Archive for the ‘Mystery Mondays’ Category
I think that Northern Arizona has some of the coolest place names ever! Mint Creek. Feather Mountain. Hootenanny Holler. Mary’s Mesa.
But, after the crazy-busy tax season it’s been, I needed a break! I think Ben, Pete-The-Dog and I all desperately needed to get out into nature, enjoy the signs of upcoming spring, and get some air that hadn’t been locked up in an office!
It was a quick jaunt north on Feather Mountain Road and then up a MONSTER mesa. At the top, along the ridge, were the ruins.
After examining them, I’m really not sure that they were Indian ruins. Rumor has it that the Spaniards, had horses and a fort in this area. For some reason, the walls just didn’t feel old enough for Native American.
Regardless, Ben, Pete The Dog, and I had a great little hike and a much needed break!
I always forget how much I love day-long adventures until I have one. So far in 2013, I’ve had TWO: fishing on New Years Day and hiking this past Saturday. Saturday was one of those “adventures” that is only loosely planned.
Ben had noticed a seep marked on the wicked-cool Arizona Recreation Atlas I had given him for Christmas. It’s not that far from his house so we decided to hike up to it and have a poke around. We also grabbed the metal detectors to see if we could find anything fun.
There are some enormous mesas just north of Chino Valley. Since OCTOBER we’d been trying to successfully get to the top of one. Trust me, none of the photos do the size and steepness justice!
I knew that the day was going to be fantastic when it started out by coming around a bend in the road and finding an entire herd of antelope!
From there, we parked and began climbing the hill. I was testing out a couple of new products: Merino wool base layer (thermal underwear), an amazing new hiking stick, and a new mini-backpack from REI. I’ll get the reviews up in the coming weeks.
I don’t have a lot of pictures of the day simply because MOST of our adventure was spent hiking to the top of the mesa. And while my camera takes AMAZING photos, it’s not pocket sized!
The seep was really neat. I’ve never seen cattails growing basically out of the side of a mountain. There was about 8 inches of water in the bottom of the tunnel so there was no exploring; the high was maybe about fifty degrees!
We then scaled the entire mesa to the very top. Along the way, I saw a 6-foot long snake skin, prickly pear cacti with pads at least twelve inches across, a galvanized steel pipe sticking straight up out of a rock outcropping, climbed some nasty cliffs, found pottery shards from the 1970′s, and enjoyed the most amazing views of the valley spread out below us.
I’d love to go back and do some more exploring; maybe with a pocket-friendly camera! But, based on the size of that snake skin, I’ll ONLY be doing it during the cold months!
Oh, and the metal detecting? I found a 30-30 rifle cartridge, a bit of wire, and an old Coke can. Hauled it all off the mountain too!
Northern Arizona got our first snow storm of the season. And that means that it’s time once again to promote my annual Flagstaff Snow Guide. In the past, I’ve offered this as an eGuide on EatStayPlay.com. The only problem with that, is that as much traffic as the website gets, I know that it’s only a fraction of the people who may be heading to Flagstaff to play in the snow.
So, (drum roll please)
I’ve decided to offer this year’s snow guide as an Amazon eBook! You can read it on the Kindle or any variety of free reading applications for PC, Mac or even your smart phone!
The 2012-2013 Flagstaff Snow Guide is available for $2.99!
I’ve been writing and self-publishing books for a while now. I publish eBooks for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. I’ve also been publishing the campfire stories, the “Scary & Silly” series, with a Print-On-Demand publisher.
(Print-on-demand means that when a book is ordered, ONE book is printed at the publishers and is sent directly to the purchaser. No cases of books in my garage!)
Anyway, through the course of this journey, I’ve been approached by a ton of people who want to learn just what it is that I do and how I do it. Most are frustrated or intimidated by the technical aspects of self-publishing or just don’t know where to begin.
And the savvy business owner that I am, I recognized a need that I could help fill. I’ve been teaching classes about how to self-publish for Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. To keep the aspects of my life separate (for newsletters and IRS issues) I’ve started a new company:
On The Beach Publishing, LLC
You can find my new website at OnTheBeachPublishing.com
To jump-start anyone into the self-publishing world, I’m offering a free webinar on 12/18/12 that covers everything you need to know about writing the title of your book. The title is THE most important piece. It’s the first thing people see and how they make their initial buying decision.
You can learn more about the free webinar, and register at OnTheBeachPublishing.com/KillerTitles
The goal of On The Beach Publishing is to teach authors of all types how to easily self-publish and keep more money in their pockets. I’ve spent countless hours, made a ton of mistakes, and spent over $4,000 to learn what I know. And now I want to teach others how to do this too!
