,My friend who runs a Poodle Rescue organization pointed out that one more dog wouldn't hurt, especially if it was small, as in poodle. Here's Colton with a rainbow on his body.
We continue the across the country drive with more roadside attractions.
In the television show, The Middle, whenever the Heck family took to the road they’d mention possible roadside oddities they could visit. The attractions were in the Midwest from the giant ball of twine to the world’s largest ball of paint that you could add one more coat, too. These roadside attractions would break up the monotony of a long road trip. As a kid, I don’t remember stopping and seeing any of these, which was a shame because they slowly fade away without paying customers.
Since my daughter and I decided to take old Route 66, The Mother Road, we expected to see a few of these. Obviously, not all, and not on the weekends. It turns out many of these interesting places such as The Dinosaur Museum and The Blue Hole in New Mexico are closed on the weekends. We even found a campground we were planning to camp at was closed on the weekends, too. If you’re planning to take advantage of these historic attractions make sure they’re open when you’re driving by.
Our first stop was at the Guinness world record winning town of Casey, Illinois that had a plethora of over sized everyday objects such as a rocking chair and knitting needles. Our second stop was Uranus, Missouri.
We drove by Uranus with its colorful stores, star lights, and huge dinosaurs in a hurry anxious to get to our hotel. It had been a long, rainy day and we wanted to eat and mindlessly veg out in front of a television. As the passenger, I noticed the place with its antique farm equipment, double decker bus and promises of an exotic animal zoo plus a magic shop, too. It stuck out big time on the flat, empty expanses that surrounded the road. It blinked out of sight as my daughter drove onward in search of our hotel.
We found our hotel without incident and discovered it did have the much-wanted fridge and microwave in the room. Hallelujah. We went next door to Wal-Mart and grabbed some food for dinner. On our way, we witnessed three little kids dressed in swimming suits and clutching pool noodles. Their grandmothers were questioning the front desk person about the location of the pool that was on the website.
Red faced, the employee explained that this was a new hotel that would have a pool next year, but they hadn’t even started on it, yet. Before the irate grannies could ask, he also added there was no fire pit lounge as featured on the website, either. The children not quite understanding the situation insisted there had to be a pool. One of the grandmothers herded up the antsy children while the other one informed the hapless employee they shouldn’t advertised what they didn’t have. It was just wrong! That stuck with me because we would encounter many things on our trip that weren’t even close to what they were advertised to be, but not Uranus, Missouri.
The next day, we pushed our departure time up an hour earlier so we could return to Uranus. In short, the place is a great photo stop including everything from a booster rocket to an old timey police car. There’s life sized wooden bears and a coin operator fortune teller who had the audacity to tell my daughter she would have an easy life while I would have to work hard for everything. So far, that had been the case.
Inside the main shop and fudge factory was a giant explosion of totally kitschy souvenirs and guilty childhood pleasures including endless flavors of salt water taffy, candy cigarettes, and those little wax soda bottle filled with a syrupy drink. There were souvenirs emblazoned with Route 66 logo, but they’d tapped into all the other high purchase groups including anything with Jesus on it, to Alien bobbleheads, Doctor Who, and Star Trek paraphernalia. It was the perfect place to find a personalized license plate for your bike or a name necklace for your daughter or granddaughter.
There was a fudge shop smack in the middle of it, too. Yes, we bought some fudge, which was sinfully delicious. Uranus was composed of several buildings. The main one was the store and oddly enough on the back of this childhood fantasy of candy and trinkets was a gun shop. I usually think about buying a high-powered rifle while stopping in for a cold drink and a photo—not. There was a picnic ground located next to the dinosaurs and an ice cream shop, too.
Since we often show up at odd times on our across the country odyssey, we encountered closed signs. This probably won’t happen at Uranus, Missouri which opens, at least most of it, at 8:30 in the morning and stays open late into the night luring travelers with its lights that appeared like glowing stars hovering over the place.
If you stop, remember to take plenty of pictures.
Make sure to enter the contest at the end!
What happens when an author and her daughter drive across the United States? Come along and find out.
