Monday, 2 October 2017

Breakfast at the Exit Cafe

  After reading Wayne Grady's book "Emancipation Day", I looked up other books that he has written and I found a gem that he co-wrote with his wife, Merilyn Simonds, who is also an author.
  This couple live near Kingston, Ontario. Merilyn had been the writer-in-residence at the University of British Columbia for three months in 2006.  Rather than driving across Canada to return home at the end of December, they decided to take a road trip down along the Pacific Coast, across the Southern states and up the Atlantic seaboard. And, of course, a book grew out of that experience. 
   Since  John and I have made many road trips into the United States, I was deeply involved in this book.  Such a delight to read about another couple driving the roads we have driven, visiting the towns that we have visited, and interacting with maps and tour books, as well as books that you want to read along the way.
  Each chapter alternates reflections by each of these interesting people.
  They research areas of interest as they are driving, but often their interests are different from our interests.  I was searching for ruts from the Oregon Trail and insisted on climbing the Astoria Column.  They were searching out the wineries in the Willamette Valley.  Different interests but we all enjoyed the Redwood Forests in California. 
   Wayne and Merilyn had planned to have Christmas dinner at the Grand Canyon, and had made a reservation in the El Tovar Hotel dining room, but had no room reservation.  When they arrived at the canyon, they discovered that Christmas at the canyon was more popular than expected.  Busses and busses- lots of people from out of the country.  They tried all the cheap, chain hotels around the canyon and finally found one room, but it was so small, musty and unsatisfactory that Merilyn ended up sobbing at the thought of spending Christmas night there.
  They went for their Christmas dinner at the luxurious El Tovar and thought they would just take a chance that there was a cancellation in the hotel.  The clerk laughed at first because there was a crowd in the lobby waiting for that very thing.  But just as they stood there, a cancellation came in and they grabbed it. But..there is no description of the room or the dinner in the El Tovar, just a description of going back to the discarded room and discovering that they wouldn't have to pay for that room. They also mention the breakfast in El Tovar before heading out.
  I would have written pages on the joys of spending Christmas on the edge of the canyon in a fabulous hotel!  At dinner, they had a table for two by the window with the snow falling gently...oh, my! I love the Grand Canyon and didn't feel that they gave it enough respect.
   When I was there with my friend Joan, staying in a motel near the canyon, I convinced her to get up very early and walk to the canyon in the dark, in order to watch the sunrise over the canyon.  It is a very special place!
   Merilyn and Wayne arrived in Selma, Alabama in time for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, involving a church service and a march.  This was meaningful because Wayne's family had refused to acknowledge the family's black roots.

  As I read of their drive up the Eastern Seaboard, I was reminded of spending time in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with my friend Terri, joining a group of Bookwomen, exploring the coast and discussing literature of the area.

  This book brought back many memories of travelling in the United States of America.
  I loved it!

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