Patty O'Donnell country

When I decide to post, I guess I post a lot.

Remember, click on a picture if you want to see a bigger image.

Patty O'Donnell, my series character, grew up on a ranch in the east central part of Arizona. The area is north of the towns of Springerville and Eagar, sister communities that lie at a point where the highway heads up into the White Mountains. Patty's family heads into Springerville when they want something they can't get in North Fork, the fictional town they call home.

Springerville city limits. We noticed that towns in this part seem to incorporate a lot of area where no one is actually living.

Springerville is in the Round Valley, a nice green area where Basque shepherds watched their flocks in the second half of the 1800s. If I'm remembering correctly, they get a lot of runoff from the mountains.

North of the Round Valley is a vast area called the Springerville Volcanic Field.

This is an area of wide pastures

and volcanic domes,

 and it's difficult to get a feel for the scale of the place from photographs. Trust me when I say it's awe-inspiring. For a sense of perspective, though, here's this...

If you click on it and look at a bigger version, you can see how tiny the road gets, and how big the dome ahead is, farther beyond it. We saw some domes with dark scars on them. Apparently some people mine them for cinders.

There are just over 400 domes in the Springerville Volcanic Field. Yes, someone actually counted them.

Some pastures have areas that look as if a vast herd of cattle all decided to take a dump in the same place.

These are, in fact, basalt outcroppings. On some ranches, these are fenced off, and on others they aren't. One wonders what this does to cows' hooves.

Scientists used to believe that the Springerville Volcanic Field was millions of years old, and that the volcanoes were extinct. More recently, they understand that the field ranges from 300,000 to 800,000 years old, and that there's a reasonable chance that it might erupt again. The youngest parts support grassland and a few shrubs.

 The older parts support grass, more shrubs, and some trees.

 The ranch Patty's family runs is on both types of land.

This area's elevation is in the 6,000-7,000 foot range, and has a climate that is milder than you might expect for Arizona, with summer highs averaging in the 80s, and lows averaging in the 50s. They can get snow in the winter. It is quite arid during the dry seasons. It had not been long in the monsoon season when we were there, so things hadn't greened up much.

I'm switching the comments back on, but if all I get is spam, they'll go back on moderation. Just don't have time to clean the comments out on a daily basis.

Fun in Arizona part 2

So, on with the vacation...

In checking through the guidebooks, we noticed that Fort Apache was not far from where we were staying. Naturally, it was a spot my husband was interested in visiting, so off we went.

There are a number of old buildings from the old fort, along with a Visitor's Center and Museum, and a school for the local tribes.

This was an original building, the Adjutant's Office, which is now a post office.

This is the school. There are also boys and girls dorms, the home lived in by an early commanding officer, the remains of the barracks, and a number of other buildings, many of which were later additions. Of course, by this time, the fort no longer has its protective walls. An interesting visit.

After the 4th, the campground cleared out pretty quickly, and for the rest of our time there, there were probably at most 10 sites that were in use. Of course, part of the time, the lower camping loop was out of use because of a big water leak in the line. Only a few stalwarts in RVs stayed there, due to the fact that they had to haul in water if they wanted it.

There was a walking trail near the lake that we went on one morning, before it got too hot. Nice views of Lake Lymon.

We also had some other campers in our site. It was fun watching them at work.

Sunrise came early, and was beautiful.

One thing that we noticed a couple of times when we came back from playing tourist elsewhere was that some of our tent stakes were up out of the ground. We weren't sure what was going on with that, if some of the other campers' kids were doing it for fun, or what. We ended up staking those lines down by tying the cords around some big rocks.

On our last afternoon there, we'd decided to spend time at the campsite to get a little rest before traveling home the next day. It was unusually hot even for there, and we eventually retreated to the tent to try to nap. It was monsoon season, and there were clouds building up around us, promising to bring the temperatures down to a more reasonable level. (Monsoon simply means 'seasonal'. It doesn't specifically denote to torrential rains they get in India and elsewhere.) The rain finally started, a light sprinkle, then a little heavier. And a bit heavier. And then the straight-line winds hit. With us inside the tent. I'm not sure how long they lasted, but I'm really, really glad that we'd staked out the tent on the side the winds were coming from with really big rocks. Otherwise, we and everything in the tent would have gone rolling off down the hill and across the campground, ending up no telling where. The wind was so strong that it was blowing rain up under the tent fly into the tent, and through the gap where the zipper pull met the other zipper pull on the back window. After that, we knew how the tent stakes had gotten pulled up before.

Our last night there, a bunch of people showed up in the campsite across the one-way road from our site. Some arrived early to set up, others arrived later in the afternoon. The campground rules were that there was supposed to be quiet time past 10 pm and before 7 am. These people chose to ignore that, and were extremely loud until nearly midnight. They also chose to ignore the fact that there were young children in nearby sites and loaded their very loud speech with a lot of curse words. The next morning, when their next nearest neighbors were packing up to leave, which happened somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30, that family and their kids made a lot of noise, slamming and banging things as they packed all their stuff back into their RV. We were already up and packing ourselves, and felt like applauding them.

