Friday, June 29, 2018

Catalina Island #5

Avalon, Catalina Island

Research for SLICK DEAL

Heading Home

                    We spent five days in Avalon, on Catalina Island to research our latest book, SLICK DEAL the fourth in the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series.

          We left early this morning for our boat to embark at 11:15am. We watched the fish, birds, sailboats, and yachts going and coming, parasailing etc. as our ship approached the docks.

          We landed in Long Beach at 12:30, back home with plenty of material for a knockout novel. Both of us are looking forward to writing the final draft.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Catalina Island #4

Avalon, Catalina Island

Research for SLICK DEAL

                    We spent five days in Avalon, on Catalina Island to research our latest book, SLICK DEAL the fourth in the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series.
          Today was our last full day on the island, so we made the most of it:

We went to the Catalina Museum, got some good information on the life and times of Avalon in 1950s. Avalon was quite a playground for the rich and famous of Los Angeles and Hollywood in the 1940s and 50s.

          After lunch, we strolled downtown and pinpointed spots for specific scenes, car chases, etc.  Also, we identified areas for our character’s homes.

We packed ready to leave tomorrow morning.
Catalina is well known for birds that swim and fish that fly. Here is a what they are talking about:

The California flying fishCheilopogon pinnatibarbatus californicus, is a subspecies of Pacific flying fish. It may grow up to 15 inches (38 cm) in length and is the largest member of the flying fish family. It is found in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, from Oregon to Baja California. As with all other flying fish, they can't actually fly, they launch themselves into the air, using its specially adapted fins to glide along the surface.

Cormorants (birds that swim) Phalacrocoracidae is a family of some 40 species of aquatic birds. A large diving bird with a long neck, long hooked bill, short legs, and mainly dark plumage. They are known to breeds on coastal cliffs and have a voracious appetite. They are excellent divers, and underwater they propel themselves with their feet and with help of their wings.

Night time Avalon
We walked along the coast and watched the sunset. It was a lovely ending to our research trip

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Catalina Island #3

Avalon, Catalina Island
Research for SLICK DEAL

                    We spent five days in Avalon, on Catalina Island to research our latest book, SLICK DEAL the fourth in the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series.
          Today we checked out a few things:

          We visited the Glenmore Plaza, the oldest hotel still standing on the island. This was where we decided to put up FBI Agent, Olivia Jahns, during her investigation. The lobby has a great Victorian staircase and beautiful wood paneling from the 1920s.

          We then took a tour of the Casino, the most recognized building in Catalina Island built in 1921. Our hero Skylar Drake, P.I. has a date with our femme fatale, Mary Black, to go dancing at the Casino. There was never any gambling in the Casino and they didn’t serve alcohol until the mid-1940s. They had an ice cream bar instead. Some of the big name band leaders who performed were Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, and Woody Herman.

We spent time interviewing our guide Frankie of Avalon. He was a wealth of information since he was born and raised in Avalon.

          It was interesting to find out that if you didn't have your own boat in1950s the Great White Steamer, (300 foot long SS Catalina), was the only affordable mode of transportation (other than seaplane) to Catalina. The steamer had a large dance floor and band. So people would dance to the band on the ship during the two hour trip to Catalina, then continue dancing at the Casino after they arrived, (4-6 more hours). Then they would dance on the two-hour sail back to the mainland. That’s eight hours of dancing!

          In 1921, William Wrigley Jr. owned the island and the Chicago Cubs. He moved the Cubs’ spring training site to Catalina, where it remained for 30 years. Some of the baseball greats who trained here were Dizzy Dean, Rogers Hornsby, and Hack Wilson.

The Cubs’ team radio announcer was Ronald Reagan.

For all Catalina fans, The Atwater Hotel is closed for renovation. It will reopen mid-2019. The Atwater Hotel is the second oldest hotel on the island opening only a few months after the Glenmore Hotel Plaza, just across the street, in the 1920s. The renovation plans look and sound wonderful!

We have fond memories of staying at the Atwater in the 1970-80s. It was old but charming!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Catalina Island #2

Avalon, Catalina Island

Research for SLICK DEAL

          We spent five days in Avalon, on Catalina Island to research our latest book, SLICK DEAL the fourth in the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series.

