Upcoming

But first, downcoming. On Thursday, I had a  flight before dawn, during the hours when the Geminid meteor shower was in full force. From the ground, an observer who gets away from the lights of urban areas can hope to see about a meteor a minute.

Sean and I were flying north from Kenora to Kingfisher Lake, so we were a long way from city lights. Better still, we were at Flight Level 210, about 21,000 feet above sea level, which put us above most of the atmosphere. You may be thinking, “Tim means above most of the haze and pollution,” but air density up there is less than half of what it is at sea level, so we really were above more than half of the atmosphere by weight.

We had very clear viewing conditions, and  we saw a shooting star as soon as we leveled off and darkened our cockpit. Given our restricted field of view – pressurized airplanes don’t have picture windows – we hoped to see about twenty meteors during our forty minutes of level flight. We counted 59. That’s one every forty seconds. It was an immensely satisfying flight.

And now back to earth. The  title of this post refers to some public appearances I’ll be making in December and January.

On Tuesday, December 19th, I’ll be popping in to the Q-104 radio studio to chat with Ken O’Neill. The interview will take place at around 9:00am, and will likely go to air soon after.

Update: the interview is recorded, and should go to air around 8:10 Wednesday morning.

Novel Ideas bookstore Dryden Winter

One thing I’ll be mentioning is that Avians is now being carried by Novel Ideas in Dryden.

Please support your local independent bookstore. They support authors like me.

On Friday, December 22nd, I’ll be at Elizabeth Campbell Books on Main Street in Kenora (next door to the Plaza restaurant, if you weren’t sure.) Susie 01I’ll be chatting about Avians and signing copies of  for an hour or two starting at 7:00pm. You don’t have to wait until this late date to buy someone my book for Christmas, of course; I’m delighted to sign and personalize copies regardless of when they were purchased. Since the August release, Elizabeth Campbell Books has ordered several cases of my books. My publisher must have been impressed, she featured Elizabeth’s store on the Five Rivers Publishing blog back in October.

On January 25th, I’ll be in Winnipeg to speak at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada at 7:00pm. The meeting of the Manitoba Chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society is open to the public and free to attend, and there will be coffee and doughnuts on hand.

CAHS Jan 25 2018 poster

I’ll present a version of my Alternative Aviation slideshow and talk: I run through an entire glossary of unusual kinds of flying machine, from Autogyros to Zeppelins. If you didn’t know there’s been a flight by a human-powered helicopter, or that nuclear powered airplanes were once a thing, you might find something entertaining in my presentation.

I’ll also talk about some of the aircraft from my science fiction: the bamboo gliders and gigantic solar-powered airships of Avians, and the gunpowder propelled paragliders from my alternative history short story “The Emperor’s Dragon.”

I plan to introduce The Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol for some of those Winnipeggers who may not know about it, and yes, I’ll have copies of Avians on hand.

I’m looking forward to a fun winter.

 

Seattle: Museum of Flight

We had a day in Seattle today. We thought of checking out some of the obvious downtown sites such as Pike’s Market and the Space Needle, but when our desk clerk told us about it, it sounded, well, touristy.

So we went to the Museum of Flight instead.

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There’s lots to see and do there. This picture just shows the Great Gallery, and not all of it. There’s a whole ‘nother wing for warbirds, half a dozen aircraft are outside including the first Air Force One, and across the road is a sort of giant carport with more large planes like the Concorde. Plus optional movies and special tours, kids activities and simulators.

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A couple of hours was enough for a cursory look around the main gallery and a quick peek at two of the outside planes. If you wanted to do stuff, or actually read all the placards, you’d be there a lot longer. My main interest is in oddball aircraft, and they didn’t have a lot of that; they’re more interested in mainstream progress than aviation’s evolutionary orphans.

We decided to take a break from the city and go visit a winery. It took nearly half an hour to slog over to Cougar Crest, and by the time we got there, we weren’t in the mood for tasting. We told Dingbat to take us home without using the Interstate. He said 60 minutes instead of 40, and I figured it was worth it. The first part of the drive was scenic. But we hit the construction delays and then rush-hour caught up to us. The trip to the hotel took two hours.

