Picture of Author Author Name

Thisbe Nissen: Tour Diary

Preliminaries - Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6 -
Day 7 - Day 8 - Day 9 - Day 10 - Day 11 -Day 12 - Day 13 - Day 14 - Day 15 -
Day 16 - Day 17 - Day 18 - Day 19 - Day 20 - Day 21 - Day 22 -
Day 23 - Day 24 - Day 25 - Day 26 - Day 27 - Day 28 - Day 29 - Home Diary - July 25 - July 26

Day 22: Portland to Sonoma

Up early. Drive to airport. Fill rental car with gas. Drop off rental car. Fly to San Francisco (over such beautiful land -- mountain lakes, snowy peaks, god it's gorgeous). Stand in line for 45 minutes just to get to the Avis counter (Note to Avis: you are overworking your employees. You were ridiculously short-staffed, no one was getting a lunch break and your customers were taking it out on these poor people who DID happen to be working. Bad bad employer practices, Avis. Very very bad.) When I finally get up to the counter I say, "You can give me the oldest, junkiest car you have, the only thing that matters is that it has a cassette tape player, NOT a CD player." She puts me in a Grand Am. We trek up to the parking lot, find the Grand Am, load the trunk, get in. No tape deck. We get out. I go back inside. "I just need a tape deck," I tell the woman. Her name is Liz. We bond over an abhorrence of technology. She puts me in a car that she says she likes because it has both tape and CD. I go back to Chris in the lot. We trek to the new car. I peek in the window. No tape deck. I go back inside. Liz says: "You're kidding!" I shake my head sadly. I tell her that the SUV in the space next to us has a tape deck. She fiddles on the computer, puts me in another SUV that the computer tells her has a tape deck. I go back to the lot. No tape deck. I go back inside. This time Liz comes out with me. She puts us in the SUV Chris is standing beside. At compact rates, since that's all I wanted in the first place. (Another side note to Avis: give Liz, at the SF airport, a raise. She is the nicest rental car employee I have ever dealt with. We like Liz a lot.)

To get from the SF airport to Sonoma you have to drive through SF and over the Golden Gate Bridge, and it's a gorgeous day. Chris has never been here and I am enjoying pointing out the sights. Traffic gets really bad over the bridge in Marin and Sonoma counties. Turns out there's a tremendous Nascar race in town this weekend. RVs as far as the eye can see. Parking lot upon parking lot of cars baking in the Sonoma sun. The zhhooom of the track. We make it to Sonoma at last, a little old-western-looking town, two-level wooden buildings all surrounding a central square park. There's a duck pond in the park, with a bunch of mallards and one lone chicken looking confused. Our hotel is delightful: terra cotta tiles and an airy Mexican feeling. We eat a late lunch in the outdoor garden cafe, which is like a grotto and we are happy.

Reader's Books is a great store, and we get a tour from Kathleen who I met at BEA a few weeks ago. She's awesome. Myla calls: they are stuck in Nascar traffic, and there's a brush fire blocking the alternate route into town. No one seems in too much of a rush out here, so we all just stand around the bookstore chatting and browsing. Turns out that the owners of the bookstore are old friends of Jonathan Blum, a friend from the Workshop who lives back in Cally now, a brilliant writer, my old Scrabble-playing partner. I miss having him around Iowa City. They tell me he's thinking about moving to New York. I hope maybe I'll get to see him in SF next week. Hi Jonathan, if you're out there.

Myla races in, swift as a Nascar, and we start, a little behind schedule but none the worse for waiting. I read part of chapter one. She also has been reading a different piece each night. She's a great reader. It's good to keep hearing new things. My friend Brandy, who I met at the Vermont Studio center last fall, and who lives out here in Sebastapol shows up and she and Chris and I go for drinks afterwards at a place called "The Girl and the Fig." One glass of wine and my head is on the table.