Sunday, October 25, 2015

Just a "little" off the Beaten Path

A drive in the San Tan Valley the other day took us from the city to the countryside and it was only a matter of turning right instead of left.  Turn left and you head into the city, right and you're immediately in farm land, and on open road with quaint and unique at every turn.  

First up there's Cherie's Salsa.  Selling on the side of the road isn't uncommon here.  In fact we just passed a sign advertising Fresh Tamales hot out of the back of a truck.  But it is another cardboard sign that we're watching for.  Cherie's Salsa proudly advertises on a roadside sign just ahead of her SUV that has  the hatch thrown open and a gaggle of friends gathered around keeping her  company.  It's definitely worth pulling over and getting some of the best Salsa we've found so far in the valley.   Cherie admits to being up at two a.m. stirring up some of this fabulous salsa.  She's upgraded from a year or so ago when we first found her and she told me this was a temporary thing.  Now she has a business card and a presence on Facebook. 

From there we headed further into the countryside and find, what a surprise in the land of snowbirds, more snowbirds.  These snowbirds appear to be hardier than most for they're settled in on a barren tract of desert in RV's of all sizes right down to an Airstream no bigger than what most would camp in.  With few amenities, it's unique but I can't imagine what one would do on a blistering Arizona afternoon with only cactus and a view of the mountains to keep you company.

A little further down the road a small but quaint, bright red building stands out on the edges of a bone dry parking lot.  The Mexican Meat Market isn't a place I'd consider shopping at but DH discovered it a few days ago.  I'm glad he brought me along this time for the store itself is like I've travelled just a little further afield than Arizona and stepped foot into the heart of Mexico.  The store is alive with conversation spoken in rapid fire Spanish and foreign smells that are pleasant yet unfamiliar, permeate the place.  There's only two short aisles and they're crowded with familiar and not so familiar products.  I'm drawn to the cooler where Arizona Iced Tea occupies most of the shelves.  And I'm amazed at all the flavours.  Who knew that Arizona Iced Tea comes from Brooklyn, not Arizona, or that there are many more than the two types shipped north!  I happily went home with the regular and a Mango flavoured as well as a strawberry.  I hesitate at the pecan and bubble gum popsicles but manage to resist.  And the Carne Asada we came for  - delicious.  

Next door to that in this lonely dusty parking lot fronted by rural landscape and rough trailer homes - was a pizza place.  Dust coloured it seemed to sink into the desert lot that surrounded it.  Unfortunately, there's no picture for as we left, what I assume might have been the owner was out with his barbecue in the middle of the dusty parking lot, keeping an eye on us and what he was cooking.  I suspect pulling out my camera might not only have been an invasion of privacy but confirmation of the fact that we were just as shady as he seemed to suspect.  Really, we weren't.  But that aside, you know where we're going to check out pizza and beer on our next journey... turning right - not left.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Diners Drive-in's and Breakfast

While we've made our destination, Arizona, here's the last of our on-the-road stories.

As our trip headed to Vegas a slight hiccup with the GPS had us parked on the freeway leading into Las Vegas as traffic inched forward and what appeared to be a traffic accident miles ahead kept us blocked.  It was thirty minutes before we were able to escape onto a potential off- ramp and then found a parking lot to reconfigure the GPS.  Of course, with the hazards of travel, it was a parking lot in what I suspect was one of the more eclectic places in town.  The buildings were grey and rather dilapidated, the people rather worn and each of them appearing like they might have a very unique story, and us, the tourists that didn't fit.  It was fifteen minutes before we ended up at our hotel, another thirty minutes before we escaped the long registration lineup and continual offers that seem to be pressed on newbies, and made the long ride to the 21st floor.  And twenty minutes before we were heading back down lo the lobby area, looking for lunch.

Vegas changes every time I see it.  But it's always entertaining.  While none of the shows we might want to watch were featuring in our brief stay, we enjoyed people watching on a sidewalk cafe, playing a game or two or blackjack, a fantastic meal or two or three, and left Vegas ready to head onto a new adventure.

The next day it was one of those mornings where another hotel breakfast left us cold so we hit the road minus coffee - not a comforting experience in the hope of finding something on the road - Starbucks maybe.

This time it's through to Arizona and the San Tan Valley but first a stop for breakfast in Boulder, Nevada.  The part of Boulder, Nevada that we drove through was unique, from the wooden sidewalks to the antique metal car sitting on top of an antique table bracketing the sidewalk and facing off another pile of antiques.  I couldn't imagine what might be inside the shops as these precious memories of the past were doomed to sit outside.  But it was early, the shops closed, and the main thing on our mind was breakfast and the Coffee Cup Diner that was featured featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

There was no indication that the infamous television show had even graced the place.  But there were tons of pictures of vintage water skiing and an army of real water skis of all vintages hanging overhead and on the walls.  And in the midst of all that overwhelming nostalgia there was a diner filled with locals and two tourists that just happened to straggle in off the interstate.

