Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another Year, A New Year

Today is the last day of 2014; tomorrow is the first day of 2015.

It's only a matter of a second separating the two years. As a matter of fact, it's already 2015 on the other side of the Earth (so here's a belated Happy New Year to you!). 

I don't get too wrapped up about a new year. I don't stay up and watch the ball drop at Times Square in New York on TV. I don't go to the neighborhood watering hole and celebrate the beginning of a new year with friends and strangers. Truth be told, I'll probably read and be in bed around 9:30 p.m. 

I don't make any New Year's resolutions. I try to live each day as it comes. I do have goals but they aren't mandated to begin on the first day of the year. 

Some of my goals include:
  • Finish a manuscript for a new novel
  • Publish another short story collection
  • Edit a friend's book so he can publish it in a few months
  • Travel to foreign lands
  • Lose weight
  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise regularly
  • Stay in touch with old friends
  • Make new friends
  • Be a good friend
  • Spend more time with family
  • Learn something new in the arts 
I'm sure I won't realize all of them. But I may reach some other goals along the way that may be more satisfying and enriching to me.

While I think it's important to think about the future, I believe it's equally important to live in the present. We're not guaranteed a future, especially those in my age group. 

And when I focus on the future, I want it to be primarily for my children, grandchildren and others -- socially, environmentally, and spiritually. I want a better world for them.

Wishing everyone a year of peace, love, and kindness in 2015.

Until the next time...


Monday, December 22, 2014

Post NaNoWriMo Part II

Although National Novel Writing Month ended 22 days ago, I'm still working on my manuscript.

I've written nearly 64,000 words and the end is still not in sight. As the manuscript develops and expands, it's beginning to look more like a two- or three-book serial. That's fine with me because I like my characters and their story lines. 

An author at the Kentucky Book Fair in November told me that many writers are moving toward series. I know authors such as Nora Roberts have been very successful with them.

Several readers have asked me if I had planned to do that with my previous titles. It was never my intention to do that but that is certainly a possibility if the muse inspires me to go back to those stories. 

And I must confess that I broke my string of writing every day at 50. You can blame my wife because of some honey-do's connected with Christmas shopping. I'll keep those in my memory bank for future stories.

I'll be writing through the holidays and beyond because that's the only way to reach the end. And that's the ultimate goal.

Until the next time....

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Story Songs: Nashville Cats

Several years ago while getting a haircut (back when my hair was long), a barber told me about his son and a girl having music aspirations as a folk-singing duo.

He said they spent some time in Los Angeles, playing various small clubs and  honing their skills. Then they decided to move to Nashville, believing they were ready to hit the big time. 

If anything, they hit a big wall. The barber said they couldn't believe the singing talent and musicianship they encountered in Music City. I'm not sure what happened to them; perhaps they returned to California.

The story reminds me of the great song by the Lovin' Spoonful -- "Nashville Cats" -- which celebrates the guitarists who can play "twice as better than I will."

Written by the multi-talented John B. Sebastian,  it peaked at No. 8 in 1966. It was on the "Hums" album that also included the hits  "Summer in the  City" and "You and Me and Rain on the Roof."

The song opens with the chorus:

"Nashville cats, play clean as country water
Nashville cats, play wild as mountain dew
Nashville cats, been playin' since they's babies
Nashville cats, get work before they're two"

The Lovin' Spoonful

Sebastian apparently held Nashville musicians in high esteem. According to one account, the song developed after the group was in Nashville for a concert, and while sitting at a bar, were blown away by the guitar artistry of Danny Gatton.

Among the clever lines in the song:

"Well, there's thirteen hundred and fifty two
Guitar pickers in Nashville
And they can pick more notes than the number of ants
On a Tennessee ant hill"'

And closes:

"Because it's custom made for any mothers son
To be a guitar picker in Nashville
And I sure am glad I got a chance to say a word about
The music and the mothers from Nashville"

The song makes a reference to "yellow sun record from Nashville" but Sun Records was located in Memphis. But, no doubt, you could purchase Sun Records in Nashville.

As for the Lovin' Spoonful, they recorded numerous other hits such as "Do You Believe in Magic," "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice," "Daydream" and "Darling Be Home Soon." They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. And Sebastian earned a spot in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2008.

