Critical praise for Christy!

For "Murder Hooks a Mermaid:"
"Author Christy Fifield creates the kind of characters that stay with you for a long time. Fifield’s new Haunted Souvenir Shop mystery, Murder Hooks a Mermaid has it all: a sunny, relaxed setting, captivating locals, delicious food, and—of course—murder! Delightful amateur sleuth Glory Martine is back with her wisecracking parrot and charming group of friends in this thoroughly entertaining adventure. Don’t miss it."—Julie Hyzy, National Bestselling author of the Manor House Mysteries and the White House Chef Mystery series
"A whodunit with a dose of the supernatural, "Murder Hooks a Mermaid" is a worthy successor to the series opener and showcases Fifield's talents for plotting, characterization and humor." - Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Quirky and unique, a heroine for whom you can't help but root. The story sucks you in." - The Maine Suspect
"With a lovable cast of characters, good conversations and a great setting, this well-written book is a terrific read." -- Dru's Book Musings

For "Murder Buys a T-Shirt:"
A refreshing new sleuth! - Lynne Maxwell, Mystery Scene Magazine
"A fun book that will make the dreariest of days a little brighter! Socrates' great Book Alert" - Socrates' Cozy Cafe
"An entertaining and clever Florida whodunit" - Harriet Klausner
"Hilarious! A great murder mystery with well-written characters" - Paranormal & Romantic Suspense Reviews
For the Georgiana Neverall Series:
"Christy Evans will find legions of fans with this new series" - Sheldon McArthur, Lincoln City News Guard
"Funny and entertaining -- a solid mystery filled with likable characters." - RT Book Reviews"
Cute cozy mystery debute -- wry humor -- adorable dogs" -Publisher's Weekly
"Will have you giggling out loud! Four Stars." - Kathy Fisher, The Romance Readers Connection"The Book is good! Keep them coming, Ms. Evans!" - Mystery Scene
"Evans delivers a fast-paced mystery with admirable finesse!" - Sharon Galligar Chance, FreshFiction.com
"Christy Evans has a hit on her hands" - Harriet Klausner, Bookreview.com
"Christy Evans is aces. I'll be very suprised if Sink Trap isn't an instant hit with cozy readers!" - CozyLibrary.com

Friday, August 8, 2014

Ghostly Florida, with Prizes!

SunshineStateStories1 This week, Books Make Me Happy blog and a handful of UF/PNR authors are celebrating stories set in sunny Florida. The authors showcased have offered excerpts, written cool blog posts, and are all participating in a blog hop GRAND PRIZE giveaway full of books and other goodies. Be sure to click on the header above to see the complete list of participating sites. Check out each day's excerpt and the Featured Author's site for fun posts and chances to win!! Today is MY turn to be featured!! You can find my excerpt on Books Make Me Happy HERE. Be sure to check at the bottom of today's post for the rafflecopter entry form for the Grand Prize!

The invitation to participate in this awesome collection of Florida stories got me to thinking about when and how I came to know and love the Sunshine State. I have never lived there, but my visits left a lasting impression, and a yearning to return and explore more of the beauty that is Florida.

 Everyone has their own vision of Florida. For some it is the urban excitement and glamour of Miami, the isolation and island vibe of Key West, or the family adventure of Orlando.

For others the Space Coast inspires awe and admiration for the men and women who took us to the moon and beyond. 

The Gulf Coast boasts some the world's most beautiful beaches, with sand so white it looks like snow. 

 And no matter where you go, you can sense those who came before. When we visited Launch Complex 34, the site of the Apollo I fire, we could almost feel the presence of the pioneers who gave their lives.





In the Panhandle - my favorite place - there are piney woods and small towns that feel like they fell out of a time warp. Viewing an abandoned hot springs you can picture the resorts that stood there in the last days of the Victorian era, when Northern ladies and gentlemen rode the train down from New England to "take the waters." Chatauqua theaters still stand in many small towns, including this beautiful example in DeFuniak Springs.

