Posted in Adventure, Books, Uncategorized

Tales From The River, Part 1

Monday was the Labor Day Holiday in the U.S., a day in which we celebrate having a job by taking the day off. So, my hard-working son took a rare summer holiday off from his job as a river guide, to take his friends and his parents down the Middle Fork of the American River.

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had a job they would do on their day off? Just for fun? But that’s a topic for another day.

So, back to the river. We mostly do the South Fork of the American River. It’s easy to just throw a trip together and make a day of it. We did the lower half on Saturday, which was our fifth or sixth trip this year. We got a late start this summer, due to high water in the early part.  The Middle Fork is a more technical river, with one rapid that is un-runnable, and one that is really difficult.

The first big rapid is called Tunnel Chute. Built in the late 1800s by miners, it’s well, here are some pictures of a group that went down before us.


The first boat flipped. The next one made it. 


Pretty intense. Here’s my husband sending our old school bucket boat down without us or the oars. Not so easy to flip. But it has other issues. 

The old girl fills with water and isn’t so maneuverable. Here’s a shot after sending it down the second rapid we couldn’t take passengers down.


The plan was to jump in and paddle hard to the next eddy. My son is used to self-bailing boats that are much lighter when they get to the bottom of Ruck-A-Chucky.  This is another man-made rapid where they tried to build a dam in the 30s. The river isn’t having it when man tries to control it.

So our son’s friend jumped in and tried to paddle to the next eddy, but he ended up going over the next rapid instead. Then we had to pull the boat back upstream so they could make the rapid after that, called Parallel Parking. You think it’s a challenge in a Buick? On the river, there is no driving around the block if you get the angle wrong.

But we all survived, and so did our boats. We lost two of our buckets, though. Oh, and when I spotted it downriver just above Texas Chainsaw, I rolled right on out of the boat. Then I rolled under the boat, kicked off the side of the wall, and had to swim over boulders to the other boat. I thought about staying with the kids. They did have bacon-flavored cheese in a can, but I needed to bail out the oar boat.

Stay tuned for more river stories over the next few weeks. I have a new book coming out September 19, and some of the river tales are based on real life events.

 

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Posted in Adventure, Books, Road Trip, Uncategorized

Don’t Get Swept Away If You Find Yourself In Too Deep After Diving In

 

I write Romance. The tagline I’ve come up with for my books is “Adventure Sports Romance.” This describes both my baseball books and my whitewater rafting series.

I feel like I need to write a disclaimer about my rafting books. My books are more heartwarming than heart-stopping. Kind of like rafting in normal years, where you have a few exhilarating moments scattered along with stretches of beauty and peacefulness and fun.

Even though the first book in my Swift River Romance series opens with a rescue as the meet-cute, the creek Lily is plucked from is really just a small creek, swollen from normal runoff in mid-May. Other than a few bruises and adrenaline overload, she can laugh about the experience over a few beers afterwards.

This year, the river is different. Most years on the South Fork, the biggest risks are sunburn, dehydration, or bumps and bruises from hitting a rock when falling out. Oh, and rattlesnakes. After more than twenty-five years rafting with my husband (with a few years time-out when our kids were little) my only injury was a banged up tailbone from falling out on Troublemaker and hitting a rock ten days before my first RWA National Conference. I still can’t do sit-ups, but I’m okay with that.

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Normal mid-summer flow on the South Fork

This year the water levels are high. Very high.


Notice the helmets, wetsuits, and life jackets. Also, even though this was a private trip, we have two trained guides. My husband has thirty years experience, and my son has done several training trips this spring at high water. While many college kids spent their Spring Break on a beach somewhere slamming beers, my son did a refresher safety course and first aid. He also has a food handling card.

His safety training came in handy over the long weekend. On Saturday, we planned to do a full river trip, which would have taken about four hours at this water level. (I couldn’t tell you what it was running, I leave that to my guides). But the first few rapids were big. And in our old bucket boat, we took on a lot of water. There were no eddies to pull to the side to bail and catch our breath before the next rapid. Also, my husband gave our second bucket to some guys who thought they could just use their helmets to bail. Not a good idea.

Anyway, the river finally slowed enough for us to bail and have a picnic on our boat. The rocks we usually park on are underwater now. My oldest son, the guide, decided to boogie board on a smaller rapid so he put on his fins and got out ahead of us a little ways.

Downriver, on our right we saw some guys with a throw rope and at first thought they were training. Then we saw the bright yellow paddle jacket in the water where they were aiming the rope. My husband quickly rowed to the shore and grabbed his throw rope and ran back up the bank yelling for my son to avoid the bushes as he made his way to shore.

