Road Trip Day 4 and 5

IMG_2006These two days are the days we spent in the San Francisco area. On Sunday morning we got up early, picked up our daughter Emily, and took off for downtown San Francisco. After some confusion, (if you take the bus sightseeing tour – the bus stops are NOT clearly marked) we got onto a double-decker tour bus. The bus took us around a loop that included Fisherman’s Wharf, China town, Little Italy, The Ferry Building, etc. Leo, our tour guide was great fun. Mr. Dickens seemed most impressed.

After getting an overview of the city, we got off and walked down Fisherman’s Wharf.  Our first order of business was lunch. We stopped at Lou’s Cafe and sat street-side.  The fare for the day was crab bisque and clam chowder in a San Francisco sourdough bowl. YUM! We found out that even if you take sourdough starter home from here, the yeast that gives it that distinctive flavor, will not survive. It can only live in San Francisco.DSC00076a

After our lunch, we wandered amongst a plethora of shops, artisans, and street performers. Not to mention a pier full of sea lions!

The day was ended with a pizza dinner with Emily and her friends.

The next morning we got up bright and early to catch a boat out to Alcatraz.  It was a windy crossing. Luckily Mr. Dickens is not prone to seasickness.

The buildings, stories, and history are amazing. Some of the buildings are mere ruins, but the prison cell block stands as strong as ever. A guide was kind enough to close us into a solitary cell,alcatraz which was effectively creepy. We were able to see the cells where prisoners had carved away at an air vent with spoons to escape. We also saw bullet holes and grenade damage from where other prisoners attempted escape, but were caught. In the history of Alcatraz only three prisoners were unaccounted for, but it is assumed that they drowned in the rough, icy waters of San Francisco Bay.DSC00116b

The other fascinating story behind Alcatraz is of the 70 workers and their families that lived on the small island. Besides the warden’s house, there were apartments where the families raised their children. The children played in the shadow of the imposing high security prison. There were even extensive gardens planted there.  Alcatraz means “Pelican” and it was named that because of the vast amounts of birds on the island when it was first discovered. Today Alcatraz has again become a sanctuary for birds. It was good that we took Mr. Dickens along as he has always had a fascination with visiting prisons as well as wildlife. We even met some fellow Dickens fans along the way. Charles didn’t even mind being locked in a cell for a short time.Dickens in jail2

After returning on the ferry, we had lunch in one of the many restaurants along Fisherman’s Wharf. Did you know that there are so many restaurants in San Francisco that you can eat breakfast, lunch. and dinner at a different restaurant for three years, and never have to eat at the same place twice?Dickens Maritime

Our next stop was the Maritime Museum where we learned that during the Gold Rush, over 700 sailing vessels came into the harbor. The crews abandoned the ships to find gold. Now those hundreds of ships and their cargo, are the fill under the financial district.  Where else could you dig a hole, and almost certainly find buried treasure?

From there we went to Ghiradelli Square, where of course we had to buy chocolate and eat chocolate sundaes. DOUBLE YUM!IMG_2045

From downtown San Francisco we drove down scenic Route 1. The cliffs, the trees, and the beaches, were beautiful. We stopped a few times to get out and walk a bit. Our final destination was Moss Beach, which was lovely. The area is dotted with cottages. There are tons of imposing cypress trees, draped in bright green moss. Rocky cliffs lead down to the beach.DSC00147bmossbeach

We ate at the Moss Beach Distillery which was the best dining experience so far. The Moss Beach Distillery gets it’s name from the days in which it was a speakeasy during Prohibition. It is also, reportedly haunted by the Blue Lady.  There is a patio that overlooks the ocean where many come to view the sunset. The restaurant provides blankets and chairs huddled around large fire pits, where you can take food or a hot chocolate on cool nights. Unfortunately it was raining, and the fog obscured any chance of seeing the sunset, but it gives us something to look forward to the next time we visit.

After a tear filled good-bye it was time to call it a day, and the end of our time in San Francisco.

