Friday, May 25, 2012

Guest Blogger M. Pax: Misadventures of a City Gal in the Wilderness

I'm thrilled to be hosting my friend M. Pax today as part of her blog tour to promote her new book The Backworlds.  If you haven't already checked out the Backworlds, don't wait any longer! It's a wonderful book and Mary is a great writer. Thank you for being here, Mary!

Misadventures of a City Gal in the Wilderness

By origin, I’m an East Coast city gal. I grew up in Western New York near the border of Canada. I lived many years in New York City and Washington, DC.

Then I met the Husband Unit whose origins are in Colorado. We moved out west to Oregon. A decision I don’t ever regret. Portland is still a city, but once you leave the urban boundaries … well, I was in shock the first couple of years.

Places where there aren’t any people? Roads without pavement and cars? Trees taller than a skyscraper? Sea lions, otters, bald eagles, elk, and antelope. Seriously? I thought antelope lived in Africa. Now that Home on the Range song makes sense.

We moved to Central Oregon four years ago. The wilderness starts two blocks to the left. Honest. I’m talking about vast stretches of sage and brush, and few signs of civilization.

I volunteer at an observatory every summer, which is thirty miles east of town. Really out in nowhereville. A place where there are no other cars on the road. Where you can see no other people. There are no street lights. Places that are so quiet (because there are no other people), you can hear the Earth hum.

One night up at the observatory, we had a troop of boy scouts. Two of the boys forgot their flashlight, so I volunteered to walk them back to their tent. After all, it was only across the road. STUPID! City people should never walk around in the wilderness and especially not in the dark. I couldn’t find my way back … yeah, just across the road. The trees blocked the lights from the observatory, and I quickly got turned around. I knocked on a camper’s tent and asked for help. They kindly walked me to the outhouse. From there I could find the observatory.

Last year (my 4th summer at the observatory), we were hanging out in the residence as usual. It was a cloudy night, so we never set up. We had no visitors. No chance of seeing a star. I’ve walked between the manager’s house and the parking lot hundreds of times and it’s maybe 30 yards at the most.

Because of the cloud cover, there was no moonlight, no starlight. You have no idea just how dark that is. My flashlight was in the car with the rest of my gear. Doing me no good. I thought I was walking straight. Yeah, straight into a tree. Ow. Then I found myself in bramble. In desperation, I beeped my car. It was amazing to me how far off course I was in just a few steps. Dark like that is really disorienting.

Have you had any wilderness misadventures?

The Backworlds After the war with Earth, bioengineered humans scatter across the Backworlds. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to hoard his fortune by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends, with little money, and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

Available as an ebook from: Available from: Amazon / AmazonUK / Smashwords / Feedbooks

Free on Smashwords & Feedbooks. Will be free on Amazon in a few weeks.

Sign up for M. Pax’s newsletter to be notified the moment The Backworlds goes FREE on Amazon, and when it becomes available from other retailers.

About the author:
M. Pax’s inspiration comes from the wilds of Oregon, especially the high desert where she shares her home with two cats and a husband unit. Creative sparks also come from Pine Mountain Observatory where she spend her summers working as a star guide. She writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, but confesses to an obsession with Jane Austen. She blogs at her website, and at Wistful Nebuae. You’ll find links there to connect on Twitter, Goodread, FB and other sites.


  1. We lived a few years in Arizona when I was a kid and our house was at the end of a cul-de-sac - beyond that, desert. So I know what you are talking about!

  2. You're brave venturing into the dark on your own! :)

  3. Thank you so much for hosting me today, Julie. You and your blog are both fantastic. Can't wait to be hosting you on my blog on your grand tour. I'm sure that will be happening.

    Yeah, I always make sure to have my flashlight now, Alex.

    Then my brother asked me what I do about wild animals, Anna. :-O I'm just in trouble I guess.

  4. LOL - love your stories of getting lost in the dark. I've done that . . .in a campground. I live down a gravel driveway, but there is enough light in the sky from other places, it never gets truly dark.
    But I have experienced it once or twice while camping in Canada on a 70 mile trek around Bowron Lake Provincial Park - got lost between the outhouse and the campsite . . . not fun.

  5. I'm City with a Capital C. I'm certain I'd be as lost as you. Fun post!

    Hi, Julie :)

  6. I'd love to move to Oregon. I'd love to get away from the busy city.

  7. Mary, this is so funny and relatable! My husband is from NYC and we moved to OR from there. Our first summer we went camping. It took him an hour and a half and LOTS of unprintable words to set up our tent :)

  8. I like living in a city. It would be hard to adjust to rural living.

  9. It isn't fun at all, Tyrean.

    The asphalt jungle is a whole different skill set, Carol.

