Mary Ann and I are about half-way through a two-month road trip, and we might decide to make it three. We bought an old Safari Trek RV (Safari Treks are a whole story in themselves) and decided to head for warmer weather and places where cedar allergies are not an issue. And we wanted to see some of the country we’d never seen before. We’ve traveled about 2,500 miles. We’ve refueled our love for New Mexico, fallen in love with parts of Arizona, and finally arrived in our idea of heaven—Padre Island National Seashore, where we have no phone service, no wi-fi, and no worries.
I was concerned, before we set off, about driving an RV all day and then trying to write in the evening. But the problem solved itself in an unexpected way. For several reasons, I’ve never been an early morning writer. Didn’t think I ever would be. On this trip, I wake up at six o’clock, and Mary Ann sleeps till eight. I spend the two hours of silence sitting between our two dogs on the sofa writing, getting more done than I would in two hours at home in my study. If good writing comes, at least in part, from absorbing the world through stimulation of the senses, I may be a better writer when I get home.
Here are just three things about this trip we will remember.
The sky at Aguirre Spring Campground. I thought I knew the night sky before Aguirre Spring, but I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t have a clue. The overwhelming breadth and depth of black backdrop. The startling number and the brilliance of the constellations. On a good night in my small-town home, I can identify several constellations. When I stepped out of the RV the first night at Aguirre Spring, I couldn’t restrain a groan of pure wonder. Constellation after constellation, distinct and bright, sometimes overlapping, more than I could have imagined. The experience redefined the word awe for me.
The Cactus RV Park in Tucumcari. Nothing fancy. Right on the main road. No good places to eat nearby. But it was like stepping back into the 1950’s. Surrounded by what must have been one of those early highway motels, now defunct and shuttered, we almost had the feeling we were intruding on the lives of those people who stopped there fifty or sixty years ago in their Ford or Chevy or Plymouth or Chrysler. There would have been a central, tree-lined courtyard, where the people sat to cool off in the evening and watch the kids play, having casual conversation with strangers. It’s all now just sandy slots for self-contained RV’s, and not many of those. A bit of a haunted place.
And finally, this little slice of Heaven, the Padre Island National Seashore. Mary Ann and I love the ocean, and we try to get to its shore as often as we can. It has a magical effect on us. When we first smell the brine in the air as we approach the coast, the stress begins to melt from our shoulders down our backs. When we catch our first glimpse of the water, it’s like an electromagnet with the drawing power growing as the current increases. And finally, when we walk on the sand—well, when we walk on the sand, a kind of joy rises in us and we can’t help laughing. This time, when our aging lab-mix, Seamus, ran out onto the beach, he was like a puppy again. A puppy who didn’t know which way to turn first, who couldn’t contain all the sensual stimulation hitting him.
We understood. We felt the same way.
Blurb – Sacrificial Lam
When English professor Lam Corso receives a death threat at work, he laughs it off. A liberal activist teaching at a small Southern conservative college, he’s used to stirring up controversy on campus. It’s just part of the give and take of life. Even when violently attacked, Lam is convinced it has to be a mistake. He can’t imagine anyone who would want to kill him for his beliefs.
When his home is broken into and his wife’s business vandalized, Lam is forced to face facts. The police can’t find a single lead. Lam’s wife—a passionate anti-gun crusader—is outraged when Lam brings a gun into the house for protection. Left to their own devices, Lam and Susan must examine their marriage, faith, and values in the face of a carefully targeted attack from an assailant spurred into action by a different set of beliefs.
What will it cost to survive?
Blurb – A Late Flooding Thaw
Henry and Walter Bass struggle to escape the shadows of their alcoholic father, their reclusive mother, and the prejudice of the small town of Delaney. When Walter marries Emma Sinclair, the only child of one of Delaney’s oldest families, tragic events are set in motion that change the lives of everyone involved. Each character in the drama that follows must struggle with the shadows of the living and the dead. In the violent world of Pentecostal religion, grace offers hope, but the failure of love brings destruction and the sins of the fathers curse the lives of the sons and daughters.
Gary Guinn taught literature and creative writing at a small private college for more than thirty years. His short fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines and anthologies. His first novel, A Late Flooding Thaw, was published in 2005, and his second novel, Sacrificial Lam, was released March 3, 2017. He loves traveling, dogs, and brewing beer.
Where to find Gary…