Road Trip Day 3

Today was certainly the best day so far. First of all, this leg didn’t need to be one of those 10 – 12 hour days on the road. We did start off with a little hitch – a flat tire.

Luckily there was a Tires Plus right down the road from our hotel in Reno, but it did cost us some time.

We left Nevada, and entered California. DSC00045The landscape improved drastically, and although the mountain driving is a bit rougher for the driver (a big thank-you to John), the beauty makes the long hours stuffed in a car a million times more pleasurable. Sierra Nevada

We only had one stopped planned, and that was to the Donner Memorial. I would think most people have heard of the Donner party which was a group of families who left from Springfield, Illinois and crossed the country, making their way to California. The name comes from George Donner, who eventually led the group. Most people will only remember one thing –  that the group of early settlers to the west were reduced to cannibalism to survive being trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The story of what these people went through, what theyachieved in a time of covered wagons, and the hardship they endured, is much more interesting than just what they had for dinner. I think Mr. Dickens was impressed with the tale.

I will not give the full story here, if you’d like more details click here: Donner

Dickens DonnerThe sight of the Donner encampment is now the sight of a memorial park. The camps of the families were actually spaced pretty far apart as by the time they had gotten to this point, after seven months of a long and arduous journey, already weak and hungry, they weren’t on the best of terms. The memorial itself sits at the site where the Breen and Murphy families camped. The group had come across some old cabins left from mountain men that had been there before. A short distance away is the site of the Graves/Reed cabin, and even farther way is where the Donner family set up camp in tents. The site rests on the edge of Donner Lake. Donner Memorial

The memorial has a statue on a large stone plinth. The height of the plinth represents the height of the snow that winter in 1846/47.  This statue also stands at the sight of the Breen cabin.  There is a path that leads around the monument, and I have to say, we didn’t want to step off of the path, knowing that many of those people perished on that soil.

After a walk through the museum, and a short film about the Donner Party, we took a walk down a nature trail to where the Murphy cabin stood. There is still the remnants of the fireplace standing there.  Not only were we standing on Murphy Fireplacea historic site, but the site of a mass grave. We were actually standing on the grave itself. The survivors had been rescued in a series of three relief efforts. After the last survivor was rescued, a mass grave was dug in the floor of the Murphy cabin and most of the bodies were buried there. There were also some bodies buried at the other cabin sites.

The experience was interesting, awe inspiring, goose bump inducing, and a bit sad. Out of 81 people trapped on that mountain, only 45 survived.

After our exploration of the Donner Memorial, we drove around Donner Lake, pulled off to the side of the road, and hiked to a rock outcropping above a valley. It was a beautiful place to have a picnic lunch. picnic spot

From there we drove all the way through the Tahoe National Forest, through Sacramento, and San Francisco, to Daly City where we were reunited with our daughter, Emily.DSC00075

Road Trip Day 2

The same disclaimer goes for today. I’ve gotten a little over four hours of sleep after being on the road for 14 hours. Any errors are completely out of my control. I’m lucky I remember how to transfer pictures onto my computer at this point.

As we drove out of Cheyenne, Wyoming, we found ourselves surrounded by rolling landscape, dotted with buttes and  framed by mountains.

DSC00007

Although not as spectacular as the Alps which has fascinated Charles Dickens in the past. I think he found the view as interesting as we did.

Utah, was even lovelier, with the  snow capped peaks of the Wasatch Range. We could see reminders of the 2002 Winter Olympics. The US Olympic team training center is here as well. The ski jump near Summit Park was awe inspiring and fear inducing.  YIKES!

From there we descended from approximately 7000 ft. in elevation, to only 4000 ft. in Salt Lake City. Here we made a stop at the Great Salt Lake.

DSC00018

As we drove through the Great Salt Desert, it’s amazing to think of those early pioneers crossing such a vast, uninhabitable place. As I mentioned yesterday, our path is close, and sometimes the same as the Oregon, Mormon and California trails.  This was part of the Hastings cut-off that the doomed Donner Party took.