Seated at table with the old diner style counter running behind us, service was prompt.  And when it arrived, even the toast was something to rave about - rye bread didn't mean white bread with a bit of flavour but instead bread with thick dark wedges of taste woven through it.  The potatoes, wait for it, were peeled and cooked, not out of a bag and the bacon was thick and tasty.  The omelette, well I'm a small and slow eater, let's just say I was still eating long after hubbie was done.   It was the best breakfast I've had on the road in a long time.

There's always something unique on the road.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Suspect Witness - A Preview

Suspect Witness is my first romantic suspense to be published by Harlequin Intrigue.  It's scheduled for release in February 2016 and I have to say that I'm getting "a little excited" as the date approaches.

I just got a peek at the cover today.  At first I paused.  Its odd to see your hero's face for the first time  as up to now he's only resided in my mind.  When I first saw the cover, those first few minutes held both elation and I have to admit, criticism.  I thought that my Josh is more poised, less hard planed than the face I'm confronted with but within a few minutes as I thought about the hero, the Josh Sedovich that I knew, I realized that he had an edge that is so clearly portrayed in the cover.  He's a man of passion and of action, but he's also a man charged with the impossible as he fights his way with the heroine through the depths of the Malaysian rain forest.  Josh Sedovich is the man in the cover, a man of grit, passion and heart.

The leader of a deadly biker gang is murdered and the witness, who can now reveal the secret of their lucrative offshore funding, is on the run.  To protect her secrets, Erin Kelley Argon has changed her identity and fled halfway around the world.  

CIA agent, Josh Sedovich tracks Erin to Malaysia but he's not the only one who has found her.   A car bomb is the first sign that her cover is blown.  In a desperate flight through Malaysia, as he gains her trust and passion threatens to rage out of control, will he be able to get her safely home to the States before the assassins on their trail take them both out?

This is my blurb and not the professional polished version that will actually grace the book cover.  But it serves the purpose, gives you an idea - a teaser, if you will, of what the story is about.  And it's available in just a few short months - February 2016, mark your calendars.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Give Us Our Daily Bread

I know my mother would smack my typing fingers for even using that line in a title but I couldn't help it.  Loosely shadowing the words of the Lord's Prayer or not - it fits to perfectly into the subject of this post which is .... wait for it...


There's too much of it - bread I mean.  Not in context of daily living, or at least our daily living but in travelling and trying to find a meal on the road.  Bread should not be the mainstay of any diet but I've discovered in the last few days of travelling that the road is littered with fast food places,  much of them offering bread based products; hamburgers, pizzas, submarine sandwiches, breakfast treats such as cinnamon buns and muffins, crepes and, and... I'm craving vegetables, fruit - I scarfed the banana at the hotel breakfast where three-quarters of the food offered involved some sort of grain.  I look at the long haul truckers and wonder how they survive this on-the-road dietary issue.

From what I can see, the fast food business seems determined to make sure that we don't eat well.  And while I avoided their influence as much as possible at home - on the road is a different matter.   And being as I can't avoid being on the road as it's a great place to be for writing research and for relaxation - not necessarily in that order.  I'm beginning to think that my mother had the right idea all those years ago when she packed a meal for every trip.  And while that's impractical for a long-haul trip maybe a trip to a nearby grocery store for a few healthy deli items might be a step in the right direction.  Yes, I had a hamburger for supper , at the Shake Shack, and, except for the processed cheese (big faux pas), it was fantastic bread and all, but I'm still craving vegetables and fruit.

How do you eat when you're on the road?


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Searching Out Winter

                                                                                                                                                                                   We left Saskatchewan heading out for our vacation and were met by cloudy skies and drizzly weather but we were a long way from snow.   Driving west and south had the rain edging to snow.  I never though escaping a prairie winter would mean facing that demon weeks before he traditionally arrives at home.  But when winter sets its sights on you there's no escaping it.

By this morning things look pretty grim as we drove through the mountains in Montana.  We're heading for Arizona to spend some time before facing another prairie winter.  Fortunately, within hours, the temperature warmed up, the scenery was awesome and we found a Starbucks for coffee - all things turned out well.  

Today I added another state to my travels - Idaho and yes, there is actually a potato museum.     I didn't see it but I saw the sign announcing its existence.  Montana an Idaho are both scenic States and the Interstate is not the madness of the bigger cities but instead runs through mountains and prairie, with plenty of ranch land.

Later today we arrived at Salt Lake City.  It was a Sunday but the traffic was still thick.  Salt Lake City has changed since I was there, at least what I saw from the Interstate.  My last trip was also my last trip with my parents, the year I graduated from high school, a lot of years and a lot of change.  The city has grown and the sprawl of it goes on for many, many miles.  This time around, as my husband turns to me and wanders why we didn't plan to stay here a few extra days instead of navigating the craziness of the interstate and watching Salt Lake City breeze by on both sides, I have no answer.  

Tomorrow it's off to other adventures, new places and interesting people.