That meant no shopping or pool time, just a short rest before dinner.

Summer Travels 2016

It’s been a while since I wrote about our travels. This summer, we’re taking to the road. Dingbat, our beloved(?) GPS will be joining us for a road trip to Portland, OR. But we’re starting with a flight.

First stop: Calgary, Alberta for When Words Collide. My publishers, Five Rivers, will be launching two books at this convention.

5R Poster 2016

And lookit! Way down at the bottom of the poster, it not only says I’m doing a reading from Avians, it nails down the release date in print.

Immediately before the Five Rivers Salon, I’ll be doing my presentation on Alternative Aviation in SF, and I’ve been stressing a little over how to juggle my notes (one handed on an e-reader?) and the slide show (touch screen tablet?). Good news! Lindsay Kitson, critique partner and fellow pilot, has said not only will she be in attendance, she’s willing to help with setting up and running the projector for me. That’ll be a huge help.

There’s far more to the con than just those two things. There are a slew of panels and presentations I’m eager to attend; my schedule often has two or three highlighted at the same time. I’ll blog those as I go.

After that hectic weekend, we’re hopping over to Kelowna for some family time with the western part of Caroline’s clan.

From there, we’re sticking Dingbat in rental car and heading down into Washington and Oregon. We’d like to see the Museum of Flight in Seattle, then I have novel research to do at Mount Saint Helens, because it is a rare example of a stratovolcano with lava tubes, and you can hike through them. Then Portland, OR for some seafood dinners and as a base of exploration for some local wineries before heading back to Kelowna, Winnipeg and home.

Then just a week or two later, we’ll take an extended September weekend to go to Can*Con in Ottawa. That’s one of my favourite cons, and this’ll be my third visit. It looks as if I might get to moderate a panel there, which will be a great chance to meet authors and readers of SF. More later, as details get firmed up.

It’s going to be a great summer!

Wrapping Up

We’re home. Our flight from Ottawa to Winnipeg was quick and comfortable (Yay, WestJet) and our splurge on the valet parking at Winnipeg International was a real convenience. I’d do it again, only next time I’d check in with them while I was waiting for the luggage carousel to lurch into life.

Wanted to get something to eat before the two and a half hour drive home to Kenora, and this seemed like a perfect time to check out one of the Five Guys locations in Winnipeg for something reasonably speedy. Dingbat got lost on Route 90. There are new bits he doesn’t know about, so when we drove on them, he showed us hurtling through uncharted blackness. Spooky. We did eventually get close enough to some known roads that he was able to resume guiding us to the Pembina Highway 5G. I had essentially the same burger that I had in Waterton, and it was just as good, but the restaurant was appallingly littered with peanut shells. It looked as if the floor hadn’t been swept in hours, and they had been tracked and kicked everywhere, even into the bathroom. If I had not seen a clean Five Guys before, this would have been my only visit to one.

Drove home. Made good time in light traffic, and somehow managed to catch up to tractor-trailers only when passing was easy.

Spent Sunday unpacking, doing laundry and stocking up on groceries.

Monday, both of us went back to work, and I also found time to mow the lawn for the last time, mulching all the leaves in the process. It looks almost as good as if I had raked them up.

Thoughts for next time.

Yes, we’d like to visit Bar Harbor, Maine, again, and we loved Vermont, too. One notion that appeals to us is to fly to Halifax, Nova Scotia; I’ve always wanted to see the maritime museum there. We could drive or ferry down to Maine. We’d get to see some new territory: Vermont, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island would all be within reach.

We probably wouldn’t go in October. ‘Leaf-peeping’ was fun, but I don’t feel a need to make a lifestyle out of it. September might be good – tourist traffic dies down once the kids are back in school, making both highways and hotels noticeably quieter.

We’d put more effort into making dinner reservations in Bar Harbor, so that we didn’t end up eating wherever they were likely to have a table. I’d like to try some of the Atlantic seafood as prepared by a chef, rather than the simple traditional fare we ate this time around.

