San Mateo

August 27th, 2011 by Max Allan Collins

Okay, so I shouldn’t have angered the Travel Gods. This — with the exception of the event itself (see below) — was one horrible day. LAX was slow and mobbed, the plane ride featured babies or children fore and aft and sideways (including, as Barb so delicately put it, “poopie diapers”); the San Francisco airport was jammed with passengers awaiting delayed planes, the ride on the airport train was unpleasantly packed, and the room of car rental counters looked like Times Square on New Year’s Eve. The car we rented was a “free upgrade” because they were out of what we’d reserved — this was a Volvo model I knew nothing about with a radio that picked up nothing but foreign language talk shows. We were booked in a downtown San Fran hotel and found ourselves in a morass of cars, taxis, trolleys, buses, construction and detours. After an hour and forty-five minutes, we could never find the hotel. We called them and told them where we were (seemingly perhaps a few blocks away) but they couldn’t guide us there. They could, however, refuse to cancel our reservation. We hobbled to San Mateo, were fooled by a road sign that labeled East Third as West Third, sending us on a half hour wild goose chase. The book store folks (we stopped in around four) were great but advised us downtown San Mateo had no hotel. So we returned to the freeway, found a Doubletree hotel where we were charged top dollar for a “deluxe” room (no difference from any other standard room in similar hotels), had a lousy-even-for-a-hotel meal, wrestled with the parking lot requiring the hotel key (which it refused to recognize), then back to the bookstore.

The event, at least, was great. A nice turnout at M is For Mystery with some real fans who brought all kinds of stuff for us to sign — a nice fan named Mike even dragged along all the Dick Tracy IDW hardcovers for signatures! — and lots of BYE BYE, BABY and quite a few ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF were sold. Barb gave a great Barbara Allan/ANTIQUES talk, and I was so tired, fried and loopy that I said lots of things in public that I shouldn’t have, which seemed to entertain the public.

Saturday morning (at 5 a.m.) we will be up and out, and with any luck headed back to Iowa, where East is East and West is West, and where only the farmers are up at 5 a.m.


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