Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gift of Blood, Arizona research trip- travel journal series: Part 1

I took this trip because I wanted to see what my characters experienced, and get to know them on a deeper, more personal level. What I learned really took my breath away. I was captivated by the natural beauty of the land around me, the ancient ruins, and the Hopi reservation. It was then that I finally understood Kate and Trevor’s passion for their work, as well as the mystical properties in Chevy and Max’s homeland.
I hope you enjoy coming along with me on my travels back last fall when I explored the setting Gift of Blood. Keep following, this is just the beginning of my journey…

Best Regards,
VK Tremain.

The beginning of the trip, Part 1:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

5:15am Take off.
Left the house, it was dark. We hit the road anxious for our first hit of Starbucks. After fueling up the car with gas we found ourselves looking through the glass door of a locked up Starbucks a little irritated by our lack of caffeine. No coffee for us. So, un-caffeinated we started our journey, again.

6:00am approximately - Found a McDonalds off the 5 and took the exit ramp. Got some mochas and two sausage sandwiches, then pooed Kiko, the dog, and hit the road again.

6am-12pm - Continued down the road.
Stopped for gas in Bakersfield where we saw big plastic cow and a Starbucks.
Breaked for lunch in Barstow at Chipolte.

Drove through the Mojave. The desert is beautiful, but I couldn’t look at it everyday. We didn’t see many cacti but saw lots of brush and Joshua trees. There were plenty of black rocks after Barstow, and some coral cactus in one area. Then the scenery changed to an incredible mesa looking rock sculpture garden. Red towers and flat tops. Really inspiring.

Driving through the desert still...
Black rocks

… still in the car
Trying to figure out what state we were in. Not in Nevada. We figured out we were still in California when we stopped in the city of Needles for gas. Then without crossing though Nevada we arrived in Arizona!!! 200 miles left to go, but we were happy.

… Driving, and driving, still…scenery is still beautiful, however, had enough with the rocks and sparse trees. 

… Suddenly pine trees start showing their faces, and we realize that we are starting to climb up, and up, and up. Virginia gets really dizzy, Kristina can hardly see while driving, her eyes are watering, sinus pressure + altitude = bad!! Knots in our shoulders are getting really bad!!

4:45pm-ish - We see a white snow capped mountain in the distance. Must be the Kachina wilderness area! The San Francisco white-capped peaks are calling our name, only about 40 more miles to go!!!

5:30pm - Finally arrive at the Super 8 off Lucky Lane, not so lucky.  Our room smelled like pet urine!  Tried to alleviate the smell by covering the damp spots with every towel in the room. Then, we sprayed the towels with hairspray and lotion in an attempt to make it smell better. We were too tired to deal with switching rooms that night.

6:30pm-ish – Got freshened up and went out headed to Salsa Brava off historic route 66 for their famous chicken sopapilla (pronounced like ‘Sooookie’ in Bill’s whispery voice), and a margarita!! OMG it was soooo good!! Chicken was smoked and very tender, melt in your mouth good. Everything was fresh and homemade. It was an awesome experience. Highly recommend it!

Salsa Brava's, chicken sopapilla!!
Monday, October 11, 2010

7am – Ate a delicious Super Start Breakfast waffles, and then talked to front desk about our pet urine room. We got another room that didn’t smell like pee, yay!! Our new room, #119, had a mountain view. Victory was ours!

9am – Searched for Deer trail in the Kachina wilderness, only to discover that it was burned up to cinders in a previous fire. This resulted in the closure of many trails, including the Deer Trail, which supposedly used to have aspen trees.  Now there were only charred aspen trees and ponderosa pines.

9:45am-ish – Spying the bright golden aspen trees from the highway, we turned down a residential road until we reached a dead end that had a trailhead. We never reached the aspens because we were forced to hike in a circle around trails that were closed due to the fire, flash flooding and tornadoes from the previous week.

