Travel and the Car:
Yes, there was a Chrysler Voyager, a Chrysler Caravan, a Chrysler Grand Caravan, and a Chrysler Town and Country. These were the original minivans in the days when Chrysler was the only producer. They eventually cut out the Caravan, the Voyager, and the Town and Country and continued with only the Grand Caravan until just about last year when they came out with the Chrysler Pacifica. We test drove that car last year and just a few weeks ago. It was tempting. I wanted to buy it especially since they had a hybrid plug in model which I thought was impossibly cool. It was supposed to give you 30 miles of electric car and then you went into hybrid mode, making it the largest car in the world that you can plug in.
But it had two fatal flaws. First of all it was way too high up. You had to climb up into with with running boards and that sort of thing. I don’t know why they do this. They have essentially ruined all the remaining minivan models with this sort of design. Also it was very expensive.
It had the cutest commercials and videos with the Muppets, though. If you go to the Chrysler USA website you will see what I mean. They are really promoting the Pacifica and it appears on the front page.
Yes, the Ford Flex which we purchased instead has a third row. That is where the dog should be riding. Behind the third row is the “trunk” with space for either suitcases or grocery bags. Inside the car it is very much like a minivan. The third row can disappear into the floor of the car giving you more space in the back for cargo.
Yes, the Flex is suitable for long distance travel just like a minivan. We bought our first minivan, the Chrysler Grand Caravan, that we owned and which we were to drive 100,000 miles. We bought the first minivan with the idea of driving to Tucson for the first time. (The year before we went on the train, which was the first time we ever saw Tucson). We ended up driving it to Tucson four times including the move there. We ended up driving it to Florida twice, Hilton Head three times, St. Simons Island twice, the Oregon Coast once, Yosemite twice, the Grand Canyon three times, and San Diego once. It took us a lot of places before we leased two Ford Windstars, bought an RV, then bought the former Nissan Quest 2007.
I almost forgot. We also drove the Chrysler Grand Caravan to Yellowstone and the Tetons, the same year that we moved to Tucson. I found a photo of the Grand Caravan parked alongside the Madison River near the West Entrance to the Park in West Yellowstone, Montana. Most of the trees you see are lodge pole pines. If you drive down the road to the end of the picnic ground along the Madison River and turn right you will head into the thermal basins and eventually reach Old Faithful.
Old Faithful is the setting for Old Faithful Plot, coming soon from Cheops Books LLC.
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California Wine Country: Setting for Dark 3:
Yes, I too had the impression that California fires could somehow occur only in Southern California, not Northern or Central California, though about a month or so ago I think there was a fire in Yosemite too in the Sierra Nevada Mountains along with evacuations. It seems like the only safe part of California is the non-populated area along the Pacific NW Coast, the Redwood Coast around Garberville, Crescent City, Eureka, and Brookings, Oregon. They get plenty of rain there.
In our case we keep on rooting for the Sandman Motel in Santa Rosa, California. That was where we stayed on the way back from Brookings, Oregon. It is the motel I use in my novel from the Edward Ware Thriller Series Dark 3: Special Edition by Dora Benley. It was an interesting place with nice gardens and artwork, especially outdoor statues. Hotels across the intersection have been burned to the ground.
It is hard to believe that you wouldn’t remember the Wine Country if you drove through it. We didn’t know we were going to drive through it to the Pacific NW Coast. But it was the nicest unplanned “find” of our trip in 2007. Two years ago we were driving around the Wine Country in Germany along the banks of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers where vines have grown since Roman times. The California Wine Country has a completely different look. For one thing there are no Rhine and Moselle Rivers. There are no villages and towns like those that dot the banks of the Rhine in Germany. Instead the California Wine Country has a more fantasy look with fake European castles and lots of French restaurants, that sort of upscale kind of thing. I will try to dig out some photos to post for you.
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Captive At The Berghof At Frankfurt Book Fair:
Today is the beginning of the Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany. It will go through Sunday, October 15. All during that time Cheops Books LLC will be displaying Captive at the Berghof: Part 1 in German translation, the third book of the Edward Ware Thrillers at War Series. It is the first book that Cheops Books LLC has ever translated into a foreign language. But we thought it was particularly appropriate because the historical thriller is about Hitler and the Third Reich. The novel will be on display at the IBPA booth at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Hitler has found out about Colonel Sir Edward Ware’s secret undercover activities for Winston Churchill, and he’s playing hardball. He kidnaps Thomasina, Edward’s daughter, and won’t give the child back unless Edward and his wife, Dora, hand over the key to world domination – the Lawrence maps. They’d better do something fast before Thomasina truly becomes Hitler’s daughter.