"Nashville Cats" lyrics

Until the next time...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Spotlight on Cher

There are some musical artists who are so successful that you tend to overlook their accomplishments. 

For example, Cher.

Since becoming a singer in the 1960s, Cher has four No. 1 songs as a solo artist and one that reached the top of the Billboard charts when she was with hubby, Sonny, as Sonny & Cher.

Cher, a lovely, multi-talented 68-year-old, has sold more than 110 million records worldwide, ranking as one of the top-selling female artists of all time.

Among her 22 charted Top 40 tunes as a solo artist include these chart-topppers: "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" in 1971, "Half-Breed" in 1973, "Dark Lady" in 1973, and "Believe" in 1998.

And with Sonny, they had 10 Top 40 hits including the No. 1 "I Got You Babe" in 1965, the song that truly launched her singing career.

Cher is as an Grammy Award-winning singer ("Believe" in 2000), Academy Award-winning actress ("Moonstruck" in 1988) and Emmy Award-winning performer ("Cher: The Farewell Tour" in 2003).  She also won a Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actress ("Silkwood" in 1984).

For some reason, Cher isn't in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In an Entertainment Weekly story in 2010, she thought it was kind of "rude" because of Sonny's accomplishments as a writer and producer. 

I believe Cher is being a bit self-effacing because she can stand on her own accomplishments as a singer.  I think she paved the way for other women singers such as Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Lady Gaga, and many more who also mixed music with fashion statements.

Some of the women in the Rock Hall are Madonna, Donna Summer, Dusty Springfield, Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, and Alice Cooper (just kidding!). 

Isn't it about time for Cher?

Now a few videos of her No. 1 songs to enjoy:

And my personal favorite, which reached No. 3 in 1989:

Until the next time...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Post NaNoWriMo

It's been more than a week since National Novel Writing Month ended. So what have I been doing in the meantime? 


I've been at the keyboard everyday since completing NaNoWriMo. While not writing at the same pace (1,674 words a day), I'm still making progress on my work-in-progress. I'm at the 55k mark -- producing about 750 words a day. 

I was recently asked by a friend how many more words until the manuscript is finished. I told her I didn't have a clue. I won't know until the story reaches the end. My characters will tell me. 

I've previously mentioned in this blog that it will probably be in the 80k range.  My previous adult novels have been as few as 75k words (The Touch) to as many as 101k (Foolish Is The Heart).

My subjective and totally unscientific view is that most readers prefer novels to be about 85k, give or take 10k. I base most of that on my preferences. Time is important to me and I'd rather invest time reading two or more books rather than one long one (I'm referring to the 150k-plus opuses).

Of course there are exceptions to this (for me, it's biographies) but I generally find that longer works are somewhat inflated and don't hold my attention, for the most part, from beginning to end. 

Some publishers and self-published authors suggest breaking up long works into serials. That's a great marketing ploy if you can satisfy readers and keep them coming back for more.

One of novelist Elmore Leonard's rules of writing was to leave out the parts that people skip. He was a master at pace and keeping the story moving along and holding the reader's interest. James Patterson is another author who doesn't waste words. 

I try to keep that in mind when I'm writing, and especially during the rewrite and edit phase. And that's also something I do when reading. If it's not pertinent to the story, then I speed through it. I sometimes believe writers are trying to satisfy themselves rather than readers when their works become wordy. 

I'll let you know once I reach the end of the manuscript. It may take days, weeks, perhaps even months (I certainly hope not) to finish. I'll continue pounding away at the computer each day -- one word at a time until the story is finished.

Until the next time...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

NaNoWriMo -- Finished (Almost)

I topped the 50,000-word goal on the last day of  National Novel Writing Month.

I wrote  50,241 words over the 30-day marathon. It feels good to reach that level. My average was 1,674 words a day.

While I was able to produce more than 50k words, I'm still working on a first draft. This manuscript is probably two-thirds of the way finished, but it's a good start.

There's still a lot of work to be done to fill in holes, develop characters, and stay focused on the overall story.

Then comes the hard part of writing -- the rewrite. It's almost like starting over, except that I'm not working with blank pages. It's the long process to polish sentences, further develop characters, show rather than tell, improve dialogue, and much more.

I'll be posting more about that process after I finish the first draft.

As for the work-in-progress, in case you're wondering, it will fall under the boomer-lit category. More about that later.

