Not Going Home This Year...

A long time ago (when I was quite young), I had an opportunity to travel across the United States and stop at any place I would like to see. Being an avid lover of history, such an opportunity felt like Christmas, to me, and I got busy making spectacular plans. 

I wanted to follow the Santa Fe Trail, visit ghost towns and gold mines (yes, I had gold fever even way back then), canoe through the Everglades, touch the crack in the Liberty Bell with my own hands, put flowers at the feet of the Stature of Liberty, and eat lobster, fresh off a fishing boat, in Maine.

I bought a U.S. road atlas, and spent many enjoyable hours planning that trip. When I finally turned it over to the Captain (who had said we could go anywhere, and do anything I wanted), he was a bit shocked. Which was somewhat devastating to me, because I had been so sure we liked the same things. “Oh, it isn't that,” he said. “It's just that a trip like this would take at least three years.” We didn't have three years. We were simply going across country to attend college. Many years later, we did do that trip (it was an anniversary present), and it took us six.

A very wonderful six years.

Now, it seems we are on the verge of doing something of the same thing, only this time, by boat. A wonderful boat, that is turning out to be so much more than we originally believed. And, once again, I have scheduled way too much in too short a time. Starting with the fact that during the five months I scheduled for my MYSTERY TOUR, we have only made it to half the destinations, so far. Which the Captain says is quite all right, because who would want to hurry through the “adventure of a lifetime,” anyway?

So, we are not going home this year.

We are going on...


Where in the World?

This week, we took a detour from our MYSTERY TOUR to attend a family wedding in San Diego, California. Perfect weather, perfect temperatures, on what was named "America's best beach" as recently as 2012. We had a wonderful time visiting with family and friends, and discovering many places we would like to return to. Not the least of which was the historic  Hotel del Coronado.

Not because it is so beautiful (it is!). Not because of all the history (120 years of continuous operation), or even because it boasts of standing on the most beautiful beach in America (it does!). We would like to return to this HUGE famous hotel mostly because we… um… never found it. True, we saw it coming and going from our various activities that revolved around the wedding. Passed it several times, in fact. Even made a note to come back and explore whenever we had an hour, or two, of free time. 

Which we discovered we would be able to fit in on the afternoon of the great event. So, we arranged to meet some of our family there and look around. As you can see from the picture, this place is definitely not small. Nor is it hidden within a maze of winding streets. But since time was limited, we decided to use… the GPS to get there. 

Big mistake.

Here are the three phrases that bamboozled us. "Analyzing traffic conditions," "Recalculating," and "New route." Times two. Because we were going in two different cars with two different electronic devices. Which both parties trusted more than their own common sense. That still might have worked out, if not for the propensity of Internet droids to fill in any blanks with the "next best choice." 

Add to this mix the fact that the greater portion of businesses in the district have the word Coronado in their name, and you can see why we immediately got separated, missed each other by car lengths on numerous occasions, and ended up in several rendezvous locations that turned out to be somewhere else. 

We finally did meet up with each other… at the wedding… and had to agree that was one of the craziest hours any of us had spent in a good long while. So, I wrote the experience off as a "goofy family thing" and made a mental note to come back, sometime. Without all the electronics.  I find the history of the place beyond intriguing.  A good location to fit into a future novel, maybe. I've even heard there are hauntings, but those are probably just rumors. I'm sure about one thing, though…

Our experience could definitely make the cover of the "GOOSE CHASE GAZETTE."


Catching Up...

Well, fellow travelers… a week has passed in a whirlwind of visitors, moving aboard activities, and settling in. The GLORY B is officially ours. Now we begin the weeks of scraping, painting, and other general repairs that make up the underside of any adventure. All of which results in not very interesting blog reading. But not to worry…

I have scheduled some short research trips that have more to do with mystery than far away places. For one thing, I happen to be in the heart of territory where my next few books will reside, and there is plenty to look into right here. Coupled with a short jaunt to Hollywood less than two weeks away, I'm sure I will be coming across some very interesting material. Starting with this colorful little town of Poulsbo, we have landed ourselves in. 

