Saturday, September 22, 2018

Sacramento #3

Sacramento, CA
In search of a plot for our next book.

We spent seven days in Sacramento to research our next book, GAME TOWN,  for 2019 release. So we thought we would give you a peek into researching a new book.
On March 22, 2018, it poured all night with heavy winds. The wind and rain died down so decided to go to the Wells Fargo Museum and walk down Old Sacramento. To our surprise, the sun came out as soon as we left the hotel!

Old Sacramento is a charming, well preserved 1800’s town about 5 square blocks on the waterfront. It was amazing the wonderful job the community did preserving the entire 5 blocks. We walked the riverfront then the town.
The Wells Fargo Bank museum was our first stop. It was free and small but chock full of interesting reads about the wild northwest, and Sacramento. Quite frankly it seemed tame for its time compared to old Los Angeles and San Diego! The bank had humble beginnings but branched out by its visionaries, i.e., Wells and Fargo as a one-stop shop for all the west’s banking needs.


 I was surprised that the Pony Express played such a large role in the history of the city. It only lasted 18 months. The route started in St. Joseph, Missouri, and ended in Sacramento. It was a hard job for anyone to ride10 hours stopping each hour to charge horses. I got a real kick out of the notice for riders.

We stopped at a place called The Chef's Olive Mix and sampled the balsamic vinegar and oils. We loved the tangerine vinegar and the regular olive oil. We strolled the wooden boardwalk, read signs, plaques, storefronts and had a wonderful, relaxing time.  The weather was cold, drizzly and calm. When we finished we were cold and damp.  


The Steamer Bakery & Cafe had a hot chocolate sign outdoors, we couldn't resist a hot cup to warm up. Sitting in the old 1800’s shop sipping our hot chocolate brought back memories of our Scandinavian trip last year, it was just as cold and wet. Then sitting in history hit us. Just think we may have been in an area, in the shop where some wild cowboy may have been.


On the way back to our hotel, we take a short drive through some streets we hadn’t driven. The homes were amazingly preserved, just lovely places.
We left for dinner at The Lucca Mediterranean Restaurant. The food, atmosphere, music was wonderful.  We, of course, had to have dessert, a chocolate mousse with blood orange slices and sauce. To die for!!

We walked home and saw a group of people moving in one direction. We thought it was odd and maybe a parade. While watching the evening news we were shocked to learn about the police shooting of Stephon Clark not far from our hotel.

For a candid look into the life of a Pony Express Rider, go to  http://www.codyenterprise.com/news/local/article_3f94419c-3f30-11e7-86db-97c024a73a3d.html

Aha moment-Found some little-known information about the Pinkerton Agency in the 1950s. They were in our third book, DESERT ICE. Maybe we should bring them back?


Friday, September 7, 2018

Sacramento #1

Sacramento, CA

In search of a plot for our next book.

We spent seven days in Sacramento to research our next book, GAME TOWN,  for 2019 release. So we thought we would give you a peek into researching a new book.
On March 20, 2018,  we took off from the Long Beach Airport at 8:10am, the flight was a bit rocky from the bad weather over central CA. Landed in drizzly, wet Sacramento at 9:30am.
We were surprised that the city seemed to be nothing but one-way streets! The capital was our first stop but couldn’t find parking on the streets or parking lots. There was a special event going on and took up all the available parking. We gave up and decided to find our hotel, Quality Inn, Convention Center. It is a small, old/updated place a few blocks from the convention center.  It was 10:00, we couldn’t get in the room until 2:00 so decided to walk to the capital, about 5 blocks. It continued to drizzle, about 51 degrees, no breeze whatsoever. Actually, it was a very nice walk.


On the way, we walked through the Camellia tree garden in front of the capitol building. Because of the drizzle, the blossoms fell leaving a beautiful blanket of color under each tree. There must have been 100 camellia trees each with their colorful blankets.



We took a guided tour of the capitol, really enjoyed the stories behind the history of the city and the building. We ate lunch at the cafeteria; they had hot split pea soup, perfect for the wet, cold day.
There was a real shoeshine man dressed in white shining several men’s shoes in an old fashion chair.


We also learned that when the Capital installed telephones, they had young men answering the phones and connecting the caller to various departments. They were a bit rude to everyone so they changed them to women. This was before the words “Telephone Operators”. They called them “Hello Girls.”
We walked back to our hotel still brisk outside, but a very nice walk.

AHA moment- We found several places to dump dead bodies, both in and outside the capitol. Also, had a nice talk with our guide after the tour, she told is about some very interesting ways in which the capitol operated during the 1950s, great ideas for some subplots.

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.



NEWS FLASH
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:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKHlfOU3ZHE
          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!