Grizzly Bears and Reminiscing

biking

I met my first (and last) grizzly bears 26 years ago in June. My boyfriend Ken and I were bicycling through the Richardson’s Mountains en route from Inuvik, NWT to Richmond, BC.

Why we started the journey was a little odd. Ken was working retail and won the prize as top camera salesman. They offered him either a big ass TV or two mountain bikes. As I couldn’t bear the thought of watching non-stop sports and car racing, he got the bikes. Despite neither of us having ridden since high school, we decided to go on thousand km trips carrying all our stuff and camping out and cooking along the way.

We had a rocky start to the trip–On the third day (early June) we got snowed in for a few days in Fort McPherson. Turns out the clay on the Dempster Highway becomes orange mush when wet. And although it was very sweet of the locals to share, I am not a big fan of their Itsu treat (a frozen ball of lard, white sugar and dried caribou meat ) or the other specialty–the innards of the white fish. Go figure. (these may seem like small things, but when you’re bicycling long distances, food becomes an obsession)

The road dried out and, after several days building up our butt callouses and quads, we were finally starting to get some kilometers under our tires. We’d already cycled for about 80 kms and were looking for a suitable place to pitch tent when Ken noticed the bear scat.

Shit.

Literally.

Our options were  1) to stay and pray the bear had moved along. 2) backtrack a few kms until we felt safe. Or 3) press on forward and just hope for the best. We took door number 3 and moved on soon to be joined by the crazy Belgium guy we’d met earlier in Fort McPherson. (His plan was to ride all day and night while the sunlight was shining 24/7. As he was travelling faster and further, that was the only day we travelled together.)

At the top of a hill, we looked down to see a bear cub on the left at the bottom just before the highway climbed yet another huge hill. Again we discussed options. Crazy Belgium wanted to ride down quietly to get a picture of said cub. Ken explained if there was a cub, there probably was a mama grizzly willing to kill anyone getting anywhere near her baby.

I wasn’t prepared to backtrack (on a clay highway, every kilometer is a hard earned victory) so we cycled as fast as we could, ringing our bicycle bells and loudly singing the “We Don’t Have Any Peanut Butter song.” (note lyrics and tune of the WDHAPB song are lame but, to date, it had kept bears from raiding our tent)

Halfway down, Ken yelled, “Look to your right!”

Shit. Well, not literally.

In this case there was a huge mama grizzly bear about 3 meters from the road with a smaller cinnamon coloured cub (it looked just like a stuffed Gund) between its front paws. We couldn’t stop and go back so we just got louder and peddled faster. But you don’t go too fast with heavily loaded mountain bikes on clay and climbing up the next hill, we were even slower. Luckily Mama just gave us the stink eye as she herded her little baby away from the road.

We cycled for about 30 more kilometers on adrenaline alone before I finally felt safe enough for us to camp. The crazy Belgium continued on still grumbling about us not letting him get the photo of a lifetime.

We saw a ton of wildlife on that trip: foxes, caribou, ptarmigans, black bears — not nearly as scary, but still dangerous — as well as the ubiquitous squirrels, chipmunks and gray jays. But my main memory will always be of the sheer terror and awe as we passed way too close by the mama grizzly and lived to tell the tale.

Looking back on that month long expedition, it feels almost like someone else’s story. I was a different person, living in a different time. I do occasionally wonder if Ken is still out there somewhere bicycling and photographing wildlife, but probably he has finally gotten his dream of travelling in an old VW van.

We live, experience, and then move on, carrying only diminishing memories. I guess that’s why I don’t really believe in having a bucket list. Yes, I’m glad we did that massive bike trip (as well as the one from Toronto to St John’s Nfld)  And having survived them, I gained more confidence in my day to day life.  But it makes more sense to me just to be open to whatever opportunity is in front of you, instead of having a pre-set list to make you feel like you are merely passing time in your current life waiting to tick off exciting things to-do lists sometime in the future.

Carpe Diem! Because as The  Specials said back in 1980 (and Guy Lombardo, Doris Day  and many others before them) Enjoy Yourself, It’s Later Than You Think.

 

colouring books for adults?

I am happily writing away at the third book in my werewolf trilogy, tentatively titled, “A BITE TO REMEMBER.”  But I took a short break to do some art work outside with my sister.  (we are actually just painting on a bass relief art work that the original colours had all faded off.)

su in the early stages
su in the early stages

And here is where we left off.

still a work in progress
still a work in progress

I’ll post the final product (hopefully next month) when we’re done.

big sale!

Just to let you know, Crimson Romance has bundled The Spanish Acquisition along with seven other great romances into one book, Tall, Dark and Wealthy and it is now on sale at Amazon for only 99 cents.

tall dark and wealthy

Or you can still buy The Spanish Acquisition by itself on Amazon as an e-book (for $3.99) or as a trade paperback at ($14.95) if you are so inclined.

