...and hello to an epic 8 hour journey that took me down to the Gulf Coast region of the U.S., specifically Mobile, Alabama. I never get more than 6 hours of sleep a night on tour, so the first leg of my journey (St. Louis-Houston) was spent sleeping in the arms of Xanax. I caffeinated up in the Houston airport, though, knowing I had to be in peak shape when I landed in Mobile. Because when I finally did, I only had an hour and a half to eat and transform from a scruffy, unshowered, and drugged-up traveler to this:
I signed tonight at Page & Palette Books, an indie store just outside of Mobile in Fairhope. The staff really went the extra mile with decorating, and yes, that is a coffin behind me in the picture. They also had refreshments tailored to the books:
We had a really nice turn-out, and I again gathered data for my personal project on regional personalities. This group was really fun and laughed at all my jokes. I'm not sure if they shared my sense of humor or were just being polite, but it was awesome.
And guess what? Alabama turned out the t-shirts!
This is a shirt of quotes, so the full effect isn't really possible in a shot like this, but she had some great ones.
It took me a minute to figure this one out, but it says 'Team Ivashkov' with a very stylized, very on-fire 'I' that I think is pretty sweet.
A number of people either forgot cameras or had camera difficulties, so we took shots with mine, and I promised I'd post them if they turned out good. And they all did! Here they are, for their owners to collect. You know, I don't think my facial muscles ever move.
Good times. I really like the South. I haven't spent as much time in this part of the country as say, the Midwest or Northwest, but there's something very natural and familiar about it. Maybe it's because half of my family in Michigan are southern transplants, so I've got some childhood attachments going. The heat and humidity here also remind me of where I grew up. And like I said earlier, the people here are just amazingly open and friendly. The store's staff was no exception. It's a family-run business, and they all pitched in--even the little ones--for my event.
In fact, one of those young ladies in front went so far as to draw me one of the most magnificent pieces of art I've ever seen: A VAMPIRE DOLPHIN.
Awesome. It even has red eyes. The battle for smartest mammal is officially ON!
So, thanks again to everyone involved in making tonight so successful--including my media escort Angela, who scored me dinner from a local landmark oysterhouse. Of course, I wasn't hardcore enough to actually get oysters, but I did order some bread pudding and popcorn shrimp covered in so much crust that I wept with both joy and shame. Mmm, southern food.
Speaking of which, I was disappointed to see my hotel didn't have any southern breakfast items on their menu. Then I noticed something else. I HAVE TO CHECK OUT BEFORE THEY EVEN START SERVING BREAKFAST. Yeah, it's going to be *that* kind of day. I sign in Newark, Delaware tomorrow night, and believe me, it's going to be the travel day to top all travel days. So, if you live anywhere near there, I hope you'll come out and see me because my journey there will be epic and I'll need your support!