Thursday, September 29, 2016
Built amid deep gorges cut by the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers, Luxembourg is the capital of the tiny European nation of the same name. The ruins of medieval fortifications in the foreground and modern buildings housing a number of important official European functions in the background make this a fascinating city to explore. We also had the privilege to visit the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial located not far from the city. This memorial to over 5,000 American soldiers, who lost their lives during World War II, most during the Battle of the Bulge, was a deeply moving experience.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Morgan woke to pitch black. Not only were her hands and ankles bound, and her mouth taped shut, but she was also cocooned in a thick wool blanket. The bouncing told her she was in a vehicle, but she was clearly no longer in the back of her car.
Fear coursed through her veins as she struggled to understand where she was and what had happened. She wanted to take a deep breath to help calm her nerves, but with one nostril filled with dried blood and her mouth taped, it was difficult to breathe at all.
Forcing herself not to panic, she sucked in tiny bursts of air through her one open nostril until she was confident she wouldn’t suffocate. She wiggled her toes and fingers to try and get the blood flowing and the tingling to subside.
As the fog slowly cleared from her mind, she wondered how long she had been out. The last thing she remembered was trying to stand and keep her balance, so that she wouldn’t fall on the floor of that filthy warehouse. Now, she was here, but where was here?
Morgan tried to unroll herself from the constricting blanket, but soon bumped into a cardboard box. Despite the aches and pains emanating throughout her body, she bounced her body back toward her starting place, trying not to rewrap herself in the blanket, which would negate any progress. She unrolled herself again and repeated the process until she was free from the blanket.
Her body throbbed nearly everywhere, but being free of the wrap felt liberating. She wasn’t sure what to do next. She didn’t know if the driver of the vehicle was working with the woman who abducted her, or if he or she would be surprised to find her in his or her truck.
Morgan wasn’t sure how long she lay there in the dark when the truck finally slowed. She listened to the loud staccato noise of its Jake brake, and eventually the rig came to a stop. It was now or never. When the truck got back on the road, the driver would not be able to hear her.
She scooted around until her back was braced solidly against a large cardboard box. Once the truck motor silenced and she heard the door slam shut, Morgan kicked at the back door with all her might.
After several moments, she heard the lock and then the latch being opened. Light flooded the interior, blinding her. As her eyes adjusted, she found herself staring into the startled eyes of a man in a faded t-shirt.To get your copy of book 2 in the Risky Research series, A Taste of Tragedy, directly from Amazon for your Kindle click here.
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Thursday, September 22, 2016
I recently had the exciting opportunity to spend a little time in France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Czech Republic. I’ll be posting some of these photos in the weeks to come under my Adventure Scrapbook theme. If you are interested in this area, please check back often. To kick it off, here are a couple pictures from Paris including Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and the Cathedral at Montmartre Hill.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Grace Talbot gripped the steering wheel of her white four-wheel-drive truck. Every muscle in her body tensed as she leaned closer to the windshield, straining her eyes, searching the blowing snow for the reflector poles, which lined the road, or for any tire track, which would indicate someone else had driven through recently.
Traveling the remote rural Wyoming road in a blizzard was risky, and she would have avoided such a stupid act if her Uncle Moss wasn’t in the hospital fighting for his life and Butch, his only hired ranch hand, wasn’t dead.
To purchase this book directly from Amazon for your Kindle, click here.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
“What is adventure? If a lone wolf lifts his plaintive call into the moonlight near your campsite, you might call that adventure. While you’re sweating like a horse on a climb over a 12,000 foot pass, that could be adventure. When howling head winds press your lips against your teeth, you face a mighty struggle. When your pack grows heavy on your shoulders as your climb a 14,000 foot peak, you feel the adventure. When you suffer freezing temperatures and 20 inches of fresh powder on a hut to hut trip in the Rockies, that could be called adventure. But that’s not what makes an adventure. It’s your willingness to conquer it, and to present yourself at the doorstep of nature. That creates the experience. No more greater joy can come from life than to live inside a moment of adventure. It is the uncommon wilderness experience that gives your life expectation.”
Frosty Wooldridge, Golden, Colorado
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Claire’s thoughts fixed on Jared and she wanted to know the truth. She was afraid for his and Ethan’s future since no one knew for sure what that was. The uncertainty drove her to push her mother on the issue.
“What destiny? Claire demanded. “Men never come back here. Where do they go and what happens to them when they leave here, Mother?”
“That doesn’t need to concern you.”
“I want to know, Mother. Tell me the truth. If you want me to understand you and the life you embrace you have to be honest with me.”
“Hmm,” Katherine hesitated. She wasn’t sure how much she dare share, but she wanted Claire to accept her future and break free of her less than desirable companions. Claire had to understand the authorities were only doing what was best for the citizens. “It’s more of a federal issue than a state issue, but I do know that males report to one of three occupational categories. Many men work in the factories in the central manufacturing zone on the East Coast, others volunteer for the military and the rest participate in science. All are noble contributions to our collective cause.”
“I don’t even want to know what it means to participate in science or I fear I will never be able to speak to you again, but why would any man agree to join the military and protect this country when they have so few opportunities in society?”
“Well, if they successfully complete their military obligation they are allowed to retire and live anywhere they want. They can even go home if they wish.”
“But they never do, Mother. They never come home. Are we murdering our men?”
To download a copy of Deadly Exodus directly from Amazon for your Kindle click here.
Sunday, September 11, 2016
“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints.”
