Minivan with a Fringe On Top: Oklahoma and Amarillo

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We arrived a couple hours ago and just came back from eating tacos and hot green and red chili. But I’ll blog about that once we’ve finished our time here. Over the past few days we were in Oklahoma and Amarillo, TX, so I’ll catch you up on that. Karen helped out with today’s blog. She wrote the section on Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, TX (below, in a different font).


We arrived in OKC from Dallas on Thursday evening. There, we stayed with our friends Rich Schwab and Margaret Mantooth Schwab. They were incredibly nice to us, and took the day off on Friday just to drive us around. Thanks, Rich and Margaret!


First stop in Oklahoma City, I was interviewed on “Read All About It,” a state-wide show about books and authors that’s produced by the Metropolitan Library System for Cox TV. Now, I can’t say I’m used to being interviewed on talk shows, but boy-oh, this was fun. First, they put make-up on me (not sure why—isn’t the pasty-white look in?), then I hung out in the green room with other guests, including some way-cool local librarians, one of whom was doing a review on the novel Rules by my friend Cynthia Lord. Then they called me to the set. I was on for about eight minutes, interviewed by BJ Williams, the show’s producer and host. We talked about Lemonade Mouth and the tour, etc., etc. I think it went well, but who am I to say? It was my first time. I’ll get a copy of it whenever I can. 🙂

Thanks to BJ Williams and Cox TV! Hats off to “Read All About It” — what a wonderful way to promote books and reading!

Best Of Books

Later that afternoon we stopped at Best of Books, a terrific store in Edmond, OK, where Julie Hovis and Kathy Kinasewitz, the co-owners, were great to my family and me. The store has been in business for years, and it’s carved out a niche as one of the few independent booksellers in the area.

While there I ran into an old friend from Massachusetts, Meredith Pearlman, who had made the drive from Tulsa to see us–she moved to Oklahoma only three months ago. It was so great to see you, Meredith!

We made a stop at the memorial for the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. It was very moving. They have a place for kids to leave messages in chalk. Evan, Lucy, and Zoe each left one.

Uh-Oh. Oil Trouble!

We were driving around the city when suddenly a light started flashing on our car’s dashboard – it was an oil can. Uh oh, oil trouble. So we made a quick detour to the local Honda dealer, where Stephen Sponsler did a quick diagnosis – we were almost completely out of oil! Yikes! We must have a leak, but it must be a slow one because after he changed the oil he didn’t see the car lose any more. So, new strategy: We’ll check the oil every 500 miles or so!

While we were waiting for the oil situation to get resolved, we stopped into a local Barnes and Noble, where we met Chuck Ackerly and Dean Kraushaar. A cool way to spend the pit stop!


On Saturday (yesterday), it was goodbye Oklahoma, and back into Texas. We arrived in Amarillo where, in accordance with the old classic song, we grabbed a pillow.

Karen wrote the next part:

Camping in Palo Duro Canyon
KAREN: On Saturday night we went camping in Palo Duro Canyon, near Amarillo, TX.

It was a wild experience. First, we set up camp at the bottom of the canyon (the 2nd biggest in the US)! We spread out our tent on the hard red dirt covering all of the ants and other variations on bugs. The minute we got there, we were all being eaten alive by bugs. I could tell right away that I could never have been a cow girl. Even though I’ve camped in the past and loved it, I was already dreaming of a comfy bed in the air conditioning. Lucy, Zoe, and Evan were complaining about being bitten, Mark was complaining about how hot it was (it was 7pm), so I knew it would be a long night especially when Mark announced to the kids that if they see a Rattlesnake, don’t try to poke it with a stick! Rattlesnakes, no one prepared me for this!! The kids started to freak…who could blame them? Next we had dinner, no fire of course because we were too hot and would have roasted even more. Who told me that it cools down in the desert at night??

That evening we went to an amazing musical show called “Texas” in an amphitheater actually in the Canyon. It was all about Texas history, songs and there were even fireworks!

I liked the show so much, I even started thinking it would be fun to be a real Texan. I was amazed at how the Texan settlers could live here! Ok, so I could make it one night, why not?!


I was up all night listening to various interesting sounds of wildlife. While the family snored happily, I kept thinking of all those Rattlesnakes. I swear I heard some close by slithering. Mark thinks I was imagining things, but I DON’T THINK SO!! The next morning Mark admitted that the park ranger warned him that there was a “bumper crop” of Rattlesnakes in the canyon this year. Enough said!!

The next morning, getting up at 7 am with 3 hours of sleep and all wet because there was a lot of dew all night (so much for comfortable sleeping in the dry desert), we rushed to pack up camp, eat and dress to be presentable because in one hour we were going to be interviewed by the Amarillo NBC TV station at Barnes & Noble! Can you believe this? The only time in my life that I was a actually going to be on TV is after spending a night camping full of dirt and bug bites…so much for any beauty rest! I’ll let Mark tell you the rest, I’m fading from exhaustion!

(I just re-read this and although it sounds like I had a miserable time, it was a great adventure I wouldn’t have missed. We really are having a great time. Our next camping trip might include bears. I’ll let you know if we go do it and I don’t chicken out!)


MARK: Jeez, I can’t believe I’m still typing. This was an action-packed few days! So, in Amarillo, TX this morning the local NBC-TV affiliate (KAMR) was there to interview us! They have a weekly series on families doing stuff together, so our trip kinda fit in. (Note, this gig was due entirely to the amazing promotional efforts of my friend Tyler Jensen who, out of sheer kindness, sent out a funny email to media outlets all over the known world, telling them about our road-trip. Thanks, Tyler! You da best!) for the interview, Evan stole the show when he described the camping experience and gave an enthusiastic, detailed tour of the van. They loved him so much they ran out of videotape filming him. No kidding!

The series runs every Friday, part of the local evening news. Our story is scheduled for four Fridays AFTER this Friday. Faith, the local news anchor (she was the one doing the interviews!) promises to let me know when it runs, and how I can get a copy of it. I’ll get the word out when I have access to the video. 🙂

We were very lucky to meet up with Kimberly Willis Holt and her husband Jerry for coffee. Kimberly is the New York Times bestselling author of such books as When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, My Louisiana Sky and Waiting For Gregory. Such nice people! We ended up chatting for quite a while. 🙂

Finally, here’s a picture of Samantha Adkins and Cassie Mason, two soon-to-be high-school seniors who we met in Amarillo. Among other things we talked about Harry Potter and his unknown fate—which will be known later this week. Nice to meet you, Samantha and Cassie!

Next stop: Santa Fe!



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