 If you asked me whether I believe in ghosts, I would have to answer that I don't not believe. But even my skeptical and practical brain has to admit that there are some things you just can't account for, and perhaps a ghost is the best possible explanation. And if I admit to the possibility of ghosts, then Florida seems like a very good place for them.

 I can't give you a definitive reason, I just know that the atmosphere seems right - the small towns, the sense of history, the battlefields, the family cemeteries, and the reminders of a time before our modern world of high-speed everything. Miami might be up-to-the-minute, and Orlando may have the most family-friendly experience-of-a-lifetime attractions. Tampa can boast of its sports franchises, and St. Augustine has the longest history of any city in Florida. But for me the Panhandle is the proper mix of old and new, of small towns and larger cities, natives and newcomers. And all of it overlaid with a rich history.

This the place that inspired my Haunted Gift Shop book series.  It's a place I love to visit - in person or just via words and pictures - and my favorite part of Florida.

What's yours?

CLICK HERE to enter for a chance to win the awesome Grand Prize of Florida goodies!  And leave a comment below for the chance to win a signed copy of MURDER BUYS A T-SHIRT (the firsts book in the series) as well as an awesome Florida surprise!

And if you're interested in a conversation about Florida in history and in fiction, please listen to our podcast "Hang 10" on Soundcloud, or the enhanced slideshow version (with bonus Florida pictures) on YouTube.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

SunshineStateStories1 This week, Books Make Me Happy blog and a handful of UF/PNR authors are celebrating stories set in sunny Florida. The authors showcased have offered excerpts, written cool blog posts, and are all participating in a blog hop GRAND PRIZE giveaway full of books and other goodies. Be sure to click on the header above to see the complete list of participating sites. Check out each day's excerpt and the Featured Author's site for fun posts and chances to win!! And come back on Friday for a new post here at Christy Mystery!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Release, and a New Year

In another week MURDER SENDS A POSTCARD, the third book in the Haunted Souvenir Shop series, will hit the shelves.  I hope you will all enjoy the latest adventures of Glory and her pals.  I truly appreciate all my readers who have waited patiently while I dealt with all the life issues that knocked me down - but not out!

Later today I will head in to the office to deal with some payroll duties that need to be taken care of, but right now I am enjoying a quiet New Year's Day, watching the end of the Rose Parade.  It's been a great morning, thanks to a local Los Angeles television station.  Let me explain...

With the New Year comes a life-long tradition: The Rose Parade.  In recent years I have become more and more disillusioned and disgusted with the various networks' coverage.  Dozens of bands that we never heard because they talked over them, floats barely glimpsed because the camera was on some "guest" in the broadcast booth (who just happened to be the third lead of one of the network's series), equestrian groups that didn't even get identified, either by the commentators or with a title card.  I missed the PARADE.

Today was different.  I found the KTLA.com website with a live feed of their coverage.  Which was EXCELLENT!!  They shut up and let us hear the bands.  There were no guests, or lingering shots of the commentators, no pre-taped segments to interrupt the actual parade; camera lingered on the floats and the horses.

I was especially grateful because this year I had a personal connection to one of the floats and cared deeply about another.  The personal connection was to Donate Life-one of the pictures was of my son's friend Erich Vogel, a wonderful young man who left a young widow and a toddler son, but saved many lives by his generous organ donation.  The other float was from the Wingtip to Wingtip Association, celebrating the Women Air Force Service Pilots of WWII.

AND I got to hear one of my heroes open the Parade, Grand Marshal Vin Scully-one of the greatest broadcasters who ever lived.  (I was also able to watch the feed on my tablet, which solved the whole issue of "I don't want to get out of bed.")

I grew up in the LA-area.  I've seen the parade in person several times, including the year I could walk from my rental house just five blocks from the parade route down Colorado Boulevard, the year I slept on the sidewalk with college friends, and the year I was in the stands at the Marine Armory at the end of the parade.  President Eisenhower (that year's Grand Marshal) walked within a few feet of where we were sitting, and I remember how much that meant to my mom..  I worked on parade floats as part of a youth-group fundraiser while I was in high school and college.  Before that, as a kid I watched the parade with mom and the other kids.  This parade has been part of my life since, well, forever.

