This is the sketchbook going on vacation with us. I plan to finish it–just not all on this trip. 

Almost Vacation

This year, we’re going northeast for our anniversary, starting with seeing Tom Petty in Little Rock, then lunch in Memphis on our way to Nashville for a week. We’re also going to spend a day in Louisville. 

Any suggestions on can’t-miss attractions any of those places? 

So far, we have a watercolor class in a Nashville park, the zoo, and some museums in Louisville. 


I went looking for a photo prompt at Morguefile and found this, which reminded me of something I did once.


I drove from New Orleans to Edmonton and back when I was twenty-one. It was a totes awesome trip.

I took three days to get there, including an afternoon stop in Baraboo, Wisconsin to meet a couple of internet friends. I was tickled pink when I stopped at a gas station in Baraboo and I finally got to hear a Wisconsin accent. I’m sure the clerk was just as tickled by my Cajun accent.

I drove across the US/Canadian border on a small highway from North Dakota. I didn’t have to wait in line or get out of my car or even have a passport.

I used the tiny inside dial on my speedometer that measures kilometers, and bought my gas by the liter.

I remember watching the glow in the sky grow larger and larger until finally I crested the last hill and I could see Edmonton, bigger and brighter than anywhere I’d ever been by myself. It was so much more than this photo.

And I have to think how much time I would actually spend going through the photos I took of my trip if I’d had a smart phone. It would be nice to have actual photographs of the people I met instead of sketches and faded memories. Photos of the places I saw and the adventures I had.

Then again, it’s pretty cool this way, too.

And I don’t really look at the pictures on my phone that often anyway.

Apples and Heroin

Crystal slid the stack of Monopoly money to the side and watched it flutter to the floor before lifting the small decorative box into her lap. She used the first finger of each hand to gently raise the lid, and was crestfallen to see that her stash was critically low. She dug around in the crumpled throw blanket next to her on the couch for her phone and frantically texted Sheep, her dealer.

Are you holding?

Sixteen minutes later, she realized that she was still staring at her phone, waiting for a reply that was possibly not forthcoming. The phone bounced back into the labyrinthine folds of the blanket when it slipped from her hand.

Outside, a backfire sounded from a car muffler long past its prime. Crystal leaped from the couch and yanked the curtains out of her way to peer outside. Yes. Darryl was home from visiting his mother. She dropped the curtain and ran out, letting the screen door bang closed behind her.

He turned at the noise, but readily opened his arms when he saw the smile on Crystal’s face. Darryl wrapped her in a bear hug and spun around twice while her feet kicked out behind her.

“I missed you, girl,” he mumbled into her curls.

“I missed you, too,” she replied. “How’s your mom doing?”

Darryl put her back on the ground and ran his hands down her arms. “She didn’t remember me the whole time I was there. Which is just as well, I guess, since I never did amount to much in her book.” He shrugged. “Good to see my sisters though.”

Crystal rolled a pebble around in a circle on the driveway underneath her shoe, unsure of how to respond. She looked up to meet his gaze. “I did miss you, you know.”

“I know. Hey, I brought you something back. Hold on,” he trailed off as he ducked back into the car to rummage around in the floorboard covered with empty 20 ounce bottles and Grizzly tins. “Here it is!” Darryl emerged triumphant, a small leather pouch in hand.

“What is it?” Crystal asked. “I mean, you didn’t have to get me anything.”

Darryl laughed. “Just open it.”

Crystal pulled the mouth of the bag open and poured the contents into her palm. “Seeds?” She looked up, confused. “What kind of seeds? They look like apple seeds.”

“They are apple seeds! I remembered that time you told me how you always wanted an orchard. Well, now you can start one. A small one, anyway.” Darryl reached out and carefully helped Crystal return the seeds to their pouch without losing a single one.

“I’m not so sure I’m cut out for that, Darryl,” she started.