But, for the moment, I'm glad that I've reached the NaNoWriMo summit even though I have higher mountains to climb. 

Until the next time...

Friday, November 28, 2014

NaNoWriMo -- Week Four

We're entering the final two days in the National Novel Writing Month marathon.

I shouldn't have any problem reaching the 50,000-word goal. 

Here are my stats through Nov. 28:

Total words written: 47,303
Average per day: 1,689 (average for person to reach 50k is 1,667)
Words remaining: 2,697

While I'm pleased with my output and effort, I know I'll have to continue at the same pace for several more weeks to turn this opus into a novel. As stated before, it will probably take 80k or so words to tell the story I want to tell.

The story has pretty much stayed on course although I have strayed on occasion. That's typical for me, and probably for many other writers as well, as characters develop and sub-plots emerge and submerge.

More changes will occur during the edits and rewrites. 

I'll post another update in two days on my final word count. I hope other NaNoWriMoers are nearing the 50k goal as well.

Until the next time.... 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Story Songs: Thanksgiving Song

Mary Chapin Carpenter's thoughtful "Thanksgiving Song" reminds us that the holiday is one for showing gratitude for things we often overlook and take for granted in our lives -- family, friends, neighbors, and even the friendless.

The song is from her Christmas album, "Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas," released in 2008.

Carpenter's words paint a picture of people sitting at the dinner table, giving thanks for the simple blessings that make for a fulfilling and satisfying life.

It's one of the busiest times of the year, in terms of travel, when people travel near and far to express their gratitude.

The opening verse:

"Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table
From far and near we travel home
Blessed that we are able."

She expresses thanks for shelter, light through the windows and being able to "come in away from the sorrow."

"Father, mother, daughter, son
Neighbor, friend and friendless; 
All together everyone in the gift of loving kindness."

And then she writes:

"Grateful for what's understood,
And all that is forgiven
We try so hard to be good,
To lead a life worth living."

Copyright Russ Harrington
Mary Chapin Carpenter
Carpenter, one of the most insightful songwriters in America, helps us reflect on the true meaning of this wonderful day. Her sensibilities and social consciousness are evident in many of her compositions. She's one of my favorite singer/songwriters.

Needless to say, many people in the United States do not have the means to celebrate the holiday. Here are some facts about hunger in the U.S. to help put a few blessings in perspective.

The History Channel has a videos about the Thanksgiving. 

I've also included an editorial from the Delaware County Daily Times -- We Share Many Blessings This Holiday Week.

"Thanksgiving Song" lyrics

And click here for some Thanksgiving quotes to consider throughout the year. 

Happy Thanksgiving....

Friday, November 21, 2014

NaNoWriMo -- Week Three

I'm still moving along at a good pace in National Novel Writing Month after three weeks. 

The story is beginning to take shape after several minor twists and turns which may or may not survive the first edit. That's the creative aspect I enjoy about writing -- shaping words, sentences, and paragraphs into a story that others may want to read.

For those not involved in NaNoWriMo, the goal is to produce 50,000 words in the month of November. In the end, you should have the makings of a novel. 

But it's not as easy as it may sounds. You have to stay focused on the goal, try to avoid getting behind in word count, and keep from getting discouraged when you hit those proverbial bumps in the road.

Here are my statistics:

Total words -- 35,212 words
Average words per day -- 1,676 (you need to average 1,667 so I'm slightly ahead.)
Words remaining -- 14,788
Average words to finish on time -- 1,479

As I've noted in previous updates, this is not going to be a 50k manuscript. I'm sure I'll be writing for several weeks into December, or later, before I reach the end of this opus. My guess is it will be in the 80k range. 

While the exercise isn't exactly stream of consciousness, it is letting the words flow from your fingers to the keyboard, knowing that it is only a first draft that will probably have some major revisions and edits before becoming a completed manuscript, and then seeing the light of day as a novel.

Until the next time...

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Relative Beatle -- Louise Harrison

This past weekend I attended the 33rd annual Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort. It's one of my favorite events of the year. 

I've participated as an author on more than 10 occasions, and I've been a patron as many times. This year nearly 200 authors were in attendance, signing and reading from their works as well as taking part in various symposiums.