Thank you, KTLA, fir giving me back my parade, and restoring my tradition!

Tell me, friends, what tradition have you lost and found again?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Day Six: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Introduction:  I recently passed a milestone birthday, one of those numbers that as a child seems so impossibly large that you never expect to get there.  It came at the end of two years of personal disaster (see this post for an explanation, if you haven't already read it), and at a time when I desperately needed something good in my life.  I tossed around a lot of ideas of how to celebrate surviving the last year (lots of hospital time was involved) and making it to my birthday.  Finally, my husband and I decided to go see the Redwoods.  We had driven through several times, but always on the way to somewhere else.  This time, we would just head south and see what we could see.  We did some searching, settled on a few (very few!) priorities, and started making plans.  Somewhere along the way, we discovered a cool resort south and east of the big trees, where every "room" was a converted caboose, and decided that would be fun and unusual, exactly what we were looking for.  

These posts are my daily reports of our trip: the things we saw, the places we went, and the people we met as we drove approximately 1,500 miles in the course of six days, and had an adventure.  I tried to write down my impressions each night before bed, or over my first cup of coffee in the morning.  I wanted the memories to be fresh, undiluted by another day or days of travel and experiences.  I can only hope you enjoy reading them a fraction as much as I enjoyed living them.  (If you haven't read the first part of this series, the posts are here: Day One, Day Two: Part One, Day Two: Part Two, Day Three, Day Four, and Day Five.)

This morning we had to say goodbye to Featherbed Railroad.  It was HARD!

We dragged out of bed, procrastinating for a last few minutes, then finished packing and loading the van before we pulled around to the lobby building to top the cooler with ice, pick up our receipt, and have breakfast.  Tony outdid himself for our last day: chicken/fontina sausage, spinach and ricotta crepes, coffee and juice, finished with whipped cream-topped Nutella crepes for dessert.  I had to make them take my plate before I started scraping up the crumbs because I was already stuffed!  Tony and Peggy have been wonderful hosts, and we lingered over coffee, talking and laughing, far longer than we planned.

Saying good-bye.  Never an easy thing!



Sunny and beautiful  made it VERY hard to leave!

Eventually, though, we had to leave for the long drive home.  We started around the lake on Highway 20, taking a quick detour - just a couple blocks - to ogle an historic hotel in Lucerne.  We drove up and got a good look at the Lucerne Hotel.  Construction started on the hotel in 1927, but the 1929 stock market crash doomed the venture, and the property was foreclosed and sold.  It is now owned by Lake County, and is leased to Marymount College for use as a local campus, according to the information in the Hotel Lucerne News.


A beautiful building with a checkered past.
Hard to get a picture that gives you a good
idea of the size.  This place is massive!




















For a different view of the hotel, take a look at this video, shot by a couple local teens while the hotel was closed.  I am guessing they were trespassing (not a great move to film that, guys), which contributes to the "Blair Witch" feel of the video.  And for a peek inside, this video from the Lake County Model A Ford club has some cool footage (Another thing for the "to do" list when we come back) And this one from the Marymount College lease signing ceremony is mostly speeches, but you do get the view of one room at the end.

(I got sucked into many videos of Lake County on YouTube.  You Have Been Warned!)

From there we headed back to the highway and east for I-5 and home.  We hit the freeway at Williams, an easy 40 miles east of Clear Lake.  No route 175-like surprises on this leg of the trip!

Turning north on 5, we had several hundred miles ahead of us.  We spent the day trading off driving, the passenger sometimes reading aloud from a book we'd found at a shop in Petaluma.  America Eats, on the Road With the WPA is a collection of works created by the Federal Writers Project in the early- to mid-1930s, compiled, annotated and expanded upon a few years ago by Pat Willard.  It's an interesting read, and just the kind of thing Steve and I often share on road trips.  A few years back we read a book about a miniature spy sub program, finishing the last few chapters by the light from a hand-held flashlight.