9781440559983_5inch_300dpi

And, as always, if you read and enjoy my books, please consider  writing a review on Amazon as reviews are the way Amazon decides which books to promote.

Thank you.

 

Meet the Cows of Steveston – Angus

angus

Angus (nee Angela)

Angus is outstanding in her field. (she asked me to put that) A cowmedian since her first moo, Angus dreams of hitting it big in California and eventually landing her own sit-com tentatively called Cow is the New Black. She tried out her newest routine on me, but my appreciation was tempered by 1) not understanding the intricacies of chewing cud and 2) my dislike of flatulence humour. Apparently her jokes are loved by cows (and even the occasional goat) and she feels the farm market is a vastly underserved. She plans to kill with her comedy, after all laughter is just one letter away from slaughter.

Meet the Cows of Steveston – Ginny

ginny2

Ginny

Not antisocial, just painfully shy, Ginny only agreed to this interview if I promised to shoot her from her “good” side. She is the single mom of four–don’t ask her about the dads–and has faced many struggles. Currently two of her children are estranged, but Alex, her youngest, says, “Mom has always been very loving and nurturing, it’s just that sometimes life just kicks you in the udder, you know?”

 

Meet the Cows of Steveston – Tiffany

tiffany

Tiffany is a pearl amongst swine–I mean bovine. The ethereal, artistic type, Tiffany is often seen dancing alongside her plodding peers. Her dream is to one day join Idaho’s famous dance company, Cows Across America. Meanwhile, she practices daily and continues to spread joy in her small Steveston community.

more mini reviews

Still going through the books I read last week to see which ones you should read.  Isn’t it nice of me to cull through them to save you time and effort?

side note–in my first set of reviews, I slammed an unnamed Harlequin Presents book.  I don’t mean to imply all of this Mills & Boon line are bad, just that that particular book was outstanding.

onward:

10) This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak  Amazon

genre Women’s Fiction/Romantic Tear Jerker

After serving 17 years in prison for a murder she didn’t commit, gutsy outcast braves the small town’s hatred as she tries to forge a bond with the son she left behind with her ex-boyfriend.  She also must repress her love for her ex to maintain her fragile existence.

verdict Sniff. I’m still recovering emotionally from this book. It grabbed me from start to finish. My only complaint was the heroine was just a little too good to be true.  Still, you should buy it.

11) On A Night Like This by Barbara Freethy  Amazon

genre Firefighter/Nerdy Girl Next Door

Sara is home from N.Y. to try to connect with her cold, mentally abusive father.  Aiden returns to deal with his guilt about  the work related accident that claimed his best friend. They both try to repress their simmering lust for each other. (guess how well that works...)

verdict  Fabulous, steamy and gripping!  I might actually buy another of Barbara Freethy’s books, I enjoyed this one so much.  And that’s saying a lot.  As an author I get so many free books, I rarely seek them out. But well, you know the feeling when a book hangs onto you even after you’ve finished it and are trying to move on?  Sigh. Buy it now.

and a bonus book because I kept reading after my computer came back…

12) Busted by Shiloh Walker  Amazon

genre Romance

Reclusive author, Trey Barnes, falls in lust with the librarian  running the children’s program. The lust is reciprocated, but due to circumstances–they’re both single-handedly raising 5 year olds and have tragic pasts–they dance around each other (and do steamier things) but won’t commit.  There is some mystery with Trey’s twin brother, Travis, but that appears to be set up for a different novel and really only serves to muddy the plot of this one.

verdict  Good sex scenes but I got a little tired of the dithering as the heroine spent what seemed like a third of the book worrying about how to tell him her terrible secret.  Recommended if you just want a sexy read.

 

 

 

 

My Reading List (part two)

Whilst awaiting the return of my wounded computer, I binge read many of the books piled up beside my bookshelf. (yes, my bookshelf overfloweth and I’m trying to cull.)  Here are snap reviews of some more of the books I sped through.

5) Alejandro’s Sorceress by Alyssa Day  Amazon

genre Humorous Paranormal Romance Novella

A paranormal cop and a witch join forces (and lust after each other) in a battle against a garden creature that turns people and animals to stone.

verdict  Snappy and fun writing style that makes me want to rush out and buy other works by this author.  Unfortunately in this story she forgot to include much of a plot. The cop’s partner is turned to stone, but that doesn’t seem to be much of a concern for anyone.  Meanwhile, an army of wacky extras run in and out of the story solely for comic effect.  definitely try another work by this author.

6) Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley  Amazon

genre  Women’s Fiction with Romance and Mystery

Actress travels to Italy to star in a play written for the actress she was named after.  A couple of the staff at the mansion/theatre they are staying at go missing. Some mystery evolves, along with a bit of discreet smut, and then all is solved.

verdict Lush descriptions and fantastic attention to details, but the pace dragged for the first half of the book and the eventual denouement was anticlimactic.  But great descriptions and characters.  It was also interesting to see backstage of a theatrical production.   try something else by this author.

