On The Road

Last week I drove to Baker City, Oregon with my friend Sharon. 
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Yeah, I know, a lot of people here in Portland don't know where Baker City is, either.  (For the record, it's about five hours east of here, in the dry side of the state on a high desert plateau surrounded by gorgeous mountain ranges.)

It was a quick trip, just overnight, and a long drive for the amount of time that we actually stayed in town.  But, like most travel, its had an impact on my writing.  I'm not writing about Baker City directly, (except in this post), and most likely its not going to creep into my novels or stories in the future (although you never know). 

But it has informed my writing since I returned, because my mind keeps going back to:

–driving for miles beside the blue expanse of the Columbia River

–taking a deep breath and driving up (and down the next day) the slightly hairy grade over the Blue Mountains

–watching the temperature climb to 107 and stay there for hours as we drove home

–staying at the historic and wonderful Geiser Grand Hotel

–eating dinner in the bar of said hotel and enjoying great conversation with other guests

–hanging out in the hotel room (there are few things I love more than a hotel room)

–checking out shops on Main street

–driving around the small town, looking at the Victorian houses

There's just something about getting away that inspires me.  I've written about this before, most recently when I spent ten days in Louisville in May at my MFA alma mater.  I travel to Nashville regularly to teach, and I'll be heading to France at the end of the summer to host a writing retreat.

But, really? It doesn't matter where I go, whether by car or plane.  I just love getting out in the world and it always, always, always loosens something in me that translates to words on the page.  Whether it is describing the new landscape I find myself in while journaling, or turning somebody I've met into a character in a book, travel always inspires me.  It expands my brain, and trust me, the old noggin can always use some expansion.

Does travel inspire you or make you cringe?  (Some people really don't like it.) Where have you gone (or are planning to go) this summer? 

I stole the photo from the Baker City website, but I don't think they'll be too upset with me.

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9 Comments on "On The Road"

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J.D.
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J.D.
07/30/2013 04:51

I enjoy traveling, but it has not spurred my writing. One member of my writing group wrote a travel article about her cruise. It was very good. She is shopping it now. Baker City and the Geiser Grand look great. And France! Give me a month in Paris, please. As an aside, an artist from my hometown lives in Vence, France. I know you will do wonders during that retreat.

Don Williams
Guest
07/30/2013 08:03

Depending on my health I plan to go back to Freiburg im Breisgau, in southwest Germany, the so-called capitol of the Black Forrest. It’s inspirational to be sure, the city is wonderful, and just the act of just getting away has not only got to be good for your writing, but good for the soul as well. Hope you enjoy France, it’s only nine miles or so from Freiburg!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
07/30/2013 08:17

When are you going to be in Freiburg? Maybe I’ll hop on over. Actually, probably not since all my travel is already booked–but I like the idea. It sounds like a beautiful place and I hope you get there soon.

Zan Marie
Guest
07/30/2013 11:05

While I love travel, it is a disruption of my routine. Who am I kidding? Even a day spent shopping can disrupt me for days afterward. At least I’m back after my surgery and getting around a bit…like to the computer. ; )

Mandy
Guest
08/01/2013 16:18

I’ve been all over the Midwest this summer. Minot, ND, Mt Rushmore, Monticello, IN, southern Illinois. Lots of inspiration, but less time to write when I’m driving all over the country.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
08/01/2013 17:53

I know, but a road trip!  Nothing I love more!  Sounds like you've been everywhere–what fun!

Casey
Guest
Casey
08/03/2013 07:32

Being at a destination doesn’t put me in the writing mood, but driving on the road (especially back roads… Screw the interstates) for hours at a time is incredibly relaxing for me and I always have lines running through my head. I live for those 13 hour stretches between Nashville and the town I grew up in.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
08/03/2013 07:51

I'm with you, Casey–I love, love, love being on the road.  I think it may hark back to my childhood, when my family drove up and down the west coast all the time.  Put me in a car, driving, and you have to pry my hands off the steering wheel to stop–I never want to get where we're going, I just want to keep driving.

Nikhil
Guest
09/19/2013 23:25

Hello Charlotte,

Thanks for sharing one of the interesting topic. I remember my old days while reading this post. Traveling is the best thing ever if you want to get out of from boredom.

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