10:30am-ish - Got back in car and headed towards ranger station to find out where the damn open trails were with aspen trees. Then we spotted a trailhead on the road, Little Elden Loop trail.  We could still see the aspens on the side of the mountain, and decided to try it out. Got loaded up for the hike and headed off.  We had just taken pictures of the far away mountainside sprinkled with aspens and pines when disaster struck. On the hike, we noticed a fire ant hill, and avoided it. However, Kiko suddenly started limping and spazing.  He got all jittery, so we looked at the paw he was favoring and noticed that it was swollen pink. We decided he must have gotten bit by one of the nasty fire ants. Kiko continued to spaz out, rubbing all over Kristina’s leg, trying to roll on the ground, and wanting to be carried.  Virginia ended up carrying the dog. 

There's some Aspen's waaaay over there!

Kristina taking pictures on the hike.
Poor Kiko :(
11:30am-ish - We decided to turn around because the dog was not doing well and he was waaaay too heavy.

12:15pm-ish – Back in car, we headed to the hotel. Kiko seemed to be doing better, but he was tired.  It’s a hard life to have to be carried while hiking.

12:36pm – At the hotel, we changed then headed to down town to grab some lunch.  We decided to eat at Charly’s pub. Kristina had a Flagstaff Dip, aka a French Dip, and Virginia got a mini Navajo Taco (that barely fit on the plate).  Both were very good!

Part of downtown Flagstaff, Charly's Pub
Flagstaff Dip and Navajo Taco, yum!
1:30ish headed out to walk to NAU to scope it out. Virginia bitched the whole time about her heavy purse and wished that we had driven to campus.  Kristina told her to suck it up J.  Kristina’s back of knees were aching, but tried not to think about it too much. Virginia complained about her cubicle job, and how she needed to walk more. Finally made it to the campus and tried to track down the Anthropology building on our own that we needed to research for one of our scenes. Stopped a student to find the lab, they didn’t have a clue. So, we gave up our search, went to admissions, and got a map. The lab was as far away as possible. It was the teeny, tinyest building, behind the dorms. It was small, but it’s not the size that matters, it’s how it’s used. We had to case the joint, we peered into windows and took pictures, as we formulated a plan.

Trying to find the Anthropology Department...
Finally found the Lab!

3pm-ish – We happened to find yet another Starbucks, so we stopped for an afternoon pick me up. Then on our way back to the hotel we saw a sign for The Wildflower Bakery and pulled over to investigate.  It was an awesome bakery, Kristina got 2 slices of cake, one carrot and one old-fashioned toffee tart, which were super yummy.  But, she saved most of it for later. Virginia got an orange and blackberry lemonade, which was superb.

630pm-ish – Tired, we walked across the street and went to the Outback for dinner and beer. Night, night time. PJ’s and HBO were in order for the rest of the evening. 


  1. Sounds like you had an advernture...I love a good adventure.

  2. Fantastic chronicle! LOL your poor dog! :( You visited some of my most favorite places! The Hopi's are a majestic people! I cannot wait to read more!

  3. That sounds and looks like so much fun. Now I want to go on a research trip!

  4. I loved seeing this different landscape and part of the country. Looked like a fun research/road trip. Thanks for sharing... now get to N'Awlins!

  5. I think I want to write a book with you two. Preparing for it sounds like a lot of fun!

  6. LOL...we enjoy the entire writing process ;) Unfortunately, we won't be able to visit every place we write about, but if we can, we do! NOLA is next! But, if we don't visit it we make sure and do a ton of research on the area...we like to include as many real facts and experiences as possible.

  7. What a cool post! I have been experiencing a bad case of wanderlust lately; now I am wondering where I might travel in the interest of research! It is great to "meet" you two; I will be keeping my eyes on you! :-)

  8. Thanks, Pam great to meet you too! Welcome to our journey! We both love to travel, so incorporating it whenever possible is a must :)

  9. Many memories of Super 8. Not all of them good...