If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our September Author Interviews--9/6 Kathleen Valenti, 9/13 David Burnsworth, 9/20 Jeri Westerson, 9/27 Frances Brody. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

September Saturday Guest Bloggers: 9/2--Anne Bannon, 9/9 WWK Bloggers, 9/16 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/23 Kait Carson, and on 9/30 Trixie Stiletto.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.” In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

My Vacation in California

Few of the Carquinez Straight a block from Mary's House.
Last week I flew into San Francisco International Airport to visit my California daughter for a week. Mary has a home in the suburbs of the historic small town of Benicia northeast of San Francisco. Benicia is a charming little town that was the original capital of California for several years.  After we unloaded my suitcase at her home, I got to meet her border collie, Kira, for the first time. All three of us went down to Benicia to have lunch at the First Street Café. Benicia is a very dog friendly town. When we finished eating, went on to my favorite place in the town, the Benicia Bookstore where I ordered a book for one of my book clubs.

Fishing at Benicia State Park.

 Later we went to Benicia State Park to walk. It’s a lovely park overlooking Carquinez Strait, which leads into the San Pablo Bay. Mary was surprised to see so many cars and people there. She asked someone what the occasion was, and was told it was because the salmon were running, and people were all there fishing off the shore down at the end of the park.












There were a lot of bales of straw to sit on. We took chairs.

On Saturday we went to an American Roots Music Festival in Bodega, California. Mary had bought the tickets online because she knows I like folk music. The festival was in an open field with only a few trees so with little shade, it was hot and uncomfortable. The first band played for an hour and a half. Neither Mary nor I liked them. It wasn’t folk music as I know it so we left as soon as the first band finished. When we got in Mary’s jeep, I started singing, “He was a mean man, a mean man, a mean mean man” like the female singer in the band had repeated over and over with the two guys chiming in occasionally. Mary laughed and joined me. I knew none of the featured bands, and the band most people wanted to see wouldn’t perform until seven-thirty that evening.

I'm sitting with Kira on an upstairs deck.







We went through small towns like Sedona and others and planned on going back someday and check them out. We stopped at the Jack London State Park, but they were closing soon because a Shakespeare Play was starting soon in an outdoor amphitheater, and it was sold out. From there we went back to Mary’s house and relaxed.








Mary and Kira under the redwoods.

On Sunday morning Mary, Kira and I went hiking in the Redwood Regional Park in the Oakland Hills. It’s a lovely park and so pleasant to walk in. There were a lot of people walking, some with dogs, or riding bicycles or jogging. We had packed a lunch to eat when we stopped to rest. I do so love being in a redwood forest. The trees are so amazing.








Sunday afternoon we went to the movies to see The Light Between Oceans. I’d read the book by M.L. Stedman several years ago and loved it. Although it had been awhile since I read it, as far as I could tell, they followed the book faithfully. I think Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander did an excellent job. Mary enjoyed the movie as much as I did – well, except for the loud commercials and upcoming movie trailers, we enjoyed it.







However, at the emotional ending, some guy popped into the theater with a large bag of popcorn and sat down in the almost empty theater in the same row as us and proceeded to rustle paper and smack away on his popcorn while looking at us. That was annoying.






On Monday, Mary and I took the ferry from Vallejo to San Francisco. It’s an hour ride and much more relaxing than driving in San Francisco traffic. I enjoyed the trip and the visit to the area near Fisherman’s Wharf. That is I did until I tripped against a raised sidewalk piece and fell flat on my face. Ouch! It was embarrassing. I split my lip slightly and hit my cheek. My daughter and several men helped me up. Mary led me a short distance away to sit on a chair outside a restaurant while she ran inside and got a bag of ice for me. Other than a swollen cheek and a split lip, I was okay. I teased her saying I’d tell people she’d been beating me up. She made me hold the ice against my cheek and lip for almost an hour until it totally melted.






We went to a restaurant we like and had lunch. From there we went to Ghiardelli’s and got ice cream, and Mary bought candy to take home. She gave me a large bar of Raspberry Radiance with dark chocolate that I’m saving for a time I’m desperate for chocolate.

On Tuesday we were going to camp in Yosemite, but the weather forecast the night before said it was going down to the low forties and it would snow, so instead we wandered around small towns between Berkley and Oakland and ate lunch in a little restaurant. Later we walked in Benicia State Park again.


Burnt trees. The live ones may have been sprayed with retardent.

Wednesday we headed for Yosemite. Mary had a cabin reserved for that night. It never did get that cold or snow so we were disappointed we hadn’t gone the day before. As we approached the park and when we got into it, we were so saddened to see all the burnt trees from the wildfires and where there hadn’t been wildfires, there were still lots of tall dead pine or fir trees with yellowed needles from the drought.





Just one of the pictures I took.







Even though it was a weekday and a little past summer vacation time, the valley was crowded with people. Still the tall mountains overlooking the valley where most of the activity goes on were spectacular and so awe inspiring. Even though I’d seen them twice before, they still took my breath away.






