I'm in Rochester today for the Teen Book Fest. After waking up way too early, as usual, I decided to take a stroll. I wanted to see where Corinthian Hall was, since Charles Dickens performed there a couple of times, and then walk up to the high waterfall, like Dickens and his tour manager did. The hall is long gone, but the site of it is right around the corner from here. The waterfall is just a half mile or so up the river.
As I walked across the bridge over the high fall, a drunk on a bench pointed out the entrances to some tunnels below. "I'm sort of a tour guide," he said. "Me, too!" I said. "But in Chicago."
He sat me down, said his name was Tim, and offered me a sip of vodka. I didn't take it because it was 7:30 in the morning and he smelled of pee. But he told me the whole history of the falls.
After that, I walked out to the old mill and power station nearby on Brown's Race and read some of the historical signs. A couple of people were wandering around asking questions, and I answered them using what I'd learned from Tim and the signs. A real tour guide doesn't need to have been to a place before to give a tour of it.
Yesterday I went out to the Eastman House to see a couple of movies that were filmed in Chicago in 1907 for a new book I'm doing. Tonight I'll be at a library that has a secret room in it - I know all about it from Daniel Pinkwater's book, Yobgorgle, The Mystery Monster of Lake Ontario. My quest to see every place Pinkwater wrote about will reach another milestone. I first read that book 20 years ago or so, and I'm very excited to see this place in person. Rochester is nicer than he made it out to be; maybe it's just improved in the years since the book came out.
Having a good time here. Last night AS King, James Kennedy, Terry Trueman and I stayed up in the "author's suite" swapping war stories. AS and James are out on school visits today. I'm out meeting drunks. If you're in the area, come by the Teen Book Fest tomorrow!