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Hitler’s Chief Spy Is Hitler’s Agent:
The villainess, Helga von Wessel, Hitler’s chief spy, struts boldly from page to page of this thriller with Europe at her back and all sorts of ambitious notions in her head during the lead up to WW2. As far as she is concerned it isn’t Hitler’s Reich. It is Helga’s Reich. She will wrap the hero, Colonel Sir Edward Ware, Churchill’s spy, around her little finger to prove it. Nor does it matter what Edward’s American wife, Dora, says. Hitler’s Agent, about Hitler’s chief spy, is the sixth volume of the Edward Ware Thrillers at War Series. It will be published by Cheops Books LLC on October 15 in a special Kindle Edition of the historical thriller.
Chapter 1 in July of 1935 opens with a passage where the Colonel cannot find his wife:
Edward looked from one end of Hamburg Harbor
to the other, searching for his wife.
“Have you seen Lady Ware?” he asked Brigadier “Wickie” Roberts.
His superior was about to board the Deutschland.
The ship featured the new Hitler turret, which they had
just gotten a chance to review in the parade of ships up
the Elbe River. He and Brigadier Roberts were part of
the British military mission sent to Germany by Prime
Minister Baldwin to celebrate the recent signing of the
Anglo-German Naval Treaty.
The brigadier shrugged. “Not recently.”
“When was the last time you saw Dora?” Edward
“Right before the parade of ships. She was in a
heated discussion with Frau von Wessel, you know, the
wife of the Commercial Attaché at the German Embassy
The German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, had been
doing his best to distract Edward with probing questions.
Frau von Wessel, Hitler’s chief spy, was likely after his
wife about the same thing that Hitler was after him for
— the Lawrence maps.
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Democracy, Initiative, And Referendum:
In a democracy laws are made by majority voting BUT only on certain issues. First of all, it is a representative democracy. You cede your right to vote on every issue to your congressman and senators. Other issues you cede to the courts to decide and still other issues you cede to the President and the executive branch. Theoretically Congress could hold another Constitutional Convention and decide that individual states have the right to secede from the Union. But nothing short of that could authorize it including the courts. The courts themselves don’t have the power.
If you have a democracy that can VOTE to “come apart” on some whim, you have created an unstable structure that sounds more like mob rule than a true democracy. In such a society freedom of the press itself becomes dangerous because it is subject to “yellow journalism” and forces that try to influence your vote. The average person might vote for things for which he would be sorry later or for which he doesn’t realize the consequences.
I think Europe ought to get over this referendum stuff, which is something you cannot do in the US. I thought you yourself had decided that you were tired of votes and referendums. Look what problems they have caused in Britain in only a couple of years! In Spain they would cause even more problems.
Where did all this referendum stuff come from anyway? I don’t think Napoleon held referendums. The Romans certainly didn’t.
There is no way to talk about Calexit and be serious. It is a satiric, humorous subject. I have taken up blogging about the subject and in many of my blogs to show you have satiric it is, I have Trump accompanied by Marcus Crassus, the Roman billionaire and financier of Julius Caesar. He was a member of the First Triumvirate. He lost big at the Battle of Carrhae in Parthia and learned a lot to tell Trump. He accompanies Trump to California and advises him about how to conquer it while criticizing all the Roman baubles and costumes on a back lot in the Hollywood studios. That sort of thing.
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Calexit and Trump
In the US secession, including Calexit, is illegal. Voting for secession is also illegal. This is why California cannot get it on the ballot for initiative and referendum, and remember California was once part of New Spain, that land where the Catalonians now want independence from Madrid. If California would try to put it on the ballot it would be held up by the courts forever and ever. Beyond that we get into the movie script I was suggesting about Calexit.
Obviously there is nothing to Calexit. It doesn’t matter about what businessmen you heard chatting. This is all jocular stuff. It is NOT serious. It is like me talking about it as cocktail party conversation. You could also discuss it in an academic situation. It is not illegal to DISCUSS it even quite openly. But not only is it illegal to act on it, nobody WOULD seriously act on it if they are sane.
