I've only had one event in the last couple of days, but I've been keeping pretty busy. Before Lucy and I left Chicago on Thursday, we dropped in on a writer friend, the wonderful and talented Joelle Charbonneau, whose talent for creating propulsive YA dystopian fiction is matched only by her kindness and warmth.
We had a brief visit in her beautiful garden as Lucy chased chipmunks, sought out the local skunk (in vain, thank goodness) and met the neighbour's five beagles.
Then we were on the road again, headed up to Milwaukee--or, rather, just outside of it, the town of Waukesha.
Waukesha is where the headquarters of Kalmbach Media are located. And Kalmbach Media is the company that publishes Trains Magazine and Model Railroader.
And I was getting a tour.
I was there to meet Drew Halverson, star of the foamer video series Drew's Trackside Adventures, who I'd come to know through Instagram.
Drew has every railfan's dream job; he gets paid to chase trains and make videos about it. That's not his only duty at Kalmbach, obviously, but it's a pretty damn cool one.
Drew showed me around the offices and introduced me to the staff, and I was like Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, especially when we checked out the company's famous model railroad, the Milwaukee, Racine & Troy, and the Canadian-themed project layout they're building for a web series.
I dunno, I've done some cool things, but this was right up there. I've read Trains and Model Railroader faithfully since I was nine or ten, and my truck is currently packed with about a ton of decade-plus-old back issues that I couldn't bear to get rid of.
I was among my people. They welcomed me and loaded me up with swag to take home and tips on where to chase trains as I keep moving west. It was awesome.
(One day, maybe, I'll see my byline in Trains. Or a photo credit, even...)
After leaving the offices, I shot some trains nearby for a little while before Lucy and I set off for our motel. My friend Alexis has been handling the bookings, and she'd found us another Red Roof Inn that was a little dingier than the usual, but still just fine for our purposes.
I didn't have an event that night, so I ate some dinner at a local, uh, "Branded Steer" and got to bed early.
Friday, I had an event at Boswell Books with my friend Nick Petrie, but beforehand, I decided Lucy and I would take an easy day, and I wouldn't put her in the truck at all.
We slept in, and I worked out for the first time in a while, which nearly killed me. Then I took Lucy for a walk and we found a nice park with plenty of sticks to chase and chew. It's like 30C here, so the poor girl was pretty hot, and we stuck to the shade.
I bought some groceries and kept my hand in on the foaming side by snapping off a couple of shots of the tracks near the motel.
Then it was time to head into Milwaukee for the event.
Boswell Books is a cathedral to literature. It was my first time through the doors, but I hope it won't be my last.
We had a good group of attendees for this long weekend Friday, and they seemed to enjoy my conversation with Nick; they laughed in the right places and asked interesting questions, anyway, and we each sold a couple of books.
Afterward, about ten of us repaired to a nearby patio for beers and a bite as the air cooled into a really lovely evening. It was a wonderful way to end a very nice, relaxing visit to Wisconsin.
As you read this, Lucy and I are on the road again. My next event is on Tuesday, May 29th, at Missoula, Montana's Fact and Fiction Books, but we're going to try to shoot some trains out west beforehand.
I have designs on visiting some spots in Wyoming before we hit Montana, so today's going to be all about putting in distance.