Days 133, 134, 135 and 136, WLBT

October 23, 24, 25 and 26 Las Vegas, Palm Springs and Pismo Beach

by David Runkel

Looking for a stop between St. George, Utah, and Palm Springs, CA.  What’s directly en route? Las Vegas!  We’ve never been there or ever thought we’d be there.  But, why not?

We arrive and drive up the strip at midday.  Huge hotel-casinos, the replica of the Eiffel Tower, the 40-foot pictures of Donny and Marie who are appearing at the Flamingo, the Roman sculptures at Caesar’s Palace dominated our route. We check in at Caesar’s, as they had the best deal for wide-eyed rookies like ourselves.  The place is massive with gambling devices, restaurants, pools, exercise rooms, and three towers with 4,000 rooms. Off we traipse to floor 66 of the Augustus tower.  

Day One Hundred and Thirty Six of the Scone by Scone Book Tour
LE RÊVE – THE DREAM

On the recommendation of friend Michael Mercil, we stop by and stare at two other casino-hotels: the Bellagia with a ceilings of Chiluly glass flowers bigger than your living room and the Venetian with its second floor, shop-lined canal with singing gondoliers taking tourists on a two-block long float.  The evening is spent at Le Reve, a show with scantily-clad acrobats flying in the sky and diving into a pool.  A highlight replicates that unusual Olympics competition of women swimmers who do ballet movements with their legs while their heads are underwater for seemingly impossible lengths of times.  These Vegas women, however, are wearing high, red heels in the water. It’s a Cirque de Soleil-inspired production, with even more ooh-and-ah power.

We are dazzled by all the bright lights, sounds and spectacle of Vegas, but wager not even one penny.

After one night, we drive through the nearly deserted Nevada, Western Arizona and Eastern California desert and hills to arrive at the home of Michel Mercil and Stephen Thewlis in Palm Desert.  Michael has arranged for The Author’s concluding events on this portion of the World’s Longest Book Tour.  

Day One Hundred and Thirty Six of the Scone by Scone Book Tour
Palm Springs Library

First there is a reading at the Palm Springs Library.  This quickly arranged reading was scheduled because another writer canceled due to a death in her family.  That author, we learned at the event was Deanne Skillman, one of The Author’s professors in her MFA program at UC/ Riverside.  Nearly 25 showed up and only three departed when they learned that the book for discussion was not about Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull.  Among the attenders was fellow classmate Pam Munter and Tod Goldberg, director of the UCR program and his wife.  He suggested to the Author that she produce an audio version of the book with her doing the reading and/or do a series of podcasts with excerpts of the book and some commentary.  Things to be looked into in the next phase of book promotion.

The next day we relax around Michael and Stephen’s pool and provide a little assistance as they prepare for the reading that evening at their beautiful home for 25 of their friends.  It goes well.  Among the guests are a man who grew up one block away from us in Silver Spring in the house his grandfather built and where friends Rob and June Wolcott lived while we were there.  Speaking of small worlds.

That’s it for now on the WLBT! The Author will be appearing at the Ashland Library’s local writers’ annual showcase in December and also an event with Cathy Pennington of Pennington Farms highlighting “Scone by Scone” and Cathy’s delicious jellies and jams.  Look for a resumption of The Tour in 2019 with West Coast stops.

Since guests have filled Anne Hathaway’s this weekend for the closing of the OSF season, we stop 

Day One Hundred and Thirty Six of the Scone by Scone Book Tour
Deedie and David at Pismo Beach

in Pismo Beach for three days of warm sunshine before going north for fall and winter and some time with the late Bill Beeson’s great friends Jim and Christine Maguire. Pismo Beach was chosen because it was just about a year ago that we were here and the idea was hatched for publishing Scone by Scone and then going on the World’s Longest Book Tour. Full circle!

We look forward to our own bed and reunion with our normal lives, our Ashland friends, our family, our book groups, our bridge and Rotary meetings and especially our chocolate lab Canelo.

How great to have traveled around the country seeing some familiar places but exploring parts of the US we have never visited, touring parks and presidential libraries, spending time with friends and relatives, having events at thriving local libraries and independent book stores and cafes and selling nearly 500 books!

What a wonderful summer and fall!  There is only one downside and that’s the pounds put on by all the great food we’ve enjoyed combined with the lack of exercise and the time spent in Ruby, the red Ford Fusion. Perhaps since it made the needle on the scale go up, we should call that an upside.