What such a thing would do to the business community of California is movie stuff. Part of my suggested movie script would have Tim Cook of Apple fleeing to Ireland where Apple keeps all its cash because the Feds were after him for donating to the Calexit cause and thus leading Trump to seize Apple and all its assets. Of course to get back at Trump in the movie script Tim Cook (seemingly safe in Ireland before a spy gets him) turns off all the iPhones in the US. Trump is giving an order as he speaks into his iPhone and it goes blank. It doesn’t work anymore. It is Apple’s revenge.
Obviously Silicon Valley and the Valley of California with all that agri business and the wine country, too, is worth too much money to risk it all on political silliness. What about the stock holders? They would revolt! The business of California is too well integrated with the business of America to seek independence even if it were possible which it is not. And who are the Californians? People move in and out of the state every day. It is a shifting political base.
Also California is in effect already occupied by Federal troops. What about San Diego, home of the Pacific Fleet? What about Andrews Air Force base? Army bases everywhere too? And what about Federal enclaves such as Yosemite National Park? Sequoia National Park? Redwood National Park? There is also a huge Federal Recreation area in downtown San Francisco right by the harbor. Very strategic, right? Good for snooping on all those California rebels.
Things in history don’t happen for whimsical reasons. California doesn’t seek independence because it makes good party table conversation. There would have to be a real underlying cause, also a reason why now? And when you think of it, California has never had a better time to be part of the Union. I think the biggest money maker is the port at Long Beach where they conduct the trade with China. The exports comes from all over the US and Canada. The imports go to all the states, not just California.
This is where Dora’s father, Winthrop Benley, would be getting the rubber to make his tires one hundred years ago in the first novel in the Edward Ware Thrillers at War Series, Key to Lawrence: Special Edition. And Mr. Benley certainly was a patriot who contrasted America with Europe, that land where countries do break up, the land of Balkanization.
The secret to America is that things here are too well integrated to break up. That is what holds the union together like cement.
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Donald Trump Becomes Dictator of California With Help From Crassus:
Calexit, unlike the Spanish situation with Barcelona and Catalonia in rebellion and ready to declare independence which is all too reminiscent of the Spanish Civil War, would make a good movie. You could have a fantasy what if. It could be quite humorous. It could also make an excellent action thriller all about Donald Trump and the Californians.
But the reality of the situation in California is that the Calexiteers won’t be able to get the proposition on the ballot. There are limits to initiative and referendum! As soon as they try, it will be legally challenged, and the objection will be upheld in court. Even the Ninth Circuit will not be able to help them t here. And since such an initiative to seek independence for the Gold Rush State is illegal, the permission to put it on the ballot won’t be granted. If it got to the point where the attorney general of California had to decide whether to put such a proposition on the ballot, he could be impeached if he agreed to put it there and let Californians vote on it. At the very least he could be disbarred.
What is most amusing is that Calexit is motivated by a dislike of Trump and if they exited they would give Donald Trump more power, not less. He could appoint the governor of California himself WITHOUT congressional consent for instance. He is the head of the army, navy, and air force all of which have bases in California. San Diego for instance is the home of the Pacific Fleet. Get it? Donald Trump is the commander and chief of the armed services. He would be in charge of rebellious California almost as if he were a dictator. This is what would make a good movie.
Trump could even bring in his trusted aide who has secretly been living in the Lincoln Bedroom of the White House ever since last December 2 when I first reported it in my blog post “Trump and Crassus”. Marcus Crassus, the Roman, could go riding into California on his horse and chariot to take up residence in the governor’s mansion as the imperial legate and give sage advice to Trump about how to be Dictator of California Roman style.
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A Whole New Ending Julia: A Romance
Dora Benley is busy at work writing a whole new ending for the popular historical romance novel, Julia: A Novel. It is almost like a series. Did you like the first ending? You will like the second ending even better. The new title? Julia: A Romance, of course! And the authoress promises it will be even more romantic than before.
Julia has every reason to wish that she had not been born the daughter of a Roman senator during the Roman Civil Wars of Marius and Sulla. Her father, Rufus, is trying to escape the proscriptions lists and save his life by betrothing his only daughter in marriage to Marcus Sisenna. Marcus Sisenna is the right hand man of Marcus Sulla, one of the leading men of Rome of the day. Rufus needs his armies and the protection both Sulla and Sisenna can provide. But Julia does not want to marry a man who has already had five wives and who is just marrying her for her father’s money and estates. She does not want to be added to his collection of trophies.