I don’t talk about it much on TheOutdoorPrincess.com, but I actually have a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. I spent years NOT writing since I just didn’t want to deal with traditional publishing. I finally realized that I wasn’t happy if I wasn’t writing something — hence my multitudes of blogs, newsletters, and eBooks!
I am still planning on writing here and the other outdoor recreation blogs. And, of course, keep publishing eBooks about outdoor recreation. (Working on the Flagstaff Snow Guide 2012-2013 eBook right now!)
And the best part: check out how EatStayPlay.com lives on in the logos:
Do you ever have one of those perfect weekends? The one where you spend more time outside than in, have great adventures, see amazing scenery, are close to wildlife, and have great company doing it?
Well I just had one of those weekends!
I decided that it was finally time to do a real backpacking trip. I’ve been accumulating backpacking gear for a while but hadn’t ever done a trip. I’m not experienced and I was waiting to meet somebody who knew what they were doing. The last thing I needed was to hike three miles into the forest with somebody inexperienced. I’ll live without the blind-leading-the-blind, thank you very much!
For my adventure, my friend Ben & I decided to hike into a mine that had a seep coming out of it. And if there just happened to be a geocache there, well, yay for us!
We basically hiked about five miles round trip. And the scenery was stunning and the weather perfect!
At the mine I realized that we really hadn’t read the cache description all that well. (To be honest, I hadn’t read it at all!) And I hadn’t printed out the cache pages. I always print the cache description page because geocaching can take you well out of cell service!
We weren’t sure if the cache was in the cave or not (still not sure since we never did find it) but I did find something cool in the cave:
Lots of little brown and grey bats. Say what you want about bats, they are off-the-chart cool. The cave twists back into the hillside at least 100′. In the last thirty feet there were bats everywhere. Stuck to the ceiling like fuzzy light fixtures, squeezing out of holes about three inches across, and just dangling one at a time.
And no, I didn’t touch one! Nor did they come anywhere close to getting in my hair. But I did turn off the lights and kneel a moment in the black and listen to them squeak at each other. And felt the wind of one’s passing as it flew overhead. I really didn’t have the right camera equipment to get any good photos. And I couldn’t really sit on the mine’s floor since the seep was at the very back and the entire floor of the mine had at least two inches of water covering it.
I got one photo with Ben shining the light on a hole and, yes, I did take one photo with flash. I just couldn’t help myself. I left right after that since I’d woken them all up and I didn’t want to agitate them any more. I’m planning a trip back with better camera gear to get some photos!
Let me just say this, walking out the last time (took a total of three trips into the mine looking for the cache) I was treated to a view of Ben’s silhouette in the entrance and four bats flying between him & I. They didn’t want to pass either of us. But I crouched low so they could go over my head and got to watch the sunlight stream through their wings.
The original goal was to hike up to the ridgeline above the mine and along the mesa until we could see the valley below and then camp. But the ridge was, well, not exactly hiking friendly. Very steep, rugged terrain. We did try it but gave it up as a bad job.
So, on to plan B: return to the truck and then drive to the other side of Chino Valley and hike into the Verde River.
After about five miles round trip (hauling a 30+ pound backpack!) that’s what we did!
The access to the river was in a remote spot that required 4-wheel drive so we had the whole area to ourselves. And it wasn’t that far of a hike from truck to river. Thank goodness because I’m not sure how much farther I wanted to hike. My super cool pack was a super good buy. And it doesn’t fit me as well as I’d like!
After a great night under a full moon, it was a hike back out in the morning!
I will say this: I think I may well be addicted to backpacking now. I love the ability to hike away from other campers and enjoy the wilderness. And I loved knowing that an ATV or 4-wheel drive wasn’t going to come screeching down the road and get dust all over my tent because we were miles from any road!
Ah! Camping. Jessica and I had a great trip with Skippy. We ended up in a developed campground near Flagstaff, Arizona.
I FINALLY got to stop at Flagstaff Brewing Company for the world’s best French onion soup. I think I’m going to be on a quest to duplicate this stuff. And when I do, I’ll post the recipe to Fun Food Fridays. Because I always want it when I’m camping. So that makes it outdoor food, right?
I also got to test a really nifty roasting stick. The whole product review will be up in a couple of weeks.
And yes, before you ask, I did make some notes and jotted down some thoughts for the upcoming eBook on camping. I also checked on two of my five geocaches (too hot and then too rainy to check the rest!) and started work on a new scary story for the next anthology. Hopefully it’ll be out sometime in September!
But mostly, I ate. A lot.