DSC00020

There is salt stretching as far as the eye can see. Animal nor plant can survive here. There was no food or water for the animals. The waterholes were  brackish and poisonous. Although the salt desert seems like it would be a nice hard surface for the wagons, there are places when the surface crust is thin and the horses, oxen and wagons would break through the crust and sink into the mud below.Bonneville

We stopped at the Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway, where many a land speed record has been broken. Lunch was at the Salt Flats Cafe. The walls were covered by photos of racers with their rocket cars, and souped up motorcycles, many autographedDSC00035

 

Besides the Ruby Mountains,  there was not much beauty to behold. The remainder of Nevada was long and desolate, and made our journey less than thrilling. We were relieved when we finally pulled into Reno, Nevada.

I’m not too sure what Mr. Dickens thought of the bright lights and cacophony of sound from the slot machines, but we came out with a few more dollars in our pocket than we started with.

2013-05-24_22-38-09_142

We are looking forward to more scenic mountain views tomorrow, along with a reunion with our daughter in San Francisco.

Road trip Day 1

I will first apologize for any typos and grammar errors. It’s 2:00am after a very long, sleep deprived day yesterday. On Thursday. we got off to a rough start. Thanks to a poorly set alarm, o-dark-hundred started a little later than anticipated. We wanted to be up by 2:00 am, but it ended up being 3:38am. Regardless, we got on the road (without forgetting anything that 2013-05-23_13-26-33_218we can think of right now), without too much commotion.

The van was already packed. Thankfully Mr. Dickens is a small fellow – there really wasn’t any spaces or cubbyholes left unfilled. So the four of us, my husband Jim, our friends John and Sue, and I crammed ourselves into our allotted spaces and we hit the road.  This will be the most boring part of our trip. It’s our intention to get to San Francisco as quickly as possible, then slow down and do some sightseeing.  Not to say that our trip was boring. Oh no, the reason the four of us travel together so well, is that we can find humor in almost anything. There were many times that we were laughing so hard we were in tears. I’m very glad that, for a Victorian fellow, Charles Dickens was a bit of a wild guy. I’d hate to think we made him too uncomfortable! Even so, I’m pretty sure the ladies of his day were a bit more reserved than Sue and I are, and the gentlemen were a little more “gentlemanly” than Jim or John. I am certain he never heard song lyrics like the ones we were coming up with.

We left Wisconsin and drove south into Illinois, then west across the Mississippi River into Iowa.  The only sights we saw in Iowa were from the car window as we zoomed by, which consisted of the worlds largest truck stop, and newly sprouted corn fields.

Lunch was a picnic lunch eaten at a truck stop somewhere between Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska. We took turns at driving, except for Mr. Dickens of course.  Each of us tried to nap at different times, but without the ability to stretch our legs out, none of us got any really useful rest.  We did learn a little bit about the Oregon and Mormon trails which both parallel I-80, one to the north, and one to the south. I-8o is the second longest transcontinental highway, which runs all the way from New York City, to San Francisco, California. It is also the highway that most approximates the Lincoln Highway – the first road across America. Dickens Nebraska

 

 

 

It was exciting to a small degree when we finally crossed the state line from Nebraska into Wyoming. Nebraska can feel like the longest state in the country. If you have never been in this part of the country it is desolate. There is nothing but scrub, tumbleweeds,2013-05-23_20-21-10_970 and cattle ranches – lots and lots of cattle. Our rule of thumb is to always eat whatever is the local specialty, and that would be steak.  So after a very scrumptious steak dinner at Little Bear Inn, although as you can see by this picture, their bear wasn’t all that little!  We finally hunkered down at a La Quinta hotel at 9:00pm (which, since we crossed time zones would be 10:00pm Wisconsin time).