Somewhere along the road I realized I was relaxed and happy, grinning like a fool without a care in the world.  By some strange magic, our trip has worked exactly the way we wanted.  We unwound from the stress and intensity of the last 22 months, pushed aside all the care and worry and demands of our daily life.  I felt good, for the first time in a long, long time.  It was a nice feeling.

Temptation by the
side of the road.
About 55 miles north of Williams we made a stop at Olive Pit in Corning.  This is one of my all-time favorite roadside stops; a shop bursting with the local olives is an array of flavors, combinations and preparations.  Steve tasted - and then had to have - anchovy-stuffed queen olives.  I bought olive oils as gifts for friends back home, as well as some olives for me and pickled okra for another friend.  Yeah, it was an expensive stop!!





The original In-n-Out Burger.  Yes,
I have been there.  Many times!
Back on the road, we headed for Redding, another fifty miles up the highway, and our traditional lunch stop at In-n-Out.

I was born the same year as In-n-Out, grew up only a few miles from original location, and lived within walking distance of that same store for several years after I got married. The burger chain and their excellent food were a big part of my childhood, my teen years, and my early adulthood.

Once, many years after I left Southern California - and long before they had expanded outside the LA basin - my son asked if there was anything he could bring when he came to visit.  I jokingly said, "A double-double."  It arrived in his carry-on luggage, wrapped in protective layers of foil and insulating newspapers, a little worse for the wear.  Tasted heavenly!

Like this -
only more crowded!
We pulled into the Redding location about 2 pm, and found the parking lot, and the store, jammed.  At 2 pm on a Friday afternoon!  Service was still speedy, and the food as good as I remembered.  Sometimes you just have to keep with tradition.



And just like in Southern California, where everybody goes to In-n-Out, we spotted a celebrity: Amy Roloff from Little People Big World fame.  A woman at the table next to us saw her and said something to her companions; when they didn't immediately understand she turned to me and asked "That is her, isn't it?"  I nodded and she turned back to her friends, satisfied that she had, indeed, had a celebrity sighting.

We stopped for gas in Medford at about 5; finally someone else pumped our gas!  Oregon is unusual in that by law you cannot pump your own gas.  It's a great deal for us, but it does make for some awkward moments on road trips when we forget that we have to do-it-yourself in other parts of the country.

The entire trip had gone smoothly up to this point, and although we did run into a little rush-hour traffic in Medford, we never really encountered any awful traffic.  Occasionally there was someone in too much of a hurry, and there was one guy with a bicycle tied to the top of the pile of luggage that was strapped atop his car - the bike didn't look any too stable, and we were nervous the whole time he was in front of us.  Wish we had a picture of that - you'd understand instantly!  Steve just didn't like the idea of a bicycle coming through the windshield.  Or the radiator.  Frankly, neither did I.

Close to home!
Finally, about a quarter of nine, we pulled into Eugene.  We lived there for many years, and still have some very good friends in the city.  We met one of our favorite couples for dinner (us) and dessert (them).  We sat in a coffee shop and caught up in a way we hadn't been able to do for nearly a year.  It was wonderful to see them, and we could have easily spent several more hours talking and getting the latest news, but we still had a long drive home.

About 60 miles up I-5, we took the turnoff in Salem, and were finally on the last stretch to home.  The 50+-mile drive over the coastal mountains is very, very familiar; we have made it every few weeks (at least) for nearly 15 years - and last year, while my mother was ill, I was making the round-trip every weekend.

Kinda like this.
Only dark!
But somehow, no matter how familiar the road, no matter how far you have already driven, the last 20 miles feels like a thousand.  We pulled up in front of our house about 1 a.m. - tired, happy, relieved that we would be able to sleep in our own bed.  We gathered the necessities (medications, electronic goodies, etc) that we didn't want to leave in the car, or that we needed immediately, and left the rest of the unloading for morning.  There wasn't anything in the suitcases we couldn't live without for the next few hours.

We petted the kitties, and listened to their complaints about our absence, made a quick check of email for any immediate crisis (none), and tumbled into bed.  Sleeping late was on the agenda, since there wouldn't be one of those amazing breakfasts to make it worth getting up!

