Thursday, July 2, 2009

Time Travel Fantasy

I've plunged right into the middle of my time travel fantasy, leaving the opening chapters incomplete. I did this on purpose. There's absolutely no use spending a lot of time on the opening chapters when I know I'll go back and rewrite them. I have the first chapter written, where my characters take a road trip from the 2010s to the 1970s. Then, I just jumped back in time to the 1920s, their destination. In the final version, they'll take the road trip all the way back in time. When they get to the 40s, they are going to trade their vehicle in for a 1920s model, which they'll use to cruise all the way to their destination. But I'm not going to bother writing that yet.

As part of my "research", we took a road trip up US-1 into Georgia. We stopped off at the Okefenokee Swamp Park. At the entrance, the alligators were right there; no walls between them and us. They could have easily run up the bank and chased us to our car. However, it was a hot day, and alligators are cold-blooded creatures. They're just not going to move fast for any old reason.

It made me think of my characters. There's a long patch of nothing between Waycross and Folkston. Imagine them cruising along in some rattletrap vehicle when Ashley--who drank too much iced tea in Waycross--can't hold it in any longer. She makes a pit stop on the side of the road. And there she is, with her dress hiked up, when she finds herself in a staring contest with an alligator.

Is that too cruel? (Imagine diabolical authorial laughter here.)

And railroad crossings. I can imagine Mike breezing through them until they have a close encounter with a train in an era where there are no crossing guards. (In Arizona, many rural railroad crossings still have no gaurds. There's simply a stop sign. Here in Florida, every road--no matter how insignificant--seems to have a crossing guard.)

I'm having to do a LOT of research. I don't know whether St. Augustine was electrified in the early 1920s. Since the Rural Electrification Act wasn't until the 30s, I'm not sure. Most urban areas were, but I would hardly think that St. Augustine would qualify as "urban". For that matter, did St. Augustine still have gas lights during that era? The lighthouse--which is on an island--wasn't electrified until 1936. Oh, and I see the lighthouse's keeper's house was electrified in 1925, which might indicate that St. Augustine proper was being electrified a few years previously. I might have to actually go and look through the microfiche of the St. Augustine Record, something I have not done since my college days. Or, I could look up the local electric company's history. (Microfiche sounds funner.)

And that's just one of my questions!


  1. Oh, that would be awesome to have her stop to go to the bathroom and find herself face-to-face with an alligator! If that ever happened to me, I don't think I'd have any trouble emptying my bladder. :)

    Railroad crossing guards? You mean like those big boards that come down in front of the tracks to stop cars from going on ahead? You don't see those in rural Ohio, either. In fact, we don't even have stop signs. If there's no train in sight, you just fly on over the tracks.

    True train story that might be of use or just interest as you write your time travel story: My grandfather was trying to teach my grandmother how to drive back before they were married. She was driving, and they got to a track where a train was crossing in front of them. My grandmother stopped the car, and my grandfather said, "Oh, you don't have to stop this far back. Pull up a little more." Well, she pulled up too far, and the front of the car got hooked on the train. The train dragged them for better than a mile. And that's why my grandmother hasn't driven a car ever since!

  2. That's a great story! I'm surprised she still married him.

    It might make for an interesting side-trip. I'll remember it for future reference. They do need to still have a working vehicle for their final trip into St. Augustine, but it need not be in great shape.

    I did answer my electrification question--St. Augustine defintely had lights by 1924. But I figure kitchen technology took a while to catch up, so their rental house will still have a coal stove.

  3. It's so much fun to go on trips for research. :)

    In Indiana many intersections still have no guards. Some are because the road isn't used often and some because the track isn't. And I'm talking suburbs of Indianapolis, not just rural areas.

  4. Here in Florida, only the rudest dirt tracks don't have railroad crossings. Maybe its because all the tracks are used a LOT. And the trains are sometimes miles long. It IS a major north/south corridor, so I guess it's not surprising.

    This novel was born of our frequent day ISO day trips.


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