What type of person gets in a tiny car with a roof bag that acts as a sail to make a 3,000+ mile across the Southwest in August? A mother. When my daughter told me, she was going to move across the country to Los Angeles, I was surprised to say the least. When she told me, she was going to attach a trailer to tiny car—I became a nay-sayer. I killed the trailer idea and in came the roof sack. Think of it as a duffle bag for the car. It’s made of what I would describe as pool liner vinyl. In other words, a person with nefarious motives could cut into it, which meant every night we unpacked it, pulled it and its contents inside wherever we were staying. The next day we repacked it. This is my version of the trip.
Day one as the passenger in a very packed car, I had items tucked under my feet, beside me, and in my lap. I was supposed to help with directions and distribute snacks. My snack passing abilities came in handy when traffic came to a dead stop near the Illinois border. A tractor trailer had rolled—possibly due to the rain. The string we had tied the bag to the roof also served as a conduit bringing rain into the car. Oh joy. We decided to stop in Casey, Illinois to visit the gigantic items that got the small town into the Guinness World Book of Records. Even though, it was drizzling, we enjoyed posing for photos by the World’s Biggest Wind Chime or perched inside an oversized birdcage. After our brief break, we headed for Missouri.
Stay tuned for our next adventure.
Win a Kindle Fire or a signed copy of Death of a Honeymoon, and many other prizes.
Death of a Honeymoon Blurb
Detective Mark Taber and his new bride Donna, an amateur sleuth, are ready to take a much-needed break from crime-solving and finally enjoy their long-awaited honeymoon in the quartz-rich mountains of Arkansas, but unfortunately for them, crime never takes a break.
When their car breaks down at the site of the first murder the county has seen in a century, they find themselves in a bind – no transportation and at the center of an overwhelming firestorm for an overworked sheriff. He needs their help.
Will they temporarily forgo their plans to find a murderer or will the possibility of netting quartz clusters and county fair winning recipes pull them in another direction?
Find out more why Bark Twice for Danger was the most fun to research
Bark Twice for Danger is the third book in my Indiana-based cozy mystery series. Nala, pre-school teacher turned private eye, is paired up with a rescue dog, Max, who talks. He also helps her solve crimes, but the talking is what landed him at the shelter. People may think they want their dog to talk without realizing they may make brutally honest observations. This helps when tracking a perpetrator––not so much with the image of an adoring pet.
Max isn’t the only helper who Nala can call on. She is surrounded by quirky friends and over helpful relatives including her police captain father who reminds her there is a place at the academy with her name on it. Her mother’s main interest is pairing up her only daughter with a suitable man, this results in awkward situations.
The person she turns to most is her high school friend, Elvin, who runs a digital security consulting, which allows his to showcase his computer hacking skills by breaking through firewalls, too. Bark Twice for Danger features her building mate, Harry, who runs a superhero costume business–––this is where the fun starts. Comic Con is coming to Indianapolis and Harry needs Nala to help him. Translation: dress up in a superhero costume and work the con. This happens at the same time identity thefts are sweeping the town of Noblesville.
My research included attending the three-day Comic Con with my daughter. We dressed up as Star Trek characters and had our picture taken with Jonathan Frakes. The research involved attending panels, handling live snakes, playing vintage arcade games, and standing in line at the food trucks with other costumed folks. Now, you might ask why even bother to attend?
I needed a feel for the building layout and security procedures. It also helped to get the general vibe of the whole event, which was an upbeat one. The next research trip of Max and Nala is Santa Claus, Indiana, best known for Holiday World theme park.
What happens to a girl who can’t say no? Most people would assume she’d end up pregnant before her fifteenth birthday. The idea made Abby wrinkle her nose at the impossibility of that happening to her. It would involve someone asking her to do something more interesting than pet sitting their parrot or running papers to a client on her way home. Truthfully, she didn’t mind too much. She didn’t have children to drive to soccer practice or the need to start dinner for her partner when she got home from work. What she did resent was people assuming that since she had no life, she’d automatically do the things they had no time to do.
Delivering papers wasn’t in her job description. Technically it wasn’t on anyone’s in the office. The others were smart enough to make themselves scarce, while Abby merely took the papers and agreed to go out of her way to Carmel to deliver them before the end of the workday. The only perk was she got to leave early to arrive while the client’s office was still open.