On the trip to and from Arizona, we noticed a lot of these.

You might have to click to get a bigger image on that one. There were miles and miles of these, many thousand individual wind turbines, in Texas, and some in Oklahoma. I've seen one or two locally, but never on this scale. I guess that's what a wind farm is.

In my next post, I'll tell you something about the area where Patty's family lives.

Fun in Arizona

Or, Adventures in Middle-aged Camping, 2014 edition.

Click on any picture and you'll get a bigger version.

This is what many people think of when they hear the name Arizona.

This is also Arizona.

And this.

And this.

Those lightish trails running down the mountain are ski runs. No snow since it was in July, but in the mountains they do get snow.

And this is proof that it actually rains in Arizona.

So, what were we doing in Arizona last summer? Basically, it was a research trip. My main character, Patty, grew up on a ranch in an area near the real-world towns of Springerville/Eagar, and I'd long had in mind how the place should look, but thought it would be nice to go see what it felt like and sounded like, and yes, what it looked like. (I was, in fact, completely wrong about how it looked. Glad we went.)

We arrived on July 4th at Lymon Lake State Park and quickly set up our tent. We were proud of how easy it had been to set the tent up and stake it down...until the winds came up, yanked up the stakes, and threatened to send our tent tumbling across the crowded campground. After a quick scout around, we determined the best spot to set up was on an awkward slope to one side of the picnic shelter in our site. With the wind blowing, we had to clear the ground of large rocks and stake down the ground cloth for under the tent before we could stake the tent down again. This meant one of us had to fight the wind to keep the tent from blowing away while the other fought the wind to keep the ground cloth from taking flight while it was being staked down. One of the rangers came by and showed us how to tie off to big rocks to anchor the tent, which we hadn't done because we hadn't known it was allowable. This comes up again later. It took us an hour or better, fighting the wind, to get the tent set up where it would be for the next week.

Pretty much every site in the campground was taken that night, so it was pretty noisy with people getting drunk and celebrating, though we didn't have to contend with noisy fireworks because of a burn ban. It was not the most comfortable night. With the slope of the ground, I had to be careful how I moved on my air mattress because it wanted to tip me off. My husband's mattress was on a slightly more level place, apparently.

Springerville Visitors Center and Museums.

Over the next few days, we visited Springerville repeatedly for meals and a brief driving tour. A couple of our favorite places were:

Booga Red's had the best Mexican food in town, in our opinion. Tried a number of places, but liked that one best.

Visited Java Blues for a few meals, and for pie breaks. Really liked it.

Also drove up to the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert national park. If you've never been there, you should go if you're ever in Arizona. Photos don't do the colors justice.

Made our way down to Phoenix for a night. If there's a Hard Rock Cafe in driving distance, my husband will want to go there. Also got to have dinner with Cathy of Kittling: Books and her husband Denis. We had a really wonderful time visiting with them. Denis grew up in England and had a lot of interesting stories to tell, and the two of them together have had a few adventures exploring their adopted home state.

Spotted these along the way to Phoenix. Not sure what they are, but they added some nice color to otherwise sunbaked land.

To be continued in next post...


Recent Reads Continued

On with the job...

Death at the Door by Carolyn G. Hart

Part of the Death on Demand series.

The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal

#4 of the Maggie Hope series set in WWII, I believe.

Tabula Rasa by Ruth Downie

Gaius Petreius Ruso series #6. This is such a fun series. Really like her writing voice.

James R. Benn:

Billy Boyle WWII series:

A Blind Goddess
The Rest Is Silence

Raging Heat by "Richard Castle"

Ngaio Marsh:

Inspector Roderick Alleyn series:

Enter a Murderer
Death in Ecstasy
Vintage Murder
Artists in Crime
Death in a White Tie
Overture to Death
Death at the Bar
Death and the Dancing Footman
Color Scheme
Died in the Wool
Final Curtain
Swing, Brother, Swing
Night at the Vulcan
Scales of Justice
Singing in the Shrouds

Dorothy L. Sayers:

Lord Peter Wimsey series:

Clouds of Witness
Unnatural Death
Lord Peter Views the Body
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club
Strong Poison
The Five Red Herrings
Have His Carcase
Murder Must Advertise
The Nine Tailors
Gaudy Night
Hangman's Holiday
Busman's Honeymoon (to the point where the ghosts show up)

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

Thea Phipps:

Charades With a Lunatic
The Doll in the Wall
Strange Caper

Bella Wildeve series. Rereads on the first two, third is new. Fun, enjoyable stories.

