, and happy camping and carne seca to you and yours. Oh, and one more thing — I am really happy with my Q and A with George Saunders regarding the making of his book, “Lincoln in the Bardo.” That will be coming your way really soon at Catamaran, the lit mag here in Santa Cruz that employs me as contributing editor. I hope you like it. I sure learned a lot about craft and inspiration, not to mention non-western death rituals, from talking to Saunders, who lives part-time out in my neck of the woods. (well, not quite the neck. More like the shoulder.) Take care, keep in touch, and thanks for your messages. 

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