Back to the Future

It’s been crazier than usual–and it’s usually crazy! 🙂 All good stuff–just a lot of it! We have so many cool plans for the website that require a certain mastery of technology and video software, I feel like I’ve enrolled in an intensive video-editing course.

We’re working on the book trailer for CITY OF DRAGONS, and will be launching a cool web map of San Francisco highlighting places mentioned in the book — locations we’ll explore in more detail through videos. I’ll also be launching a series of podcasts about some of the historical and thematic aspects to the novel.

All this by way of saying that I’m late to the gate with Writing in the Dark … but if I’m tardy, at least you’ll know where I am. 😉

Friday, though, I was somewhere unexpected. And fun! I ventured out of foggy San Francisco to the 95+ degree weather of Davis (home of U.C. Davis and some of the best farm produce in California).

The occasion? An invitation to speak to the national conference of the National Junior Classical League. About 1,300 junior and senior high school students from around the country converged at the university for a full week of colloquia, talks, and presentations, culminating in an outdoor Roman banquet that was strictly BYOT–Bring Your Own Toga.

These are some of the brightest young people you’ll meet anywhere. They all share a love of antiquity, history, literature. The NJCL was established in 1936–the ’30s saw a big resurgence in fascination with the ancient world, not all of it sanguinary (i.e. Mussolini). It’s now the largest classical organization in the world.

And given the daunting problems facing our ever-shrinking, ever-warming little planet, meeting these young men and women and their tireless, devoted teachers certainly made me feel more optimistic about the future. I could insert any number of quotes about being doomed to repeat what we don’t learn from the past, but hey–we already know that.

I had a great time. And knowing that a writer I admire tremendously–Steven Saylor–spoke to the kids earlier in the week made it all that more special for me.

To top off the day in the sun, we returned via the Napa-Sonoma Highway to pick up the dog at his B&B. Yeah, I know, you’re thinking “California!” But if you can let your dog romp outside and have a great time in the (wine) country, why not? And the B&B owners are a wonderful French couple who take care the very best care of your dogs–but still let them be dogs.

Anyway, across the street and just down the road from Bertie’s vacation getaway, we spotted a new/old diner. An ancient landmark drive-in hamburger place closed down about a year ago, and finally–even in the middle of The Recession–a new business opened up in the same spot.

And we found …

The best hamburgers in California. I’m talking absolute bliss, and I don’t eat much beef. The place is called the Fremont Diner, and it’s like comfort food except gourmet and healthy. I know that doesn’t sound possible, but honestly–what else can you call a fried pie with no sugar added organic apricot filling? Or grass-fed Napa Valley beef burgers? Or milkshakes thicker than the blush on a Zinfadel grape?

To top off the feeling of nirvana, they have a wonderful sense of design and simplicity in the interior, preserving the 30s/40s feel, sell homemade jam (Santa Rosa plum!), and have two sweet senior dogs who wander loose, accompany you to your car, and beg politely for food.

It was so perfect that I’m beginning to wonder if it really does exist. Fortunately, I found evidence that they do on Facebook. So … if you’re up in wine country, between Sonoma and Napa, and you get lost along the Carneros Highway … don’t worry. It’s not the Twilight Zone–it’s the Fremont Diner!

We’re thinking of letting Bertie take more vacations …

Until next time … thanks for reading! 🙂