We planned on renting a golf cart to visit several body dumps for our next murder mystery taking place in and around Avalon.  We used the Island Rentals Company. The guy we rented it from was very nice and gave us all sorts of directions for interesting body dumps on the map. He laughed and said, "I'm enjoying this”.
The minute we left the parking lot, it started to rain, the wind came up (57F). No windows, doors,  just a plastic windshield, and roof.  We had three hours and we meant to make the most of it.

First stop was Lover's Cove, not a great body dump but a great place for an FBI sting.

The Pet Cemetery, a sweet place with little graves, not pretty but well manicured. A possibility.

Headed up the cliff to Mt. Ada for the private garden of Mrs. Wrigley. Not quite right but we kept it in mind.

Drove around the cliffs headed east to the Botanical Gardens and on Wrigley Memorial.  Avalon Canyon Rd had several great places and was easily visible from the road. The gardens and memorial were closed and gated because it was offseason. NUTS!

Continued to Stage Road, around Zip Line Eco Tour, and around Chimes Tower Road. It was constant hairpin turns and strong winds through the canyons. Good body dumps and visibility. As we made a major cliff turn we got a great idea for a kidnapping. We followed through the road, passed Zane Grey’s museum and voila, perfect kidnapping scheme unfolded.

The rain stopped but it was still windy and cold. We returned our cart and rushed to the hotel to warm up and begin plotting, writing.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Catalina Island #1

Avalon, Catalina Island

Research for SLICK DEAL

          We spent five days in Avalon, on Catalina Island to research our latest book, SLICK DEAL the fourth in the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series.

          For those of you unfamiliar with Santa Catalina Island it's just 22 miles (35 km) off the coast of Los Angeles.  And yes, it is the place the Four Preps refer to in their song 26 Miles (Santa Catalina) released in 1957. For a waltz down memory lane go to:
          Believe me when I say Catalina Island lives up to its reputation for romance and adventure!

Our boat ride to Catalina on the big Catamaran was smooth. The dolphin swam and seagulls flew alongside the swift boat. Catalina boasts that they have fish that fly and birds that swim. And it’s all true. But check back later for the real flying fish and cormorant stories.

Sailing into Avalon Harbor, you're greeted by the Holly House with its quaint white architecture, red and white roof nestled in the side of the hill.

We spent four hours at the Avalon Public Library while waiting for our room at the Holiday Inn Catalina Resort. The library is small but stocked full of interesting information about  Avalon in the 1950s and way back to the early1800s.  Did you know that the most common way of staying on the island during the late 1800s in a tent! Apparently, the Victorians of that era were clamoring to travel to exotic and adventurous destinations. Catalina Island was a thriving vacation spot as early as 1891. You could rent a tent for $7.50 ($187.00 today). It included beds, bedding, basic furnishing and limited cooking facilities. During the summer 80-100 tents would be rented, and it climbed into the next century.

The librarian, Paul, was very helpful in pulling all sorts of information from the archives on everyday life in the 1950s.

Something we didn't know about was the Catalina Grand Prix which raced from 1951 to 1958. This motorcycle race attracted the rich, famous and enthusiasts.

In 1978 the manual telephone switchboard was finally modernized. Avalon holds the prestige of being the last in the US to be brought up to modern standards.

Private full-sized cars are not allowed on the island.  The preferred mode of transportation is by autoettes, similar to golf carts
We took a short walk along the harbor to reserve a golf cart for the next day to tour the island. We asked the two young girls there, "Where would dump a dead body." We (of course explained first that we were authors of murder mysteries). They immediately gave us two places complete with directions, cross streets, and landmarks. They seemed to have thought about it!

Our room was finally ready at 3:30, we took the hotel shuttle into the hills. It seemed the hotel was haunted the minute we got into our room. After unpacking we noticed the drawers (all the drawers) wouldn’t stay closed! Then suddenly as we put drinks into the small refrigerator, it started to leak all over the floor. The last straw was when we noticed the wood door in the entryway to our room was cracked and separating, you could see the sunlight through the door panels!!

We got a different room, one floor up, the drawer opener ghost followed us!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Scandinavia 12

Christmas Ornaments
From Scandinavia

          Since we got married we've made it a tradition to buy an ornament  for our Christmas tree everywhere we travel that year. After 45 years of marriage and our extensive travels we have quite a tree full.
          Sometimes our trip took place in the summer or off season and Christmas tree ornaments were not available. We then turn to refrigerator magnets, or key chains (by removing the chain and the ring it becomes a lovely ornament).
          So we don't forget where and when we traveled, we write on each ornament, the city and year we visited. Every December we decorate the tree and it becomes a waltz down memory lane.