Julia wants personal happiness despite the time period into which she has been born. Her father thinks only of keeping his wealth and estates together. Her divorced mother is interested only in her own lovers. To whom shall Julia turn for assistance? The answer may surprise you. For it is obviously just the opposite of what the desperate Julia might expect.
If you liked Julia: A Novel you will like Julia: A Romance even better! Dora will keep you posted. And meanwhile you might try a few of her other historical romances such as Caesar and Cleopatra: A Novel, Cleopatra’s Stone, Curse of Egypt, Helen of Troy, and Salisbury Plot.
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Reflections On Warwick Castle:
I’m looking at an article in the Guardian from last year about Warwick Castle. It says that the Castle built by William the Conqueror is now in the hands of Merlin Entertainments. It owns Legoland, Alton Towers, Sea Life Centers, and the London Eye. It claims that the place has been turned into a theme park. They claim there is an “adventure maze” as well as a comedy show telling the 1000 year history of the place in a half hour play. There are six history zones from a Viking ship to WW1 trenches. There is a swordsmanship workshop, a falconry display. There is piped medieval music in the garden. Stalls sell toy swords. Apparently they sell fast food, and you exit through the gift shop.
Obviously they have not altered the castle itself! I doubt if the British government would allow it. But there is something to be said for atmosphere. Too much honky-tonk takes away from appreciating your surroundings. At least they are sticking to historical exhibits in general.
One thing I like about Warwick Castle compared to Marksburg Castle along the Rhine in Germany is that it is more accessible. We tried to drive up to Marksburg but the road was too narrow. We got pushed over onto the shoulder of the road by a bus and Gary thought it was too dangerous to proceed. We admired it from below only. Warwick at least isn’t on top of a mountain! However, to judge by the reviews of the castle on Trip Advisor you would think there was some problem accessing the place anyway. Lots of tourists including Brits complain about the car park or parking lot. They claim it is too far away. They sound as if they should be like you and practice hiking 3 miles a day before they visit. Maybe they should take a tip from Disney World and build a mono rail! Or they should have a shuttle to pick you up in the parking lot and take you to the attraction.
Cheops Books LLC publishes historical thrillers such as Captive at the Berghof: Part 1 in German as well as Hitler’s Agent.
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The German Question In Literature:
You may have hit upon a very central conflict in European history. Germany was not largely occupied by the Romans and from the time of the Romans you have the “German question”. The Romans wrote about it themselves. There is a lost work by Pliny the Elder, the author of the Natural History, probably called the Germania, and I make much of this in one of my novels. His nephew, Pliny the Younger, wrote about the subject, too. And Pliny the Younger’s friend, Tacitus, wrote the only surviving work on the subject entitled the Germania for sure. Tacitus’s work was the subject of the fascinating audio book I listened to on the subject at the beginning of last year.
Tacitus’s Germania has been a subject of discussion for the past two thousand years. It is the earliest work we have on the habits and customs of the early pagan Germans which emphasizes their warlike qualities and the “German question”. The Romans themselves were scared of them. No wonder! During the ugly Battle of the Teutoburg Forest Roman legionaries were captured in wooden cages and burned alive in the forest, sacrificed to pagan gods.
Richard Wagner during the 19th century made much of this ancient and medieval heritage in his operas. Heinrich Himmler was later to try to seize upon this material as the “origin” of what he called the Nazi identity.
I have looked up various works on Roman Britain on Amazon and curiously enough the British archaeologists have all noted that the British attitude about Rome differs from the attitude of France and Germany, and this influences their attitude about the “German question”. In France they celebrate Vercingetorix from Caesar’s Gallic Wars. He is supposed to be a national hero in France. In Germany they celebrate Herman the German, or Arminius. In Britain they celebrate the Romans. As many have noted, Britain seems to take on the identity of Rome itself. It all comes from the days of the British Empire and Imperial Britain. Nobody else on the Continent has anything like this and so recently, too! They look dubiously upon rebels against Rome such as Vercingetorix and Arminius.
It has also been said that the British have a better attitude about preserving ruins than they do in Italy. So the Roman ruins in Britain are better preserved than their Italian counterparts. You can get a better feel for the Roman world there including all those villas and mosaic floors that are much talked about.
Cheops Books LLC has two upcoming works about the “German question”. The concern Roman Britain and the ancient Germans battling the Romans: Pliny: A Novel and Caesar’s Legions, both works in the Edward Ware Thrillers at War Series.
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