Arrived in Mongolia

16 and 17 August,

We’re here! Landed in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia yesterday evening to warmth and sun after a delayed but wonderful flight from Hong Kong.

We departed an hour later, than scheduled after sitting at the gate in a very hot plane. The problem was a passenger who was having problems with Customs. No details available.

While we were in Hong Kong I asked a young waiter for a report on happenings outside the airport. He said the demonstrators were given an ultimatum that if anyone passed a barrier they’d be arrested. So I gather they are still at the departures area of the airport but not disrupting passengers or flights. No excitement so doubtless, now international news interest.

Our flight took us first over the South China Sea as we climbed away from Hong Kong. It’s a busy stretch of water with ferries and freighters heading in various directions. The sea is rimmed by golden sand crescent beaches, some of which seem completely isolated.

We flew over China’s industrial areas, agricultural stretches, wide rivers and forests.

Then I snoozed after a lamentable lunch. Upon waking, the Gobi desert stretched brown and seemingly endless below us. Here and there a molten gold or mercury coloured lake/pond shone metallic in the sun. Cloud shadows chased our plane’s shadow across the vast sweep of harsh land. Going to unknown, distant places a few tracks etched across the landscape.

Gradually the land below became greener and hilly. Not a tree to be seen. We were now flying over the steppes. As the plane lost altitude, small white dots revealed themselves as yurts. Sometimes single, sometimes in groups of three or four they generally sat within square fenced off areas. Finally the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar spread into the grass lands. The tower of a coal fired power plant belched some smoke into the air. Train tracks converged, apartment blocks piled close upon each other, the planed swept down to a gentle touchdown and long taxi.

We’d arrived.

Customs clearance was a little slow, we ended up being seen by the diplomats lineup agent. Our one checked bag was riding the belt when we arrived. Then we were being met by a young woman and we’re out the doors and into a nicely dusty van driven by a nicely aged man with tall riding boots. He spoke a few words of English, taught us two words of Mongolian. Nearly impossible to pronounce Byrtha for thank you. Most of the vehicles seem to be right hand drive but also drive on the right side of the road. Odd.

Our guest house is in a residential area. It isn’t fancy but clean and organized. A mall and restaurants are within one block. We exchanged money and still haven’t quite wrapped our heads around the 2500.00 to 1.00 conversion. Dinner wasn’t that great. Pat and I had lamb dumplings which turned out to be old mutton dumplings … we had a second Mongolian beer to wash down the taste.

Helen drew the short straw and is in the top bunk of a rather squeaky bunk bed. We’ve slept well, Pat has found us coffee and we are about to set out on a day of exploring.

14 August – Let the Journey Begin

After an intense few days wondering if our Cathay Pacific flights in and out of Hong Kong will fly or not…. and many hours on the phone discovering absolutely nothing of value …… we are at the bar near our departure gate in YVR. Both flights appear to be on time as the protesters seem to have left the airport.

We will just have to wait and see if our transit through Hong Kong is without drama.

Our upcoming flight is just over 13 hours. We have about six hours in Hong Kong, then a short five hour flight to Ulaanbaatar Mongolia.

I’m traveling with friends Pat and Helen. You will hear from the three of us through this blog.

For now, good night from YVR near gate D64. Unless there is much excitement in Hong Kong, the next missive will come to you from Mongolia!

Salmon Arm and Kamloops

10 May. Hot and sunny. 29 degrees in Kamloops this afternoon.

Left Revelstoke after a quick good bye to Snubby and promises that we wouldn’t let another nine years go by with out being in touch.

Drove to Salmon Arm and stopped at Hidden Gems book shop. This was not on the tour but the owner of the Revelstoke book shop suggested we stop by. I’d sent Beth an email last night and she greeted us with open arms and incredible enthusiasm. I left ten books with her because this weekend is a big writer’s festival in Salmon Arm. Beth was a fountain of information and suggestions. I’m so glad we met her. She even suggested a great Salmon Arm hotel for next year’s book tour!

On to Kamloops. Jason of The Book Place has a chaotic book shop. An eclectic mix of titles but once again an enthusiastic welcome and great knowledge of his local authors. I’m happy to now be included in their number.

So here Anne and I are, relaxing before bed in our hotel room a block away from highway one west. We’re homeward bound tomorrow. Plan to have breakfast in Merritt. Hope to be on the 1pm ferry back to the island.

Many lessons learned on this tour. I’m excited to get home and pick up writing where I left off twelve days ago. Bookshops around southern BC are awaiting Soul of a Nomad. Guess I better get on with it as it’s only about half written.

Thank you for following along this different journey from my norm. Next time you’ll be hearing from me will be in mid August from Mongolia. Friends, Pat and Helen, and I are off on another grand adventure this time the Silk Road. I hope you’ll join us through this blog. Please invite any interred friends to follow.

Meantime, good night from Kamloops.

Golden and Revelstoke

Glorious hot weather! The scenery is stunning. We drove to Golden yesterday and after an enthusiastic welcome at Baccus Books enjoyed an afternoon beer in comfy chairs by the river. We stayed at the Dream Catcher hostel with a huge bright kitchen and common area and cozy rooms.

