Wow! This school district/writing conference sure put me up in a nice hotel! I love this place! I’ve got a whole suite to myself, complete with king-sized bed, sitting area, microwave, refrigerator — everything you could possibly think of. They’ve also got a great exercise room; the swimming pool is actually bigger than a bathtub; and the complimentary continental breakfast not only has waffles, they have BLUEBERRY waffles! And you can put strawberries and whipped cream on them, too.
I’ve got a nice view of the river out my window. In fact, anybody who stays in this hotel has a nice view of the river because all the rooms look out over the river. I know this because the woman who checked in ahead of me yesterday was pretty concerned about getting a room that faced south. But she was out of luck. The nice hotel lady told her that all the rooms face north…because they all face the river.
I ended up sharing an elevator with the woman who wanted a south-facing room. She saw me holding the complimentary newspaper with my elbow and realized she’d forgotten to take her complimentary newspaper. But then she just shrugged and said, “Oh, well. We’re in Kansas now. I don’t imagine much happens here, do you?” I didn’t know what to say to that…after all, I’m from Iowa (she was from New York!), so I’m really in no position to comment on how much (or how little) is happening in Kansas!
I have to say, I love the town (Lawrence, Kansas)! It’s got the same feel as Iowa City, only it’s bigger. There are a lot of funky shops downtown…lots of BOOKSTORES!!! And fabulous restaurants! I had a hard time choosing, but I eventually chose a Thai restaurant tonight. Oh. My. God. I thought the best Thai food I’d ever had was when I was in Chicago for ALA a couple years ago. But this place I ate at tonight was even better!
But anyway…I was actually here to speak to the good students of Ottawa, Kansas (about 30 miles south of here) rather than wander around this really cool town. And I did that earlier today. Everything went well (except for when I somehow switched the order of two of my slides right before my third presentation…I must’ve dragged and dropped without realizing it…but what can you do? Stuff happens…)…I wasn’t sure what to expect with high school students. My books aren’t really aimed at high school students. But they were a great audience anyway. They seemed really interested…and they asked great questions. The staff was wonderful. And I think I had the best lunch today that I’ve ever had during a school visit. The librarian’s sister-in-law catered it…(the sister-in-law is also a cook at the school, but believe me, this was NOT school food that I had this noon.) She had this amazing chicken salad inside these parmesan cheese bowls, croissants with raspberry butter, fruit, and a chocolate pie. Mmmmm!
You never know what you’re going to get for lunch when you do school visits…sometimes it’s just a school lunch (and I really don’t mind a school lunch all that much – I write a lot of school lunch scenes in my books, so if I’m offered a school lunch I just smile and say thank you, and think of it as “research.”)…sometimes I’m told, “you’re free to do what you want for lunch, just come back in an hour.” Most often somebody goes out and gets sandwiches, salads, or any other kind of take-out food and I eat in the library or the teachers lounge with a “select group” of teachers/librarians. But not too often am I offered a gourmet meal!
I’ve been treated very well here in Kansas!!!