This has been one of the greatest vacations I have ever had, thanks in large part to Tony and Peggy at Featherbed Railroad, and especially thanks to my companion of 30 years, my husband Steve.  It was a great trip, a wonderful birthday present, and I made memories that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

My thanks also to each of you who has taken the time to read my reports, look at our pictures, and enjoy our vacation along with us.  And if you stop at Featherbed Railroad, be sure and tell Tony we sent you.

Now go out there and make some memories of your own!!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day Five: Petaluma, Dinner, and the Company of a Fabulous Writer

Introduction:  I recently passed a milestone birthday, one of those numbers that as a child seems so impossibly large that you never expect to get there.  It came at the end of two years of personal disaster (see this post for an explanation, if you haven't already read it), and at a time when I desperately needed something good in my life.  I tossed around a lot of ideas of how to celebrate surviving the last year (lots of hospital time was involved) and making it to my birthday.  Finally, my husband and I decided to go see the Redwoods.  We had driven through several times, but always on the way to somewhere else.  This time, we would just head south and see what we could see.  We did some searching, settled on a few (very few!) priorities, and started making plans.  Somewhere along the way, we discovered a cool resort south and east of the big trees, where every "room" was a converted caboose, and decided that would be fun and unusual, exactly what we were looking for.  

These posts are my daily reports of our trip: the things we saw, the places we went, and the people we met as we drove approximately 1,500 miles in the course of six days, and had an adventure.  I tried to write down my impressions each night before bed, or over my first cup of coffee in the morning.  I wanted the memories to be fresh, undiluted by another day or days of travel and experiences.  I can only hope you enjoy reading them a fraction as much as I enjoyed living them.  (For anyone who hasn't seen the previous posts, here are links to Day One, Day Two/Part One, Day Two/Part Two, Day Three, and Day Four.)


One of the squirrels who entertained us with their antics.

Slow start today.  Since we decided to stay another night, we're just hanging around and kind of refilling our batteries, though we will head out soon for a leisurely trip to Petaluma (about 100 miles) for an early dinner with Steve Hockensmith, the author of the spectacular Holmes on the Range mystery series, as well as much other Good Stuff.  Actually we have to leave soon, or we are going to dissolve into a puddle of relaxation and become completely inert, which would not bode well for dinner!

Weather like this made it a perfect getaway!


Breakfast this morning was an excellent baked egg dish, preceded by a cup of fresh fruit - cantaloupe, honeydew, and blueberries - and followed by fresh strawberry sorbet.  The egg dish was a mixture of eggs, cheese, ham, and potatoes, baked in an individual souffle dish, light and fluffy in the middle, seasoned to perfection, with a golden crust on the outside.  Very delicious.  And fortunately for me, Steve doesn't care for strawberries, so I got double dessert.  Heaven!  The food here at Featherbed Railroad is worth the trip all by itself.  (I think I'm starting to sound like a shill, but this place has been amazing!  I can heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a place to relax and recharge.)

Our caboose.
 With sunshine like this every day it was hard to leave!
The one thing I haven't mentioned yet is the weather, which has been pretty-near perfect.  Clear and sunny, but not too hot, with a light breeze.  The evenings have been cool, but just right for sleeping with an open window and no heat or AC.  We couldn't have asked for better.  Perfect for sitting and reading, or taking a drive, or really just about anything.  I realized this morning that we have not turned on a TV since we left home Sunday morning.  I haven't missed it, either, though I know there will be a pile of stuff on the DVR when we get home, and I will want to catch up.  But for now I am relishing the peace and quiet.


Beautiful and peaceful.  How could you not relax in this place?


Later:

From the Cucina Paradiso Website.
It really is this lovely, and the food is amazing!
Made the round-trip drive to Petaluma, and had an amazing dinner with the fabulous Mr. Hockensmith, who is just as great in person as he is online.  We ended up at Cucina Paradiso, a wonderful Italian place with a slightly-upmarket but very relaxed and friendly vibe, and truly incredible food.  We arrived just as they opened for dinner, and were the first people in the place.  We figured it was a good sign when the waiters were talking to each other in Italian as they set up.  Also a good sign?  The groups of people that kept coming through the door.