Louise Harrison at Kentucky Book Fair
The highlight of this year's fair for me was meeting Louise Harrison, the 83-year-old sister of the late Beatle George Harrison. 

She spent an hour talking about her brother, the closeness of her family, and of course, the other Beatles -- John, Paul and Ringo. 

She recalled a time when George came to visit her in Illinois in 1963, several months before Beatlemania swept America. She took him to a dance where there was a live music from a band.

She said that most of the people were dancing or talking, not paying much attention to the band. That changed when George was asked to play a few tunes. Remember, probably 99.9 percent of Americans hadn't heard of the Fab Four in the summer of 1963.

Practically everyone in the audience stopped what they were doing and paid attention to this guitar virtuoso on the stage. When it was over, some folks suggested that the band members ask George to stay in America and be part of the band. 

She offered several other stories, such as the family dealing with World War II and the German bombing of London, helping the band get airplay on U.S. radio stations, George's Concert for Bangladesh, and her final meeting with him in New York two weeks before he died in 2001.

By the way, Louise has written a book titled, "My Kid Brother's Band a.k.a. The Beatles!" I purchased the book and so far it's been a fun read, especially after talking to her. Her voice really comes through on the pages. And she has a perspective on the Beatles that only a loving and caring sister could provide.

Me and Louise Harrison
Louise is going to be promoting her book at other venues in the coming months. Be sure and visit her. You might even get a hug from  this sweet and delightful woman.

Until the next time...

Friday, November 14, 2014

NaNoWriMo -- Week Two

As promised, here's my update after two weeks in National Novel Writing Month:

  • 22,491 words
  • Daily average of 1,606
  • 27,509 words remaining to reach 50,000
I've been able to write each day, as much as 1,900 words and a couple days around 1,300. I should be averaging 1,667 so I'm a little behind that goal. I had some things going on that took me away from spending more time writing. 

But I have confidence in reaching 50k words or more. I've picked up my pace the past couple of days as I'm in a pretty good groove. In other words, the story is taking shape and the characters are coming to life. 

Still, there's a lot of writing to be done, but I feel like I'm up to the challenge. I hope others participating in this annual event are making progress as well. 

As a minister I know once told his congregation: "You have to keep on keeping on."

In other words, don't give up. Set your sights on the goals you want to achieve and stay on course until you get there.

Until the next time...

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Day at the Library

This past weekend I attended the third annual Author Faire at the Ridgway Memorial Library, one of the branches of the Bullitt County Public Library system, in Shepherdsville, Ky.

About 35 other authors were in attendance during the six-hour event, talking to readers about their books, reading passages from their works, and spending time chatting with fellow authors.

While we didn't sell many books to library patrons -- it's kinda difficult at a place where there are thousands of free books -- it was a good opportunity to show support for reading and literacy.  

Hey, without readers, there's hardly a reason for books. I believe it's imperative for those involved in the print media to encourage the joy of reading, be it books, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, etc. 

The library staff was courteous, friendly and gracious, and several told me that this was the one day of the year that they really look forward to -- being able to talk to those folks who help populate their book shelves. I was honored to be invited.

This coming weekend I'll be involved in another literary effort -- the 33rd annual Kentucky Book Fair. Nearly 200 authors will participate in this event and more than 4,000 people be there to purchase books, talk to authors, and attend symposiums and readings.

Proceeds from the KBF benefit school and public libraries and literacy programs across the state -- a win-win for everyone involved.

Until the next time...

Friday, November 7, 2014

NaNoWriMo -- Week One

I survived the first week of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.

I've written 11,382 words in seven days, an average of 1,626 per day. The target is 1,667 a day, so I'm pretty much on course to reach 50,000 by Nov. 30. 

While I have stayed focused, writing several hours each morning, the work-in-progress should start picking up steam as I'm getting more into a groove with the story.

As noted before, this is a boomer-lit novel, dealing with issues facing older folks (they say to write what you know about). 

The story did drag on days 4 and 5, but I continued to let the words flow, regardless of the direction. That's always something to keep in mind when writing a first draft because you can always go back and rewrite or delete passages, quotes, or anything you heart desires. 

And it's not that painful because you realize that some of the things you're putting on the screen isn't very good. In fact, some of it is awful. 

But by continuing to write through the rough parts, you are knocking down writer's block and other mental obstacles that stand in your way. It's kind of empowering. 