Not that it doesn't have quite the normal activity and population of most such places. The difference is the historic waterfront section where we happen to be located. Which not only contains all the places I like to frequent within walking distance, but does so in a most colorful and appealing way. One of the things I enjoy most are the church bells that ring out the hours, and play traditional hymns for half an hour at noon and 6pm. They can be heard over the entire waterfront, and envelop it with a feeling as if God just walked by and gave you a quick hug. But then, maybe that's just me.

Then there's the Sons of Norway hall that I can see whenever I poke my head up out of the hatch. And why does that interest me? Because one of the manuscripts I'm working on is about a lady who rents an office up there for a summer tourist business. Just above the kayak rentals a short distance away. From which vantage point, she can see some very suspicious-looking things going on in the harbor. But it can be quite dangerous poking your nose into other people's business, because…

Yes. I think there will be more than enough interesting subject matter to work with, here.


Settling In…

Being in a new work environment always takes me a while to settle into. Even when it's wonderful. Especially when it's wonderful. I find myself taking long pauses just to breathe in the atmosphere, and puttering around with this, or that, to get everything "just so." Sharpening pencils, Steinbbeck used to call it, when a writer does such things before actually beginning to write. 

Today, I mostly sharpened pencils. 

Not that I don't have some exciting projects to look forward to, because I do. I can't wait to get started on them. I just keep getting side-tracked. For instance, I had two pleasant visitors today that I couldn't ignore. Neighbors, I think. One was a seagull who came by to crack open a mussel shell on one of the brass deck fittings. Something tells me this little trick has been done many times before. 

Not much later, a harbor seal came up for air beside the boat and brushed against the side while meandering by. About half an hour later, he (or she) came back on the other side and did the same thing. When you have been on the prairies as long as I have, it's hard to pass such things by. I love all the life that goes on along a waterfront.

Tomorrow, I'll do better, maybe, but I'm not sure. Meanwhile, I'm sitting here at 10:30 at night, still trying to get Monday's blog on. The hatch is open, I can see moonlight and stars, and a cool breeze is coming in. And now there is a pitter-patter of some night bird up on deck… 

Glory B! What a welcome I'm having!


A Great Day...

It's more than a "Video Log Friday" today, fellow travelers, because it is also the release date for the first in my series of "Stella Madison Capers" … which I am very excited about. Not only is this character close to my heart for many reasons, she has also graciously agreed to help us with the repairs and restoration of the GLORY B. My goodness, it just doesn't get any better than when everyone starts pulling together on a project.

So, paddle on over to the Pelican Book Group site if you get a chance, where HOME BEFORE DARK can be bought for only a dollar. Is that great, or what? Not to mention, I will be giving five copies away absolutely free, in honor of this new little release. To get your name in the Captain's Hat for a drawing, just leave a comment on this post (don't forget to include an email address, so I can get in touch if you are one of the winners). Meanwhile…

Have a blessed weekend, and I'll see you on Monday!


The Real Thing, or Not?

Half of life seems to be just waiting for things. I'm waiting for negotiations to be completed on the GLORY B. I'm waiting for Stella Madison's visit on Friday. I'm waiting for a release date on THE PANDORA BOX, and I'm waiting on decisions on two young adult novels that are very close to my heart. I guess you could say they are part of my heart.

Having spent a lot of time on a farm, I've learned something about waiting by watching animals. They never fuss about it. The longer it takes, the more determined they get, and -- most importantly -- they never take their eyes off what they are waiting for. For instance, if a dog sees you walk through a door, he will sit there and watch that door until you come out, again. 

If the weather is bad, creatures that you normally see out-and-about all day, will "hole up" somewhere to wait it out. Doing little else but sleeping. And if life gets too rough for turtles, they go into a dormant state that can last months (even years) until times get better. They have survived drought and famines that way. And, oddly enough, they live longer than almost any other creature on the planet. Hmmm…

Myself, I tend to get involved in something absorbing when I have to wait for things. Mostly reading. I get a lot of books read and reviewed during times like these. But I'll tell you, when something comes up on your horizon that you've been waiting for years to come through, the wait can get pretty intense. And I don't mind saying the Captain and I are in for some pretty big changes when these things finally get here. Which suddenly makes me realize I maybe should be packing instead of just sitting around. 

Because I have a feeling this next leg of the MYSTERY TOUR is going to be the best one, yet. Besides, if there's one thing I've learned about God's way of doing things, the whole situation could change in the blink of an eye. And usually does.

Wednesdays are the days I said we would talk about divine appointments. Any ideas out there how you can tell if an encounter is, or isn't, one?

I'm listening...


The Poll Is Closed…

Dear family and friends… the vote is in (but please vote on the new question as long as you're here). Most of you believe in divine appointments, but not by much. Dear me! Here's hoping following our adventures on my 2012 MYSTERY TOUR this summer will help prove your point. So far, it is definitely proving ours. 

What a weekend we've had! Up, then down, then up, again. But isn't that the nature of life? As it stands, right now, it is looking very good for the GLORY B (scroll down to catch a glimpse of her on last Friday's video log if you haven't, already). Which makes the Captain and I nearly giddy with excitement. But we are trying to contain ourselves. Of course, you will be the first to know as soon as we iron out the details. Meanwhile, this is a very special week for me…

Because my good friend, Stella Madison, will be arriving on the scene. She's quite the mysterious woman, herself, and I don't mind telling you she has made an extremely generous offer to us, regarding the GLORY B. But more on that, later. As far as she, herself, is concerned, you can find out more about her over on my regular blog. I'll be posting something about her over there, every day this week. It's a big week for Stella… especially Friday! So, stay tuned for some lovely announcements…


Is This the Glory B...

Another "Video Friday," dear travelers… how did it come up so fast? I'd like to say the GLORY B. is finally ours, and we are getting ready to be off on the next leg of our adventure. But how many of the things we are waiting for actually move along at the pace we would like them to? 

Anyway, here's what we've been up to, this week…


And Now We Wait…

I wish I had more news for you today, fellow travelers, but the thing about negotiations is that they tend to take a while. Especially if there are others to consult on the decisions. At any rate, The boat we think my be the GLORY B is still a possibility at this point. Meanwhile, it is good to be able to sit back and trust in the Lord to either open, or close, doors for us, as He has much more wisdom in these areas than we do. 

He also is an expert at working things out for all parties involved, which is quite exciting to watch unfold. First off, we have met and talked to some wonderfully interesting people as we have gone from boat to boat. More than once we have had long enjoyable conversations in delightful surroundings, which is one of the main reasons we like hanging around waterfronts in the first place. 

So, any way you look at it, things are exciting. But no matter how exciting each prospect can seem… 

The waiting is always the hardest.

Perfect atmosphere for a divine appointment, though.

We'll keep you posted.


Hold Everything…

We think we found the GLORY B., fellow travelers! We are scheduled to look at her on Wednesday, and all other appointments are put on hold until we find out for sure. But things are coming together in very unique ways. I won't say anymore for now (because we don't know details, ourselves, yet), but we should have news by Wednesday's post. 

Meanwhile, Fourth of July celebrations are gearing up in all small towns in the area, and there are expected to be over three hundred boats anchored in Liberty Bay for the festivities. I'll see if I can get some good pictures to share.

This time of year always makes me remember a time when I was flying back to Oklahoma from here, around sunset, on a very clear evening. Looking down from the plane's window, I could see a constant display of fireworks. From the coast all the way to Oklahoma City, it was like flying over an endless garden of dancing lights, springing up into plumes of every color. I will never forget it. 

We support our troops.
Here's wishing you wonderful times with family and friends, wherever you are on this happy holiday. And may God continue to "crown our good with brotherhood" as we remember all the reasons and freedoms that allow us to celebrate.


Beware of Switchbacks…

When reaching for your dreams takes longer than you planned, it's hard not to have doubts. Is this really the thing we are supposed to do? What if we don't have what it takes to do it? And where are those plain-as-day "footsteps" we were following just a little while, ago? 

Well… here's how the Captain and I have been handling things along the way…

Have a blessed weekend, fellow travelers!


Harbor Hopping...

View from a ferry crossing we enjoyed
Well, fellow travelers... we spent the weekend looking at boats. All kinds of boats, of different shapes and sizes, from one end of Washington state to the other. A couple of which might be possibilities for us, but we don't know for sure, yet. At the very least we saw spectacular country driving from the southern most tip of the Olympic Peninsula, all the way to within fifty feet of the Canadian border. Not to mention the Captain and I had a wonderful time together. But then we always do, no matter where we happen to be. 

Today, we were out and about, again, and when I finally got around to checking mail, I discovered I had the edits on THE PANDORA BOX (my next inspirational adventure novel) waiting, so, it was a busy evening, as well. All of which made for a very late blog post, tonight. But I did make it here, eventually, as I always do, one way or the other. 

One of the boats we looked at
There are so many things to consider when looking for a boat. But I confess, I judge them all by the way I feel when I go aboard. Is this an inviting place? Could I be happy here? Is there a comfortable corner I would be content to squirrel myself away and work in? Meanwhile, the Captain is looking things over in a much more level-headed way. 

...and another one
I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but how many of us really do? I do know that we will not miss anything we are meant to see, or places we are meant to be at. To know that our "steps are ordered (Psalm 37:23)" holds great assurance. And great anticipation, too. May you all be so blessed in your own life adventures, as well!

Do you think there could be a divine appointment wrapped up in our search for the GLORY B? I'm very much hoping that there is... but I'll let you be the judge of that.


To See the Dream...

It's Friday, fellow travelers… and the Captain and I are off to look at more boats. Meanwhile, here's this week's video log that should give you a better idea of what we've been up to. Have a blessed weekend, and we'll see you on Monday!


A Divine Appointment for You…

A wonderful part of the MYSTERY TOUR is that I get to spread the word about GOLD TRAP, the first ever book with my name on it. Having taken much longer than I expected to "get all my ducks in place" for this trip, I decided to celebrate with a contest. 

Since the Captain and I are on something of a pilgrimage, here in the great northwest, as we search for the GLORY B. … (more about that later) there will be days when we are on the road from one end to the other of this state (Washington) while we look at available boats. 

So, I thought I would host a "treasure hunt" for GOLD TRAP at the same time. The prize? A signed copy which I will personally send to you from the box of books I will be taking overseas with us. What's so good about that? 

Well, to begin with, they have all been bathed in special prayers that the recipients would not only be entertained by the story, but would have a "divine encounter" of their own, to prove just how real divine appointments are. I should maybe mention, at this point, that I am a firm believer in divine appointments, myself, and that God has never NOT answered when I have petitioned him with a prayer like this. But why would I do such a thing?

Because I know there are many of you out there who have dreams -- wonderful dreams -- that have lain dormant for years, while you have been busy doing whatever it is life has required of you. But what if God (who can give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4)) will also go so far as to bring them to pass, if only we will ask him? By now, you've probably guessed that I believe that He does. In fact, it is what has made me a life-long adventurer. But what do you think…

Is this just a game, or what?



There are a lot of boats here. But we are only looking for one. We don't know where it is, exactly, but we feel sure we will know it when we see it. Having had four other boats over the years, we're pretty specific about what we're looking for. A ketch, something with classic traditional lines, not too small to be uncomfortable for months at a time, and not too big that the two of us can't slip her moorings and take off for another port at any given moment. 

Why a boat?

To begin with, the two of us love the sea, not to mention all the nooks and crannies of the coastal places that surround it. We also like the sort of people that tend to gather in such places. We absolutely love the natural beauty, along with the amazing animal and marine life one can watch every day when you live right in the middle of it. We especially love the simplicity of "living aboard." The fact that you can pop your head up out of the hatch at any given time and almost always find someone interesting to talk to, plays a big part in it, too. Living aboard a boat is a great lifestyle if you're partial to any of those things. 

But what's this about the GLORY B.?

We've used this affectionate reference to our "dream boat' for years. Mostly because it is not only the boat of our dreams, but the boat for our dream. The big one. It is the perfect vehicle for a circuit we have always wanted to travel, regularly, along the Pacific Rim, just sharing some of the wonderful things the Lord is doing in our lives. To say "hello" to people we've never seen before, make friends, and then come back and see them, again. 

So, here we are. Many things have kept us from pursuing this dream of ours over the years, but -- for the first time -- it looks as though this is the right time. We will have to proceed with caution, however, because we don't want to get out of line with God's ultimate plan for our lives. But what if that ultimate plan includes some of our most wistful pleasant dreams, as well? This year, we are stepping out to discover if this might actually be true. It's one of the mysteries we will be looking into on our 2012 MYSTERY TOUR. Our search for the GLORY B. is the third leg of our wonderful journey…

And it begins today.


Onward and Upward...

Well, Armchair Travelers… we have made it to the Puget Sound, where we are resting up (and cleaning up) from our Rocky Mountain adventure. Did we find gold? 
None to speak of. Lots of dust and flakes, but it takes acres of time and skill to extract that small stuff. Learned some new panning techniques, though, and will try them in the next gold fields we visit. Nor did we find any of the lost treasures we were looking into, but I'm not going to be too hard on myself, as no one else has, either. 
The most commonly used phrase I heard for any of those legends we followed from New Mexico to Colorado, was, "… which no one has found to this day." Treasures that ranged from caches of gold dust, to gold bars that the Spaniards left behind, all the way up to the many lost mines themselves. One treasure I did find, however, was a fine collection of the most unusual characters out of history that will make wonderful fodder for future books. Such amazing things these people did! And I know already that I'm going to enjoy spending time with them, next winter.
Added to the wonderful refreshment that comes from simply being out in God's amazing wilderness places, I'm feeling like something of a new person, already. Which is a good thing. Because for the next leg of our tour we go to the ocean. In search of the GLORY B. We must especially depend on divine appointments at this point, because we know she is out there, somewhere. That the Lord has not only set her aside for us, but that others will be greatly blessed by our discovery, as well. So, enjoy your weekend, dear travelers, because on Monday, the real adventures begin! 
Meanwhile, here's what we did on our last day in the Rockies...



We said our goodbyes to gold country and came down off the mountains, yesterday. I must say, it was one of the best times I have ever had camping (such beauty and fresh air!). I got to peek inside a gold mine and see what a gold vein actually looked like… very important, in case I should ever discover one of my own some day. This little event was especially enjoyable because I got to do it with my favorite cousin, Cathy Thompson (Hi, Cath!), and we had a good time looking at old mining equipment, and even panning for some gold together. Things are always  more fun when you do them in good company. 

Speaking of which, I should tell you about a "divine appointment" I had up in those mountains…

There I was, on a beautiful little creek somewhere in the foothills of Pikes' Peak, listening to the lovely sounds of the water and chattering of birds in nearby trees. Just enjoying myself with my feet in the creek (I had waders) and doing a bit of gold panning. Utter bliss. Not another soul in sight, until I heard a cheery call of "What are you doing?"

I looked up to see a beautiful blonde-haired teenager coming toward me (Hello, Christian, honey!). Seemingly out of nowhere. We spent the next half-hour, or so, chatting, and looking up and down the creek for gold, together. She was such pleasant company, and I had a marvelous time. Imagine my surprise to find out she liked writing stories, and loved history as much as I do. So, we agreed to stay in touch, and I am looking forward to many more fun visits with her. And who knows? Maybe she will turn out to be a writer, herself, one day. Why do I think this was a divine appointment? Because I happen to be a collector of young people like this. I number them among my most special friends.

Better than gold, even.


Idaho Springs, Yesterday, and Today...

Idaho Springs in 1889

Idaho Springs means "Gem of the mountains… and healing waters" in some Indian dialect. In that respect, I must say the beauty of the place is hard to surpass. However, the air at this elevation is very thin. So, for people like me, who are used to living on the plains, or in the desert, or at sea level… it's hard to breathe up there. 

Idaho Springs, today
As I have mentioned before, the legends in these areas have been difficult to track down. And while I have had numerous details and facts to substantiate local stories, they have been hard to recognize with the smokescreens of modern day living. However, if it is true that nothing is realy ever lost, but merely changes into some other form, I should be able to at least find signs. Such was the case at Idaho Springs. 

George Andrew Jackson first discovered gold while there on a hunting trip, in 1859. He made camp on a sandbar, where Chicago Creek flows into Clear Creek. It was early January. He decided to pan some of the thawed gravel around his campfire, and using his drinking cup, washed out some gold nuggets. Needless to say, he returned to the place the following April, with a team of men and supplies, and the rush was on. Um… cancel that. 

I just found another variation of that story that says this incident happened where Chicago Creek runs into Vasquez Creek. But maybe that's just another name for Clear Creek. Hmm… looking for the exact spot could easily get us written up in "The Goose Chase Gazette," again.

Drinking the healing waters
Having been on too many of these escapades over the last few days, I decided to try for more of a sure shot. How about I track down the famous gazebo where so many people came to drink the "healing waters" from the Indian hot springs that flowed out from the mountain. People like the Roosevelts, Sarah Bernhardt, Walt Whitman, the Vanderbilts, and even Frank and Jesse James while they were on their way through toward other infamous pastimes. Here's the picture I had to go by.

After much searching, I actually found it. Yes, it's still there. However, it has turned into a cabana-like drink and hot dog stand. I would show you a picture of me standing by it, except that no pictures are allowed in there. It's enclosed with several indoor pools created from the healing waters. Which is at the end of a labyrinth of others that flow from deep inside the mountain. One side for men, and one for women. That's because "bathing suits are optional and not required." Temperatures were stifling in there, but I was going to locate that cabana-gazebo thing, or bust. 

Commercial shot of one of the pools
Needless to say, my hat was drooping by the time I came out, and I must leave it to your own imagination as to some of the sights I saw. I have to admit it was a bona fide connection to the past, though, as the place has been in continuous operation since its inception. There were a lot of people that day, too. And while I didn't stay long enough for drinks and hot dogs, they all seemed to be having a good time. However, I did take a sip of the healing waters.

After an experience like that, one can never be too careful.


Hello, dear travelers… we are back in civilization long enough to touch bases with all of you, and post another short video log of our adventures. We've been traipsing up and down through beautiful country, and catching up on some gold panning along the way. 

We explored the two famous towns of Victor and Cripple Creek, and found them to be mostly tourist attractions, these days. And while there are a few relics of the past (if you look real hard), it is difficult to follow in the footsteps of forgotten legends. So, it is one of those instances where a person has to know exactly what they are looking for before they can find it, and often times, even where. Because most of the locals we have asked, rarely know what we are tailing about. But no matter, we are not giving up. 

Instead, we will move on to another famous location, tomorrow morning, and see what we can track down, there. Meanwhile, enjoy the video, have a great weekend, and we'll be back to give you an update on Monday!


Well, dear readers... if getting an Internet signal was hard in the foothills of the Rockies, it is impossible up here near the top. So, we have barreled back down to the nearest town to let everyone know we will be "silent" until Friday, while we chase down some legends and look for gold up there. As for divine appointments... we have had several already! We will give details on those when we get back to civilization, too. 

Meanwhile, may the rest of your week be blessed, and know that I will be thinking of you all back home!


Unless You Look…

Can you see what is hiding
in this picture?

A lot of modern life has built up around the past. So, in seeking out old stories and legends, one often finds themselves tracing a trail that winds in and out through cities, freeways, and downtown areas that look the same as similar places all over the world. People are busy going back and forth to work in small circles of their own daily lives, while children and teenagers can be seen hanging around organized sports fields and local fast food establishments. 

Up to this point, the surrounding area of the metropolitan places has seemed stark and dry. A combination of high desert and farmland irrigated by local rivers enough to produce huge fields of one specific thing. We see very few small farms or ranches from the Interstate highway. But you can pull off the road almost anywhere, and the first thing that strikes you is the peace and quiet. Then the freshness of the air. Next you might hear the distinctive call of a bird, or the rustle of wind through one of the short, sparse juniper trees. 

Right now, we are in a campground on an Indian reservation, above a lovely lake. We've asked around a bit about the lost Dupont Mine, but so far, the local people are too busy living in today to know anything much about yesterday. We know more just having read up on it via the Internet. 

But we did take a short hike just to look around a little, and tomorrow we will move up the road a few miles and see if we can find Hopewell Lake. There is a dam across the Rio Grande River, now, and a good possibility that some of the smaller placer creeks might be underwater. But even on this southernmost prong of the Rocky Mountains, the rock formations are fascinating enough to spark the imagination.

There is an interesting hole across a ravine that reminds me of pictures I have seen of deserted mines… but maybe it is just some sort of natural cave. It was hot by the time we noticed it, and the elevation here is high enough to bring shortness of breath if you are not used to such things. Tomorrow, we will try and track down some history at a local library, or museum, and set out on a more sure trail. If we can't find one, we will move on. But any way you look at it, we will have to look hard.

A true mystery never gives itself up easily.