7) Someone Like Her by Sandra Olsen  Amazon

genre  Navy Seal Romance

Navy Seal lusts after a co-worker’s sister but due to his slutty reputation and inability to commit to one woman, is determined not to have her.  She’s got issues of her own, but once they are thrown together trying to thwart her would-be assailant, all bets are off.

verdict Exciting and sexy read. recommend

8) This Thing Called Love by Miranda Liasson  Amazon

genre Contemporary Romance with Baby

Successful and driven big city editor returns to her small hometown after inheriting dead sister’s 4 week old baby.  She is torn between career, sexy ex-boyfriend she had left behind years ago, and baby guilt.  (no one in town seems to be actually mourning the dead parents much. then again, how much grief do you want in a romance?)

verdict  Easy to read and easy to forget. a tepid recommendation

9) When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn  Amazon

genre Historical Lite

Michael Sterling, the Earl of Sterling, has hidden his unrequited love for Francesca, the wife of his cousin, for years.  But now that she is widowed, will their passion win out over their sense of propriety?

Well of course it will.  This wouldn’t be much of a romance if passion didn’t win, but Julia Quinn writes a delightful and steamy story of how these two charming lovebirds get together despite themselves.

verdict Sexy, fluffy fun without too much of those pesky historical details to drag the pace down.  recommend

and more book reviewlets to come.  stay tuned…

last days of sale!!!

Love At First Sniff is on sale at Amazon.com for 99 cents for August only!

new review:  Witty and hot

on August 28, 2015
Loved this book! It was hard to put it down and yet didn’t want to finish it so fast. It’s like a cake you enjoying so much that you want to devour but still want to enjoy a bit each day. I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but do yourselves a favor and grab the copy of this book and the next one in the series “Love at first bite” and spend some time in the company of sexy werewolves that are all but scary. These books explore the playful, puppy side of the werewolves and they are great.
first sniff

When Rosie meets Lucas in a crowded nightclub, it is love at first sniff. But after a fabulous night together she overhears that his ex-girlfriend is pregnant with his child and he is being pushed into a shotgun wedding. Rosie figures why not just give up and buy that trailer in hurricane country? She obviously already has the lifestyle down pat.

Lucas has finally met the woman of his dreams, sexy, funny, bright. The only trouble is- she’s human. His werewolf clan won’t allow him to marry her. Meanwhile they’re trying to push him to marry a suitable mate within the pack. The fact that his only brother was neutered by the SPCA a few years ago only increases the pressure for him to produce offspring. If he can just downplay the negative aspects of being a werewolf – fleas, the desire to chase motorcycles, and Uncle Harold – maybe he can convince Rosie that it’s not such a bad lifestyle choice.

My 8 Days of Reading

If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing during the last eight days whilst my computer languished in the cold and unfeeling confines of the computer infirmary, well wonder no more.

I have been reading a variety of romance genres.

Non-stop.

Eleven books–well two of them were novellas–have been shifted from my “to be read” pile over to my “who should I pass this book to?” list.  And apparently binge reading lends itself to snap decisions on what worked for me, and what did not. Here’s my reading list:

  1. Once A Princess by Johanna Lindsey  Amazon

genre A bodice ripper–honest. The hero kidnaps an American woman he claims is a princess and seduces the reluctant virgin on the boat trip back to his country where (after they fall in love) he marries he and makes her his queen. The only thing missing was the shirtless Fabio cover.

verdict Despite my feminist sensibilities,  I did find this novel scintillating and fun.

2) Chocolate Muse by Zelda Benjamin  Amazon

genre Chocolate  Chick Lit    A chocolate pastry chef meets up with the food critic who destroyed her reputation. Lust and dessert preparations ensue.

verdict Tasty, but not very fulfilling.

3) Something Sweeter by CandisTerry  Amazon

genre  Cowboy Romance  A cynical event planner from Seattle goes to small town Texas to see if her father’s southern fiancée is a gold digger.  She falls for the woman’s cowboy son as much as the huge mass of lovin’ Texas family.

verdict  Fun and Steamy! What did y’all expect, Dostoyevsky?

4) a Harlequin Presents Novel

genre Ruthless Billionaire/Sweet Virgin romance.   Wounded ballerina falls for cruel (but gorgeous) billionaire after he threatens to fire her brother-in-law unless she goes out with him.  Her pure love redeems his blackened soul and they both learn to heal from their sorry pasts.

verdict Remarkably poor writing and editing especially considering it was from an award winning writer.  Aside from the lame plot and thinly-drawn characters, there were a couple of “Z”s (?) randomly placed mid story,  incorrect word usage, and an uncurbed addiction to exclamation marks!!!

my reading list will be continued in next post…