I'll post something again next Friday to let you know how things are going. It will be interesting because I have a book signing tomorrow and a family event on Sunday, but I'll be up bright and early each day to write.

Until the next time...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Get Ready, Get Set, NaNoWriMo!

I was up bright and early this morning to begin National Novel Writing Month -- NaNoWriMo.

After drinking a cup of coffee, feeding the dog, and a quick breakfast of eggs and hash browns, I sat down (with another cup of coffee) and knocked out 1,727 words on the first day of my work in progress.

Morning has been my writing time for many years. It's quiet in the house and easy for me to get focused, especially with coffee providing a mild jolt to my senses.

I've been thinking about the story I want to tell for a long time, so I don't foresee having any major problems in reaching the 50k minimum by the last day of November.

An important key is to avoid distractions, especially on the Internet. I will look at Facebook to see if I have any overnight messages from friends and update a couple of pages I manage, but that only takes a few minutes. I don't even look at email until I've finished writing. 

I'm looking forward to getting back to the novel tomorrow morning, especially since the clock "falls back" tonight to give me an extra hour to sleep on it. 

Until the next time...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

To Outline or Not to Outline

I'm currently in a discussion on linkedin about whether or not to work from an outline during National Novel Writing Month.

As I mentioned in my last post, I like to have something to get me started in the right direction. I think it's important, especially during the early stages of NaNoWriMo, to make it as smooth as possible. It's easy to stumble that first week. And while Nanowrimo is cutting loose and letting the words flow, you don't want them flowing in all different directions.

I noted on the Linkedin discussion that I will work off a sketchy outline. I won't have a detailed outline, only the basics that will provide the prompts to continue on course.

As I've said in other posts, once I get into the flow of the story, the characters take over for the most part. But I generally return to the outline to make sure it will end in a logical way. Nanowrimo also has discussion groups on how to approach the 30-day writing marathon.

The Purdue University OWL (Online Writing Lab) site provides useful information that you can incorporate into an outline. I've found it a useful place to go because of the advice, tips,  and rules of writing it offers on many levels (I was first introduced to it when I was working on a master's degree in special education and writing lots of papers).

Back to the outline.

Until the next time...

Saturday, October 25, 2014


National Novel Writing Month is only a week from today.

Since my last post about NaNoWriMo, I've spent some time researching what I plan to write 50,000 or more words about next month. 

While taking a few hours each day in November trying to reach that goal can feel like writing from the seat of your pants, and it seems that way early in the process, the ride can be a bit less choppy if you take time to prepare before putting words on the screen. I keep a notebook -- before, during, and after the 30-day marathon.

First of all, you need to have an idea about the story line. Some folks may find it easier by having a rough outline. I generally jot down some notes so I know the direction I want to take when I head down that wordy highway. I don't want to get lost midway through the journey.

I want to know the protagonist, antagonist and other major characters. I'll know what they look like, general attitudes about various and sundry things, and what makes them tick. 

As for minor characters, they will show their faces during the course of the novel. I try to minimize the number of characters because I don't want to confuse the readers with a slew of names. It's confusing enough to remember folks in real life.

I'll know where and when the story takes place, the colors and smells, and most everything else in creating the scenes. 

As with my previous novels, the story will take twists and turns (plots and subplots) and I'll be along for the ride and try to keep it on  course.

I will say this novel will be a departure from my last two, which were targeted for young adults. This one will be aimed for boomers, or as some call it, boomer lit. 

My first four other novels were about boomers dealing with various issues in their lives. I'm just not ready to write about vampires, werewolves, and zombies, but who knows, maybe that's a story I'll pursue in the future.

In the meantime, I'm glad to have my creative juices flowing again on a new novel. 

Until the next time... 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Spotlight on Tommy James and the Shondells

Tommy James and the Shondells deserve more respect and recognition for what they accomplished during the golden years of rock and roll in the 1960s.

The group produced two No. 1 songs, "Hanky Panky" in 1966 and "Crimson and Clover" in 1968, and 10 other Top 40 songs while selling more than 100 million records. 

Some critics categorized their music as "bubblegum," but that wasn't fair to place them with acts such as The Ohio Express, the Archies, 1910 Fruitgum Company, the Royal Guardsmen, Tommy Roe, and so on.  

