Nik and I made it home last night around 10 pm. We took three days driving back, as we had no reason to push it on the way back. We had hoped to stop over in San Fran the first night and catch up with our friend Aaron, but the slow ass Pacific Coast Highway between San Diego and LA ensured that we couldn’t. We did drive through Napa Valley, which more or less defines picturesque. However, we got there after 5 and so didn’t get to do any wine tasting. Ah well.
Nik had a great idea on the return trip that really helped the time go by. We picked up several books on tape and listened to them during the long hours of driving. We had finished two complete books by the time we got home. The first was an old Nero Wolf mystery called Too Many Chefs, which was enormously entertaining. The voice actor did a great job portraying all the characters and his Wolf was spot on. The fact that the plot involved a gathering a world famous chefs and included a lot of food talk made it that much the better for Nik and I. After that, we listened to Undaunted Courage, Stephen Ambrose’s book about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. I must admit I didn’t know a huge amount about it and the book was fascinating. At a certain point the “and that was the first time Americans did X west of the Mississippi” got a bit tiresome, but hey, they were explorers after all. It was pretty amusing hearing about the Native American reaction to Lewis’s political overtures. Basically, he had a stock speech about how Jefferson was now the “great father” of the tribes. Lewis would give the chiefs medals, fancy jackets and hats, and sometimes some tobacco. In return they were supposed to stop fighting their neighbors and join the great (and at this point imaginary) American trading empire. In sharp contrast to the modern ideas of how easily duped the Native Americans were, time and again Ambrose relates how the chiefs were entirely unimpressed with the shiny googas. What they really wanted was whiskey, guns, and powder. One chief even showed up naked to the negotiation, to graphically illustrate how poor his people were. All in all, quite good.
Today I’ve been trying to dig out from under my accumulated e-mail, phone messages, and snail mail. Good god. It’s like I’ve been away for a month, not a week. Tomorrow it’s back into WFRP2. I’ve got a lot of ground to cover in August and I need to put pen to paper.