Tag Archives: cghk

Places to See on Route 66

1. Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant and Bakery – Chicago, Illinois

Popular with commuters and located near the start of the mother road, apparently this place is the place to stop before you start out. They’ve been feeding hungry travelers since 1923 and if the food is in real life anything like the pictures, I can see why. (The whole How It’s Made page makes me want to put the kids in the car and drive to Chicago for breakfast.)

2. World’s Second Largest Rocking Chair – Cuba, Missouri

Cuba is a pretty cool place; they have the murals. This is a modern roadside attracting in the great tradition of them, and the pictures featured in the Atlas Obscura article capture the fun of roadside attractions. Apparently it actually had to be welded in place once it made the Guiness Book because when it rocked, it was terrifying. You can only sit on it one day a year, but those pictures prove you don’t need to sit on it to enjoy it.

3. Round Barn – Arcadia, Oklahoma

It’s a barn that looks like a fat, short silo and it’s awesome. It was built in the 1890s, made it onto the National Register in the 1970s, and was rebuilt in the 1990s by a group of volunteers (and let me take a moment to say: bless the volunteers, for without them, what would we have left of our cultural resources?). And it’s a museum!

4. The Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, Texas

This is a bunch of Cadillac bodies half-buried in the dirt on a farm. This place was an enduring myth of my childhood, and little under five years ago, I finally got to see it. My sleeping kid tossed over my shoulder, I made the walk beside my mom, who wasn’t quite a teenager when it was first installed. It was a really neat experience.

5. San Miguel Chapel – Santa Fe, New Mexico

The oldest church in the US and on the National Register and absolutely one of the prettiest places to stop. They even still hold Mass, and I’m not Catholic but there’s always something really profound about religious services held in old places. For a dose of even more history, and a bonus entry-within-an-entry, you can also check out the oldest house in the US, the De Vargas Street house, which was built in the remains of an ancient pueblo.

6. The Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona

I could have gone with the Grand Canyon, and you totally shouldn’t miss it if you’re doing this road trip, but I love the Petrified Forest National Park. I love the badlands, I love that this is the only national park to actually preserve a piece of the original Route 66, and I love all the trees that look like rocks (there’s even a thing called the Little Lithodendron Wash, and “lithodendron” literally means “rock tree”). It’s a nice stop on the way to Flagstaff, which is easily my favorite city on the whole road trip.

7. Santa Monica Pier – Santa Monica, California

The most recently-nominated “end point” of Route 66, the pier is over 100 years old and the website has the niftiest timeline feature. There’s plenty of fun to be had and food to try, and Santa Monica is a pretty cool city in general. Not a bad way to end a trip.

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#amediting Cass Gets Her Kicks

Sometimes, I look back on things I’ve written and think, “I can do better.” I’ve left stuff out, I don’t like the style, I need better word choices, whatever the case is. Usually, I can’t go back in after I’ve finished a story and do anything to it. Writing purges my brain of the story and all its details, and especially years later, I’m lucky if I even recognize a story as my own. But I’m trying to learn to be a better editor, and there are things about Cass that bother me, and I’d like to feel better about it. I re-read it before I started editing again and I’m still really proud of it, but I could be more proud of it.

By editing back in the threesome in Texas, for example.

Way back in college, I wrote an RPF that was a fantasy within a character’s mind. I wimped out before I posted it and took out the smut part of the fantasy and put it up as a fade to black fic. The smut was half of the reason I’d written it in the first place, but I was afraid. I’ve spent a lot of my life afraid. It’s exhausting. But there’s an incredible sense of weightlessness and freedom when I screw up my courage to stop being afraid.

Fear in writers is a funny thing. It’s just words on paper, how scary can it be? Really scary. Terrifying. Especially for writers who are private in addition to introverted, revealing too much of ourselves is one of the scariest things imaginable. The thing I keep having to remind myself of, though, is that most people aren’t thinking about the writer. In fact, if I’m doing my job, no one is thinking about me. They’re too lost in the story to even remember it’s not real.

Fear kept me from posting that fic with the smut in it until several years later when I decided to stop being afraid, and it’s one of my most enduring stories. Thirteen years later, I still get the occasional email about how much a reader enjoyed it. Fear kept me from leaving Joe and Miguel in Cass Gets Her Kicks and kept me from writing Santa Rosa and Flagstaff to the best of my abilities.

And my abilities have evolved. I have more skill now. I’m better at writing things that are easy to read. Readability is the #1 requirement for a good story, I think. Things that are difficult to read drag readers out of a story, and make all the plot holes, inconsistent characterization, and just general badness that much more obvious.

