Pineapple Express and NaNoWriMo

First off, it’s been raining steadily since Saturday morning (it’s now Sunday night).  Yes, I live near Seattle, and, yes, the rest of the world thinks this is normal for us.  Some people even seem to think that this is normal for us year-round — never mind that we average less than an inch of rain for July, August, and September. 

But this is a bit more than normal — this is a Pineapple Express.  If you look at the satellite pictures you’ll see that the stream of moisture aimed at the Pacific Northwest like a firehose comes from the tropical Pacific Ocean, basically Hawaii.  Hence the moniker Pineapple Express.  Our high today was in the mid-fifties Fahrenheit, about ten degrees above normal.  The snow level was pushed up to 8000 feet (normally this time of year it ranges from sea level to about four thousand feet).  This sort of thing happens maybe once or twice a year.  And we’re all prepared for floods (at sea level) and avalanches (in the mountains — what happens when inches of rain saturate a snowpack). 

There are two choices about where to live in this part of the world — on a floodplain or on an ancient glacial moraine.  You can float away, or you can dig rocks out of your garden every year.  I’ll take the rocks, thanks…

Anyway.  NaNoWriMo was an interesting experience.  I had never done it before, never really seen the need for it.  But I’d had this idea in the back of my brain percolating ever since this dream I’d had a couple of months ago, about a highway patrolman chasing a little old lady speeding in an extremely old vehicle out in the middle of nowhere, when he rounds a corner and — well, let’s just say that the ghost town that should have been there wasn’t a ghost town anymore.

The original dream took place in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona.  When I decided to write it as a novel, I changed the location because I wanted to set it somewhere where I could actually go see the landscape, a trip to Arizona not being in the cards this year.  So, the last weekend in October, I took an overnight trip to the Okanogan Country of north central Washington, and explored around and found an old gold mining country, a number of ghost towns, and stories (and places) that dovetailed so cleanly into the story that was percolating in my mind that I finally decided my sleeping mind must have just gotten confused. 

Item the first: 

Road to Conconully

Road to Molson

 Have you ever seen such beautiful isolation?  The whole Okanogan Highlands looks like this.  Interspersed with:

Golden larches

 Which turned out to be something of a story point in themselves — larches are a highly unusual species.  They’re deciduous conifers, and they turn into flaming torches in the fall.
Then there was the ghost town/outdoor museum in Molson (yes, it was named after the Canadian beer — the Molson family helped bankroll the beginning of the town):
I suspect it’s a bit more lively in the summertime, but in late October it was delightfully desolate.
And this pig, who lives in a Molson storefront and became another important bit of business:
Doesn’t he make you wonder what the heck?

And then there was the town of Conconully.  Which has got to be one of the most fabulous names I can think of, even if, since it’s not exactly a ghost town (it has a population of a couple hundred these days), I’m going to have to rename it in the rewrites:

Post office road, Conconully

The town that gave my story a history.

So that’s the setting of Sojourn, which is about a young man who’d been uprooted from everything that mattered to him long before he found where he really belonged.
And what I wrote for NaNoWriMo this year. 
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Categories: history, museums, outdoors, plants, research, travel, weather, writing | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Pineapple Express and NaNoWriMo

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey. We love taking impromptu road trips to Eastern Washington. Lots of beautiful and interesting places to explore. Of course, we'll have to wait until spring since the Cascade Hwy is closed for the season.

  2. You're welcome. I plan to make another overnight trip next June before I do the rewrites — most of the museums and other attractions in that part of the world are only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, so I didn't get to visit them. It turned out to be a lovely place to set a story, anyway.

  3. Lovely area! I love poking around places like this. Thanks for sharing, and good luck with the book!

  4. Thank you. It'll be interesting to see what comes of it. Writing at a pace like that, the draft needs a lot of work. But that's the fun part for me.

  5. Great pix! Your backbrain definitely knows what it's doing.

  6. The backbrain does some seriously strange things, IMHO. I also found out today that a friend of a friend's mother actually lives in Conconully and would be happy to have her brain picked. I love the whole world, just like the Discovery Channel, sometimes…

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