My shoe fell apart so I had to make an emergency stop at the only shoe store in town. Pretty sure I can’t write that off my new shoes as a business expense. Golden is a small town with one Main Street. I guess it is a hive of activity in the winter but at the moment it is a very quiet place. I could have replaced a mountain bike easier than a pair of shoes.

This morning we drove over Rogers Pass. There’s a lot of much needed road widening construction going on. I’m surprised the road is still mostly just two lanes considering how heavily traveled it is. A short delay due to one lane traffic but nothing too frustrating. The mountains are still well snow covered and beautiful. This was the most scenic drive of the trip and we’ve driven through remarkable country every day. We’ve had ample opportunity to marvel at the incredible beauty of this part of the province.

Revelstoke is the prettiest town of our trip. Lots of vibrant shops and restaurants all with a pleasant bustle. No empty windows or sad boarded up places like in some of the towns we’ve been through this past week. The Grizzly Book shop hosted an impromptu reading and took a pile of books.

We had dinner with dear friends from ski patrol days – Alex and Snubby (Michelle). Wonderful to see them again after about eleven years. Rehashed some patrol and kayaking stories and caught up.

Will send some pictures in the next blog. Good night from Revelstoke.

The drought ends

Some cloud this morning. Anne and I walked up to the grocery store – club soda and the the next door wine store…. more wine.

We were soon in the car heading east. Some ladies had told us how cool the interpretative centre at the Frank slide was so we decided to drive up and over the final stretch of the Cows Nest Pass to see the slide. Beautiful scenery. The interpretive centre was well done and interesting. We wandered around and watched a movie about the slide. Driving back west we stopped for lunch then got caught in a hail storm. Serves us right for crossing the border into Alberta I guess. (We had BC wine in the car.) the gas prices were nice so we filled up on Alberta gas.

Drove back through Fernie and on to Cranbrook. Cranbrook isn’t as attractive as Trail, Nelson or Fernie but it makes up for that by being the friendliest town of the four. Erin, at Huckleberry Books had been promoting the book and took more than the usual number. Our Lazy Bear Lodge is managed by a delightful couple Chrystal and Jim and they had been advertising as well. I did a reading in their lobby – really enthusiastic audience. The press came by for a photo op and I’m doing an interview for a regional paper tomorrow morning. We had dinner at a local hang out with great food and service and all the small town characters.

Cranbrook rocks. Love this place. It may look like just like a commercial strip along the highway but it has soul.

Road Trip trumps Book Tour

Not much action with sales for the past couple of days. I’ve decided I’m not keen on sitting in book stores doing signings. Otter Book shop in Nelson had a cozy corner but very few people came into that area…. and it was a Sunday. I did a short reading at the Dancing Bear, attended by some of our fellow guests. That, and the chatter I enjoyed much more.

After dinner yesterday Anne and I attended a really interesting lecture by a woman who has cycled the Silk Road with a large organized group of fellow cyclists. Her stories and pictures were compelling.

Today our trip to Fernie was through incredible county. Up over a mountain pass and down into a wide fertile valley. Fernie is a charming town with a load of walking trails. We followed one around the whole perimeter of the town. Up into the hills above town then down along the river. We both felt the need to properly stretch our legs after several days of urban walking.

I find I’m tired after the five hour drives – from Penticton to Trail and from Nelson to Fernie so am taking the day off from book peddling. We’ve found a nice place for dinner, which we hope will measure up to where we ate in Nelson.

Last night (Nelson) we went to the Hume. It’s a 1890’s hotel and the interior has been restored. We ate in the Library dining room. Live pianist and singer for background entertainment. Very elegant.

Tomorrow is Cranbrook. We stopped there for coffee on our way here and we underwhelmed. We’re hoping the town surprises us with rampant book sales.

Feast and Famine

Day 3 and 4 – Penticton and Trail

Yesterday was a fabulous day. It started with Kyle texting to say he’d sold nine more books. Stopped by his place to deliver and sign. What a wonderful son. Thank you Maggot.

Stopped in Summerland for a walk along the lake and picnic lunch before heading into Penticton. We stayed at Robyn Lake’s beautiful home. Walked down to meet the manager of the Lloyd Art Gallery where Robyn and I were doing our Brush and Pen event. Had an early dinner and were set up to receive guests at the Gallery by shortly before 6. A wonderful evening. The gallery laid on wine and appies. Robyn and I shared stories of painting and writing. The audience seemed to enjoy. I sold a few more books.

Afterwards we drank a bit more wine and ate snacks at Robyn’s to debrief.

This morning Anne and I headed off early to get some miles behind us. Had breakfast in Osoyoos. The drive onward to Trail was glorious. Hardly any traffic, a windy up and down road, fabulous vistas. Arrived in Trail by lunch time. Discovered the book shop to be in a small mall quite far out of town. No drop by traffic way out there. Very pleasant reception and The Crockett book shop is now carrying Pomegranates at 4800 Metres. Unfortunately no sales today.

Our hotel is very pleasant but in a hinterland just outside Trail. Anne and I spent a couple of hours sitting in the sun enjoying a glass or two of wine. We are about to have take-out Chinese food for dinner.

The day has been fun despite not selling any books. Keeping in mind our road trip is about more than just selling books. This is a beautiful part of BC that neither of us have explored before. That said…. I’m hoping for sales in Nelson tomorrow.

Good night from the charming Glenwood Inn and Suites just outside Trail BC.