John Grogan - The Longest Trip Home


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Soaking Up Sundance

Wednesday, September 24, 2008



Various groups from around the country ask me to speak, and I accept as many of the invitations as I can. It's always fun to visit a new place and meet new people, and my hosts have been uniformly hospitable. But my speaking gig this past weekend is one I won't forget for quite some time. Jenny and I were the guests of Sundance, Robert Redford's fabled resort high in the Rocky Mountains of Utah, which sponsors an author series. Last weekend the Sundance lectern was mine, and on Saturday a sold-out gathering greeted me in the Tree Room restaurant to eat lunch and hear me talk about both Marley & Me and my upcoming memoir, The Longest Trip Home. It was a fun event, and I enjoyed meeting so many Marley fans. But the best was yet to come. To show their appreciation, my Sundance sponsors treated us to a dream weekend getaway. They put us up in a charming, cedar-sided cabin beside a roaring, white-water stream. Our windows offered a stupendous view of the mountains, and the fireplace took the chill off the nights. We rode the ski lift up to 7,500 feet, hiked alpine trails, ate great meals, sampled Sundance label wines (I can recommend the pinot noir), herd the call of a rutting elk, and rode horses up to 8,000 feet. Mine was a sure-footed fellow named Donnie -- yes, as in Osmond.) In every directions, the scenery was so spectacular as to be almost numbing. And truly humbling.





I had not been to Utah since I was eight years old on a family vacation, and frankly I did not have much curiosity to return. The weekend at Sundance, soaking in the mountain wilds, changed that. Now I want to return with our three kids and hit all the national parks in the state. If I counted correctly, there are six of them, plus the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. What a starkly beautiful, desolate land.

Thank you, Sundance, for inviting me to speak in your series, which this year has included Madeleine Albright, Christopher Hitchens, Maureen Dowd and others. And thank you for such generous hospitality. Special thanks to the efficient and amiable Tracy Waters, who handled all the details and made sure everything went off without a hitch. The only bummer was waking up at 4:30 a.m. Monday morning to head back. Alas, all good things must come to an end.

Here is an article and photos that ran in a local paper about my talk:
http://www.heraldextra.com/content/view/281469/

posted by John Grogan at 9:10 PM

5 Comments:

Blogger Patty said...

Hi John!
I'm so anxiously to read your new book! I hope come it to Brazil fastly :)

Why don't you come here in Brazil? You are welcome in Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, the city where I live :-)

Good lucky for you,
Hugs,
Patty

5:35 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Hi John,
My family and I were in Utah this past July and loved it there. We went to Zion and Bryce National Parks. The small town that Zion is in is nice and they have a free shuttle to take you from the town to Zion. If you hike make sure you have lots of water for everyone. Also just outside of St.George there is a town called Tuachan that has a beautiful outdoor ampatheater that puts on great plays during the summer. While we were there they were doing " Les Mis" and " The Sound of Music" ( they do one play on MWF and the other TTH) the same peolpe. They are professionals. We saw The Sound of Music and it was awsome. I hope you get the chance to go back out there with the family. Our 2 boys ( 16 and 12) loved it out there.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Dear John,
I am a 5th grade teacher in Kansas City,MO. This is my second year and both years I have read aloud your young adult version of Marley and Me.My students and I study the types of connections throughout the year. I share with them why this book connects so much to me 9as I had a dog for 14 years growing up and had to lay him to rest about 4 years ago.) I tell them that towards the end of the book it becomes difficult for me to read. Two days ago I had one of my students read one of the chapters, but saw my other kids not as engaged so they begged me to finish reading it instead. I got to an emotional part, and told them I had to stop for the day... as they moaned and begged me to keep reading, I agreed as long as they didn't make fun of me if I cried. As I began one of the final chapters, the tears started rolling out in front of all of my 5th graders. As I kept reading, one of my students grabbed me a tissue. I took a scan of the room to not only seeing my girls crying, but almost all of my boys. We finished the book and began writing our connections and thoughts on our post it notes (as this is what we do to "track" our thoughts, questions, inferences and questions. Another teacher at my school found me a movie poster of Marley and Me(in which I will be there opening night to see it) and we hung the poster and stuck our post its all around it. I have never seen my students this engaged and motivated by a book and or (gasp!) writing about a book! Many of them asked if you wrote another book about Lucky. We decided that you should, and as our next writing assignment each of the students will be writing your sequel to Marley and Me. Many of them thought you should have made Marley and tombstone, which many of them drew one for him. A couple of my students also wrote letters to Marley. I wanted to share with you the incredible lessons, discussion and emotions you brought into my classroom. This will be a story I will read to my 5th graders for the next 35 years of my teaching career. Be looking for our sequels to be coming your way! We would love to hear from you!
~Sarah, West Englewood Elementary, Kansas City, MO

5:41 PM  
Blogger John Grogan said...

Hey, Sarah... thank you for the wonderful note. It's very rewarding for me to hear about kids connecting with my writing. Fantastic! Keep up the great work. I can tell you are a passionate and gifted teacher. And tell all your fifth graders I say hi (and so do my new dogs, Gracie and Woodson)...
Best, John

10:11 PM  
Blogger Gi said...

Hi, John!
Wow, it seems that it was really bealtifull there!
I'm planning on going to US in the end of this year or the midle of next year (I live in Brazil) and I don't know yet quite exactly where I want to stay... I was thinking about Chicago or NY... and now I guess that Utah is another option ;P
And I really hope to get the chance to go to one of yours lectures, to her a speech and ask for you to sign my book lol
I'm also looking for the new book to come here in Brazil... but while I'm waiting I can read your stuff here on the blog... and now here I go to the Daily Howard website to read all about in Sundance.
God bless!
Kind regards,

Giovana, 19
São Paulo - SP - Brazil

2:58 PM  

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