We started with a Caprese appetizer that was superb, and excellent baguettes with a seasoned olive oil for dipping, then the Steves (York and Hockensmith) had Caesar salads.  I skipped salad, knowing I would never be able to finish.  For dinner I ordered Capellini Al Pomodoro E Basilico - one of my favorite things. Steve Y had Spaghetti Cozze E Vongole, which he declared excellent; the mussels were huge and tender, and the clams very tasty.  The other Steve had Pollo Rotolato Arrosto, which he also said was excellent. (Yes, if we were really foodies we would have taken pictures.  I was too busy enjoying the food, just like the breakfasts and the meal at Blue Wing Saloon.  I'll go back soon and take pictures, okay?)

Six short stories.  A great
introduction to the
Holmes on the Range series!
We lingered for a while, talking about writing and publishing and how to maintain a career in the current climate; all the things writers talk about when they get together.  It's a conversation we have often with other writers, as the publishing industry goes through some serious transformations and we each try to figure out our place in it.  For those of you who aren't familiar with Steve Hockensmith, take a look at this marvelous collection of short stories.  You won't be disappointed!

We passed on dessert, opting to wander a bit and look for a coffee and dessert stop after letting dinner settle a little bit.  We walked a couple blocks, then backtracked and eventually ended up at Lala's, just a couple doors over from the restaurant.  An old-fashioned ice cream parlor decor, stools at a granite-topped bar, and excellent coffee ice cream, as well as many other flavors and concoctions.  But after our dinner (I had to leave about half the capellini because I was full), a single scoop of coffee was as much as I could handle.  There was more conversation, and we probably could have talked late into the night, but Steve H had promised to be home for bedtime.

Then it was back on the road for us, and about 90 minutes later we stopped a couple miles from our B&B to fill the gas tank, wash the windows, and replenish the ice in the cooler - all in preparation for tomorrow's sprint for home.  The plan is to have one last Featherbed Railroad breakfast, and then dash over to I-5 and head north.  With luck we will be able to hit In-n-Out in Redding for lunch, then Eugene for dinner with friends, and a final push over the mountain and home.  We figure if we get too tired we can always find a motel, but after four nights of a genuine featherbed, we aren't likely to be comfortable anywhere but our own bed.

Midnight now.  Time for a quick bath, and then I need to tumble into bed.  Morning will come way too soon!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day Four: Highway 175, and a Bottle of Wine; and Why the Former Made the Latter Necessary

Wine Country, our temporary home
Introduction:  I recently passed a milestone birthday, one of those numbers that as a child seems so impossibly large that you never expect to get there.  It came at the end of two years of personal disaster (see this post for an explanation, if you haven't already read it), and at a time when I desperately needed something good in my life.  I tossed around a lot of ideas of how to celebrate surviving the last year (lots of hospital time was involved) and making it to my birthday.  Finally, my husband and I decided to go see the Redwoods.  We had driven through several times, but always on the way to somewhere else.  This time, we would just head south and see what we could see.  We did some searching, settled on a few (very few!) priorities, and started making plans.  Somewhere along the way, we discovered a cool resort south and east of the big trees, where every "room" was a converted caboose, and decided that would be fun and unusual, exactly what we were looking for.  

These posts are my daily reports of our trip: the things we saw, the places we went, and the people we met as we drove approximately 1,500 miles in the course of six days, and had an adventure.  I tried to write down my impressions each night before bed, or over my first cup of coffee in the morning.  I wanted the memories to be fresh, undiluted by another day or days of travel and experiences.  I can only hope you enjoy reading them a fraction as much as I enjoyed living them.  (If you haven't read the earlier parts of our adventure here are links for Day OneDay Two, Part OneDay Two, Part Two and Day Three.)