A kayaker had become snagged by her spray skirt on some bushes and couldn’t grab hold of the rope. It took a team of experienced guides, ex-guides, and kayakers to finally pull her free and into one of the other boats. Thankfully she was able to walk with assistance to meet the ambulance that met us at the campground downstream. Fortunately, someone had a satellite phone since cell coverage is limited along the river. Only one company has coverage and residents have fought any additional towers.

She was checked out by the emergency medical crew and as far as I know didn’t need transport to the hospital.

So if you are so inspired by reading my books, that you want to get out on the river, please use an experienced commercial company. I can recommend ARTA River Trips, but there are many other companies with experience and training.

Or if you really want to play it safe, get your thrills from the safety of your eReader.

SWEPT AWAY [23795120]

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Posted in Adventure, Romance

24 Years and Counting

It’s my anniversary. My husband and and I are celebrating 24 years of happily ever after. When we were newlyweds I often joked that we would never make it as a Romance novel couple. Not enough conflict.

That is true some of the time. But trust me, we’ve had our share.

But we’ve also had our share of romantic moments. I’ll share the ones my kids won’t be embarrassed by.

Our first date was to the grocery store. No, really. We’d been hanging out, getting to know each other for about a month, but we always had at least one of his fraternity brothers around. And the fraternity’s dog Buttkiss. So the first time we were alone together was when we made a dash to Albertsons to grab some Diet Coke and ramen between our morning and afternoon classes. I left the soda in his room at the house, planning to go back for it later. And maybe a kiss.

Our first trip together was a long weekend of rafting on the Tuolumne River with his older brothers and their wives and friends. All three of the Mathews brothers were raft guides, and my then boyfriend was trying to impress me with his manliness. He was so cool, he didn’t even need a tent. Which was a problem when it rained the entire weekend. But it was still a lot of fun, and I quickly became hooked on the sport. So much so that he bought me a life jacket long before he bought me jewelry.

Actually, I can’t think of a more romantic gift. It showed he wanted to protect me and join him in an important part of his life. He bought me a new life jacket a couple of years ago, and we’ve been spending more time on the river now that our kids no longer have baseball games on the weekends.

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20 years later our love is still afloat

Our oldest son is off on a training trip with ARTA, the company my husband and his brothers worked for. Several of the guides decided to raft a stretch of the American River that isn’t usually runnable, but with all the water this year, it’s got some big rapids. Really big rapids.

My husband wanted to go up and take pictures along the way. My son was annoyed that we were stalking him. No one else’s mom showed up. And I’m not sure he’s told everyone his dad was a legend in the 90s. So they went down the first run, I shot a short video, and they looked good. Then they hit a gnarly hole. My son is the one in blue.

We ended up taking the kayaks in our truck and making sure everyone made it the rest of the way down.

We’ve had our share of adventure together. Adventure, sports, and romance.

Here’s to many, many more.

Posted in Adventure, Teenagers

Every Day Is Mother’s Day

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Forget Breakfast in bed, flowers, or a card that costs more than all of my eBooks combined. I’ve never been one for traditional gifts. And the men (my kids are teenagers and bigger than me) in my life know that. Forget jewelry, sweet raspberry topped breakfast foods, flowers that will die and I’ll have to clean out the smelly water in a few weeks when I finally discover “what is that smell?”

Sleeping in, having the coffee ready when I finally decide to get out of bed, and letting me watch old movies while I sip such coffee and write are more my style. I wouldn’t mind if my boys plant the bulbs we bought for my youngest’s debate team fundraiser. I enjoy flowers in their natural habitat. My front yard is a nice little oasis, and when it warms up just a bit will be my summer office.

Motherhood is a job but it’s also an adventure. And the rewards can’t be put in a card. I’ve had many moments in my 19 years of motherhood that are more rewarding than jewelry, flowers, or even a good night’s sleep.

Here are a few photos to illustrate why every day is Mother’s Day.

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Posted in Adventure, Teenagers, Uncategorized, Writing

Spring Break Is Here

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I think this picture sums up this Spring in Northern California perfectly. After years of only getting winter from 6-10 am, this year’s winter is lingering. Yet, signs of spring are everywhere (especially my truck, it’s covered with pollen and tiny flowers that blew off my maple tree).

As an educator, I’m ready for a well-deserved and much-needed break. But I’m also a writer, so I’m hoping to make this a productive vacation. I have some research to conduct for a new series, and then I really need to make some progress in drafting the first book in the series.

You’d think that by my eighth book, drafting would become easier, or at least more efficient. Not so much. I’m trying to outline more, and in some ways it is easier. I know what needs to happen, but there’s still a lot of writing that needs to be done between plot points.