“I think you are. Here, put them in your pocket and help me unpack. I haven’t seen you in a week, and we need to catch up. What have I missed around here?” Darryl took her hand and filled it with the first bag from the trunk.


Objects in a Box 4 or 5


The Mini Vacation

Katie packed a quick tote and threw it in the back seat of her car, mumbling to herself the whole time. 

“Shit day at work, shit day at home. Bullshit left and right. So sick of you, so sick of you, so sick of you. I’ve got to get out of here.”

She slammed her car door to go back inside the house for one final check for any obviously-needed items. She found none. 

Katie picked up her sunglasses from the table beside the front door and put them on her face, snagging her ear in the process and letting a small cry of pain escape her lips. She grimaced and set her face into a sour don’t talk to me mask and slammed the door behind her. 

The next door neighbor looked up at the ruckus, but hurriedly looked back down at his weeding after a glimpse at Katie’s face. If she’d noticed, she might have snickered at how well her mask worked. 

But she didn’t notice. 

She started her car and sat a moment, squeezing the steering wheel. “Shit day,” she muttered, one last time, as she out the car in gear and left the driveway. 

A few deep breaths later, she reached out and flipped the radio on. 

A few slightly off key songs later, she began to lose the tension in her shoulders. 

And by the time she was out of town and driving through the dancing shafts of sunlight cutting between the trees growing to her right, she was smiling. 

The mountains were calling. 

Mega Road Tripping

And Ian again:

Describe your perfect road trip for us. Where would we go? What would we do? What kind of car would you like to do it in? And how long would it be?

Let’s just take a moment here to pull that third question out of context and have a good old lascivious giggle at it.

Now that that’s out of our systems, we’ll move on.

Oh Em Gee. Y’all, I adore a good road trip. Especially now that we can actually take a road trip without trying to kill each other. Remember Virginia 2010? Bad timing for that one.

But the perfect road trip? That’s like a bartender’s quest for the perfect martini. A makeup artist’s quest for the perfect foundation. A writer’s quest for the perfect turn of phrase!

I’ll tone it down.

The last question is the easiest to answer–forever, of course. Yes, seriously, forever. Let us be nomads, my love! Let us wander the earth in search of the perfect road trip! Let the ever escalating costs of neither fuel nor tires never stand between us and our dreams of the open road!

I forgot to tone it down, my bad.

While forever would be nice, a solid year would be acceptable. You did say perfect, remember?

We would start by going west. We’ve been east to the ocean, we’ve been south to the Gulf, and we’ve been north a bit. We haven’t been west together.

We could head a smidgen north to Oklahoma for a visit, and to hit up that safari zoo I went to when I was a kid. And we could have a look at Chickasha to see if I recognize anything. Then west to the high point.

I suppose we could north it up a little more to visit family in Aurora. And we’ll have to stop and meet Lori. Suffer through a Mesa Verde tour and the soreness the following day. Nothing like some cliff dwellings to make your legs ache!

Then south to Four Corners because you’d like that. Do some hiking, see if the Mystery Spot is still around.

More west to California and the other ocean! We can see the Winchester Mystery House because it’s awesome. Maybe we could meet some more bloggers, like jjiraffe. And even do some trail magic on the PCT!

We could continue up the west coast, do a little exploring in Alaska, then through Yukon, BC, and into the NWT to hit Yellowknife. South again, through Alberta and Saskatchewan. We could dip a little further south for a stop at the Tridge in Midland, Michigan, then Niagara Falls, then up to Maine.

Then take our time down the +east coast, throw in a trip to Disney World. West again, pass through home and see if we’ve missed anything cool.

On to Laredo to the Pan-American Highway. Then we could just follow that on south and make our way to and through South America.

The kind of car would probably be pretty important on a trip like this. I’d let you handle that part. I don’t care, as long as it’s comfortable.

So, what does everybody think of this trip? We’d probably have to finish it up with a plane ride to another continent to rent a car and do the same thing there. Sounds fun, right?