Once a year the Writer's League of Texas hosts a popular educational get-away to Alpine, Texas. Now Alpine, for those of you that haven't found it, is the best August climate in Texas. Breeze and 80 degrees is a nice contrast to Austin and 100+ degrees with humidity.
The small community of Alpine also enjoys popularity as a key entrance to Big Bend National Park, home to Sul Ross University and an eclectic array of shops and eateries. Oh, and I must add the Alpine Book Store and its' annual Book Writer's Festival.
For those of us that love words, books and composition, the Alpine retreat is paradise.
For five days we study a topic of choice from one of four faculty, take notes, write and read 'til we drop. Last, we review each other's work, critique and offer marketing suggestions and visit until the clock sadly clicks finished.
This year three of us loaded up and headed west. My sister Fran, a League writer friend, Kayla and I packed enough computer stuff, paper and food into my small SUV to last a month--all for our short five day excursion. We had agreed to live dorm style (bring our own bedding, food, etc. for this "cheap" girlfriend writer's camp). En route we recalled endless memories of the past retreat. Hopes of changes and non-changes made for non-stop conversation. (After all, we ARE experienced retreaters.) One after another, we anticipated certain expectations to this grand get-away.
For example, Alpine mornings start early (or we will be disappointed) with the sound of the Amtrak train whistle announcing its' early weekday arrival. Our minds rush past last years dorm experience to remind us that the shower is sure to flood or the toilet be contrary. We suspect luke-warm showers and laugh about three women getting ready--in one bathroom. We tell stories about our mother's teaching us politeness and sharing. Promises of "no-problem, I take my shower at night" seem to solve the potentially crowded issue.
Arrival is on schedule. We get our room keys and unload luggage, tote bags of books, computers, food and bedding. Fran and I find our bunk beds (did I say bunk?) as high as the sky, with NO ladder. Quick discussion gives me the bunk bed -ugh!, because I don't have to get up at night.?? Should I pretend?
Moving on, we unpack French roast coffee, paper towels, plastic bowls and spoons. Kayla organizes all in dress fashion while Fran stuffs the refrigerator with homemade soup, boiled eggs, home-grown tomatoes. I check the computer outlets.We're ready.
One night's rest and a walk across the Sul Ross campus, up two flights of stairs; now to find room 203. It feels invigorating. I can't wait. Fran is with me; Kayla hurries to another building. My energy is high. In walks the teacher. Even a chance we can be freshman again? I reminisce.
DAY 1 --dajavou of dorm life 1970, almost repetitive in it's basic furnishings, humble room, poor lighting. However, one thing is different. This time Fran did her homework on a computer. Ah...great changes.