Tag Archives: RV life

Interview at Ellenbooks

There’s an elite group . . . and I don’t say that lightly . . . of authors who manage to balance life on the road with writing. I was honored when Ellen Behrens, an outstanding author and fellow RVer, asked to interview me for her blog. Please click the link below and stop by to say “howdy”. While you’re there, check out Ellen’s delightful series, Rollin’ RV Mystery series!

Fellow RV Novelists: Deb Sanders

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Tucson Festival of Books and Other News

On March 11th and 12th, an amazing annual event takes place on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson – The Tuscon Festival of Books. This star-studded gathering (as far as authors go) offers something for everyone in nearly every age group.

This year, I’m excited to participate as both a signing author and a volunteer. On Saturday, I’ll be in the Author Pavilion from 12:15 to 2:15, then presenting a short “Tent Talk” at 3, discussing research and writing on the road. Sunday will be my volunteer day to assist other presenting authors with their programs.

sandfordWhen not “on the clock”, be assured I will peruse campus grounds and attend workshops by some of my favorite writers such as John Sandford (be still my beating heart) and “Longmire” creator and author, Craig Johnson accompanied by series star, A. Martinez.

I promise to post lots of photos and regale you with my adventures after the event. Be sure to check my Instagram and Facebook pages for the most up-to-date news. If you are attending, be sure to download the free “app” to help navigate the festival and events.

During the week of March 19th, I’ll be attending Escapee’s Escapade, also taking place in Tucson. For those not familiar with RVing, Escapees is a membership club of fellowship, activities and learning. This year, I’ll be conducting a workshop entitled, “Gold, Ghosts and Gravel Roads” where I hope to entertain with my adventures and teach from experience about how to enhance the RVing experience. The presentation will be loosely based on my research for ROAD TALES, Myth, Lore and Curiosities From America’s Back Roads. It will also include a few stories from the upcoming Volume Two.

The hubmeister and I decided to workamp at Ruby’s Inn outside of Bryce Canyon, Utah for the summer months. It’s a win-win since we planned to visit the area anyway. Now we can explore Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands, Monument Valley and so much more while keeping a centrally located base camp, and earn a buck or two along the way. We’ll only work part time and have the same off days.

roadkillthumbAnd now for my big FAIL…I played entirely too much the past few months and didn’t finish my second book in th e Dead Men series, Dead Men Can’t Dance. By the time I took a breath and realized time had passed me by, I needed to focus on my upcoming author appearances. I hope to release Book Two by April.

One more piece of exciting news, I’m working on an episodic thriller, Road Kill. It’s gritty, not light and fun like my Dead Men books so I hope readers won’t ding me too hard for changing genres. It’s a project I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Episode One will release in mid March. There should be four to five episodes to reach the conclusion, and then I may combine them into a single title. Hope you like serial killers!

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words . . .

I’ve been playing hard and loving every minute of it. Great hiking in the Arizona desert, spectacular views – as always. We’re camped near Salome, between Quartzsite and Parker, visiting friends. They brought along their Quads so we’ve had some great rides through the washes and over mountain passes, and exploring an old mine. Found some memorials tucked away between boulders and cacti, and ripped the seat of my pants sliding down a granite slope. That was embarrassing! Rather than explain where I’ve been, I decided to let the photos do the talking. I only have a few more days of fun and frolic before locking myself away to prepare for a very busy March. Lots of author promotions! I’ve planned a short hike tomorrow to include some geocaching then we’re attending a Super Bowl party. Lake Havasu on Monday or Tuesday – and after that ….WORK!  20170105_131021_burst011 20170203_143422120161218_1226382 20170203_151118_hdr1 20170203_1506301 20170204_1041301-copy20170204_101847-copy 20170204_1020001-copy20170204_1043141-copy20170204_112218_burst011-copy 20170204_1057441-copy

Quartzsite – Desert Oasis or Hot Mess?

I can’t say I “love” Quartzsite enough to make the Big Show an annual sojourn. I’m sure some RVers plan their visit a year in advance but from the dwindling crowds and vendors, I suspect they might be the minority. Not even the weather cooperated this year. It was cold, breezy and often overcast, banishing all thoughts of hot and dry, terms usually associated with Arizona.

20170127_1210531The Swap Meet, Rock and Gem Show and Arts and Craft Show draws a lot of people during January and February, which means RV dealers arrive as well, promising spectacular bargains on a variety of units. Cue in “captive market”. Most businesses in Quartzsite depend on this annual revenue to keep them afloat the remainder of the year, and offer creative, often humorous marketing to snag your dollars.

Our visit coincided with my scheduled book signing at the Readers Oasis Bookstore, owned by naturalist Paul Winer and his wife.  The Author’s Fair included several other writers, and although my plans took a nose dive resulting in one appearance out of three, I enjoyed meeting and talking with readers.

Hubs and I set up our rig in one of the gravel “dry” camping lots close to the RV Show and Swap Meet tents. The downside was noise, a large group of RVers from Sun Lakes with attitude i.e. rude and inconsiderate of fellow campers, and traffic. The upside was walking distance to the show tents, a great Canadian couple camped nearby who were absolutely lovely, and walking distance to Silly Al’s Pizza . . . a must see and do in Q.

The rest of the experience was meh. We stayed a week last year – before the major events started – and left unimpressed. This year, we came, we saw, we shopped – and still left unimpressed. In my opinion, the cost of everything including RVs is inflated. The food was typical carnival fare . . . priced high and low on flavor. We threw away our Alligator on a Stick after two bites. Five half dollar sized nuggets were $10, undercooked and rubbery.20170122_1053351

I think Q would be more palpable if one arrived with a group and planned day trips to other areas. The landscape is actually pretty with jagged mountains circling the town. If you have an ATV, this is definitely a great part of the state to explore. Unfortunately, we don’t own such a vehicle, although one may end up on our wish list.

So there you have it. A few days of craziness which produced nothing more than a need for some quiet boondocking in the desert to unplug from the crowds. We left with our pocketbooks a little thinner and our waists a little thicker but at least now we know what all the hub-bub is about. No repeats necessary.

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!

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 . . . .