FORKS Book Tour ’14 — The Beginning.

Though it seems I started just a few days ago, I am amazed that I’ve been on the East Coast for 10 days. To be sure, I feel a bit stressed that I haven’t updated the blog and folks who’ve helped me in countless ways to get this ad-hoc and grass-roots tour off the ground.

IMG_5965Finding The Tour Van
First, the FORKS Van. So many readers of my blogs and backers of my Kickstarter campaign responded to my “shout out” for leads and referrals for finding an appropriate van that could not only handle a pallet of books — those of you who know, at 280 pages and a hardcover binding, FORKS weights in at just over 3 pounds per book — and my motorcycle (Doc) which clocks just north of 400 pounds. Thanks to and through the amazing resourcefulness and creative thinking of my good friend, and WorldRider Logistics Manager, John Angus, i was able to secure the van for a short-term “lease” through early next year to tour, promote and get FORKS into more hands and on more tables.

Rather than sourcing a van near my home in California, I chose to find one on the East Coast so I could save time and wear and tear. Finding the van was one challenge. Ensuring that it was solid and could handle the load and cross-country journey was another. Thanks to one of my best friends from high school (Darien, Connecticut), Lee Heidemann, when I found what looked like the right van, Lee went out of his way to inspect and verify that the van was solid and real. Thanks Lee!

Retrieving the Van and Outfitting it for the Tour

Rather than fall victim to airline excess weight and luggage gouging, I chose to advance ship book tour essentials to another good friend, Angel Fredricks, who also went out of her way to retrieve me from the airport, help me pick up the van and then, with her family (Paul and Casey) host me in their home before I began my journey to the first stop on the tour: Columbus, Ohio.

North Market Ohio Wine Festival

IMG_5975As can be expected, the grass roots FORKS Book Tour ’14 manifests in the spirit of the original and first WorldRider international journey: spontaneous and with little planning. While this can be frustrating at times, it also offers the opportunity to explore many possibilities. Thanks to friends, Columbus locals and Kickstarter backers Mike Rudd and Don “The Idea Guy” Snyder, we were able to take advantage of a last minute opportunity to appear over the course of the three-day event, now in its 13th year.

North Market in downtown Columbus is a collection of 36 independent merchants and artisans housed in a downtown building built in 1850. On weekends in the summer, local growers operate a farmers market outside.



Inside North Market, Columbus, Ohio


Parker of Brothers Drake Meadery shares Mead wine made with local honey and enhanced by local Ohio ingredients.


John & Joel with DeBonne Vineyards can’t uncork enough wine
fast enough to serve the wanting crowds

On Friday night I assisted a couple local Ohio wineries, one is actually a “meadery”, Brothers Drake, and also DeBonne Vineyards as a celebrity guest wine-pourer. Saturday I set up a table and signed and sold books near the entrance, and Sunday I delivered a talk which afterwards a local merchant Abdul Aburmaieleh, the owner of Firdous, a Mediterranean restaurant in North Market, prepared one of the recipes from FORKS and together we served and shared it to those who attended by talk.


Sheila, the marketing director and who championed bringing me to North Market,
was incredible helpful, professional and ran an incredible event.


 Setting up my table and space at North Market


Heather aka Ohio Girl Travels is a happy new reader of FORKS


The tastiest and freshest Fattoush salad was served for all those who
attended my presentation at North Market Ohio Wine Festival 2014.




Just like I did in Syria, everyone joining my presentation was served fattoush
from the same dish. Thanks to Abdul from Firdous the best mediterrenean restaurant in Columbus!

I was warmed by Abdul’s gracious generosity and his interest in my book. While he was excited to make the Syrian dish, fatuous salad, he doesn’t offer it on the menu at Firdous because, as he points out, it takes more preparation and due to the volume of business in North Market, he would not be able to keep up with demand. However, he told me that it is his wife’s favorite salad. Abdul is originally from Kuwait, grew up in Jordan and has family throughout the Middle East, including Syria. He moved to Columbus when he was 19 years old. When he arrived he didn’t speak English, and was lucky to get a job as a bus boy at Firdous. Some 20 years later, he bought the restaurant—where he had is first job as a young kid.


Happy to finally meet D. Brent Miller of Sojourn Chronicles —
and thanks to him for the photos here!

I was also greeted by another surpass guest, D. Brent Miller, a fellow writer/author, journalist, photographer and motorcyclist. From Cincinnati, a two-hour drive, Brent is well known in motorcycle circles for his popular Sojourn Chronicles blog as well as his writings in many magazines. The photos here are courtesy of Brent and both he and his wife, Lin, were able to taste the fattoush.

The best part of the North Market Ohio Wine Festival was this sharing of food and all eating off the same plate, the amazing salad that is forever imprinted in my memory after sharing it with new friends in a dirty gas station in Syria. You’ll have to read the Syrian chapter in FORKS—A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, and Connection for more on that story.

If that wasn’t enough, I was greeted by yet another Columbus connection and friend, Don Argento. Don is another writer journalist, and musician. In fact, he recently interviewed me for a story that will appear in the August 2014 issue of BMW ON — the magazine for the BMW Motorcycle Owners Association.

For a first stop on the FORKS Book Tour ’14 — Columbus was the perfect place—where I certainly found incredible culture, connections and cuisine.