Dick Francis's Damage by Felix Francis

Continues to handle the franchise well...

Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King

The most recent Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes book, set primarily in Japan this time.

P. G. Wodehouse:

My Man Jeeves
Thank You, Jeeves
Right Ho, Jeeves
The Inimitable Jeeves

Jill Paton Walsh:

Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane:

Thrones, Dominations
A Presumption of Death
The Attenbury Emeralds
The Late Scholar

Walsh picks up where Sayers left off, beginning with her notes for future adventures of the pair. The first two are set 1) shortly after the pair's marriage and honeymoon abroad, and 2) during WWII. The last two are set later in their lives, with Peter being in his sixties and the reluctant Duke of Denver. The last has a very recent copywrite, so there may be more of these coming.

Wouldn't it be Deadly by D. E. Ireland

Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins. Yes, that Doolittle and Higgins. Started it a while back, wasn't in the mood, came back and finished it later. Eliza has spunk and street smarts. Higgins is his usual arrogant self, except when he isn't. You find out why he's not married.

What I still have on my Nook to read:

Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey

And by Ngaio Marsh:

False Scent
Hand in Glove
Dead Water
Killer Dolphin

Don't know when I'll get to these, as I'm writing now and don't read a lot while I'm working.

Next post will probably be about our vacation last year...


A long overdue list of Recent Reads

Had to go back and look at the last time I'd posted one of these to see where I left off. There is a year's worth of them, so these may end up being divided...

The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson

Difficult after a year, but I seem to remember enjoying this. Goldie was not quite in the TSTL category here, which made it much better.

The Norfolk Mystery: A County Guides Mystery by Ian Sansom

First in a series. Enjoyed it. It's been a year, so I suppose I should start looking for the next one.

Michael Pearce:

A Dead Man in Malta
A Dead Man in Naples

Two more Sandor Seymour books.

Agatha Christie:

Dead Man's Folly
The Big Four
Hercule Poirot--The Complete Short Stories (haven't actually finished this)
Curtain: Poirot's Last Case
Crooked House
Death on the Nile
A Murder is Announced
Murder on the Orient Express
Peril at End House
A Caribbean Mystery
At Bertram's Hotel
Elephants Can Remember
The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side
The ABC Murders
And Then There Were None

Rhys Bowen:

Masked Ball at Broxley (short story)
Naughty in Nice
The Twelve Clues of Christmas
Queen of Hearts

More Royal Spyness adventures.

Mary Daheim:

Gone With The Win (from her Bed-and-Breakfast series)

Okay. Didn't enjoy it as much as her Alpine Advocate series.

From her Alpine Advocate Series:

The Alpine Advocate
The Alpine Betrayal
The Alpine Christmas
The Alpine Decoy
The Alpine Fury
The Alpine Gamble
The Alpine Hero
The Alpine Icon
The Alpine Journey
The Alpine Kindred
The Alpine Legacy
The Alpine Menace
The Alpine Nemesis
The Alpine Obituary
The Alpine Pursuit
The Alpine Quilt
The Alpine Recluse
The Alpine Scandal
The Alpine Traitor
The Alpine Uproar
The Alpine Vengeance
The Alpine Winter
The Alpine Xanadu
The Alpine Yeoman
The Alpine Zen

Long haul for Emma Lord and the Sheriff. Finally ended well for them.

Joan Hess:

Claire Malloy series:

Murder as a Second Language
Pride v. Prejudice

The two latest in this long-running series.

Maggody series:

Malice in Maggody

Carola Dunn:

Daisy Dalrymple series:

Death at Wentwater Court
The Winter Garden
Requiem for a Mezzo
Murder on the Flying Scotsman
Damsel in Distress
Dead in the Water
Styx and Stones
To Davy Jones Below
Rattle His Bones
The Case of the Murdered Muckraker
Die Laughing
A Mourning Wedding
Fall of a Philanderer
Gunpowder Plot
The Bloody Tower
Black Ship
Sheer Folly
Gone West
Anthem for Doomed Youth
Heirs of the Body

Newest one is out very soon, if not already.

Cornish Mystery series:

Manna from Hades
A Colorful Death
Valley of the Shadow

Interesting series with old-lady sleuth, her police officer niece, and a local artist who I hope becomes the niece's love interest. Set in the 60s or 70s, so women police officers were still a new thing.

Barbara Ross:

Clammed Up
Boiled Over

Series set in Maine, if I remember correctly. First two books. I'm planning to get the next one, which is out now.

Charles Todd:

Bess Crawford series:

The Maharani's Pearls (short story)
An Unwilling Accomplice

I really enjoy Bess Crawford. Smart and brave.

Inspector Ian Rutledge series:

A Fine Summer's Day

This one was set just before WWI, his last case before joining the army and having his life changed forever.

I will have to finish these in another post.  Whew!