The B-Mobile, The New Cheops Books, LLC Van:

On Friday, October 13, the spookiest day of the year, Cheops Books LLC acquired a new van, the B-Mobile, to use on all its ramblings, wanderings, and official business. It replaces the previous Bearmobile that lasted more than eleven years since July of 2006 until this very October.

The previous mobile took Cheops Books LLC and its authors on various expeditions to the shores of Oregon at Brookings, Oregon, the Redwood Coast of California, the Wine Country, and Yosemite. It drove our team to southeast Arizona to visit the town too tough to die, Tombstone, Arizona. It also took us on both our ramblings to Santa Fe, New Mexico where part of the Edward Ware Thrillers at War Series is set. Remember the Manhattan Project at nearby Los Alamos? The site of the first atomic bomb explosion was not faraway, and the previous Bearmobile drove us right past it with lots of photo opportunities.

Perhaps most notably the previous Bearmobile took our party of editors, authors, and illustrators to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal to board the Queen Mary 2. And the minivan did it not just once, but twice, last in 2015 just two years ago. That was our route to Europe to research the Edward Ware Thrillers at War especially in Germany and England.

It enabled us to stand in the stands where Hitler addressed his adoring crowds in Nuremberg and took us up into the Alps Mountains to see the site of Hitler’s Berghof, which was important for the novel Captive at the Berghof. In England it enabled us to visit Salisbury Cathedral in the south of England that gave its name to the Edward Ware Thrillers novel, Salisbury Plot by Dora Benley, soon to be published in a brand new edition. And it enabled us one hundred years after the event to sail past the spot of the sinking of the Lusitania off the coast of Ireland, the setting for Key to Lawrence: Special Edition.

Now the new B-Mobile will be the one to guide us through the wilderness and down the interstates to whatever destination is next to appear as the subject of a thriller novel published by us.

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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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Background for Dark 3: Special Edition:

We took a generous amount of time to complete the trip, 52 days to be exact, driving no more than about 100 miles per day or less and stopping at a lot of places. We exited Arizona on I-8 stopping at Gila Bend and Yuma. We drove over the mountain to California and it got instantly much cooler. It was 100 in Arizona and only 63 in San Diego where we stayed overnight at El Cajon. We proceeded to Encinitas with its nearby Moonlight State Beach. Then we spent 2 days in San Juan Capistrano where we visited the Mission. Then we stayed for a couple of days at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica with Muscle Beach in front of the hotel.

Then we left the coast behind for awhile (I’m not the type to drive the Big Sur), and drove over the mountain between Los Angeles and Bakersfield. We also stayed in Fresno before spending a few days in Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We rented a cabin from the Redwoods at Yosemite and stayed in the Wawona section of the park near the Wawona Hotel. The Mariposa Grove of Big Trees wasn’t far away. Huge sugar pines grew near the cottage. I have a souvenir pine cone that must be two feet long! I could send you a picture of that. Then we got back to the Valley of California and drove north to Stockton. Only then did we head back towards the Pacific Coast through the Wine Country, driving through Napa and Sonoma until we reached Santa Rosa north of San Francisco. After that we stayed in a town called Ukiah before moving on to Garberville on the edge of the Redwood Country. From here we drove down the Avenue of the Giants. We drove through increasingly deserted country with beaches in view where we stopped from time to time to take photos. After Eureka we reached Arcata where we stayed for the night after stocking up on redwood souvenirs along the highway. Right now sitting at my dining room table I see evidence of that drive. I am looking straight at redwood napkin holders. We stopped at the Redwood National Park Visitors’ Center in Crescent City and proceeded to our destination at Brookings, Oregon. In this remote location we enjoyed a stay at the Best Western Beachfront Inn right on the beach. We took photos of huge logs and trees washed up on the beach. The headlands and sea stacks were scenic, too.

This trip proved to be the background for much of the setting of Dark 3: Special Edition where I feature a chase scene along the West Coast.

Parked on Beach

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