RWA National – Kick-off!

Wednesday, 7 am. Registration for RWA National.  Volunteers distributed badges, nametags, ribbons, schedules, and books!  Along with 5 paperbacks and a hardcover, we received a flash drive from Harlequin that holds conference handouts, a 14-page pdf file of Harlequin covers from 1949-2009, and 3 more complete books.  Cool!  At registration, I saw some old friends and met a few new fellow writers.  Some will sightsee today.  Some will be busy with board matters or other events.  Today is Librarians’ Day and the Chapter Leadership Event.

After a pleasant breakfast at the Stone’s Throw Washington DC 2009 RWA 079 Restaurant in the Marriott, my husband and I left for the Metro and more touring.  Out the back service door, down the hill, then across 24th Street and we were at the entrance.  We bought our fare cards and were carried down, and down, and down the escalators.  Mind the GapThe last time I rode the subway (aka/underground or tube) was in London a few years ago.  While Washington’s system is just as efficient, I sorta missed the sultry British voice reminding me to “Mind the Gap” as I stepped aboard.

The Library of Congress was our first destination.  Washington DC 2009 RWA 054My goal was some genealogy research and learning how the system works.  Before accessing books, I had to register for a Reader Card in the Madison Building of the Library, then walk back through the tunnel to the Jefferson Building.  Interesting.  The Jefferson Building is gorgeous, inside and out.  The intricate paintings and carvings on the ceilings are awe-inspiring.

Early afternoon we hopped back on the Metro for a quick ride to the “Federal Triangle” and a visit to the National Museum of American History.  The exhibit honoring the First Ladies held a special appeal, from Mary Todd Lincolns’ tiny waisted gown worn in 1861 to Jacqueline Kennedy’s classic pale sheath a hundred years later.  So much to see in Washington, D.C.!

When we returned to the hotel it seemed it had made a shift from teachers to writers.  A quick change and I was downstairs for the “Readers for Life Literacy Autographing.” Five hundred romance authors lined up at tables to sign, and at least triple that number looking to meet their favorites make a lasting impression.  Washington DC 2009 RWA 084

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Terri Brisbin talks with fan at the Literacy Booksigning.

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Beth Ciotta shows off EVIE EVER AFTER at RWA's Literacy Booksigning.

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Carla Cassidy signs LAST GASP.

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Where to begin?  

San Francisco – July 27

From now until the RWA National Conference ends August 3, I’m posting daily about events here in San Francisco. If the mood strikes, please take a minute to comment. To other writers attending, please share a link to your own blog posts about RWA National.

Years from now, long after senility sets in, I will still recall Sunday in San Francisco and the feel of the whipping wind as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge.

It started peacefully. Early afternoon, after a savory brunch at The Crepe House, we boarded an open-top double-decker bus for a sightseeing tour of the city. Sunday’s weather was cloudy and in the low 50s. Sitting in seats atop the red bus, cool air brushed our faces. Up and down the hilly streets we rode, passing the Seven Sisters at Alamo Square, skirting Golden Gate Park. We traveled through the Presidio, listening to a recorded guide tell us of its history. And on we rode, to the Golden Gate Bridge.

The driver pulled into a parking lot and offered us the opportunity to walk the 1.2 miles across the bridge. I declined. My husband offered me the opportunity to go to the seats below. “It will be windy up here,” he said. Remembering our breathtaking sail the night before, again I declined. Walking might be out, but I could surely ride in the open air. We pulled out of the parking lot and into a settling mist.

We were only a few hundred feet onto the bridge before I felt the rushing cold. The bridge pillars and supports stood shrouded in fog. Down on the Bay, daring sailboats skimmed over the water. We watched wide-eyed as one boat tilted, and tilted. With sails nearly touching the water, the valiant on board, ant-like from our height, scrambled to keep her upright. On we went.

On the walkways, brave walkers, bundled in hoods and jackets, moved quickly. The bridge is no place for a leisurely stroll. I tucked my hands into my pockets, and fervently wished for gloves.

Suddenly we reached Vista Point North. We sat for a while, passing around cameras, taking pictures of the view and each other, watching waves of fog roll down the mountainside, talking about our lives. (One of the other tourists on board, a Suzanne Brockman groupie, is coming to RWA’s Literacy signing on Wednesday!) Finally we turned and headed south, on the west side of the bridge, the ocean side where the cold wind originates.

We stepped off at Fisherman’s Wharf and dined at Alioto’s, where we had an upstairs window seat with a perfect view of moored fishing boats (see photo). Rockfish and salmon, scalloped potatoes, wine, all delicious. Prolonging our meal, we ordered coffee and dessert, and sat some more.

We hopped back on the bus and rode by the Wells Fargo Museum, the Cafe Zoetrope, Chinatown, around Union Square, the hotel district, the Asian Art Museum, and on.

The entire bus loop takes 90 minutes but most of the varying lines are hop on, hop off so it can easily become an all day adventure. The bus we rode runs from 9 am to 5 pm, but we saw mention evening tours. The trips are not cheap, but they offer a great way to view the city as a whole.

Check back tomorrow for more!