I would like to say I got a good nights rest, but as I said in the beginning, it’s only 2:00am and I’m awake typing this. In just two hours we will be up and back on the road. Today we aim for Reno, Nevada. Yesterday we traveled just over 1000 miles. today will be almost the same. At least we will be leaving the Great Plains and entering the Rocky Mountains.  I know Mr. Dickens was not too fond of America in his past visits, but he’s never been to this part of the country. I have visited this beautiful mountain range before, and I think he may be in for a treat.

A Road Trip with Charles Dickens

As some of you already know, I seemed to have developed an obsession…no… fascination…umm…let’s say a fondness for Charles Dickens. It started with an idea about a Christmas story and ended up with months of research.  Although my Christmas story is finished and published, the man just won’t leave me alone. There may even be a full-length novel in the future, because Mr. Dickens doesn’t seem content with just a novella.

In the process of all this research, I started a Facebook page called “The Charles Dickens Project.”  http://www.facebook.com/TheCharlesDickensProject

Every week I post summaries on the Dickens book I’m currently reading (I’ve decided to read all of his books, in order), biographical facts, Dickensian term definitions, quotes, and other fun facts about the author.  I also share links with other pages dedicated to Dickens including the Charles Dickens Museum in London.

Totally unrelated to this, my daughter, Emily moved to California. Well she flew to California to stay, the moving she left with us. So on Thursday morning, at 936028_520125411367979_1224355279_no-dark-hundred, as we like to call the wee hours of the morning. my husband, another couple and I are embarking on a road trip from Wisconsin to California in van filled with my all my daughters possessions. We decided that if we have to drive, we might as well make the best of it, so our plans include stopping to see as many sites as we can in two weeks.

A couple of days ago, the Charles Dickens Museum posted a link on Facebook about a fun event they were hosting. It’s called Dickens On Tour, and it’s similar to Flat Stanley. They posted a picture of Charles Dickens and asked followers to print it. The idea is to take Charles Dickens with you to interesting places and snap a picture to post online. Could this be more perfect?

So now we have an additional passenger with us for our trip across America!  I will post pictures along the way of Mr. Dickens enjoying the sights. To kick off this adventure, I took Mr. Dickens to work with me on my last day before we start our vacation. It is well known that Mr. Dickens loves animals. He had many pets over the years including several dogs, cats, two ravens (including the raven that inspired Barnaby Rudge as well as Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’), a canary, and a pony.  Lucky for him, my day job is in a veterinary clinic.  As you can see, he looked happy to be there with me, and was thrilled to meet Gibson, the dog of one of our doctors.

If you’d like to follow us on our cross country adventure, you can find us on Facebook or keep checking here! I will keep you up to date on the things we see and the places we visit.

 

Mr. Dickens - YOU ARE HERE.
Mr. Dickens – YOU ARE HERE.

 

 

Who was Charles Dickens?

Christmas Carole Cover Design kindle

Who was Charles Dickens: the man, the husband, the father? It’s a controversy that will never end. After doing extensive research, I’ve come to my own conclusions which I talk about in the forward to my novella “Christmas Carole.” I believe that Charles Dickens loved his family. It seems that his and Catherine’s personalities were very different, and they were not a good match for each other. I think Mr. Dickens didn’t always handle the pressures of fame, work, worries, and family well and he certainly had flaws, but who doesn’t? I also think, just like today, the things the public think about celebrities are only half-truths. One thing I can tell you with certainty was that Charles Dickens often devoted his time, his craft, and his money to many charitable causes. And no one can deny that he provided the world with quality literature.

Here is the forward to “Christmas Carole.”

There have been many books written about Charles Dickens and just as many opinions as to the type of man he was. There is also much speculation as to the nature of his relationship with his wife, Catherine. They range from a loving relationship between two emotionally damaged individuals, to one of deceit and heartbreak. Given that the accounts written are about someone who was, and still is, a public figure, I can only assume that the truth lies somewhere in between. Since I haven’t lived in his home, I can only speculate. I have come to my own conclusions based on all the research I’ve done, and use that as my basis for the Charles portrayed in this story.

