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Friday, June 10, 2011

BHSV – Dakota Banks' Guest Blog + SIGNED Book & 25$ Amazon GC Giveaway!

106 Lovely Comments!

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My Dream Vacation

Zzzzzz... Wait, I have to do more than sleep on my dream vacation! The first requirement is a bunch of no's. No book deadlines, no promo deadlines, no conference dates, no time schedule, and no cell phone. Okay, maybe a cell phone in the car for emergencies. At least three weeks stretching out in front of me on a fine June morning. Road trip!

I'd take my husband because he loves to drive long distances and I don't. My two sons? Nah, they're in college and have their own lives. Can't imagine them wanting to be captive in the minivan with Mom and Dad for a minimum of twenty-one days. Remembering our earlier vacations with kids in tow, I silently applaud when the kids turn down the half-hearted invitation. After all, this is a dream vacation, and now that my husband and I are alone, we get to act silly and do you-know-what.

We set out across Missouri from St. Louis. I have to admit driving across Missouri can be dull, but I tell myself it's only because I've done it a number of times. A virgin visitor would surely be fascinated with the cows in the pastures and the fields of corn and the rolling hills and the June-cut hay rolled into large bales that are scattered across the fields like giant rabbit turds. Kansas has windmills, oil rigs pumping in the fields like those birds that are always drinking from a cup, and sunflowers. It's too early for the sunflowers to bloom, so there will be none of them in the highway median and no big fields of sunflower heads all facing toward the sun. The promise is there, though. Western Kansas dissolves into prairie land, miles and miles of it, that reminds me what the Great Plains must have been like, with pioneer wagons afloat on its shifting sea of grass. We're not in any hurry, so we spend a little time in Kansas, stopping at a pizza restaurant we've been to before. The last time they burned the cheese on top of our pizza and we thought it must have been accidentally overcooked. Looking around this time, we see that everyone's cheese is burned, and have a good laugh about it. That's the kind of thing you can laugh about on a road trip.

There's a certain turn of Interstate 70 in Colorado when the gray fluff at the horizon resolves into the foothills of the Rockies. Approaching Denver, I wonder if we'll stay more than a few hours. I'm sure it's a fascinating city, worthy of a visit all by itself, but having gotten this far, the Rocky Mountains are exerting a tremendous gravitational pull. We bypass the city's enticements and head for Rocky Mountain National Park. The drive there is spectacular, full of twisty canyon curves. I snap photos excitedly, attempting to distract my husband's white-knuckled gaze on the narrow road with "Ooh, look at that!" and "Aw, you missed it." At 4:30 am the next morning, we head to a particular pasture in the park. We cut the headlights as we approach other parked cars and carefully back into a spot so we can look forward into the large open expanse where rangers tell us that big horn sheep and elk come down from the mountains to graze. We have one pair of binoculars we eagerly pass back and forth, refocusing each time, trying to get a glimpse of the critters as dawn creeps up on us with that eerie purple-gray that is as much an emotion as a lighting condition. People in a car nearby snap a useless photo, with the flash reflecting on the inside of the windshield. Finally sun slants across the meadow and all of us leave in a dejected parade. Repeat for the next three mornings. Hope springs eternal.

Many small moments are spent in the park, seeing mountain springs that I use when I want to go to my happy place, and crossing the Rockies high enough to see (but not walk on) a fragile tundra landscape. The air is crisp and my lungs are in love with it.

Skip ahead to the next park, Bryce Canyon in the southwestern part of Utah. Bryce is about 9,000 feet in elevation and the wind is always blowing. At dawn, it reddens your cheeks and chills the inside of your nostrils even in June. There could be a dusting of snow, but this time we don't see any. Bryce is more of a semicircular amphitheater than a canyon. The sunrise glow lights up the reddish, wind-sculpted columns called hoodoos and sets them afire. We have to be there at just the right time and this morning we hit it perfectly. While the Grand Canyon is vast and almost too much to take in, Bryce Canyon's exquisite shapes are personal, its beauty easily absorbed and retained. Because of its isolated location, Bryce is always less crowded than the other western parks. On this early summer dawn, I feel as though all this beauty was set out for me alone. As I stand there, the weather clouds and I catch a snowflake on my tongue.

