On Monday evening I received a call that began, “Is this Judy Fleagle the author of Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges?” I answered “yes” tentatively, expecting gales of laughter from a friend or family member putting me on! But, no, it was for real—someone really wanted to talk to the author of Crossings.
After I got over my surprise, I found that this couple, Bill Ahearn and Kathryn Wood, had been so impressed with the bridges from Newport where they entered the coast highway to Florence that they went to the Siuslaw Public Library in Florence to find out about them. They had seen the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport, the Cape Creek Bridge between Yachats and Florence, and the Siuslaw River Bridge in Florence as well as the two smaller ones—Ten Mile and Big Creek north of the Cape Creek Bridge. At the library, they found Crossings and read about McCullough and the chapters on the building of the major bridges. They were fascinated and when they discovered that the author lived in Florence, they looked in the phone book and called.
On the phone, I spoke with Bill. He had many questions and wanted to meet somewhere in town for tea or lunch or whatever. So I suggested tea at Lovejoy’s tearoom in Old Town the next day at 11 a.m. I had to be at a meeting at 1:15 p.m. I figured that would be more than enough time. We exchanged blog addresses––a sign of the times.
I read their first and last blog postings and a couple in between. What a fascinating couple. They have been traveling from Virginia for the past year and had just recently been in Alaska. There they rode the scenic shuttle bus along the Denali Highway and saw grizzlies and actually saw Denali, a.k.a. Mount McKinley, which is only visible part of the time. They have covered 23,000 miles with an adorable custom-painted small travel trailer pulled by a sturdy truck. The painting on the trailer was a photo done by Bill. Both Kate and Bill are excellent photographers, I discovered, and after reading his blog, I think Bill is also an excellent writer. I looked forward to meeting them.
They had done their research too, reading some of my blog postings. So it was like having lunch with old friends. Kate, as it turned out, is the editor for Bill’s blog and had written a novel, Sea Snow, that is on Kindle. She had also been a Kindergarten teacher. Since I am an editor/writer and spent 22 years teaching first and second grades, we had a lot in common. Bill was a graphic artist who had lived in the Silicon Valley not far from where I lived and worked in Los Gatos. So we had plenty in common too. No lulls in this conversation.
And I answered a few questions about the bridges, but this is a subject I can go on and on about. So I did. And I learned about more of their adventures on their trip, including surviving a tornado last spring––all but the truck that is. And that was replaced. They are traveling with two dogs––Betsy, a cocker-spoodle as Kate referred to her, and Minna, a Shih Tzu––an adventure in itself.
Before I knew it, it was time to leave for my meeting. It had been a most enjoyable two hours. I had been treated to lunch with a delightful couple and sold them a book to boot. All because of a phone call that came out of the blue!
Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges can be yours for $24.95 plus $3.99 shipping. Order from Pacific Publishing at www.connectflorence.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. It is also available on the coast in bookstores, museums, and gift shops; in Eugene at the airport, the historical museum, and several bookstores; and in Portland at Powell’s and the Oregon Historical Society.
Judy a part of Yaquina Bay Bridge’s month-long celebration:
September 23, noon–1 p.m.––One of two speakers at Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce Meeting at the Embarcadero, Newport.
October 1, 2-4 p.m.—Yaquina Bay Bridge ‘s 75th anniversary celebration panel discussion on building the bridge at City Hall, Newport.
Judy participating in authors/publishers fair:
October 1, 10-4 p.m.—Florence Festival of Books–an authors and publishers fair at the Florence Events Center (715 Quince Street, 1 block east of Highway 101), Florence (Judy leaves for Newport shortly after noon)
Judy’s PowerPoint Presentation:
November 12, 1:30 p.m.––Visitor Center Theater, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport (just south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge)