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Coming Up For Air

What a whirlwind six months it’s been! I assure you my MIA status was not because of slacking. Ok, maybe a little. 🙂

Our travels took us to Albuquerque where the hubmeister and our rig were pummeled by high winds. Both lost the battle. A 70 mph gust hit our fifth wheel head on, lifted it up by the extended slides and set it back down. Even though it was only a few inches, it was jolted enough to delaminate the exterior shell from the frame. Our insurance company (USAA) was awesome and agreed to honor our claim. Even though the final amount wasn’t enough to pay for a complete new panel, we finally found someone who agreed to repair the damage and stay in our financial budget. RV body repairs are not cheap! In the meantime, those pesky winds followed us all over northern New Mexico. Terry is a Vietnam Vet so his lungs are not the best. The blowing dust took its toll and he ended up in the hospital. He’s fine now but still requires oxygen from time to time. If you think living in an RV is tight quarters, try adding oxygen tanks and breathing machines to the mix. Sheesh!

We ended up spending the summer south of Tucson in a little hamlet called Amado. The area is rimmed by mountains and so pretty. And so hot! We traded a little workamping for our RV spot and hookups which allowed hubs to finish his follow-up care at the VA Center in Tucson. Since we were stuck in Amado for the summer, I also scheduled long overdue cataract surgery. I’m stunned by how much better I can see! And absolutely no pain. Between doctor visits, we dropped a thousand dollars at a couple of veterinarians until we found a good one. Our cat is diabetic and now receives insulin shots twice daily. Um, that was a bit of a learning curve on technique but we mastered it. Our dog has low thyroid and takes the same meds as me. Ha! We also renovated the interior of the rig by removing those dated valances and ugly furniture. It was replaced with wide slat faux wood blinds and Ikea Pong chairs. We removed the dining table and chairs and replaced them with a real desk! Squee!!!

I was deployed to North Carolina for Hurricane Florence and returned feeling drained and depressed. It was a tough one with some brutal sights burned into my thoughts and heart. Of course, as any good writer knows, those experiences will find their way into a future book. Actually, I’m working on it now . . . a gritty thriller set in the aftermath of a hurricane. While the story is fictional, the disaster scenes are pretty realistic.

Upon my return, we ventured up to Cottonwood, Arizona for a month or so. I hiked a lot, mostly in Sedona where the good vibes helped heal my soul. We explored the area, met good friends in Prescott, enjoyed the warm weather and drank a little wine. In November, we returned to one of our favorite areas, a small RV park on the T’Ohono Oodham reservation near Ajo and north of Organ Pipe National Monument. Love the miles and miles of remote desert and mountains for hiking. There are seriously dark skies here that rival the beautiful evening panoramas at Bryce Canyon. The first three nights we were treated to a display of meteors and impressive stargazing. Thanksgiving was spent at a VRBO house with family and extended family in Phoenix. It was the best holiday I’ve had in years!

And now we’re back on the rez surrounded by wonderful friends, some old, some new. A perfect way to end 2018 and herald in 2019.

I have a lot of exciting things planned for next year. Unfortunately I can’t share them just yet so let me say this . . . put on your reading glasses and prepare to join me at some wonderful events!

Happy New Year! Wishing you the most marvelous, exciting, crazy wonder-filled year you’ve ever had. Thanks for the company in 2018.

You Might Be A Yooper If You Can Climb A Frozen Waterfall

A “yooper” lives in the Upper Peninsula  of Michigan – which is where we’ve been camping for the past couple of weeks. The UP is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground at any season. Since I’m not keen on freezing temperatures, I’m glad we got to experience it in the summer.

Lake Superior forms the northern boundary of the state, and is also the border to Canada. First of all, it’s more like the ocean. I’m talking HUGE! Secondly, when you’re that far north, you expect something akin to Alaska . . . not sand dunes and blue green waters typical of the tropics. It’s crazy! Crazy beautiful!

Part of the coastline is made up of the scenic Pictured Rocks – a line of gorgeous bluffs with waterfalls that plummet into the lake. During the warmer months, a group of boating outfitters will happily take you on a cruise so see the storied Pictured Rocks or even treat you to a glass-bottom boat ride over some shipwrecks. The water is that clear and pristine. But during the winter, this vacation paradise turns into a winter wonderland. People actually ice climb many of those towering waterfalls!

Inland from the coast, lies an abundance of small lakes which offer boating, swimming, fishing or just colorful sunsets. Oh, and mosquitoes. There are definitely some ravenous little critters flying around which means homemade repellents probably won’t cut it. Camping in the UP requires DEET . . . and perhaps a shotgun filled with buckshot. The mosquitoes are that big. You might take out a few biting black flies, too.

The insects were the only negative to this vast, pristine land that I could find. I suspect it takes a hearty individual to live in upper Michigan year round and the ones I encountered were some of the nicest folks you could hope to meet.

Will I ever be a yooper? Possibly . . . but only if seasonal visitors qualify for the title.

 

 

Exploring Mark Twain’s Boyhood Haunts


I’m back! It’s been a while and I apologize. Now that family visits, medical issues and whatnot are out of the way, we are back on the road enjoying new adventures. So here goes . . .

Hannibal, Missouri . . . just the name evokes visions of lazy riverboats puffing down a wide river, Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer atop a wooden raft, and the man who gave them

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Historic Hannibal

life – Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain. I’m not exaggerating when I say I almost piddled myself in excitement when the day finally arrived to explore this quaint, historical town. After all, Hannibal’s rolling hills and riverfront access provided the inspiration for Mark Twain’s most famous works. It flavored his writing as it flavored his wit. And I was about to see all the places I’d read about in my youth! How cool is that?

Reality seldom matches expectations. The more we dream and visualize about what lies ahead, the more we risk disappointment. Hannibal is a perfect example. The town itself should be renamed “Mark Twain City” because everywhere you go is reference to the famous author and humorist . . . understandable. One might never venture to Hannibal were it not for Mark Twain’s legacy. And everything tagged with his name comes with a price.

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Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse

Yes, Hannibal is a tourist trap. But if all I came to see were paid attractions, I’d miss out on the true ambiance of a historical town.

Driving into the outskirts from Highway 36, it was as if we entered a time warp. Hannibal is firmly rooted in the past and the period architecture reinforces that aura, beckoning with untold stories of days gone by. Had I never heard of Samuel Clemens, I would still be lured to this incredibly picturesque albeit decaying community. A great many of the clapboard houses and brick storefronts remain unrestored which supports the character of an aging 1800’s riverfront town.
I enjoyed a short walking tour along the river and railroad tracks, meandered along scenic Cardiff Drive to where it meets the lighthouse replica erected in Mark Twain’s honor, absorbed majestic views from Lover’s Leap, explored Mark Twain’s childhood home and the wooden fence still fresh with whitewash. What I wanted to do and didn’t was visit McDougal’s Cave, popularized in Twain’s 1876 novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The property is part of an adjoining campground and gift shop and is only viewable on special

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Mark Twain Sightseeing Riverboat

tours. Adult tickets ran about $20 and I just couldn’t bring myself to pay for what I felt should have been free. Perhaps if I’d visited the nearby winery and tasted a few glasses, I might not have been so put-off by the entrance fee. Bottom line is I’m a cheapskate.

I suppose the real reason I wanted to see the cave, aside from a trip down Tom Sawyer memory lane, is the wickedly strange events that took place there. During Twain’s childhood, the property where the cave is located was owned by a St. Louis surgeon, Dr. Joseph McDowell. The man was brilliant by all accounts, and genius sometimes borders on the edges of insanity. When Dr. McDowell’s fourteen-year-old daughter died of pneumonia, he decided to “petrify” her body. After constructing a copper tube lined with glass, he filled it with alcohol and placed the corpse inside, suspending it from the ceiling of the cave.

According to Twain, the local youth discovered the contraption and began to gather there, telling ghost stories to frighten each other in the flickering light of their torches. Even more macabre, the top of the cylinder could be unscrewed so the girl’s face was visible. After two

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View from Lover’s Leap

years, the adults in the community got wind of the girl’s unofficial interment. They complained, forcing the doctor to relocate his daughter’s body to the family mausoleum in St. Louis. However, some people believe the girl’s spirit is still there, following tourists as they navigate the dark cavern.

The cave is not the only place where hauntings occur in Hannibal. A year-round ghost tour features many allegedly active sites for adventurous souls. If we had planned a longer stay (and might have if the weather were not so damnably hot and humid), this cheapskate would have coughed up the bucks for the tour since I’m fascinated by the paranormal.  Perhaps another time.

Would I return to Hannibal for an encore visit? That’s hard to say. I love the ambiance and historical significance of the area. Unfortunately, this area of the Midwest doesn’t generate the same fascination as other places we’ve visited. We like less populated areas like mountains, remote coastlines, and high desert.

That being said, we’re enjoying our slow loop around the Great Lakes through Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. We may not venture this way again so if you know of any unusual, oddball or off-the-beaten track destinations, please let me know. I’m always up for an adventure!

Stone Cold Justice – Book of the Moment at Venture Galleries

So excited to have one of my books featured at Venture Galleries.

“Sexual sparks fly, of course, but there are enough different suspense threads running through STONE COLD JUSTICEto keep you riveted to the story.”

Read about it here!  http://venturegalleries.com/botm/stone-cold-justice-by-deb-sanders/

Whoa! Long time, no post . . .

I apologize from the bottom of my heart for not touching base sooner. What can I say? I’ve been having too much fun to post a blog? Partially true . . . but the flip side is my continued rant against Dell computers which in my humble opinion are a piece of caca . . .or shit . .. . whichever term you want to use. While the cyber Gods are favoring me, I’ll offer a visual sampling of my exploits over the past month which includes travels through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Stay tuned . . . I’m writing a great post on my investigation into Iraan, Texas . . . supposedly the strangest city in North America. Does it exist or is it a myth? I’ll post as soon as Dell decides my MiFi is worthy of connection.

FYI:  I post almost daily on my Facebook page and through Instagram. To keep up with a less detailed chronicle of my travels, follow me on FB or Instagram  . . . or both! Links are listed on my home page.

Until then, check out the cool places I’ve visited. Some will be featured in my upcoming book on North American Myth and Lore – TWISTED HIGHWAYS.

And as a final note: Don’t buy Dell, Don’t buy Dell, Don’t by Dell . . . .