Now we're going down the steps, as they call it, to Zion National Park, still in Utah. The elevation in this park drops from 8,000 feet to about 3,000 feet. With such a variety of zones, Zion has something for everyone: canyons, mountains, and natural arches. I sit on a sun-warmed rock ledge overlooking Checkerboard Mesa, a massive sandstone rock form with a grid on its surface that looks like the gods have been playing games and left their board behind. A lizard crawls near my foot and then I have a companion sunning itself on the same rock I'm on. Probably I'm the one who has encroached on its regular spot. But I remain still and the lizard graces me with his presence.

We stay at the Bumbleberry Inn near Zion and I have the obligatory piece of Bumbleberry pie. There are no such berries; the pie is made of mixed regular old berries. They happily maintain the fiction, and so does everyone else who stays there. That night I walk a bit away from the Inn and find another sight that burns itself in my mind as deeply as the Bryce Canyon hoodoos in the red light of dawn. The night sky there is the clearest I have every seen it (and I'm something of an aficionado of night skies). So many stars shine down, so brightly, and the Milky Way splashes across the sky so clearly, that I almost feel the weight of all that matter pressing down on me. Astonishing. I don't want to go inside so I fall asleep under the stars and a blanket. Something else occurs to me before I sleep. Checkerboard Mesa, now out of my view, is over in the park doing its thing as it has for thousands of years, daylight or night, and it will when I leave this place. When I am back at my office, all of this will be here--the stars, the mountain, the lizard. Even more, it will be here year after year. Lifetime after lifetime, one age of the earth after another. I have a sense of myself as part of this grand turning wheel. Concerns melt away. My dream vacation has worked its magic. 

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      106 Responses so far.

      1. Blodeuedd says:

        What a lovely dream :D Right now my vacation would be swimming and sitting in the cool shade

      2. What an interesting dream! LOL I'd love to win a signed copy. *-*

        thanks for the giveaway!!
        I'm an old follower.

        kah_cherub at hotmail dot com

      3. Seesen says:

        It might totally happen that I would sleep through my dream vacation. I wouldn´t mind. OK, I would, just later :D Right now, I´m content just lying in the garden, reading a book ;)

      4. Birgit says:

        That makes me want to go on a road trip myself, right now!! Or at least I could pop in a road movie into my DVd player *lol*.

      5. Heather says:

        That sounds like an amazing vacation! My hubby and I are doing a road trip this July and I can hardly wait, especially after reading that!

        What a great giveaway too! That cover absolutely rocks.

      6. Tynga says:

        It seems like a pretty busy vacation lol I'd settle for lounging on the beach LOL

      7. Giada M says:

        Awesome vacation! But, like Tynga, right now I prefer something more.. relaxing. :P Tea and read are my perfect combination.

      8. What an awesome giveaway a singed book and amazon gift card :D

      9. Great giveaway and event Larissa! I look forward to reading more of your posts.


      10. Vivien says:

        Excellent dream, it makes me want to go back to sleep so I can make my own :)

      11. I've never been out west, but after reading your "dream" vacation, I feel I'd love to. When I daydream about vacations I always tend to think of castles in Germany.

        Thank you for the chance to win!


      12. Wow! I would so love a vacation! Give me time away from work...a good book and I think I would be happy and count that as a vacation!

      13. Thank you Dakota and Larissa for hosting such a generous giveaway!! I havent read any of the series yet, but looks very appealing and will start soom, i just need to make a dent into my TBR list lol

        Thanks again and Have a great and safe weekend!!
        SpadesHigh @ http://SpadesHighReads.com

      14. BlackWolf says:

        What an awesome giveaway,Thank you for the chance to win!