I took two days to go skiing with my family. I’m the last one to get into the sport, despite having gone to high school in Tahoe. The rest of them started young. I still remember taking my oldest up to Mt. Shasta when he was about three. At the time they still had a rope tow and he couldn’t get the hang of it, causing a major meltdown. Not good for the snow conditions. So my father-in-law took him back to our cabin and had him ski down the driveway. After a few runs, he was a skier. It’s taken me thirty years to get the hang of it. But if I’m going to spend time with my teenagers, I need to do what they enjoy. And trust me, I’m much better at skiing than video games.

This was from a few weeks ago. My kids don’t actually ski with me. But they’re more than happy to join us for lunch. If we’re buying.

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This is the view from the top. You can see Lake Tahoe, always a beautiful sight, especially when the lake is full.

We’re expecting another storm later in the week. Which will make the last two weekends pretty spectacular.

Then we’ll look forward to spending the summer on the river. We’ll catch a few baseball games. Hopefully we’ll spend some time at our family cabin near Mt. Shasta. And the cool part, is that all of this can be considered research for my books.

 

 

Posted in Adventure, Books

Get Swept Away by a Good Book, Not The Storm

California is experiencing major storms this winter. After several years of drought, we’re finally getting a really wet winter. I mean, really, really wet. The local meteorologist said this recent storm has brought us up to 197% of normal precipitation. Wow.

Hopefully, the damage won’t be too bad, and farmers, wildlife, and cities will benefit from replenished water reserves.

Many are looking forward to epic whitewater this summer. I know I am.

When I first started writing Swept Away, the first book in the Swift River Romance series, we had experienced a fairly late winter. My kids were still playing baseball and the first month of the season was hampered by rainouts.

Then we experienced several years of drought. But last year it started to turn around, and with a lot of help from my editor, I revised the book for publication in July.

It’s currently on sale at most major retailers. Only 99 cents to get a taste of whitewater and the ultimate adventure–love.

SWEPT AWAY [23795120]

Here is a picture of the American River last summer.

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And earlier this week.

 

Stay safe, stay dry, stay inside with a good book. 

Posted in Adventure, Books, Education, Road Trip, Teenagers, Writing

End Of Summer Blues

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My youngest son started his Freshman year of high school yesterday. His brother will start college in two weeks. And I will go back to work at the elementary school on Thursday. A lot of people complain about school starting so early. They didn’t go back until after Labor Day. The reason for the early start is to finish the first semester before Christmas break. Which means no studying for finals over the holiday. No major projects due the day after New Years. I’m good with that.

The hard part for me isn’t the day on the calendar. It’s all the things I was going to accomplish over the break. Cleaning out the closets, re-covering the patio chairs, redoing the second shower that has been unusable for months. Staining the deck. Finishing the second AND third books in my Swift River Romance series.

Add in a family vacation, which could be our last with our oldest son since he’s taken a job as a whitewater guide and will be working the whole summers for the foreseeable future.

Let’s see, what did I accomplish this summer? Besides catching up on my sleep?

I finished the second book, while we were on our family vacation. We took a road trip to Jackson, Wyoming. We were able to stay at our cousin’s place in Wilson, we took day trips to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, and the boys were able to explore bike trails in the area while I worked in the shadow of the Tetons.

 

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And I ordered the parts for the shower, calculated the tile needed, and I’m in the process of trying to figure out what to do about the fact that the tile we have is about eight square feet short of what we need. And since the tile I want to use is about ten years old, it’s going to be really hard to get an exact match. I’m thinking I’m going to have to find something in a similar texture but a different color. Darker, maybe. Then there’s the demolition of the old tile and getting a plumber in to do the inside parts of the shower so I can tile the walls after ward. It’s going to have to be a weekend warrior project.

I attended the Romance Writers of America annual convention in San Diego. Had a wonderful time meeting other authors, taking workshops on craft and finding my readers, meeting with my publisher, and celebrating the world of Romance.

My fifth book, Swept Away, was released. This is the first of three books in the Swift River Romance series.

SWEPT AWAY [23795120]

I went through the editing process on In Too Deep, the second book in the series and I’m working on Diving In, the third book.

I’m working on a proposal for a new series.

We have taken a couple of trips down the American River in our ancient raft. We even got to see our oldest son while he was working and did our best to embarrass him by asking if he remembered his sunscreen when he paddled past us.

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We attended a wedding and a Bar Mitzvah. We’ve taken a couple of day hikes, gone swimming, and spent some time at our family cabin near Mt. Shasta.

So I guess it was a good summer, even if it felt too short. I have a feeling they’re only going to get shorter.