So I #amediting the vaqueros back into Cass Gets Her Kicks. Cass deserves her cowboys

Sunday Inspiration: Jaime Beechum

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Jaime Beechum, road trip photographer extraordinaire. Just… wow.

Route 66 Motels

Did you know there’s a whole website dedicated to unique motels of Route 66? I love how kitschy, cute, and even weird they can be. If Cass hadn’t been so focused on one kind of kick, I think she would have spent more time having fun with the motels and roadside attractions.

Cass Gets a Playlist

It’s not done, but I’ve started a playlist for Cass. So far, I’ve picked songs that fit her mood, her intentions and her hope. It’s a fun exercise.

Road Trips

I love the Internet. Relevant to this post, how easy research is because of the Internet. Before anything I ever wanted to know was at my fingertips, I had to use the library, other people, personal experience, and hope. I remember once, when I was 18 and before research on the Internet was as easy as it is now, mentioning to someone I was writing a story set on Molokai. She gave me a weird look and asked, “In the leper colony?” I had no idea there was a leper colony, because the material I had on Molokai hadn’t mentioned it. Now, though, we have Wikipedia, which may not be the most reliable resource to begin with, but it does give me a place to start whenever I want to learn something new or research something I don’t know anything about.

I also love road trips. That love, and a massive crush on Dean Winchester, was what initially inspired Cass Gets Her Kicks.

The thing about Cass is that it takes place in a romance novel-style universe, where bad things don’t really happen, and even when they do our heroes and heroines get happy endings, anyway. That’s what’s so nice about HEA and HFA. So on real-life road trips, obviously I advocate being careful.

Planning for your road trip is nice.

There’s a .gov website to help with fuel economy, and sites to help with planning the whole trip or even suggesting trips and finding scenic drives. Now you can even plan ahead for roadside attractions.

I’ve been on a lot of road trips. By far the best things to come from them have been the unexpected discoveries. My friend and I turned around on a detour in Arizona when we saw a place called Bad Ass Coffee, and honestly it’s probably the best coffee I’ve ever had. When my mother was working in Andover, I went to see her, and one day we drove up to Vermont, where–at the rest stop, no less–we discovered Green Mountain Coffee. Now I can get it at Sonic, which is nice because it’s not always available in local grocery stores. We also checked out the Green Mountain Visitor Center while we were there, and oh my gosh those views were amazing. (On the subject of views, one of my favorites has always been from the first rest stop just past the Arizona state line headed out of New Mexico, the one on I-40 in Apache County.) I can’t remember exactly which state we were in, Vermont or New Hampshire or Connecticut or Massachusetts, but one of them had this place to get the most amazing sandwiches on a winding back road. I think I remember covered bridges being important that day? I do remember that the sandwich, turkey with cranberry spread, was incredible. In Ohio last year, on our way up to see the in-laws, we stopped at The Valley Marketplace and got amazing truffles, fantastic cheese, and some really great jerky, among other treats. The same year we discovered Bad Ass Coffee, my friend and I stayed at the Step Back Inn in Aztec, NM before we saw the ruins. That trip, we also discovered that Econolodge, despite the price point, has the best showers. When I was little–younger than my oldest is now, probably–we stopped somewhere in Arizona or maybe New Mexico had a roadside stand that served Indian Bread. I’m not sure if this is it, or if it even exists anymore, but I found this place on Facebook. These places are on Facebook now!

With summer in full swing, road trips are happening. Maybe you’re even thinking about your own. The Internet has resources, whether you’re planning to head out on the road yourself or send out a character. I’ve shared some of my favorites. I’d love to see some of yours in the comments below.

Sunday Inspiration: Cass Gets Her Kicks

As I’m revising Cass Gets Her Kicks, I’m poking around Route 66 inspiration and I found this Ultimate Route 66 Playlist. In this case and this case only I can safely recommend checking out the comments, because someone linked their Spotify playlist and others commented with great suggested additions. I may end up building a playlist for Cass as a character exploration exercise later this week. I don’t think I’ve ever considered what kind of music she’d play. I think in the beginning, she’d go for classics–Nat King Cole or Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys–music she thinks she’s supposed to listen to on a cross country road trip in a classic car. But I think by the time she gets to Flagstaff, she’d fill her playlists with music she likes, music that makes her feel present and delighted and reminds her of the fun she’s having. I’m not entirely sure what that will be, yet, but it’s going to be fun to explore.