I have spent time with Miguel in Texas and California but as with many good things in this world, it all started in Paris.
The big event was the Fifth Annual Rencontres Howardiennes. On the final leg of my 2010 trip to Europe and Greece, I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport at 4:00, took a taxi to my hotel and in a flurry of activity, I managed to be ready when Patrice Louinet, Fabrice Tortey and Quelou Parente arrived to take me to the get together. It was great to see Patrice and Fabrice again and to finally meet in person Quelou and then later at the party, Miguel. Miguel and I were co-bloggers on The Cimmerian and had exchanged lots of emails. It was fun night. I had the rare opportunity to meet many of the wonderful French REH fans and I took advantage of it by talking to almost everyone there. Best of all that night, Miguel and Fabrice offered to be my guides for Paris.
After the party, Miguel took me back to my hotel. He and Fabrice picked me up the next morning and took me sightseeing. We had a blast. Being shown around Paris by two Frenchmen made that time so much more special. At my request, we visited the Musee D’Orsay and saw every Impressionist painting they had. Best of all, Miguel, Fabrice and I discussed the paintings and sculptures as we went through the Museum. Afterwards we went down by the Seine and had dinner on a riverboat.
The next day was a French holiday so they came to my hotel and picked me up again. I’m not much on visiting regular tourist spots, I’m much more interested in people but we did see Notre Dame and I enjoyed wandering through the Left Bank. I remember Miguel remarking that he spent two weeks going to the Louvre every day just to see everything in it. The whole excursion took on a new turn when Fabrice mentioned there was a regular meeting of the Monday Science Fiction club that day and asked if I’d like to go. I was very excited and when we arrived, I discovered I had already met a couple of them on Saturday night at the REH get together. I found out these meetings are held every Monday in Paris; they start at noon and went to all hours of the night. The French really know how to party or else I’ve been left out of the loop in here in my small town in California.
Miguel, Fabrice and I didn’t get to the meeting until about 5:00 but we started at one bar and then six of us walked about a mile to another restaurant where we ate. I don’t remember all the topics we covered that evening but I do remember there was lots of discussion of Time and Space – more favorite subjects of mine. All of them spoke excellent English. I remember lots of laughter. They made me feel very comfortable—a nice group of people and I enjoyed myself a lot.
Tuesday, Fabrice had to work so it was Miguel and I. He was a very considerate tour guide and asked me what I wanted to see. First on the agenda was Sacre Coeur Basilica on Montmartre which turned out to be my favorite location in Paris. Miguel was very patient while I explored it thoroughly reassuring me he didn’t mind. Miguel’s father, Vasco Martins, joined us for lunch and we wandered around looking at the artists as they created their beautiful and very expensive masterpieces. I still have the little painting of the Eiffel Tower that I bought. It will always remind me of that wonderful day on Montmartre. The three of us had a good time and I remember a lot of lively conversations. Miguel and his dad dropped me off at my hotel for a couple of hours and then Miguel picked me up again and we had dinner with Patrice near his home. He took us up to his place to see his REH collection and I held A Gent From Bear Creek in my hands. Another special REH moment in my life. It was my last night in Paris and again we all talked REH. Patrice was working under a heavy deadline so we didn’t stay long. Plus the airport shuttle was picking me up at 7:00 a.m. Lots of Parisian kisses and California hugs and it was time to return to the USA.
While they were showing me Paris, I invited both Fabrice and Miguel to stay with me if they ever came to California. So in June 2011 we met at the DFW Airport and drove to Cross Plains. On the way we stopped in Peaster and Mineral Wells. We got to the 36 West Motel late and the next morning, got up and went to see the Enchanted Rock, stopping by in Fredericksburg on the way back for some great German food. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were taken up with HDs. On Sunday, Miguel, Fabrice and I flew to Sacramento. We spent the next five days touring Lake Tahoe, Yosemite and Monterey. Each place we visited was unique in its own way. Both Miguel and Fabrice took lots of photos from the top of the mountains and in the deep valleys we crossed to get to Tahoe. On Tuesday we drove to Yosemite. The rains had filled all the creeks and all the Yosemite falls, filled to capacity, were spectacular. Next was Carmel. We spent the night there and the next day visited Point Lobos State Natural Preserve which is located right on the cliffs next to the Pacific Ocean. Later we went to Monterey Pier for dinner and searched for Clark Ashton Smith’s house. The woman who owns it was outside in the yard and invited us in to see his home. Fabrice is a big CAS fan so it was a special time for him. We drove back to my place on Friday and on Saturday there was a WeirdCon party. It started about 11:00 am and went until about 11:00 that night so I guess we do know how to party here. On Monday the three of us went to San Francisco.
All in all we spent sixteen days together. What did we talk about? Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, California, Paris, and everything under the sun. Both Miguel and Fabrice were interesting to talk to. In Paris, I learned a lot about the work Miguel was doing. He told me he worked nights at a shelter for battered women. Fabrice also shared his extensive traveling experiences with us. I hadn’t been to Tahoe or Monterey in quite a few years and there were things we did that were totally new to me such as visiting Point Lobos and CAS’s home. But t was also a bittersweet time for me. My Mom had died a couple months before so there was also a great sadness in me.