I happened to glance out the window as my flight touched down in Toronto, just in time to see a rather large complement of fire trucks lining the runway.
Oh, weird, I thought, rubbing sleep from my eyes. Looks like someone's in trouble.
I peered out through the tiny porthole, searching for any sign of the stricken aircraft, but saw nothing. And then we rolled to a stop on the runway and just stayed there, and nothing happened for a while, and then a firetruck rolled slowly up beside us, and stopped.
"No cause for alarm," the pilot announced. "Just taking precautions."
Whoa, crap, I thought, wide awake now. Looks like WE'RE in trouble.
One of the most wonderful things about being a writer is the opportunity to meet people and go places that one otherwise wouldn't.
Last April, for instance, I flew to Little Rock, Arkansas, as a guest of the Arkansas Literary Festival. I'd never been to Arkansas before, and I think I weirded the organizers out by how enthusiastic I was to be there.
"I've always wanted to visit Little Rock," I told them, and I could almost see them thinking, bullshit, he's just sucking up.
But I wasn't. I like visiting places. I'd never had a reason to go to Arkansas before.
Getting flown out for a book festival? Heaven.
I had a blast.
So on Saturday morning, I kicked phase two of #ProjectNomad into gear with another one of those crazy, serendipitous voyages out of my usual orbit.
This time, I'm visiting the Yukon.
A few years ago, I was a guest of the Surrey International Writers' Conference, another top-notch gathering of my kind of people. I met someone there who had connections to the Yukon Writers' Festival, and she asked if I'd be interested in taking part.
Specifically, I think she asked me if I'd be interested in road-tripping around the Territory, visiting 5-6 local libraries over the course of a week.
It sounded too good to be true, but here we are. I've just landed in Whitehorse, and over the next few days I'm going to be driven 1500kms around this vast, beautiful place, meeting fellow book-lovers and giving readings and talks.
I'm a lucky, lucky guy.
But the trip certainly started inauspiciously. Apparently I'd slept through the announcement on that first flight where they informed us how the hydraulic system was acting up and they'd need to take precautionary measures. So nobody else was, I guess, as startled as I was by the honour guard of first responders awaiting our arrival in TO.
In the end, all that happened was we were late arriving at the gate, and everyone on the plane missed their connections. This gave me six hours at Pearson to read and enjoy the healthy homemade cornbread I'd baked the night before.
I finally made it to Vancouver late Saturday afternoon. I had a couple of days in the city before my flight to the Yukon, and I spent it hanging with some good friends and also testing how my commitment to a healthy lifestyle stood up to hotel life and restaurant dining.
I'm pleased to report that I'm staying on track. I've found some good, taxing hotel room workouts to keep me sweating every day, and I've brought plenty of snacks and made healthy eating decisions so far, too.
Well, except for the warm chocolate chip cookies they served us on the plane to Whitehorse today. Life is too short to turn down a warm cookie.
Today I caught my flight to the Yukon. It was luxurious and wonderful. I had a row to myself and the weather was beautiful, affording me an amazing view of the Coast Mountains north of Vancouver, and an even more amazing view of the area around Whitehorse as we came in to land.
I couldn't help but feel really grateful to live a life that gives me these opportunities. Not everyone gets to do this and call it work.
So far, the people in Whitehorse seem super friendly and really excited that I'm here. The town is beautiful; there are old trains and boats and waterfront trails, and I plan to explore as much as I can over the next few days.
As you read this, I'm probably headed out on my first sojourn into the Yukon wilderness. My first reading takes place in Burwash Landing, a three-hour drive from Whitehorse. I have an 0750 pickup, and before that, an 0630 radio interview call with my buddy John Hines in Minneapolis.
Book tours are hectic, but they're a heck of a lot of fun. Keep watching this space, and I'll bring you along for the ride.