Some things are less debated, and seem fairly clear. Charles Dickens was a brilliant, creative, driven, hardworking man. He was haunted by his experiences as a child, and the time he spent in a boot blacking factory to support his family while his father was in debtor’s prison. He used those experiences in his quest to enlighten the public about the plight of the poor and underprivileged. Those experiences also drove him to succeed, always fearful of living in poverty once again.

Regardless of little education, Dickens was a man of wisdom and great talent. I can only hope I have done the great author justice.

Now in Paperback!!!!

Christmas Carole is now available in paperback for just $5.95! Just in time for Christmas!


Just click on book cover below to purchase.


“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.”
-Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Carole is a modern day, career-driven woman who has little time for love and even less time for Christmas. While escaping the flirtation of a co-worker and the trappings of an office Christmas party, she meets a mysterious stranger. With this man, she travels back in time to 1843 London. There, she becomes a guest in the home of Charles Dickens, as he writes “A Christmas Carol.” People and events that inspire Mr. Dickens become part of Carole’s life. The secrets she learns about the man, his life, and his writing affect her in ways she could never have imagined.

This novella is a story about love, life, the Christmas spirit, and redemption.

Christmas Carole

 

IT’S HERE!!!!

Christmas Carole

E- book available on Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com (Paperback coming soon!)

Only 99 cents!

 

“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.”
―Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Carole is a modern day, career-driven woman who has little time for love and even less time for Christmas. While escaping the flirtation of a co-worker and the trappings of an office Christmas party, she meets a mysterious stranger. With this man, she travels back in time to 1843 London. There, she becomes a guest in the home of Charles Dickens, as he writes “A Christmas Carol.” People and events that inspire Mr. Dickens become part of Carole’s life. The secrets she learns about the man, his life, and his writing affect her in ways she could never have imagined.

 

Hump Day

For most people hump day is Wednesday, the day of the week in which one has crossed the center and is now in a race for the finish of the week. For me, hump day is similar, but different.

I wish I could say I was one of those people who are disciplined enough to get their work done well ahead of when it’s needed, but alas, I am anything but. If there’s not some deadline looming over me, I procrastinate. In all fairness, I do lead a very busy life. I have my writing, and all the book events, marketing, seminars and classes that go along with it.  I also work a full-time day job, and have a home and family to take care of. Add in any kind of social activities and don’t forget holidays, and you can understand why I have very limited time to get things accomplished. I can use lack of time as an excuse, but I know myself. I need a deadline, and will dawdle about until I’m in a panic because I’m running out of time.

That goes for everything. I’ve had paint chips taped to my kitchen wall for a year now. It really wouldn’t take much time to actually pick a color and paint the small accent wall. But it will take a party, or inviting someone over that hasn’t seen the house to motivate me, and even then, I can picture myself staying up until midnight the night before praying that it will dry in time for said event.

This month the project du jour is a Christmas novella. My story is  about a modern day woman who once fancied being an author, but had been disillusioned and embittered by life. She meets an unusual stranger and travels back in time with him to 1843 London, where she finds herself the guest in the home of Charles Dickens, as he is in the process of writing his classic “A Christmas Carol.” Once there, Carole (get the pun) learns (you guessed it) the meaning of Christmas from the father of Christmas spirit(s), himself. When I set out to write this Christmas story, I actually gave myself a year. Does it really take me a year to write a novella? Nope. Yet, here I am, on November 28th, racing through edits, hoping against hope, that “Christmas Carole” will be out in time for Christmas.  What does all of this have to do with “hump day” you ask?

