Jill and Paula are ditching me for Mount Vernon this morning. I can’t blame them, I’d love to see it myself. But today I have a different priority . . . and I know all my writing buddies will totally understand when I explain that today is the National Book Festival.
I can’t believe I didn’t know about this until I went to the Library of Congress on Wednesday. They’re setting up tents (aka “pavilions”) on the National Mall today and scores of authors are coming to talk and sign books. And it’s FREE—or paid for by the Library of Congress, I suppose. If that’s the case, I’m quite happy to see my tax dollars at work today.
First up on my personal agenda is John Grisham at the Fiction & Fantasy Pavilion. Next I’ll pop over to the History & Biography Pavilion to see Sue Monk Kidd. (On the way I pass the Teens & Children Pavilion where Paula Deen is holding forth. I can’t see her through the crowd, but I can make out the faint strains of “Butter” floating through the morning air.)
Naturally, the very sound of Paula’s voice makes me hungry, but the line at the concession stand is a bit daunting. It’s not my first day in DC, though, and I happen to know the Smithsonian Castle, just behind the History & Biography Pavilion, has a nice little café where I can get a Panini and warm up a bit. Next I’m off to the Mysteries & Thrillers Pavilion for a little chat with Lisa Scottoline. I had to change my return flight to catch her presentation, but I love her books so it was so worth it. Before I know it, it’s time to dash back to the hotel to cram my newly signed volumes into my carry-on (oof!), meet up with the girls, and head home.
Thus ends the virtual vacation. I’ve been keeping a running tally of my virtual expenses, and I think it’s safe to say I won’t be taking this exact trip anytime soon. I had to estimate and do some rounding up—and numbers are not my strong point, ever. But in case you’re curious, here’s how it came out:
Airfare & Hotel: $4,250 (I told you it was a nice hotel)
Tours, Souvenirs, Spa, and Incidentals (cab rides, Metro tickets, tips, etc.): $1,400
I’m sure I can visit DC for much less in real life—which is a good thing. Otherwise I’d probably abandon hope of ever seeing my nation’s capitol in this life. It’s been grand fun to go there virtually; I hope you enjoyed it! Now I’m going to catch up on all the things I should have been doing this last week instead of researching and writing about my pretend life.
But don’t be a stranger . . . next Friday I’m leaving on a real-life trip. More on that later!