After she delivered the papers, she exited the art deco building, only to almost bump into him. She couldn’t say she didn’t notice him. He was the type of male who drew all eyes to him by simply existing. He’d erupted into the parking lot riding a wave of sound and testosterone. Instead of a surfboard, his mode of transportation was a Triumph motorcycle. The bike drew her eye first. Back when she was barely thirteen, she longed for a motorcycle. Her fantasies, however, didn’t include her hanging onto some guy steering the bike. It was always her bike.
That dream had been squashed by her father, who pointed out that motorcycles were the quickest route to a wheelchair or a painful death. Saying her father was risk avoidant would be an understatement. In his work as a vehicle insurance adjustor, he had to speculate on how much damage a person could do to themselves and their vehicles and how much the company would be willing to cover. He applied the same lessons to raising his daughter. In short, her father’s philosophy of child-rearing was everything is dangerous, so don’t do it. Okay, maybe only the fun things were dangerous.
Still, there was the man on the bike. He probably felt her gaze on him, because after he parked close to the building, he lifted off his helmet and shook out his shoulder-length hair as if in a shampoo commercial. He did have gorgeous coffee-colored hair. Their eyes connected for the briefest second, but then she looked away, embarrassed at her ogling.
Mr. Gorgeous Hair headed her way with a smile that caused her to look behind her. No one was there. He held up his hand in greeting. “Ciao, Bella.”
“Hello.” She’d managed to squeeze out the single word.
He had a sexy accent, too, which just about made her combust on the spot. He’d waggled his eyebrows and gave a husky laugh that had her melting inside.
“Oh, that’s how it is. You’re going to act like you don’t know me.” He stopped to slant a seductive smile her way. “You were very friendly before.”
“Ah, I think you have me confused with someone else.”
He held up two fingers to his forehead as if saluting, then winked. “Who knows? We might meet again.”
Bark Twice for Danger releases today everywhere online at iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, KOBO, and Smashwords.
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Here's the blurb, if you want it.
Drift back in time with award winning S. R. Mallery, as she presents some excerpts––or “snippets”––from her different books. They range from an American family saga to full, historical adventures involving sewing; from a U.S. Civil War Romeo and Juliet couple defying all odds to a 1926 Old Hollywood romantic murder mystery; from both a colorful Western romance and a Nazi spy romance thriller to short stories that keep you guessing….
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Here's a sneak peek at Donna's Tollhouse's latest adventure.
Once Mark got the first half of the banner hooked up, Donna walked backward, stretching it across the porch. “Can’t wait to see this from the walk.”
“Me, too.” Mark carried the stepladder to where she stood to fasten the other end. The crunch of gravel signaled a car exiting the parking lot, probably one of the construction workers. How they ever expected to get done with all the coming and going they did puzzled her. Her dog walking neighbors strolled slowly past with their standard sized poodle. They stopped to peer at the banner. One even used the flat of his hand to shield his eyes.
Look all you want. Donna grinned at the men, knowing they couldn’t find fault with her latest banner.
The taller neighbor waved at her. “Hey, Donna!”
“Yes.” She puffed up a little, expecting a compliment.
“Did you change the name of the inn?”
Her expectant expression sagged with the oddness of the question. “Ummm… what do you mean?”
Her neighbor gestured to the banner. Donna cocked her head but had difficulty reading it so close. Mark had moved to the sidewalk to view the banner where Donna joined him. The large banner that she’d chosen with dice and player tokens to represent the gaming theme appeared fine to her.
One of the dog walkers moved closer and gestured toward the porch. “I’m not against changing the name. I think The Painted Laddy is more unique. Pushes the envelope some.”
Donna narrowed her eyes at the word in question. It did have two Ds! “Sugar! It’s too late to have it reprinted.”
Her neighbor shrugged and returned to his companion and dog. She could hear their combined laughter as they strolled away.
Mark wrapped an arm around her stiff shoulders. “Don’t worry about it, sweetie. People see what they want to see. It took you a while to see the mistake, and you were trying to find it. Maybe you can even make it into a game for your guests.”
Just like him to make an accident into something good. “Yeah, I guess I could. Most of the guests will look at the banner briefly. It would be a bigger deal if I were in the business district and everyone was staring at it. If nothing else, it will teach me to look before paying for it.”
