I think I've figured out something very important about travel. Maybe y'all knew this already, but it's something of a cognitive breakthrough for me:
Travel is not relaxing.
See, the problem is that we Americans skimp ridiculously on vacation time, and so whatever free time we end up getting, we want to use it up on going somewhere. Seriously? If you're tired and worn out and need a vacation? Don't travel.
Fortunately, that wasn't what I needed at all. I don't know why I thought that if vacation = relaxation and vacation = travel, vacation therefore must = relaxation, because that's totally not true. Travel is fun, and invigorating, but you're basically seeking out new stimuli. A stimulus is, by definition, not relaxing. And, quite honestly, I feel like I need a vacation now to recover from my vacation. (Then again, I was sacked out pretty sick the week before I left, so I wasn't really at peak health anyway.) And my feet are to' up, y'all.
But I'm not taking classes this summer, and I'm working (some might call it "working") at home, and I set my own hours, etc., so relaxation wasn't really the problem. The problem was that I was tired and fed up and sick of looking at the same rooms every day and talking to the same people. I was having a really hard time writing, too--very doldrummy. Travel was exactly what I needed, even if it was just a weekend, and I've come back reinvigorated and a lot more appreciative of home, which is probably the end goal of travel anyway.
I also took a lot of mental notes for Black Ribbon--I'm having this urge to set a major section of series 2 in New Orleans. It's not hard to look around and remove a lot of the modernization--mentally changing the ads on the ceiling of the streetcar, for example, to something more 1890s. That, and there's plenty of research material out there to help me match up old New Orleans with what I saw, and I had the benefit of getting some intangible feel for the city that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I never would have guessed that I'd smell incense everywhere I went, for example. And the swampy heat--I mean, you know it's there, but I just totally didn't understand it until I felt it. I wish I had the money to hit London before I finish volume one, and then Paris before I start volume two in earnest. (I think that's my Sagittarius talking.) But that's not happening any time soon.
(You know, if I tried to visit all the Black Ribbon locations, I'd end up in Vienna and Wallachia. I refuse to go to India, though--the India I want, the British Colonial India, doesn't exist anymore anyway.)
Speaking of travel, though--good God, the caviar on "The Amazing Race" tonight. Yarrrr.