Because I’m always writing right up until deadline, there are times when my mouth is telling the public “I will have a new book out for Christmas,” however, I will not have enough written to have any confidence in that statement.  I tell my readers on Facebook to expected it, and only have three chapters complete. I post a flier that promises it’s  “coming soon” at a book signing, and only have five chapters written. I say it to the bookstore owner who will be selling my book-that-does-not-yet-exist, when I have seven chapters written, but still don’t have a clue as to how the story will end. Hump day, for me, is the day when I have enough written, and know enough about where the story is going, that I realize I actually have a chance of meeting my deadline.  It isn’t based on any formula. It’s not based a certain word count. It isn’t even the half-way point. It’s some imaginary point-in-time in which the story is complete in my head, if not on the page, and enough pages are written that I feel I can complete it in time. It’s a feeling in my gut that I have gotten over the hump and I’m cruising for the finish line.

Last week Saturday was hump day. The story wasn’t finished, but it was whole. This past weekend I completed the last chapter, and this week is edit-mania. If all goes well “Christmas Carole will be available as an e-book within a week. Paperback is a bit more of a gamble since I have to depend on editors, on cover design, and on Amazon’s Createspace to get  the book printed quickly, once I approve the proof.

But you know, Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” in only six weeks, finishing it at the end of November and having the final product in hand by mid-December and that was ages before computers and print-on-demand.  If he can do it, so can I!

So…

COMING SOON! IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS!

Christmas Carole by D.L. Marriott

Sure to be a holiday favorite!

More on Dickens and The Pickwick Papers

 

More on the Pickwick Papers. We find ourselves along with the Pickwickian’s at Eatonswill, in the midst of a very emotional and energetic election that sounds not all that unlike what have been experiencing in today’s times – although, a bit more dramatic, lest some cab driver has dumped members of a political party in a river, somewhere.

Mr. Pickwick and the election at Eatonswill.- although, a bit more dramatic, lest some cab driver has dumped members of a political party in a river, somewhere.

While spending some time at the Peacock Inn, away from all the baby kissing and politics, Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass are told the tale of Tom Smart.

It is the tale of a poor traveler, who stops at an Inn to get out of a storm. The Inn’s owner is a widow, who Tom finds himself attracted to. But the widow is being courted by another man. Tom has a bit too much to drink, and once in bed, discovers the chair in the room, has come to life. After a discussion with said sentient chair, who now appears as a man to Tom, it tells him how to get rid of the other man. Why you ask? It seems the chair has a personal vendetta against the “tall man” as he calls him.Quote:

‘”You must have seen some queer things,” said Tom, with an inquisitive look.
‘”You may say that, Tom,” replied the old fellow, with a very complicated wink. “I am the last of my family, Tom,” said the old gentleman, with a melancholy sigh.
‘”Was it a large one?” inquired Tom Smart.
‘”There were twelve of us, Tom,” said the old gentleman; “fine, straight-backed, handsome fellows as you’d wish to see. None of your modern abortions–all with arms, and with a degree of polish, though I say it that should not, which it would have done your heart good to behold.”
‘”And what’s become of the others, Sir?” asked Tom Smart–
‘The old gentleman applied his elbow to his eye as he replied, “Gone, Tom, gone. We had hard service, Tom, and they hadn’t all my constitution. They got rheumatic about the legs and arms, and went into kitchens and other hospitals; and one of ’em, with long service and hard usage, positively lost his senses–he got so crazy that he was obliged to be burnt. Shocking thing that, Tom.”
‘”Dreadful!” said Tom Smart.
‘The old fellow paused for a few minutes, apparently struggling with his feelings of emotion, and then said–
‘”However, Tom, I am wandering from the point. This tall man, Tom, is a rascally adventurer. The moment he married the widow, he would sell off all the furniture, and run away. What would be the consequence? She would be deserted and reduced to ruin, and I should catch my death of cold in some broker’s shop.”

The chair/man gives Tom a letter that proves that the tall man is already married. In the morning Tom finds nothing unusual about the chair sitting in his room, perhaps it was all just an alcohol induced dream. But it couldn’t have been, for Tom has the incriminating letter.

In the end, the letter is all the proof Tom needs to force out the tall man and win the girl.