Instead of answering, Mark squeezed her shoulder and turned his head to dust a kiss across her hair. He could be the sweetest man. Contentment wrapped around her, chasing away her momentary frustration. She wanted to rest forever in the moment and savor it. Before she even worked herself into the savoring part, Ten’s tall figure rounded the left corner of the inn. He waved, then joined them on the sidewalk.
Donna noted the direction her employee came from. It didn’t take her excellent sleuthing ability to know Ten had been watching the construction workers as opposed to folding the laundry as she asked. Unaware of her thoughts, Ten put both hands in his pockets and nodded.
“What are you all staring at?”
“Nothing,” Donna answered, curious if her employee could pick out the mistake that had her so flustered only minutes ago.
Ten stared in the direction of the banner. “Your early guest came complete with costume.”
Mark made a pretend groan, which earned him a poke from his wife. “Oh, boy. See what I have to look forward to?”
“Come on. These are people who play board games. How bad can they be? Was he wearing his costume?”
“Nope. He had this large unicorn mask under his arm. Imagine trying to get that through airport security.”
The question wasn’t a serious one, but Mark decided to answer anyway. “Nothing wrong with a costume unless it has a great deal of metal on it.”
Instead of joining the conversation, she held up her hand. Something was different. She couldn’t put her finger on it.
“Listen. Do you hear it?”
“What?” Mark dropped his arm and turned around in a slow circle. “I don’t hear anything.”
“Exactly. The jackhammer stopped.” Her eyebrows lifted. “Maybe they’re finished.”
A long scream sounded from the inside the inn. The three of them looked at each other and broke into a run.
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As an author I often write dogs into my mysteries. Today, some of my readers are telling their dog stories.
My Chihuahua only weighs around 2 pounds. We have a fairly big back yard. I go out with her at night because of the owl and other vermin lurking around. One night she goes prissing down our ramp, barking all the way. Now this is the norm for her as she thinks she is a Great Dane! She gets out in the yard by the cars and trucks, me with her holding the flashlight. About the time she finds her spot, a pine straw touched her backside. She started yelping like she was dying and nearly ran me over getting to the back door! Of course nothing was wrong with her. Her nickname is the Princess for a reason!!
My favorite dog story is when our golden retriever saved our now 14-year-old cat, who was about 4 weeks when we found her. She was close to death but was able to let out a meow we heard from down the street. The vet did all they could and we took her home praying for the best. Our dog cuddled, cleaned, warmed, protected, and loved that little kitten until she was healed. Miss our dog Leo but we still have Lucky around.
We absolutely LOVE Yorkshire Terriers. All the ones we have had have all been remarkable, but the first one we ever had was the most remarkable of all. Her stories are many, as she was very intelligent and loved attention, especially my husbands (her “dad”). She was always going for rides with him, and if he got out of the car and she felt she could have gone with him, she would stand on the driver’s seat and give him “what for” when he got back. You would think she was about to bite your arm off if you dared come near, but we knew it was all show. Once, he took her to a store that sold ice cream. It was their habit to sit on the tailgate and share the ice cream and greet people as they went by. This one day, she would not have anything to do with the ice cream. He kept trying to coax her but she just kept looking around and ignoring him. He noticed no one had said anything to her but didn’t think anything about it, until someone finally walked by and said something to her. That was what she was waiting for because she immediately started begging for the ice cream! She was such a social butterfly.
Our son had a wonderful dog he named bear...apparently, he was part chow and part lab...as a pup, he was dumped off in our daughter’s Texas neighbourhood when we were visiting from PA. We advertised and went door to door...no one claimed him. So he returned with us. Bear was a loveable dog...we had him for three years before we rehomed with a family...reason? If we let into fenced back yard, he would find a way out and always go to the same house where there were numerous children to run and play with...you see, I was working full time, teaching at a grad school part time, and working on my doctorate. Of six kids, all were out on their own or in college. My husband was full time military...the saddest thing was when he played by himself...seriously...he would run up the stairs with a ball in his mouth and throw it down the stairs, run and chase it...bear would do this for hours. We finally managed to get all together and have a family conference. Tears were shed, but we all felt that he needed more than we could offer. We were fortunate to have help to find him a forever home with a loving young family. He’s crossed the Rainbow Bridge now. We were also fortunate enough to be able to visit him...and be his go to Home if his family went on a holiday.