      15. Thanks for the giveaway!

        abbydillon16 AT yahoo DOT com

      16. Sounds like a dream vacation indeed. I've always wanted to drive across the country taking my time and enjoying the sights. My son and I drove from California to Florida when I moved here, but we had to be in Florida by a certain date, so only got to do a little stopping to have fun (in Phoenix and San Antonio).

      17. I would love to visit out west and see the mountains!! I took my dream vacation in March to New Orleans! So much fun. Love your books and hope to win..

      18. Now that sounds like a vacation I would love to go on.

      19. Sounds like a nice vacation. My dream vacation would be a trip to Scotland and England.

      20. Thank you so much for the great giveaway! This sounds like a really good book can't wait to read it!

      21. Maria says:

        Very interesting dream vacation! My dream vacation would be to travel to Europe and spend the summer in Southern Spain and Southern France and lay on the Mediteranean Beaches with a cocktail in one hand and a good book in the other...lol...

        I am a GFC Follower
        I subscribe to the blog via email
        I am now following you on Twitter as crazymidwestgal

        Total entries = 28


      22. Awesome "vacation" thanks for thinking of us!


        alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

      23. jc says:

        The cover itself looks amazing, hope to read the book. Thanks for the giveaway.


      24. I don't know if my dream vacation would involve any driving!

      25. janhvi says:

        thanks for the awesome giveaway and for making it international!!

      26. buddyt says:

        Spounds like a great avcation but really I think it doesn't matter where you go as long as when you get back home you feel relaxed and the trip seems worthwhile.

        Thanks for the giveaway.

        Carol T

        buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

      27. meggerfly says:

        That's right! Leave the sons behind!

      28. mel u says:

        great giveaway-I hope you have a great vacation

      29. Jessica says:

        I really enjoy Dakota's books! They're so different from what I normally read, yet still somewhat similar as well. The paranormal parts! Lots of action too, which is another thing I like about them!

      30. I've been to these places and must say ... the level of detail in this piece brought me right back to those parks. Love the imagine of the camera flash going off inside the next car ... and how Bryce Canyon looks as the sun comes up. Thanks for the mental "dream" vacation!
        reducefootprints at gmail dot com

      31. Julie says:

        I've never been out west to any of those places and I am SO jealous! It sounds like you had a great time (and I totally agree about leaving the kids behind! Even as adults, they are annoying on long road trips!). Thanks for the great giveaway :)
        jwitt33 at live dot com

      32. Ash says:

        Loved this post! I've always wanted to go on a real roadtrip so it was kind of like I was able to tag along with you! :D

      33. Julie S says:

        I'm not a big fan of roadtrips, but I know many people who are. That does sound like a fun trip though.

      34. Your dream sounds like our road trip last year. What an awesome giveaway!

      35. Maria says:

        Thanks for the giveaway! A vacation sounds awesome right now.

      36. Dovile says:

        Thanks for the chance to win this book!

      37. Jesse says:

        Now I want some bumbleberry pie =D
        Awesome dream vacay!

      38. Oh! What a magical vacation! My dream vacation is somewhere where it's the perfect temperature. Just a little on the chilly side, a little wind, being able to visit old towns -- Ireland!

        I'm DYING to go to IRELAND!

      39. This comment has been removed by the author.
      40. aww what a beatiful post!! Thanks so much, was very funny.

        BTW You could change the color of white letters of the post? I'm email suscriber and I can not see the post there. Thanks!

      41. Cathy M says:

        Fabulous post, Dakota, it feels like we were right along side you for your amazing dream vacation.

      42. wade2121 says:

        I haven't gone on vacation in years! I'd love to be on a tropical island.

      43. Sakira says:

        I love the cover!! I love the idea of a road trip. I haven't been on one in years. Plus, no commitments, just driving and having fun? Bliss.


      44. lingeorge says:

        The best vacation that I can remember - witch turned into a dream: Living in Northern California, it was simple - drive to Bodega Bay, and turn North. We followed the coastline up into Oregon, staying at whatever place looked good to us. Loved it.

