Why I’m Here

I need life around me to write, even up here in a place to which I came to escape the crowds that were growing in my hometown by the day.

When I have the time – and when I’m not out hiking, camping or drinking – I sit at the tables in front of the store, put in my earbuds and start writing. The hardest part about doing that, however, is not the flood of tourists that come in every day….no, the hardest part is the parking lot.

Oh lord, have mercy! The parking lot here is the funniest shit-show I’ve seen in years. I know they’re all on vacation, but Christ-on-a-stick, does that mean the tourists absolutely have to forget how to drive?

Forget the bears, it’s the damned drivers that are the true danger in Yellowstone. I just watched some asshole park a full-size SUV in a space that was not only too small to begin with, but was already half-filled by a five foot pile of snow. You do the math on the results.

It was like watching John Candy try to put on a wetsuit – I couldn’t stop laughing.

What keeps it all in perspective, of course, is that hiking and camping I mentioned (and, yes, the drinking, too). I was out for four or five hours yesterday on a trail that is not…err…well, technically open. What can I say, the ‘closed’ sign was just gibberish: no hablo ingles.

About two miles in the trail started to skirt this killer alpine meadow (pictures to follow in a post or two). Of course I had to stop and spend some time just drinking in the view. As I was sitting there a herd of 10-12 elk came wandering by about a hundred yards away…

THAT is why I put up with 200-pound women from New York insisting they’ve always worn a small, so our sweatshirts must have the wrong sizes on them…why I put up with 8,000 Chinese tourists fighting to heat noodles in two microwaves, all at the same time…why I put up with Belgian tourists asking me if the bison get cold at night…

THAT is why I came up here.

Now, there is, of course, a caveat to that – as I’ve said before, there’s always a but.

But…it can be pretty challenging to write bitter, cynical sci-fi when you’re laughing at tourists, let alone when you’re exhausted from a hike with nothing but trees, sun and wildlife (and, well, snow and muck and overflowing streams…).

All those ghosts I once mentioned, the ideas fluttering around the back of my mind? Yeah, there’re a handful of those getting louder and louder, demanding to be written.

But, believe it or not, it does get worse. That snippet I posted a few days ago? The end of the whole dang series? I have this growing urge to go back to one of my old stories and re-write it with that kid as my protagonist. Maybe I’ll call it Connor: The Next Generation.

For characters who were only supposed to inhabit ONE book, Connor and Oz show a remarkable ability to keep going…in spite of my every inclination and effort to the contrary.

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