In my first year of the master’s program, I meant a family with a litter of Jack Russells. I fell in love with the tiniest one...however, they told me he was sold. Three days later, I was called and told the other family did had changed their minds. I
Picked him up...the boys promptly called him Einstein. That same day we were setting up our Christmas Tree. Einstein trained me right away to sit down when he wanted on my lap for a cuddle. By day 5... I had lost him. Little Einstein decided he had found himself a boy...and chose to be our youngest son’s dog instead. He had found his forever partner. Those two were together whenever Randyl was not at school or work...they showered together, slept together, and delivered pizza together.
When Randy’s fiancé moved into his upstairs apartment in our house, he became Amy’s baby too. By that time Randy was a full-time mechanic saving money to buy his own garage. One day a young lady he rescued at the side of the road by repairing her car, followed him home. Unfortunately, she went up to Randy’s apartment and tried to “make time with Randy” with Amy sitting there. Amy came running down stairs crying saying she didn’t know what to do. We talked and established that our son was ignoring her...only speaking to her to tell her to leave...all the while Amy was crying and cuddling Einstein. So Amy and Einstein went back up...and that smart little doggie (whom had never peed in the house in his life), climbed up on the back of the sofa, calmly walked behind the young woman, raised his leg...and peed right down her back! She shrieked, grabbed her purse and ran down the stairs. And out the door. Within seconds, Amy & Randy literally stumbled and rolled down the stairs laughing and Einstein just pranced and proudly strutted after them...I am sure he was saying...I saved my boy and my girl!
We no longer have Randy, Einstein or Amy. Fifteen years ago, Randy was killed by drunk drivers as he was walking down the road. Amy eventually married and had children. Einstein, I am sure died of heart break. He waited everyday by the door for Randy to come home. We tried everything. He lingered for six months, then died. But we have such happy memories now--of both Einstein and Randy. I am sure they are playing, running, and having fun...
Thanksgiving, like so many family holidays, can be filled with good and embarrassing memories. One of my students told me that her two uncles had engaged in a fight that knocked the food off the table. The family was happy that they did managed to save the turkey that year.
No, I have nothing that dramatic to tell. My memory tells my age if nothing else. Every major holiday we made the trek to my grandmother’s house. Not sure how the rest of my family felt about this, but I loved it because I loved my grandmother and she was the best cook ever. If it involved food, who wouldn’t want to visit her?
For this food intensive holiday, my aunts brought side dishes to help out the spread. My mother made her famous yeast rolls that were divine. Because we were a big family, the kids had to eat at the children’s table on the sun porch. This was another plus since we didn’t have to be quiet while the adults conversed. Usually, there was laughter and the occasionally thrown roll, which resulted in an uncle suggesting in a deep voice from the other room that we should “Pipe down.”
At the end of the glorious meal, my grandmother would reveal a half dozen pies she had baked, including my favorite, coconut cream pie. After consuming enough calories for a family of four, my uncles and father staggered off to the living room to watch football, which was often code for a nap.
My boy cousins vanished outside to play in the chill temperature and the babies were put down for a nap in the guest bedroom among the discarded coats. The women and girls crowded the narrow kitchen for clean-up detail. It was difficult maneuvering in the crowded kitchen and I often got underfoot. I was too short to reach anything and would never have been allowed to touch the good china.
The arched kitchen doorway revealed my father in the living room comfortably seated on the couch and laughing at something my uncle had said. I made my decision then and dashed for sanctuary. I snuggled in by my father’s side while my mother attempted to lure me back into the kitchen in a low voice, attempting not to make a scene.
My father wrapped his arm around me and insisted he wanted me there. In that moment, he inadvertently confirmed my decision to do what I wanted as opposed to what was expected of me.
This year will find me in the kitchen, but I’ll solicit everyone’s help regardless of gender. When it comes to china, we’ll use Chinet and everything else will go into the dishwasher. In a moment of holiday rebellion, I considered ordering Chinese takeout but didn’t want the bloating. The day after Thanksgiving when many women crowd the shopping venues, my daughter and I will suit up in our form-fitting Star Trek uniforms (which explains why I didn’t want any bloating) to volunteer at Star Trek Con. So, maybe I did carry on the legacy of doing what I wanted and not what was expected of me, encouraged by my father.
Are you listening, Dad? I resolve to live long and prosper this Thanksgiving.
What is your fondest holiday memory?