Yup, I’m back from RT — okay, I’ve been back a few days and have been buried in emails and such that I had to put aside while travelling.

Before I get into the tale of our road trip, I sent out a newsletter with news of No Accounting for Cowboy‘s release, along with holding a contest exclusively for my newsletter subscribers. So if you are a subscriber, check your inbox and open the newsletter! Read what (and how) you can win the prize pack. And there’s other information in it too…

Okay, and back to the road trip and what’s kept me offline for almost 10 days. Last year when we had to sign up for RT, I found myself in a group of 3 ladies who decided to drive down to NOLA. That’s 2200 kilometers each way, folks. Yeah, I’m not sure what I was thinking, other than “I’ve done it before. I can do it again, and this time without kids so it could be really fun.” And it was. Though there were a couple hiccups along the way.

First off, we were on the road, across the border and in Detroit rush hour traffic when Amy remembered that she’d forgotten the trip tiks she’d printed off, so we were totally reliant on her GPS. Who was quickly nicknamed Mixed-up Mike. Because, while we were stuck in that Detroit traffic, instead of getting us onto the I-75 the way everyone agreed, Mike had other plans.

Here’s our original planned route…


He decided that he was going to take us to Nashville via Chicago. See the difference? While I would have liked to have added Indiana to the states I have visited, that was not the trip any of us wanted to make. Especially since it would add an hour to our trip. Nashville via Chicago_web

The only thing I can assume is he was trying to avoid all that construction on the I-75? (Sorry, Americans don’t say “the” in front of the highway numbers, do they? I guess I should just say “on I-75”? Which really sounds weird to this Canuck.) Anyway, by the time we realized what Mike was doing, we were in the wrong lane and couldn’t get through the three lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic to the proper off-ramp in time. So we spent 40 some minutes touring downtown Detroit as Mike “recalculated” and we got back on the I-75 and headed in the proper direction. And holy hell, that construction was fun. Not.

For those who are wondering why we didn’t get a paper map, we tried. Whenever we stopped, we looked, but it’s surprising how few places carry them anymore. Even at gas stations. Or when we did, the maps would be of just one state. Usually the state we were leaving.

We drive to Ohio every year for the Lori Foster Reader and Author Get Together, so we are familiar with that landscape, but this time we got to venture further south. Kentucky is beautiful. We stopped for lunch at a Cracker Barrel since Mary had never been to one before. Since my hubby is a huge fan of their corn muffins, I bought two boxes of mix to bring home.

It was somewhere around there that I realized I’d left my cowboy hat at Amy’s place. (Mary and I had travelled to her home the day before and slept there so we could get an early 5 a.m. start and get further south in one day.) Now since I overheard someone call me a poser for wearing a cowboy hat at RT, I figure I should explain why I wear a cowboy hat considering I’m from Ontario.

RAGT close upI bought my first cowboy hat in 2007 on a trip to Texas for a writers’ conference. I bought it at M.L. Leddy’s on the main street in Fort Worth and it cost a pretty penny. After that, I got another one–a white straw hat that was cooler to wear in the summer. And I have collected them ever since; I now own around ten different types of cowboy hats–beaver/felt, straw and leather. I wear them gardening. And when I’m walking the dog. I’ve worn them in Toronto, in Ottawa, and up in Haliburton/cottage country. I even wore one on my trip to Quebec City back in 2008, which made the Quebecois assume I was American rather than a former Quebecker. But the first time I wore a white cowboy hat for a conference was at the Lori Foster Reader and Author Get Together around the time Texas Tangle came out. The next year I didn’t wear any of my hats and for the entire conference I was asked numerous times where my hat was and was told how hard it was to find me in the large conference room or in the bar. So ever since then I’ve worn a white cowboy hat to conferences. Because that’s how people know how to find me, but you know what? I like cowboy hats. They’re sensible — they keep the sun off your face and the back of your neck.

Anyway, as part of the Author Hunt I was part of at RT, I’d told people to look for the white hat. So I felt I needed to get one, and what better place than Nashville.
We’d booked a room at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center because, well, because it’s a gorgeous hotel, and Amy wanted to fulfill a wish of her grandmother’s to stay there, and Mary and I were both game. (We toasted Amy’s grandmother Molly at dinner that night.)

Gaylord Opryland

Dan from Boot Barn_compSo once we booked into the hotel and admired our atrium view overlooking the two story falls, we headed off to the Opry Mills Mall, and found the Boot Barn where a lovely young man named Dan helped me pick out a new hat. It wasn’t quite white, but it was close. Turned out Dan was from near Sulphur Springs, Texas–so I got a kick out of listening to him talk in his soft Texan accent. Oh, and Dan is a song writer. I quite enjoyed talking with him about writing lyrics, and told him how I’d tried writing lyrics when I was writing Jake’s character in No Accounting for Cowboys. And how hard it was. He chuckled and agreed, saying “you have to tell a story in three minutes.” Very true. It is an art. I wish Dan well, and hope to see his name beneath a song title on the charts one day.

That’s enough for now … I’ll post more pictures about the rest of our trip and what surprised Amy and Mary when we crossed into Alabama, another Mike experience in New Orleans, the fun at RT, and our stop at Memphis on the way home in later blogs…so I’ll leave you with this Brett Kissel song, “I love a girl in a cowboy hat.”


Road Trip to NOLA (part one)
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7 thoughts on “Road Trip to NOLA (part one)

  • May 24, 2014 at 12:23 am

    OMG Leah ~~ I would have loved to been on that road trip. And I bet ya’ll laughed every mile of the way. Cant’ wait to read the next installment. Hey, I’m on ch 4 of Jake and I’m totally loving it. Well worth waiting for.

  • May 25, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    From Louisville straight to Nashville is I-65 not I-75. I live near Bowling Green, KY. Wish we could have met somewhere.

    • May 25, 2014 at 5:58 pm

      But first we had to get to Louisville — so we took the I-75 from Detroit to Cincinnati (which is where all the construction was), and then changed over to the 71 to Louisville, to get to the I-65 which would take us to Nashville.

  • May 25, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    The Opryland Hotel has beautiful Christmas decorations!!

    • May 25, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      That’s what we’d heard — one day I really want to go back there and spend some time in Nashville. Not sure about around Christmas though…but that hotel is gorgeous. Definitely worth the visit. As we passed through all those states, I wondered how many of my readers I was passing by. Are you going to be at RAGT this year? I’ll be there in two weeks…

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