      45. Tanya1224 says:

        Awesome! I actually did a roadtrip just like that. We drove down from WA. State and the route took us through Utah past Bryce canyon. We stayed at a hotel that was out in the middle of nowhere...lol then we did check out the Grand Canyon and then did sight seeing all the way to FL. It was a very long trip so we made the best of it. Thanks so much for the post and giveaway ;)

      46. Dina says:



      47. Great post. I loved hearing about your dream vacation! :)

        LadyVampire2u AT gmail DOT com

      48. Tore says:

        I would love to take my dream vacation to Verona Italy. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

      49. Denise Z says:

        I would go just for the bumbleberry pie! It's not nice to tease a girl like this - I need pie. My dream vacation would be relaxing and reading and reading and reading - no laundry, no cooking, fun thinks to eat, and oh yes PIE! Thank you for the wonderful giveaway opportunity.

      50. Rachel says:

        What a fantastic dream vacation--too bad it's just a dream though!

      51. Very cool dream! I often try to start my own dreams by day dreaming while laying in bed!

      52. Misha says:

        Great giveaway, please count me in.


      53. Marjorie says:

        Next vacation how about giving me a call.
        A super giveaway.

        cenya2 at hotmail dot com

      54. Pamk says:

        sounds like a great vacation. We deciding to do something different or the old standby.
        scrtsbpal at yahoo dot com

      55. amandawk says:

        My dream vacation would be to travel across Europe and go to Egypt.
        amandarwest at gmaildotcom

      56. JenM says:

        I love road trips and those are three of my favorite National Parks (especially Zion). The post brought back lots of great memories. Thanks for the generous giveaway.

      57. elaing8 says:

        Sounds like a great vacation.
        Thanks for the giveaway.

      58. Hi Dakota!

        Thank you for sharing your dream vaca with us! mine would be a 2 week cruise with the hubster for our 10th anniversary!

      59. DANIELA says:

        What a nice dream vacation!
        although I'd say that I'd prefer something more relaxing, like staying the whole day on the beach :)


      60. I haven't read book one, but Sacrifice looks interesting, thanks for the giveaway, I like the book's cover.

      61. Rad Hall says:

        Bumbleberry pie and the Milky way - lovely :)
        Thanks for the giveaway.

      62. Awesome post! Sounds like a fun dream vacation

      63. Sounds like a great trip! I love the Rockies. One of my favorite places int he world is at my Grandfather's cabin in the Rockies. :) And the fly fishing there is AWESOME!

      64. What a nice dream vacation, I'm feeling the need for one of those :) Thanks for the chance to win


      65. Carol L. says:

        Great cover. And great dream vacation. I've been out West and the sky is so wide open and filled with so many beautiful stars. Thanks for sharing. I'd love to read your book.
        Carol L

      66. awesome vacation! thanks for the giveaway!

      67. Midnite says:

        You've got to stop here in Denver! I know the pull of the mountains is incredibly strong, but resist it for an afternoon, or a whole day. See the Aquarium, visit our zoo/botanic gardens, go down to Colorado Springs and see Cave of the Winds of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo! There's so much more here than just the mountains.

      68. June M. says:

        That does sound like a great vacation. The only way I would be able to do this is in an RV, I have a bad back and history of blood clots so I have to be able to move around every 30-45 minutes for at least 10 minutes. Otherwise, I would love to just gravel from all over the continental US and Canada, and possibly down into Mexico and such.

      69. I would love to do a big cross country drive. I'd love to hit the lotto, get a super fabulous motor home & just go see everything...world's biggest frying pan included of course.

        I do agree with the midwest thoughts. Living in Indiana...its all corn & soy with cows & sheep thrown in for fun.


      70. Why can't I dream about a vacation with such detail such as thus? Oh, that's right, I don't have a mind as creative as a writer's. (*.*)
        Good luck getting your dream vacation Dakota!

      71. Cris_mv says:

        What a busy vacation! And such a creative mind! :-)

        thank you for the giveaway!