I’m going camping this weekend with my best friend Jessica. Yay! I haven’t been out since May, mostly because I’ve been super busy and the Arizona monsoons hadn’t started yet. Who wants to go camping when it’s hot, dry and windy? Bleck.
The funny thing about writing this eBook is that while I’ve been writing about camping basics since May 2006, I’ve never really stopped to think about all the things I take for granted that are completely new to a beginner. I’ve been working on the book since April, I had hoped for a release just before Memorial Day. Alas, I keep discovering more things that need to be added, clarified, and expanded. (Up to 157 pages and counting!)
This past May, I went camping with my “BS Club” to a private campground. I took Skippy the Tent Trailer. A couple of my girls stayed in tents and two “roughed it” in a cabin. Since I’m the only one with a pickup truck, I ended up taking a lot of the supplies with me. And it surprised me that some of the girls packed in real, honest-to-goodness suitcases. Not duffels which are stuffable around other bits of gear. Nope, suitcases that you can’t mash into another shape. And if they’re not full, well that’s too bad ’cause they don’t get any littler!
Bang! The concept of telling beginner campers to pack in duffle bags went into the section on packing.
My friend James proofread the first 50 pages or so for me. And in his notes, after I mentioned that primitive campgrounds regularly lack potable water he put in a little [?potable?] note. And I realized that not everybody knows that potable means drinking water.
I reached out to my Facebook friends for their suggestions. I had no fewer that THREE people tell me: “Put your tent together before you go; make sure nothing’s broken and you have all the parts!”
And I thought that was common sense!
As I am getting ready for this trip, running through real and mental checklists, I’m also going back to my own manuscript. Making sure I’m clear, that I haven’t left anything out that might be obvious to me but would take a newbie by surprise.
So, what’s your advice to the knows-nothing camper? What is a camping myth that you may have held that you now know is false?
And, please, give me feedback on the cover ideas! Courtesy of Jessica.
Molly Turner’s Dead
An old man was walking home by the light of the moon when he was a bunch of black cats in the road. He looked to see what they were doing and saw that there were nine black cats carrying a little dead cat on a stretcher. A bit unnerved, he continued on.
Just then, one of the cats called out to the old man: “Old man! Please tell Aunt Dee that Molly Turner’s dead!”
The old man didn’t answer, he just walked a bit faster. He wanted to get far away from the nine cats and back to his own little house.
Just then, another of the cats cried out, “Old man! Please tell Aunt Dee that Molly Turner’s dead!”
He started walking even faster, wanting to leave the cats behind, when he heard all the cats yell, “Old man! Please tell Aunt Dee that Molly Turner’s dead!”
The old man broke into a run, and ran and ran until he was safe inside his own house. He didn’t want to tell his wife what had him all worried and why he kept looking out the windows, expecting to see nine black cats carrying a little dead cat on a stretcher.
Finally, his wife demanded that he tell her what was bothering him. “Well, wife,” he said, “I guess I’ll tell you something I didn’t plan on saying.”
When he said that, his old grey cat got up from the run by the fire and sat down right at his feet, looking up at him.
“Well, what is it?” His wife asked. “I know there’s something bothering you!”
He said, “When I was walking home tonight, I saw the most unusual sight. There were a bunch of black cats in the road. When I went over and looked, there were nine black cats carrying a little dead cat on a stretcher. And then the cats told me three times to tell Aunt Dee that Molly Turner’s dead.”
When he said that, the old grey cat jumped up and said, “Is she? By God, I must go to the burying,” and out the door she flew.
People all over the world enjoyed the “Ring of Fire” eclipse yesterday, including me! ESP Boss & I were hurrying home from the Overland Expo in time to watch the eclipse with my mom.
And while we missed the exact peak of the event, AND were too far south to fully experience the “ring of fire” the whole thing was incredibly dramatic.
We had been given special glasses to watch the eclipse with while we were at the Expo. The most dramatic part: seeing a partially eclipsed sun set behind Mary’s Mesa.
It’s always been on my list to see a total solar eclipse. I think this might be even better!
Readers Weigh In:
- Did you get to see the eclipse at all? What did you think?
I live in a little subdivision. Little houses on little streets. And on my street, there are EIGHT single ladies. Three years ago, we banded together to form the “BS Club” (a play on words for the name of our subdivision.)
Once a month, we gather at someone’s house for dinner, talking, and plenty of vodka-laced punch. Then, being the responsible adults that we are, we walk home.
In May, however, we broke from tradition and took our dinner club show on the road. We spend a weekend at Lolomai Campground.
Here are a few pics of the trip. And expect to see future posts with a couple of tips and some fabulous recipes!