Friday, January 29, 2016

Travel With Impact – Transporting Cattle Solomon Island Style

Life can be tough on an island with few roads.  The Solomon Islands is a country made up of over 900 islands, many of which are very remote and have little modern infrastructure. While visiting a rural training center on the island of Makira, we quickly learned that when the horn blew everyone was expected to run to the beach and help pull incoming boats up the steep sand beach before the next wave came in and flipped the boat. Having no roads, this was how we arrived, along with all other people and goods.

After having done this a number of times, we we’re stunned when one canoe was nearly too heavy for the group to pull to safety in time. Once out of harm’s way, we realized the source of the extreme weight was due to two full-grown cows lying with legs bound in the bottom of the canoe. The islanders had also developed an ingenious way to get the cows out of the canoe. Yes, necessity is truly the mother of invention. Seeing how difficult it can be for some people to have fresh milk, something most in America take for granted, was an eye-opening experience which made me all the more appreciative for the simple things in life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Adventure Scrapbook - Medieval Nuremberg

Nuremberg is Germany’s second largest city, and most notable as the site for the post-World War II Nuremberg trials. But, what may be a surprise is that it is also a stunning medieval city surrounded by 13th century walls. Within the walls are half-timbered houses, beautiful cathedrals, statues, cobble-stone streets, and quaint little shops selling local-made handicrafts.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Nuggets From Life in Fiction – Assault on the Senses

She rubbed the ache in her neck, thinking over the project’s progress, while the sounds of honking horns and the smell of rotting food from the encroaching city assaulted her senses. At one time, the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza overlooked ancient Cairo, carrying on its business at a respectful distance. Now the structures appeared to be losing the battle to avoid being swallowed up by the growing metropolis of nearly twenty million people closing in on the Giza Plateau from all sides.

In the second chapter of Shrouded in Secrets I was able to use a visit to the pyramids to describe the area. Although Egypt plays a minor role in the novel, I wanted to give the reader a realistic vibe for the area. I was surprised that something so famous and grand was being swallowed up by the city and the best way I can think of to describe Cairo is an assault on the senses. The sites, smells, and sounds create a magnificent chaos. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Adventure Scrapbook – Wachau Valley

The Danube River flows through the Wachau Valley, the heart of Austria’s wine country. These pictures were taken between Vienna and Melk, Austria

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Nuggets From Life in Fiction – Shyness Sells

As they left Macanxoc and returned to the main path, a group of three young girls stepped out of the trees, blocking Kay’s path and cutting her off from Santiago. Two were dressed in delightful embroidered dresses and the third in filthy rags. The two well-dressed girls thrust out their hands and boldly rushed Kay calling for pesos. The third girl held back looking down at the ground, seemingly too shy to approach.

On our first trip to Cobá we did encounter a group of three young girls dressed as described. They seemed to appear out of nowhere, and no parents were in sight, though I hoped and assumed they were watching nearby.  We could tell the shy girl had something to sell, so offered to take a look. Touched by her insecurity, we ended up buying a small colorful hand-embroidered doily that we’ve kept with us for decades, and the memories of the children worked their way into Deadly Ruins

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Adventure Inspirations – Loyalty to the Earth

 “The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond our reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need ...”

-Edward Abbey-
Desert Solitaire, 1968

Monday, January 11, 2016

Nuggets From Life – Happy Cat

Peeking out the window, she spotted Logan rubbing the thick winter coat on the neck of a tall sorrel mare they called Lady as he leaned against the top pole of the corral with a big black cat sitting on his shoulder. The image made her smile despite the gray skies, the barely perceptible swirling of tiny snowflakes, and the knowledge that danger and tragedy were now a regular part of her life.

This image of the black cat happily perched on my husband’s shoulder has always stuck with me, so the image just popped into my head when describing the tranquil scene Grace witnessed from the kitchen window in A Dose of Danger. However, the horse in the photo isn't the one described in the book - he's no Lady.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Adventure Scrapbook – Fishermen’s Bastion in Budapest

The Fishermen’s Bastion surrounds the Castle Palace and it’s perched on the hill on the “Buda” side of the Danube River in Budapest, Hungry. It offers magnificent views across the river. Also within its wall is the glorious St. Matthias Church. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Adventure Inspirations – To Know Wilderness

“Without the gadgets, the inventions, the contrivances whereby men have seemed to establish among themselves an independence of nature, without these distractions, to know wilderness is to know a profound humility, to recognize one’s littleness, to sense dependence and interdependence, indebtedness, and responsibility.”

-Howard Zahniser-

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Nuggets From Life in Fiction – Paradise in the Desert

Nyla was awed as she took in the sight of a giant palm tree several hundred yards upstream. The tree shot at least thirty feet skyward, towering over the shorter riparian vegetation around it. Thick dense fronds dripped down and brushed the sand underneath. The tree looked so out of place in the desert, but it also looked peaceful and promising and she couldn’t take her eyes off it. Moonbeams danced through the surf-board-size fronds and the gentle breeze rustled the crisp fronds, making them sing like a grass skirt going through the motions of the hula. Nyla knew this was the place¾the tropical paradise in the desert¾the best place to navigate the waters of the Rio Bravo to freedom.

I’ll never forget the first time I came upon this unique spot in Big Bend National Park. It was so wonderfully out of place that I knew it would make it into a story one day, which it did in Deadly Exodus.