28 October 2013

Huge Trees, Bronze Medals, New Guidebooks

A quick round-up of Interesting Things over here:

1. Holy #$%@!! Redwoods. Amazing. Utterly Amazing. 

Maren and I headed out to northern California for our honeymoon. We did a little road trip among giant trees, hillside vineyards, and a certain infamous island prison. The highlight, without question, was the ten-mile hike we impulsively decided to do at Prairie Creek State Park, home of some of the tallest living things on the planet.

Redwoods. Go there. Put away all your Eight Gazillion Things to Do Before You Die guidebooks and trust me on this one: You've gotta see these forests. Photos don't begin to do them justice. It's like ... it's like I want to take back all the other times in my life that I've used the word "majestic," because nothing else seems worthy.

Also: fern-walled canyons, like something out of The Lost World. 

Actually, Spielberg came here to film scenes for Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World. But you don't even need to know that, or to have seen the movie, to be awe-struck and struck, in an elemental and abiding sort of way, by how wondrously, mesmerizingly primeval this place is. As Maren put it, "If a Tyrannosaurus Rex ate me right now, I wouldn't even mind, because it would feel so appropriate."  

Redwoods. I'm telling you, begging you. Go. See them. You can thank me later.

2. An award for Europe on Five Wrong Turns a Day

The day of our trek through the Land Of The Giants And Maybe Some Dinosaurs just so happened to be the same day that the Society of American Travel Writers announced the winners of their annual Lowell Thomas Awards. When we got back to the hotel, I logged onto the internet for just a sec to check the announcement and ... Hey! Sweet! 

I'm delighted and honored to say that Europe on Five Wrong Turns a Day picked up the bronze for Best Travel Book!

3. Back to basics: The Return of Frommer's Guidebooks

I'm not one for fantasy football, but if there were a fantasy league to keep tabs on guidebook publishers, I'd be all in. I mean, you've all been following this as closely as I have, right? The ups and downs and power plays and intriguing goings-on?  

For anyone who hasn't been been hanging on every detail, here's a quick run-down of my own favorite publisher:

August 2012: Google buys Frommer's

March 2013: Google quietly says that well, y'know, there's a chance that ... ummm ... Yeah, we're not gonna keep publishing Frommer's as a hard-copy guidebook line. Sorry about that but, well, changing world and all that. 

Two weeks later: Arthur Frommer buys his guidebook line back from Google. (As a friend of mine said, incredulously, "I didn't know you could do that--buy something from Google.") Frommer announces plans to start printing new guidebooks in the autumn. 

Hey, you know what it is right now? Autumn 2013. And true to his word, Frommer is relaunching his new guidebooks. As he told the Los Angeles Times, “Fifty-seven years later, I’m returning to what I originally did. ... I'm probably the oldest fledgling publisher in world history.”

That weird honking noise is me blowing my party horn. While wearing a paper party hat, natch. In my world, this is big, exciting news. 

14 October 2013

The Craziest, Coolest Real Mail Yet

Do not get into a creative mail competition with Jeff in Aurora, Colorado. 

He's been sending me postcards and aerograms for a while, as I mentioned a few weeks ago. And after that shout-out, he responded with this: 

Tube o' Mystery

Tear off the face to reveal the prize
A film canister impaled with a pen. And Scooby Doo has a message for you.

Wait. Really? There's a scroll in there? How long could it possibly be?

In the neighborhood of EIGHT FEET, ladies and gents. An eight-foot-long letter--or, as Jeff calls it, "Rollergram." (Trademark and patent pending, I'm sure.)

Take a bow, Jeff. 

And to everyone else, including me: The creative correspondence gauntlet has been thrown down.