    We're definitely enjoying it, Ciara.

    lol Johanna. I have no idea about tents. The volunteer supervisor at PMO mentioned camping to me once. I laughed. That is so not happening.

    I don't think I could ever go back, Michael.

  10. I've lived in the west for most of my adult life. When we traveled to the East Coast on a year-long road trip, we actually considered settling down in NH. Then we looped back around to the west again and knew this was the place we loved most. It's as you said, Mary, the open-ness and being away from people is incredible. And the mountains are so much bigger.

  11. I loved the story of you walking the boyscouts
    across the street. That sounds VERY dark.

  12. Why I may not be working at the observatory at all this weekend: Yes, a raging blizzard.

    I love the west, too, Susan. I hope we never have to move back east.

    It is very, very dark, Brinda. I had no idea ... I'm still a little clueless I'd say. lol

  13. What an experience. Yes, it can get really dark at night in the wilderness. I had a similar experience in the Black Forest in Germany.

  14. I love you helped, okay tried to help the boy scouts ;D

    Country girl(east coast) who was chased by a Moose when in Alaska~
    I was on a bicycle...I took a lot of short cuts and escaped!

  15. I get so sick of the city sometimes, Oregon sounds like a nice getaway. Very entertaining misadventure. :)

  16. Hi Julie .. great to see Mary here - good luck with your book - sounds very interesting. I love your description of life in the country - thankfully the stars seemed to be shining when I've been out in the bush.

    Delightful read - cheers Hilary

  17. @Hilary, thanks for your good luck wishes!

    Thanks again Mary for being here, it's great to have you as a guest!

    I hope everyone is having a great weekend. :)

  18. Now there's an interesting place to get lost in the dark, Sherry.

    Yes, I tried, Ella. Now that sounds like an interesting story. You should write that one.

    Oregon is a wonderful place, Michael. I'm glad we moved here.

    Thank you, Hilary.

    Thank you for having me, Julie. Have a wonderful weekend.

  19. M Pax - that's ironic that you had to help boy scouts across the road.

    Julie - I have an award for you.

  20. Hi M Pax, I loved your post. Just enough self deprecating humour lol. As you can probably tell from the way I spell humour, that I'm not from the US, but my father worked for a company based in Beaverton, Oregon and he took many trips to "The wilderness" when he visited. Yes it could get very dark!!!

  21. I went from living in the urban jungle of San Francisco to living on a mountain in Colorado. The transition was not easy, especially when I encountered my first wolf spider.
    Now I'm back in city living (actually suburban living) and I miss the quiet and the darkness that brings brilliant stars. I do not miss traveling 50 miles to get groceries.

  22. It is, Tonja. I should have let someone else.

    Hi Carolyn! Great meeting you. I'm starting to smarten up about my outdoor adventures ... slightly.

    Uck on the wolf spider, deathwriter. I'd be sprinting back to my car. Yes, 50 miles for groceries is a bit much.

  23. It's like that in rural Louisiana - twenty feet from the door and you're in pastures without end. If they weren't flat pastures, I'd be forever lost as I have no sense of direction.

  24. I grew up on a African farms, so yeah, I know all about darkness so thick that you can taste it.

    Now I live on the outskirts of a city and I still can't believe how light it is at night.

  25. Great story about the boy scouts. Best of luck with your book Mary! Julie, Thanks for hosting Mary! Julie

  26. Hi Julie! Please stop by my blog. You've been tagged for The Lucky 7 Meme.

    Have a great day!

  27. Hi Suzanne, thanks so much for tagging me! What a fun meme, I'm looking forward to doing my own post.

  28. I don't come from a massively over populated place, but the wilderness you live in, is an extreme by anyones standards, but also beautiful. I especially thought that when you said you could hear the Earth hum. Stunning.

    The only time I have ever felt anything similar to loss of sense like that was one year, probably about 22 years ago, when we had a fog that practically ate you up and it came down while I was at work. I nearly drove onto a motorway I definitely didn't want to be on!

    great post!

  29. I grew up in Michigan in an area that was between development and cornfields. So there was plenty of scary stuff. In the back of my mind I thought some of these farming families sacrificed people to their corn gods. Kinda like the story The Lottery.


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