I’m exhausted …

… but it’s a good kind of exhausted.

Grant just called a little while ago to report that he and the Firebird made it to Flagstaff safely. Meanwhile, I am unwinding with a plate of leftover barbecue (add “world-class pitmaster” to Grant’s long list of assets) and some baked mac and cheese while this evening’s guests — a biker from Oxnard, Calif., and a retired veterinarian from Detroit — are down the street at Casa de Jesus, undoubtedly solving all the world’s problems over a pitcher of beer.

This is the first semblance of peace and quiet I’ve had all weekend. Not that I’m complaining about 100 percent occupancy, of course, especially when Grant is one of my guests, but it’s good to stop and catch my breath after a weekend of nonstop laundry and cooking and errands and what-have-you. I was afraid Grant might be upset that I didn’t have time to go for a drive or hike up the mesa, but he just jumped right in and helped hang up sheets and fold towels and cook dinner.

You can learn a lot about a person across a clothesline or behind a barbecue grill. I’m too tired to go into details at the moment, but it was a good weekend. I’ll try to have a full report tomorrow.

— Sierra

Teach your children well

Joey and Grant are sitting on the floor in my lobby with a 3-year-old from London and a pair of 5-year-old twins from Japan, reading “Where the Wild Things Are” and a picture book based on the movie “Cars,” while the CSNY kittens climb all over them. The little Japanese girls don’t speak a word of English beyond “hello” and “thank you” (which they occasionally mix up), but they are giggling themselves silly over the fact that Crosby is perched on Grant’s head as if he belongs there.

Their parents, of course, are missing about half the fun in their valiant effort to make sure the whole scene is properly videotaped and photographed for posterity.

I wish I had a dollar for every moment I’ve failed to experience in my zeal to capture it on film….

— Sierra

Within minutes …

Grant just called from Santa Rosa. He should be here in the next 20 minutes.

Joey and Harvey are out front, pacing up and down the block like crazy men. I hope they aren’t creeping out the guests too much.

Harvey is excited because Joey is excited. Joey is excited because he has learned to read “Where the Wild Things Are” since Grant’s last visit and has been gleefully reading it to every little kid who walks into the lobby. He’s dying to ask Grant to help him find where the Wild Things might be on his map.

Meanwhile, I am excited about an idea somebody sent me.

Lillian Redman, who owned the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari for many years, used to have a little card in each room that talked about a prayer for “The Stranger Within Our Gates.” I just got a text message — complete with photo — from somebody who found Miss Lillian’s blessing hanging on the wall in a motel in Missouri.

I am planning to type it up and turn it into a little postcard or something for all my rooms.

— Sierra


The Tumbleweed is officially booked solid through Tuesday … and it’s only Thursday night.

This evening, a half-dozen French bikers, a pair of retirees from Chicago, and two sisters — one celebrating her college graduation, and the other celebrating her high-school graduation — are sitting around the chiminea, swapping stories and playing with a scruffy-looking Westie mix the Chicagoans brought along.

This time tomorrow night, Grant will be curled up on the couch next to me, sipping a cappuccino and discussing the logistics of moving out here permanently. I think he’s just about decided to buy a ramshackle little house a couple of  blocks from school and either renovate it himself or hire Albert — the contractor who did all the work on Units 1 and 2 — to do it for him. At 800 square feet, it’s just about the perfect size for a bachelor, and its location will allow Grant to walk to work.

Grant won’t be able to move in until the closing date, but that’s OK. I know where he can find an inexpensive room until then. :)

— Sierra

Big weekend

Text conversation du jour:

GRANT: got an idea. u still got the firebird?
ME: yes. y?
GRANT: flag has consignment car lots. cld swap cars n solve 2 probs
GRANT: got a 3 day wkd. cld bring volvo & drive fbird back 2 flag 2 sell
GRANT: gd xcuse 2 c u :)

Good excuse, indeed. Excellent excuse. And I could really use the distraction, because Saturday will mark the 20th anniversary of the day one young man made the stupid, irresponsible decision to drive himself home after a beer-soaked Memorial Day weekend on the lake. That decision left a 15-year-old girl sitting in a hospital waiting room with nothing to hold onto but her absent father’s voice floating through on the Muzak while surgeons made a valiant but ultimately futile effort to safe her mother’s life.

I’m glad Grant will be here to keep my mind off of that, but part of me wishes he would just stay in Flagstaff and wait for me to come to him next week, because I’m afraid the memories will overtake me while he’s in town this weekend, and I’m not sure I want to open up all my baggage in front of him just yet. Precious few people have ever seen me cry, and I’d like to keep it that way.

— Sierra

New project

I think I’ve come up with the perfect thing to hand out to kids who stay at the Tumbleweed. I needed something cheap, safe, and quiet. Somebody posted a comment under my last blog entry, suggesting I look for stuff like the little toys they sell in the gift shop at Cracker Barrel. That made me think of the little wooden jump-the-peg games they put on all the tables, which gave me a great idea for Joey’s math lesson today.

I have a surplus of scrap wood lying around, and Joey is learning about measurements and angles right now, so I’ve given him a new job: We used a protractor and a ruler to make a pattern today, and then he traced the pattern onto plywood for me to cut into triangles. Tomorrow, we’ll drill holes for the pegs to go into, and then Joey will sand the triangles and decorate them with leftover paint from our room remodeling projects. I’ve found a place online where I can get 1,000 golf tees — printed with up to 22 characters — for about $60. The games will cost us less than $1.50 to make and should keep the kids occupied for a few miles.

I wish I could think of an easy way to keep the tees from getting lost, but I’m not sure lost tees are an entirely bad thing — if they’ve got our name on them, it’s free advertising every time a kid leaves one somewhere, and if parents need to replace them, it’s not as if they’re expensive or difficult to find. I might even put extras in ziplock baggies and sell them at cost so the kids have extras for just such an eventuality.

— Sierra

P.S.: Nine days….

Life at the Tumbleweed

This is what the Tumbleweed office looks like. I mention this because I am trying to decide what to do with that empty space to the right of the counter in the lobby. I’m torn between adding another table and chairs or putting in some racks and shelves and filling them with Route 66 merchandise. I think some Tumbleweed Motel T-shirts and coffee mugs would sell fairly well. I’d like to hand out postcards, too, and maybe some kind of small toy for little kids — car bingo cards or coloring books or something.

If you were going to buy a Tumbleweed Motel souvenir, what would it be? I’d like to get some feedback on this before I invest in a lot of inventory. I don’t want to end up with boxes and boxes of T-shirts nobody wants, y’know?

— Sierra