One of the earliest settlers who died in a carriage accident.


Before the Lee Stetson program, Mary and I wandered through a historical cemetery with stones for the earliest settlers to the Yosemite Valley. It was near the ranger cabins and behind the museum. I’ve always been fascinated by old cemeteries. Most of these were huge chunks of rocks from the mountains with engravings on them of who was buried there with birth and death dates. There were also some newer stones that replaced earlier stones that probably wore away. These were all the same size and a red color.


I so enjoyed visiting with him.

The highlight of our trip was the program featuring Lee Stetson as John Muir: This program was “Conversation with a Tramp.” I have seen Lee Stetson three times now. The first time was in Cuyahoga National Park near my home when he appeared as John Muir with another actor portraying Theodore Roosevelt. That was awesome. The next time was at Yosemite three years ago. We made sure to get there early so we could have front row seats. In this production, he portrayed John Muir complaining about the government planning on damming up the Tuolumne River and flooding the beautiful Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide water for San Francisco. He was portraying a much older John Muir.





When I got home, Mary sent me a link to an interview with Stetson. He came from Quincy, Massachusetts to Los Angeles and worked as an actor. When he’d found a biography of John Muir, he began exploring the Southern Sierra, moved by John Muir’s descriptive poetry. In April 1982, he visited Yosemite for the first time. He was so impressed, the very next day he got a job as a desk clerk with one of the concessionaires in the park. For the past thirty plus years, he has produced interpretive stage productions focusing on the themes of land use, environmental ethics, and the concept of engaging wilderness. He uses John Muir’s words extensively in his plays, including Muir’s Scottish accent. Four of his presentations are one person shows as the naturalist John Muir, and two are with a second person portraying Theodore Roosevelt. He has performed throughout the United States in schools, universities, parks, museums, conventions and around campfires in Yosemite. He has even traveled to Canada, Scotland and Japan. He was also the voice of John Muir in Ken Burn’s documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” I’m hoping that someday he’ll come back to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Have you ever visited Yosemite?
What is your favorite National Park you’ve visited?


8 comments:

Jim Jackson said...

I've visited Yosemite twice, both times in March. The first was about 40 years ago. They only road plowed was a short strip into a place where those with snowshoes or cross-country skies could see the big redwoods. the snow pack was more than six feet deep.

Three years ago we made a side trip to Yosemite after the Left Coast Crime in Monterey. It was in the midst of the drought, there was no snow and hadn't been for some time. We walked all the trails that forty years earlier had been buried under feet of snow.

Reading about the drought was one thing, but seeing the reservoirs with their thirty-foot bathtub rings and the differences in Yosemite brought it clearly into focus.

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, I've been going to California to visit my daughter for about ten years now, but it wasn't until the last few years that I noticed the effect of the drought out there since she moved north over the years. It's sad. However, when we went to Yosemite and passed the dried fields, we also passed beautiful orchards that are being watered. It was the the dead trees as we got closer to Yosemite that saddened us, trees that were so old and with water would have lived.

Margaret Turkevich said...

what a wonderful trip! We lived in the SF area years ago and haven't been back since then.

My fav national park: Cape Cod National Seashore

Shari Randall said...

What an amazing trip! Your photos are wonderful.
So hard to pick a favorite park, but if I did it would be Zion. Zion is partly in a canyon, and at night the tall black sides of the canyon reach up to the sky. When you look up it seems that a river of stars flows overhead.

KM Rockwood said...

Great pictures from a great trip, Gloria.

One of my daughters, who lives and goes to school in California, interned this summer in DC. Her university runs a program that provides housing, so she was in a houseful of Californians. Those who had never been east before were totally blown away by how green the area was---they are so used to a brown landscape.

I think I have to rate the Grand Canyon as my favorite. My older daughter and I took my mother there (it was on her bucket list, although she certainly didn't call it that.) We stayed in El Tovar, on the brink of the canyon.

It was her last trip before she died, and I'm so glad we had that time with her.

Kait said...

I am SO glad you posted the pictures! What a wonderful trip. This is a part of California I would like to see. Gorgeous. Thank you, Gloria!

Grace Topping said...

Gloria, I'm so glad that your fall didn't prevent you from enjoying your vacation. I've always wanted to visit Yosemite. You've inspired me to move it up on my list of places to visit.

Gloria Alden said...

Margaret, I've never been to the Cape Cod National Seashore although I've been in all the New England states. I especially love Acadia National Park along the Maine coast.

KM, I'm glad you had the time to spend with your mother at Grand Canyon. I've visited it twice and it's a totally awesome experience, although I got upset when some guy had his young kids pose for a picture close to the edge.

Kait, almost all of this part of California is something to see from the redwood forests, to the wine country to the light houses along the ocean. I hope you get to visit it someday.

Grace, you and me and my daughter, too. It would have ruined both of our vacation if I had broken a bone. I hope you do get to see Yosemite, and when you do, make sure you go to the Sequoia Grove of incredibly old trees. You have to take a shuttle bus to visit it because they don't want too many cars going in to the park.