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,
"Christy Evans has a hit on her hands" - Harriet Klausner,
"Christy Evans is aces. I'll be very suprised if Sink Trap isn't an instant hit with cozy readers!" -

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!

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