Clear blue skies were the norm during our visit!
Today started like the others, with waking up long before breakfast.  I spent the time luxuriating in the feeling that I didn’t have to get up yet, and sleeping a little longer.  The light is spectacular in the early morning here; Lake County lays claim to the cleanest air in California, according to the California State Air Resource Board, and it makes the morning light really beautiful.
This morning’s breakfast was French Toast with a Bananas Foster-style topping – sliced bananas sautéed in a cinnamon-spiced syrup.  Not nearly as sweet as it sounds, they have a gentle touch with the sugar.  Served with incredible bacon, coffee and juice.

We lingered for a while, relishing the view of the small garden outside the dining room windows and savoring one last cup of coffee.  The garden contains several bird feeders, and the activity outside the window kept us entertained.
So close you could almost touch him!

Finally, though, we made our way back to our caboose.  I tidied up a bit; the dirty clothes bag was full and we stashed it in the car.  One chore complete.  Then we walked across the street to the B&B’s pier.  Using the lock code Tony had provided, we opened the gate and wandered down to the dock.

Sitting in the reeds at the edge of the lake.
  From our vantage point over the water, we could watch a wide variety of birds and water fowl, as well as water skiers, including one very noisy yellow bird that allowed Steve to get within a few feet and take pictures before he flew away.  At first he just sat in the reeds that crowded the shore, then he flew over and sat on the gate we had just come through, all the while making amazing amounts of noise for such a small bird.  Clearly we had done something terrible!




On the gate, daring us to come any closer!

This looked like a good way to see the lake.  Maybe next time we'll have to try it!
Small, colorful birds were everywhere.

More birds, ready for their close-ups.
If we only had a boat ...


Looking back at Featherbed Railroad from the dock.  Yes, it is that close!
 We came back across the street, Steve sat in the cupola and called his brother to gloat just a little.  We hung around a little and then decided to go exploring.

Does it look like he's gloating?  Because he totally is.
The view from the cupola, looking across the street to the lake.
This could be WHY he's gloating!


OK.  Maybe I  did a little gloating, too.




The greeter in front of
the Lunchbox Museum
First up was the Lunch Box Museum in Nice.  It was only a couple miles, and we found it easily.  Steve had a great time, and was a very receptive audience for the woman that runs the place; her collection, and the rest of her merchandise, were exactly the kind of thing he loves.


 The tiny shop is packed with memorabilia, but the biggest thing is her lunch boxes.  They fill cases and shelves, and there are overhead shelves on every wall packed with some of the most obscure specimens you can imagine.
TV Westerns of the 50s.

All the shelves were full, with merchandise lovingly arranged.  Generally they were grouped by subject matter, like SF, westerns, Barbie, etc.

Space movies!
She even had a G.I. Joe that Steve drooled over, but the price tag was above our impulse threshold, even when we are on vacation.
GI Joe lunchbox.  Beautiful condition.

I can still hear Steve sighing.


Of course the thermos is extra.
Did you even have to ask??































This one's for my sister Jan, who had a real
Annie Oakley outfit when we were kids.
Does that give away how OLD we are?

Yeah, I remember Roy and Dale, too.  I'm a Boomer through and through.


Leaving the museum we continued east to the town of Upper Lake.  The “Lake” designation figures prominently in the place names around here.  Upper Lake, Lower Lake, Clearlake, Clearlake Oaks, Lakeport, as well as places like Lucerne, Middletown, Cobb, and several others that I’m forgetting at the moment.

Anyway, by the time we got to Clearlake it was already past lunchtime, and we decided something special was in order.  Fortunately for us, we found the Blue Wing Saloon and Café.  The saloon and café is part of Tallman Hotel, and both have been lovingly restored to a turn-of-the-century elegance.  The menu, though small, has a nice variety, and prices are reasonable.  Steve got a burger on a ciabatta roll, I had a chicken wrap with grilled onion and peppers (num!), we shared an apple pie with salted caramel gelato for dessert, and we still got out for well under $50, including a generous tip.  Considering out fast food stops so far, it was a small price to pay for an excellent meal in a great atmosphere.

The Blue Wing Cafe.  To the left is the Tallman Hotel.