      72. Hi everyone,

        I've been enjoying reading the comments about the dream vacation. Here are some pictures to go with the locations: Click here.

        I'm looking forward to sending out a copy of Sacrifice with my name on it and an Amazon gift certificate with your name on it!


      73. Melliane says:

        i haven't really think about my dream vacation in detail, but yours is very interesting and it was nice to see the pictures after reading it !

        thank you for the giveaway !

      74. Jeanne says:

        My dream vacation would be sure on beach by sea ;)
        Thank you very much for this giveaway!

      75. Cyrielle says:

        The book seems very nice, I'm in! :-)

      76. Sounds like a writer i need to read something from, =) thanks for the tip. And for the giveaway, of course.

        best wishes, Linda xoxo

      77. JMR says:

        I live on the West Coast now but grew up on the East Coast and have made the trip across country a few times over the years. I love just getting the car and seeing where it takes me.

      78. winnie says:

        Thanks for sharing with us and for the awesome giveaway!


      79. Cool blog post.
        Thanks for the giveaway!

      80. Kassandra says:

        There is always LOTS of naps on my vacations!! Great giveaway.


      81. Robin says:

        Wow - vivid blog post!

        robindpdx (at) yahoo (dot) com

      82. _yay_ says:

        Makes me want to go on vacation...like NOW! Fab post & thanks for the cool giveaway!


      83. Rhianna says:

        Just reading about your dream vacation brought a nice little calmness to me. Apparently I need a vacation more than I realized. lol I love the "nos" 'cause that is EXACTLY what I need, a week of saying no to everything that normally stresses me out. :)

        always.and.never AT gmail DOT com

      84. I liked the idea of going on a vacation with just my spouse and having no other cares in the world.

      85. erin says:

        Wow... what a lovely vacation! I'm so envious! Thanks for a wonderful giveaway and I love, love, love your series! Can't wait for number 3!

      86. Thank you for the post and the giveaway! :)

      87. Erin: Thanks! {hug}


      88. It sounds like a nice and relaxing vacation :)

      89. I love the idea of vacation being a bunch of 'no's'. For me one definite 'no' would be 'no' heat!

      90. Lexi says:

        Ah vacations, I miss those. With three kids under the age of twi I have to imagine a vacation...or pick up a good book and escape into another world for an hour or two! Thanks for the chance at this giveaway! The book sounds great!

      91. melora says:

        That sounds like a great dream. I want to go and see Bryce Canyon one day, it has always sounded beautiful.

      92. Ina says:

        yeah, that would be another possibility to spend the holiday ;)
        greetings, Ina

      93. ioana97 says:

        How nice dream vacation! It sounds so...attractive. I want one..:P

      94. Oh I'd love to have a slice of Bumbleberry pie with a glass of milk :-D

        Thank you for the generous giveaway! :-)

        stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

      95. Awesome dream vacation though I think I would stick with your first option of sleep. Lots and lots of sleep!

      96. MannaB says:

        Zion National Park sounds like an amazing place to vacation!

      97. Kanya says:

        Nice dream vacation! And thanks for the giveaway!


      98. Marjorie says:

        A great giveaway and a wonderful dream vacation.
        I would just love to go on an Alaskan cruise. Can you just imagine the wonderful seafood?

      99. Ren says:

        Thanks for sharing your dream vacation. Wonderful and I hope I can experience it one time :)

        sawamura_foxman AT yahoo DOT com

      100. Wow the cover is amazing! I'd love to read this

      101. Pam S says:

        Really liked you post-very nice vacation dream. Mine would be a week at Disney World followed by a week at the beach.

        pams00 @ aol.com

      102. Great dream vacation!!! Thank you for the giveaway :)

      103. Thank you for the great giveaway

      104. Spav says:

        That's an awesome dream vacation!

      105. Rabid Fox says:

        A lot more intensive than any dream vacation I might have. Give me a deck chair and some cold beer. :)

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