And not that there's anything wrong with bubblegum because some of the artists produced some good songs. But that's for another post.

Listening to Tommy James and the Shondells is to see a group evolve and grow, from the feel good "Hanky Panky" (first released in 1964) to teen passion in "I Think We're Alone Now" (1966) to the psychedelic "Crimson and Clover" (1968).

Tommy James and the Shondells had 14 songs reach the Top 40 including the aforementioned No. 1s as well as No. 2 "Crystal Blue Persuasion," No. 3 "Mony Mony," No. 4 "I Think We're Alone Now," No. 7 "Sweet Cherry Wine" and No. 10 "Mirage."

Incidentally, in 1987, Tiffany and Billy Idol covered their songs and hit No. 1 back to back on the charts with "I Think We're Alone Now" and "Mony Mony." 

While the group has been eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 1991, they've never been nominated. I find that hard to believe, but there are many worthy and deserving artists who have been overlooked by the Rock Hall voters. I hope their omission will be rectified. 

Tommy James and the Shondells still perform so check out their website for touring dates. Tommy James, who is 67, has even written an autobiography, "Me, the Mob, and the Music," published in 2010.

In the meantime, here are a few videos to enjoy:

Until the next time...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Preparing for NaNoWriMo

It's been a busy two months or so and I must confess that I haven't accomplished much on the creative side of writing.

I've written some posts to this blog, mostly about my recent two-week vacation to the western United States, and some other items related to the Kentucky Book Fair, of which I'm the marketing chair. 

But in the next two weeks I plan to prepare myself for the November writing marathon known as the National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo (sometimes I think it's easier to remember the proper name than the acronym). 

Two years ago I plunged into the grueling exercise -- the goal is to produce 50,000 words in 30 days -- which resulted in a novel, The Bully List

It was rough, raw and ragged when I finished the first draft, and I didn't look at it for five months. Then I decided to give it a read, and while it needed work, I was generally pleased with the effort.

So I took the next three months of rewriting and editing to get it in shape, submitted to my publisher, and then went through another round of edits with my editor. 

It wasn't the same manuscript that I had finished on the last day of November, thank goodness! It was transformed into a book for young adults.

So I'm going to venture into those semi-unknown waters again and see what happens. Why don't you join me?

Until the next time....

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Riding the Rails -- Salt Lake City and the Journey Back Home

The last major destination on my vacation to "America's Beautiful West" was Salt Lake City.

Bonnieville salt flats
But before arriving in Utah's capital, the tour bus made a stop at Bonnieville salt flats. That's the place where land-speed records are attempted by various racing teams.

We ventured out onto the flats, and sure enough, we were walking on salt. Some of us even tasted the white, salt-encrusted surface. 

Assembly Hall
Then it was on to Salt Lake City, founded by Brigham Young and other Mormon followers in 1847. Needless to say, the Mormons dominate the city with its churches, statues, and other things relating to the religion.

Salt Lake Tabernacle
Temple Square garden
The immaculate grounds at Temple Square were impressive, with the gardens and historic buildings such as the Salt Lake Tabernacle, where the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs, as well as the Assembly Hall and the Salt Lake Temple. 

What impressed me about the capital city of Utah was how clean it is. I'm sure the semi-arid climate is a factor. The tour guide informed us that you won't see any taxis lined on the streets, but that you can call for a taxi. And public transportation is free. 

I also learned that Salt Lake city is most sustainable city in the nation through its conservation and environmental efforts. It's a city with a vision.

Monument at This Is the Place Heritage Park
We toured the main Mormon church grounds and went to the This Is the Place Heritage Park that provided information about the city's rich heritage and history. Lunch was at the modern Gateway District shopping mall.

Utah State Capitol
And we drove through the University of Utah campus, where the guide said the torch from the 2002 Winter Olympics is on display. We didn't get to see it though, which was a minor disappointment to some of my fellow travelers.

A view of Salt Lake City from the bus
From Salt Lake City, we went to Price, where we spent the night. We got up early the next month and headed to Helper, where we boarded Amtrak's California Zephyr for the long, two-day journey back to Chicago, traveling across Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. 

It was time for my wife and I to relax and think about all the wonderful places we had visited: Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, John Muir Woods and Salt Lake City. 

I'm looking forward to hitting the rails again for another adventure.

Until the next time...