Champaign Bubbles

November 4, 2007 • Posted in Beth Finke, book tour, Braille, Hanni, travel, Uncategorized by

Book CoverMemoir Book CoverHanni’s breed may have been important to the Amtrak reservation agent last week (see my previous post) but my fellow passengers Thursday night couldn’t have cared less. The City of New Orleans train was sold out. Everyone was more interested in finding a place to sit than checking out the dog at my feet.
The ride went quickly. We got to Champaign on time. It was a good omen.
Every single thing Hanni and I did after our arrival in Champaign-Urbana went beautifully. We breezed down the sidewalks, crunching on fallen leaves, Hanni remembering all our routes. We ran into old friends everywhere we went – at WILL Radio, at Edison Middle School, at Urbana Free Library, and especially at Jane Addams Bookstore.
Hanni and I signed and Brailled my name – and rubber stamped Hanni’s paw – onto 40 books. We sold out. People were still waiting in line. What to do? Sign and stamp book plates instead!
Customers brought the autographed plates to the cash register and paid in advance for their copies of Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound. They’ll affix their bookplates into the front page once the books arrive.
I signed and stamped 39 book plates. My friend Judy, who assisted Hanni and me, joked that now people are paying just to have me sign slips of paper.
Forty books sold, 39 books promised. Plus I even signed six copies of my first book, Long Time, No See. That makes a total of 85 books! It was all extremely flattering. And great fun.
To top it all off, the weather in Champaign-Urbana was absolutely sensational. Mike drove down from Chicago to join Hanni and me Friday night. He still stores his motorcycle in Urbana, and he was able to take Buster the BMW out for a spin to the forest preserve Saturday while Hanni and I were buzzing around town on foot. Just like old times!
An excerpt from that first book, Long Time, No See helps explain:
“I’d fallen in love with the twin cities of Champaign-Urbana back in my freshman year at the University of Illinois. It didn’t matter that there was nowhere to hike or canoe, or that the campus was surrounded by, even included, corn and soybean fields. It seemed a vibrant place. I was caught up in the rush of thirty-five thousand students hustling from class to class. Now, working full-time there, I was every bit as fond of it….Champaign-Urbana may lack a striking natural beauty—it defines the word “flat,” and the creek that trickles through it, more of a drainage ditch, is known as The Boneyard. But what the two towns have, especially Urbana, is trees. Huge, magnificent old maples and oaks with an unearthly gift for turning brilliant scarlet and sunset yellow. A few white clouds set against a deep sky on a fall afternoon—we could watch them indefinitely from our vantage point on the porch swing.”
Hanni and I didn’t find much time to rest on a porch swing this visit, but boy, we sure enjoyed Champaign-Urbana. Thanks to all of you who greeted us on the street, listened to us on the radio, joined us for a lunch (or a beer or wine!), chauffeured us around, or stood in line for books. We are two very lucky gals.

Katie On November 4, 2007 at 2:50 pm

Just read about your reservation experience with Amtrak. Ick on them. I giggled when you said to them, “You are funny.” Was that sarcasm I detected? The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette had a huge article on how train travel is coming back, that people are tired of the airlines. The time I took a train I remembered loving it. But that was 30 years ago.

Beth On November 4, 2007 at 4:48 pm

to be honest, I *do* enjoy riding a train. It’s just that in the past couple of years I’ve been stuck on so many trains that have been delayed, it gets aggravating.
But then again, in the past couple of years I’ve also been stuck on a lot of PLANES where I was delayed, similarly aggravating!
My train ride Thursday was just about perfect, and now I’m afraid I was a little harsh when commenting about that reservation agent — he was just trying to do his job.
. But yes, that *was* sarcasm you detected, Katie! Thanks for continuing to comment on my blog!

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