I need to pack lighter next time. I was right at the limit for WestJet, and hotels without elevators were not a lot of fun. Less clothes, more laundry.

The picnicking thing was worthwhile – the thirty dollars we spent on a cooler that we left behind (excess baggage fees on the airline would have been more than the cooler was worth) more than paid for itself in lunch expenses saved. Also, it allowed us to eat healthy salad and sandwich type lunches, instead of fast food.

I would absolutely take my own GPS again. Being familiar with all the features is a great benefit, saving time and frustration. Plus Dingbat has a big screen. And he’s part of the family, at least as much as Robbie the Robot was to those Lost in Space characters. Now if I could just teach him to say, “Danger, danger,” instead of “recalculating.”

That’s about it. Tim’s Road Noise picked up quite a few new followers during this trip, so I should explain that this blog will go dormant now. There will be no new posts until Tim and Caroline go vacationing again. There might be a short visit to Mexico this winter, there might not. Thanks to everyone that came with us in spirit, and especially those who commented.

I have two other blogs; you should see links on the right side of this page. Timothy Gwyn Writes is about my efforts as a writer of Science Fiction, and I post there at random intervals all year. Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol features aerial photographs and commentary on the spring conditions on the lake where I live. It is insanely busy for six weeks or so in the spring, when cottagers and boaters want to know when the lake will have open water. Ice Patrol generated some 60,000 hits in five weeks last year, but it won’t be active again until April or so.

Bye for now. Safe travels.

Genealogy in Bath, Napanee, and Cloyne, ON

Started our day with a very nice buffet breakfast, then made our way to the lakeshore to walk part of the Lake Ontario Trail. Saw an albino squirrel, and so many black and grey ones that we began to suspect that they were herding us into a trap. Escaped their evil design when it began to rain and we returned to the car early. We’ll give them another chance tomorrow.

Then on to the day’IMG_0848s work. Caroline wanted to find Hawley House in Bath. This is where her loyalist ancestors ended up after they fled Arlington, Virginia. The house is still there, although it’s an unassuming duplex nowadays. The museum in Bath might have been worth a look, but it doesn’t open much after Labour Day.

Onwards to Napanee to visit the Lennox and Addington Museum and Archives. A nice little county museum with exhibits about the Great War and some of the industries of the area, but the highlight for me was a display explaining how women’s fashion changed during and after WWI. Fashion, of course, was only the tip of a cultural iceberg; everything changed for women during and after the war. Clothing went from ornamental and impractical to work-oriented and comfortable as women entered the workforce to replace men gone to war and lost to combat or influenza. Women took to breeches and coveralls as they took to the workforce and the war effort. Afterwards – short version – Coco Chanel invented the little black dress and women got the vote.

While we were there, Caroline popped into the Archive Library to take a look at the Hawley file to see if there were any essential documents she had not seen before. No, but a copy of her great-grandfather’s death certificate was on file. Very helpful staff at both the museum and archive desks.

Went downtown for lunch at Ellena’s Cafe. You order at the counter and they bring your food to the table. Then you pay at the counter on the way out. Both the soup of the day, pea, and the quiche of the day, ham, tomato and cheese, were wonderful. Caroline took a chance on the roasted red pepper sandwich, but the grilled bread went soggy fast, so she wouldn’t order it again.

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Back on the road to run an hour north to Cloyne, where Caroline’s dad’s mother was born. The tiny museum there was done for the season, but people at the post office directed us to the Pioneer Cemetery. Most of the markers are lost – they were probably wooden – but a plaque records the names of those settlers most certain to have been buried there. The graveyard is no longer used, but it is still maintained.

Back to Kingston. Fall colours spectacular, but weather very gloomy, so no opportunities for pretty pictures. Tonight, dinner downtown, probably at Tango Nuevo Tapas and Wine.

