A week of camping and hiking is good for the mind, the body, and the muse.
Sunrise Lodge was our home away from home for vacation last week. Nestled along the western edge of the campground, the small log-cabin style lodge was equipped with a microwave and small fridge, a surprisingly comfortable bed, and a bathroom. But my favorite amenity was the wooden glider bench on the porch. It was the perfect place to relax with a cool drink and a good book while Hubby fogged our small area for mosquitoes and set up our evening campfires! After dark, mesmerized by the campfire flames, I felt all my tensions fade away.
Our hiking destinations were two nearby state parks, offering about 30 miles of trails between the two of them. We spent our days exploring, hiking through canyons and fording streams, climbing sometimes steep trails and climbing and descending so many steps that if I never see another one, it will be too soon. Our timing was perfect, though – with recent rains, the waterfalls were spectacular! We were even able to walk behind one of them. I was sure my body would protest, but each day, I was surprised at how good I really felt.
Centered between the campground and the parks was a small town that inspired my muse. In the space of a few blocks, biker hangouts stood next to a bakery, followed by artisan shops, a bistro, and museums. Downtown consisted of maybe two blocks of businesses, including several bar and grills, wine tasting storefronts, a popcorn store and the public library. Across the railroad tracks, a bar with a pizza garden led the way uphill to other businesses: a tattoo parlor, a fencing company, a pizza place, and gift shops.
My muse was going crazy! Bikers and artisans coexisting? Were there events going on that we didn’t know about, or was this the makeup of the town? How did the townspeople feel about having several bar and grills in the space of two blocks? How did the Bistro fit in? What about competing wineries?
We learned that the town is a hotspot on weekends, with many of the businesses open only Friday through Sunday. Bikers filled the local Trading Post and another hangout, and the artisan shops and museums were filled with their own clientele. During the week, though, the town seemed almost deserted. Except for one bar and grill, probably better known as a pub, where we ate lunch one day. The place was filled with old memorabilia and had a unique “Hall of Foam” – a number of plaques filled with names of those who were able to drink 16 beers in one sitting. The catch: you can’t drink 16 Buds or whatever you like. They have 16 different beers on tap, most of them craft beers. In order to get in the “Hall of Foam” you are required to drink one glass from each tap. I'm not a beer-drinker, so my tastebuds shudder at the thought!
My muse was fascinated. How can people survive doing business only three days a week? Do the people have other “day” jobs? Where do they live; where do they play? Where did the pub come up with their “Hall of Foam”? What other unique things did we not discover?
So many thoughts jumbled together, and then drifted to my WIP. What could I learn from viewing this community? How do I create a community that makes an impact on readers?
I think the devil is in the details…