- Wildred Peterson-
Friday, September 9, 2016
The Hot Springs Historic District of Big Bend National Park is an idyllic spot along the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River. It was once used as a health spa and as a meeting place for people from both sides of the river. There are several barely-preserved buildings and a magnificent giant palm fanning out over the rugged landscape. I dubbed it the, “tropical paradise in the desert,” in Deadly Exodus (only $0.99 on Amazon) and identified it as the place the characters would attempt their daring border crossing into Mexico in their desperate pursuit of freedom.
This tropical paradise in the desert always elicits pleasant memories of visiting Big Bend National Park. One of the other many bonuses of Big Bend is that I’ve never experienced the crowds I often encounter at other national parks. Big Bend gives a person the space and scenery to experience true solitude.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
The sound of a man’s voice made Niki’s head whip around as she tried to bring Storm under control. The man was not speaking English and the insignia on his uniform did not belong to the United States military, nor did the uniform sport a maple leaf such as the one she had seen on the helicopter the previous day. Thoughts swirled through her head, making no sense at all, but the one thing she was certain of was that she was in deep trouble.
Niki reined Storm around, now surrounded by five more men. Her body went rigid as the horse’s legs suddenly stiffened. Storm snorted at the closest man and then pawed angrily at the ground. The men began advancing, smiling and laughing. Niki couldn’t understand what they were saying, but as she spied two more dead bodies on the ground, she felt certain they had no intention of helping her.
Her eyes darted from man to man. She scanned the area and noted that she was still very close to the edge of the ravine. Niki could feel the big horse quiver beneath her and tense, ready to spring at the slightest provocation. She gripped Storm’s sides with her legs and grasped the saddle horn. One man pulled a pistol out of its holster. She doubted he intended to shoot her yet—instant death would be too quick, easy and preferable. Niki feared he planned to take out her only mode of escape. She couldn’t allow her beloved horse to be shot at point blank range, but most importantly, she couldn’t be delayed too long or she doubted her grandfather would survive.
With a prayer and a swift kick, Niki informed Storm it was time to run for their lives. The horse sensed the danger and cleared the edge of the ravine before the men could react. Niki held on as tight as she could and leaned back to help the horse keep his balance as he lunged down the slope. Rocks dislodged under the fury of his churning hooves as he barreled down the embankment.
They had nearly reached the creek when the first series of shots rang out. Storm shied and turned to follow the creek downstream rather than plunging into the water with its slick bottom at an uncontrolled speed. Another barrage of gunfire pelted the ground, narrowly missing Niki, but hitting nearby rocks, spraying the horse with sharp stone fragments.
A slight bend in the ravine took them out of sight of the shooters and soon the slope was much less intimidating, making it easier for Storm to cross the creek and climb out of the ravine. Niki released a sigh of relief and encouraged the horse to take it easy as he began his ascent. They had just reached the top when Niki heard the unmistakable sound of two dirt bikes’ engines firing up.
“I hope you have a little more left,” she whispered as she leaned over Storm’s neck, flattening herself against his steaming body.
Her position was all the encouragement the horse needed. Storm stretched out to a full run. His speed and endurance amazed her, but she knew they needed to reach the cover of the thick forest on the other side of the clearing as quickly as possible. Storm had already been galloping for hours before they had even reached the tower, so she doubted he would be able to outrun the dirt bikes for long or dodge the bullets that would come once the soldiers reached the flat meadow.
Niki stole a glance back. The bikes had cleared the ravine’s lip and were rapidly closing in. She looked ahead and estimated they were still a quarter of a mile from a dense stand of trees. Several bullets landed well to the right of Niki, doing no damage, but the noise spurred another burst of speed from the gelding. She fought the urge to look back again—it would serve no purpose. Instead, she kept herself low and her head down to help Storm as much as possible and to minimize the size of target her body presented.
The distance between her and the trees narrowed, but the bikes sounded closer. Another shot narrowly missed as Storm dove into the thin stand of pine. The horse slowed slightly, having to navigate through an old blow-down as if it were an obstacle course. She knew the fallen trees would slow the dirt bikes even more since they would have no choice but to find an alternate route around the jumble of timber, resembling a giant game of pick-up-sticks.
Niki remained low to the horse’s neck as he wove in and out of trees, branches slapping violently, threatening to dislodge her from Storm’s back. He stumbled several times as he maneuvered through the erratically strewn timber, but regained his footing and continued to run. She clung to the horn, hoping the horse knew what he was doing, doubting she still had the ability to think quickly or clearly enough to make a good decision, nor did she want to risk a look up for fear of being stabbed in the eye by a low-hanging branch.
Storm leapt over logs and wove his way around everything he couldn’t clear. His nose was stretched out as if reaching for the finish line at the Kentucky Derby. His breathing huffed above the pounding of his hooves and the breaking of branches and Niki hoped his strength and endurance would last until they were safely away from the armed men.
As the horse finally managed to put distance between them and the sound of the bikes, Niki took in a deep breath and slowly exhaled. The noise of the engines had all but faded when she dared her first glimpse up since entering the trees. The sight brought a gasp from her lips. The sheer drop off was the last thing she saw as Storm launched himself over the edge without hesitation.
To get your copy of Big Horn Storm directly from Amazon for your Kindle click here.
Sunday, September 4, 2016
Friday, September 2, 2016
The Panama Canal was opened on August 15, 1914. This year the Panama Canal has been expanded to accommodate today’s larger vessels. I had the privilege a few years back to cruise through the Panama Canal and see the expansion project in progress. The whole experience was very educational and simply mind-boggling in scope.