 

Touring the Black Hills

We booked two nights at our hotel in Hill City so that we could spend a day touring the Black Hills. We met Caroline’s cousins Wayne and Tom for breakfast in Rapid City and got some pointers from them. We opted to do our morning walk along the river in Rapid City, starting at Sioux Park. It started out well at the pretty park, but after fifteen minutes we were walking beside a busy four-lane road, so we turned around a little early.

The basic plan we worked out was to drive the Needles road on the way south to the Mammoth Site at Hot Springs then do the Wildlife Loop and Iron Mountain Road on the way back north.

The Needles are spectacular granite spires, but the road to them is seriously twisted. With hairpin turns and what Tom calls a ‘pigtail’ (you drive under a bridge and do a climbing 270 to drive over it), the road is often so narrow that you must squeeze over to meet cars coming the other way. Notice I did not say squeeze over onto the shoulder. There is no room for sissy features like shoulders, painted lines or guard rails. Tunnels are just one lane wide, hacked through the solid rock. You honk before entering, because tight bends at either end mean you cannot see what’s coming. We followed a three-quarter-ton pickup through one of the narrow tunnels; he went very slowly – it was a tight fit. After the twistiest part, there are straightaways where you can actually hit the 35mph speed limit!

The Mammoth Site was cool. I expected a museum, but it’s a real dig with a hangar-sized building erected over it.

Long story short: sinkhole formed, stray mammoths fell in and couldn’t climb out, bulldozer driver found big bones. Turns out mammoth feet suck at climbing steep slippery slopes. By counting the tusks and dividing by two, scientists have calculated that there are at least 60.5 mammoths accounted for to date. These guys fell in one at a time over hundreds of years. (The mammoths, not the scientists.) There are probably many more because the sinkhole is at least sixty feet deep, and they’ve only dug down twenty feet so far. Because the bones are not fossilized, they are brittle, so they are leaving many on the ground. That means there are a lot of places where they cannot dig down deeper. 

In the afternoon, we headed back via the Wildlife Loop. We had already seen deer, pronghorns, bison and rabbits, but we actually had to stop for burros. According to the park brochure, they are not native animals, but the descendants of beasts of burden.

Our second dose of challenging driving was the Iron Mountain Road. Compared to the Needles crawl, it was civilized, with painted lines and everything. More pigtails, and two stretches of divided highway, Black Hills style. 

These roads would make a terrific site for a motorcycle race, but we’d need a lot of ambulances.

Got back to our Hill City base too late to do anything interesting for dinner. Restaurants downtown were crowded and their outdoor seating was nixed by a thundershower. Ended up having hamburgers in the hotel restaurant. They were okay, but nothing to write home about.

Day 6 Drive: Touring Albuquerque

Slept in today, and had a leisurely breakfast in the hotel restaurant. We have several goals for today – we want to see the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, we’d like to do a little shopping, as we missed out on visiting the mall in Bismarck, and we need to stock up on road groceries if we are to have lunch tomorrow on the way to Sedona.


Decided to do the Museum first. We let Dingbat guide us there by car, but it would only be a walk of six blocks or so. The museum is first-rate, but mostly aimed at young visitors, of which there were busloads. Numbered exhibit halls make it easy to tour the museum in chronological order, from the big bang to the formation of the earth, marine life, dinosaurs, and so on up to the ice age. Or, if you’re six, you can just run around at random mashing buttons and shouting to your friends. Either way works, and I know the little blighters were learning something, because I saw a kid pretending to writhe in agony as he burned with the dinosaurs in the projected flames of the (K-T) extinction exhibit. Naturally, my camera batteries ran down. We are on our third set so far, but I bought a ten-pack before we left home, so we’re about on schedule, assuming I don’t want to photograph Lloydminster or Lethbridge.


Actually managed to pull into the hotel parking lot from across the street, so now we know it can be done, at least when traffic is quiet.


I’m late posting this entry because Blogger went down for almost 24 hours. They actually unposted yesterday’s entry for a while, but it looks like things are back to normal now.


Did some shopping this afternoon,  and spent a little time at the pool. Only one bus load of kids at the pool.