Here are the ornaments we purchased from our Scandinavian trip:

Copenhagen, Denmark
Our last day in Copenhagen we were walking along a small cobble stone street with small shops lining the block. The quaint  buildings were built around the early 1700s. We happened to walk into one shop that had a nice selection of key chains. We bought one, disconnected the key ring when we got home and put the hook on.

Warnemunde, Germany
We were walking along the "seaboard" enjoying the warm sun, and  crashing of the waves. The cabanas were lovely and large. We came across a light house and  modern gift  shop. We continued to stroll and entered a small gift shop on the sand. This key chain was the only one that had the light house on it and the only one left. Two other people had looked at it and put it back so we snatched it.

Riga, Latvia
As we toured the town we came across an impromptu two man show in the street. The people surrounded the pair, clapped and sang along. Several young girls were dressed in traditional clothes, singing and dancing along with the music. On the way back to the ship we came across a souvenir shop in a romantic corner of the city lined with bistros. As soon as we saw this refrigerator magnet we had to have it. When we got home we converted it to an ornament.

Klaipeda, Lithuania
Klaipeda was an beautiful city full of flowers hanging from light posts, and in flower towers throughout the city. It got windy so we ducked into an Amber Shop to get out of the wind. The items were lovely, beautifully cut amber in jewelry and art work, but they were way out of our price range because they were real amber. We found a flea market on the way back to the ship and bought this refrigerator magnet  in honor of the amber we drooled over.

Trallinn, Estonia
Tallinn was so very beautiful! The old town brought a real feel for the days of maidens and knights. I truly felt I was in a fairy tale the entire time we were in the old town. We wanted an ornament that depicted the ancient castle and streets. We were fortunate to find this ornament, (not a keychain) in a small shop in one of the ancient building along the castle gates.

Helsinki, Finland
Our time was very short in Helsinki and we regret we were not able to  see  most of the city since we were on foot. We took a harbor cruise, and found out  that moose and other animals will occasionally wonder into the city. The tour guide told of a young moose got lost and ended up in the park full of trees. She talked bout the tourists and visitors surrounding the park taking pictures and the poor young moose scared to death. It's mother should ahve been nearby but wasn't. Eventually their animal game people came and got him on his way to the hills. We found this in a street market in honor of that brave little moose.

St. Petersburg, Russia
We were very fortunately to be docked in St. Petersburg for three days and two night. Hence, we had the opportunity to enjoy the city. I wanted a traditional ornament for this city because of its beauty and history. We found this in a Christmas shop along the canal and fell in love with it. It was actually an ornament .

Stockholm, Sweden
We bought this keychain at the Palace. We were so impressed with the clean, classy designs of Nobility, i.e. the ancient robes, crowns and scepters. The docents at the palace were very nice and anxious to answer any questions we had.

Happy Holidays

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Scandinavia 11

Heading Home

Leaving Stockholm

          Our trip home began at 5 am. We were to board at 9:10am...good thing we got started early!

          Our hired driver was supposed to pick us up at 5:30. He arrived at 5:15, traffic was non-existent. So we were at the airport before 6 am... 3 hours early. After getting our luggage tagged we were directed to the Business Class lounge, a ten-minute walk. The lounge was decorated in IKEA like decor, very comfortable. And of course, there was a buffet of great food. To pass the time we wrote and edited Slick Deal, our up, and coming book.

          Bill decided he wanted to head to the gate early. Good thing, customs, and immigration took over an hour. Not sure why since there were only 6 people online. The plane started boarding at 9:10 we made it there at 9:20.


          We got settled in our Business Class pods, dining on great food, watched movies, edited our books, and napped. Overall the flight was pretty uneventful. We agreed traveling Business Class is the way to go!

          When we landed in LAX  at 9:30we found a computerized system for immigration. The computer took our photos, and scanned our passports. By time we got our luggage it was noon and hot! We just came from 50-57 degree weather so it was a shock to our system.

          We took Super Shuttle home and found all was well.
          We sat in our living room, sipping ice herb tea and faced the long recovery from jet lag.

          Our trip now seems like a dream, thankful our journal and photos are well documented. While waiting for our flight in Stockholm, I picked up a travel magazine and thumbed through it. I found a quote that made me think and realize how true it is.

One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
by Henry Miller

          I want you to know how much we have enjoyed sharing our journey with you and hope you have enjoyed it as well.