This used to be a livery stable, I think.  Definitely a cool building!

That FOR SALE sign?  Major temptation!  The gas pumps alone almost sold me.

After a stroll around town we headed for Middletown, one of the places we had missed on our previous day’s adventure.  Did I say adventure?  As the man says, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

We went south on Highway 29, which passed Lakeport and Kelseyville, towns we’d already visited.  The highway continues east to Lower Lake where it turns south to Middletown.  We looked at the map and instead turned off onto Highway 175, which headed more-or-less directly south toward Middletown.


Within a mile or two, we began to suspect we had made a serious error in judgment.  Highway 175 was two extremely narrow lanes, and the trees growing frighteningly close to the road reminded us of Wonder Stump Road, and not in a good way.  But unlike Wonder Stump Road there was traffic on this road.

Also, serious curves.  The kind that are posted as 25 miles per hour.  Or 20.  Or 15.  Seriously, there were fifteen miles per hour curves on this road.  With oncoming traffic.




Like the large truck – some kind of dump truck, maybe – that appeared around a corner and over the center line just as we approached a tree that looked to me about a millimeter outside our lane.  Like that.

And did I mention the hills?  Up and down, up and down.  At one point there was a downhill stretch with an 11% grade.  I know, because it was posted.  Lots of places with signs that warned trucks to use “lower gear.”  We didn't get any pictures.  Probably because we were both hanging on for dear life.

We made it through the stretch of highway, though we did find a turnout and switch drivers part way.  I simply couldn’t make Steve drive the whole thing.  Looking back, we probably should have turned around as soon as we got that “Oops!” feeling, but it was all part of the adventure.  Right?

After Highway 175 we earned this!
Middletown was a cute little place, once we got there.  We ogled a few places, and then headed back.  On Highway 29.  We talked about what to do for dinner, and came to the conclusion that we had to have some local wine at least one night while we were here.  Since we have a long-standing policy that if one of us drinks the other  is designated driver (and yes, we are both lightweights enough that that includes even a single glass of wine), that meant taking a bottle home with us.

We stopped at a local grocery store and picked up some cheese to go with the crackers we already had, a bottle of local Reisling (it was too late in the day for an actual winery), some grapes and a half of a tiny watermelon.  We stopped at Foster’s Freeze in Lucerne (a California tradition since 1946, IIRC) and got ice cream for dessert.  It wouldn’t keep, so we had to eat it there.    We both remember Foster’s from our childhoods, so nostalgia dictated at least one visit before we left.

The ospreys nested in the top of these trees.
Back home, we pulled the folding camp chairs out of the van (“It’s a van, we have room” was our packing
motto) and set them up on the grass outside our caboose.  We each had a book and a Kindle, and we settled down to enjoy our evening.  We watched as the crows harassed a pair of larger birds, ospreys we think, who seemed to have a nest high overhead.  We read until we needed book lights to continue, and we eventually opened the wine, spread out the cheese and crackers, and had a lovely picnic-style supper out on the lawn.



Yeah, not a bad spot for a picnic dinner.
As we were sitting there, we talked a little about our plans for tomorrow.  We’re driving down to Petaluma to meet an online friend for dinner, and from there we planned to come back north and east to I-5 and spend the night somewhere near Williams.  But we weren’t tied to a reservation, and after a little discussion we thought we would really rather spend one more night in our caboose.  Williams is less than 50 miles from here, so the drive wouldn’t be appreciably shorter tomorrow, and we are really enjoying our stay at Featherbed Railroad.

We couldn't bear to leave!
A quick trip to the office, where I found Peggy even though it was after hours  (She was watching Dr. Who, which made Steve remark “I knew she was one of our people.”) confirmed that the caboose was available for tomorrow, so we were all set.

We cleaned up our picnic, took the last of the wine inside, and I soaked while Steve sat in the cupola and caught up on his Facebook and email before taking his turn in the tub.



Time for me to turn into a pumpkin now, and get some sleep.  A final day of adventure, dinner with a fantastic writer, and a final night of sleeping in a caboose await us tomorrow.   I can hardly wait!