Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sneak Preview... Tahoe Payback!

It's not yet on my website...
It hasn't even been printed...
But it's done. Edited. And the cover is finished.
(Thank you, editors and cover designer!)
My new book is called:
TAHOE PAYBACK

Here's the scoop.

A distraught man asks Owen McKenna to find his missing girlfriend. When McKenna investigates, he discovers that the woman's body was found hanging by her ankles, the line stretched up and over the top of the tea house on Fannette Island, the only island on Lake Tahoe. The woman had three red roses taped into her mouth and a rose necklace and a rose-themed haiku stuffed into her cheeks.

After some serious gumshoe exercise, McKenna finds out that the woman ran a scam charity and used it to steal millions.

While McKenna and his Great Dane Spot work the streets, they learn of two more victims who also ran fraudulent charities. They, too, were hanging by their ankles.

Meanwhile, McKenna's girlfriend Street Casey believes her ex-con, parole-skipping father wants to punish her for her testimony that helped put him prison 20 years ago. Street has McKenna teaching her about self defense. Not just the basics, but the really nasty stuff that only ex-cops know about.

McKenna and Street are both about to encounter someone who wants them very dead...


TAHOE PAYBACK will be out August 1st. I'll be doing the usual series of appearances, talks, and signings beginning at the end of July. Artifacts in Tahoe, Sundance in Reno, Shelby's in Minden, Geared for Games in Tahoe City, Browsers Books in Carson City, Word After Word Books in Truckee. You get the idea. I'll do a blogpost with those dates. And those of you who've written and asked to be on my email list will get an email about my schedule.

Thank you very much for your continued interest and support!

Oh yeah, Tahoe Payback is available for pre-order, both paper book and ebook. Here's the link to the paper book: TAHOE PAYBACK
Here's the link to the ebook: TAHOE PAYBACK
(Eventually, Amazon will merge both paper and ebook onto the same page.)

I think you will find this book the perfect beach read, or late-at-night-under-your-covers read, or gift for anyone on your list who likes mysteries, or travel-appropriate read for anyone who likes Tahoe.

Enjoy!!!


Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Greatest Bike Race In America. The Greatest Bike Racers In The World.

Women racers circling Tahoe in Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California.
Too bad they couldn't find a scenic place to hold the race!


Hey everybody, pull up a cushion or chair, sit back, and I'll tell you a story about some amazing young women who are part of a group of bicycle racers kicking butt in the road racing world. These women set Tahoe bike racing on fire three days ago. Unlike lots of what I write, this story won't be fiction. It will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

On Thursday, May 11, the Amgen Tour of California began here in Tahoe. The Amgen Tour is a 10-day bike race throughout the state and is regarded by many as the most important race in the country. The tour runs in four stages (races) for women and seven stages for men. The stages take place all over California and add up to many hundreds of miles. Think Tour de France California style.

The opening race was the women racing around Lake Tahoe. 72 miles with lots of elevation gain and loss.

Nearly 100 of the best women racers in the world, coming from 20 countries, started at Heavenly Resort and rode around Lake Tahoe in about the same time it takes to drive around the lake! As they finished, the winner was Megan Guarnier, an American who races for the Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team from The Netherlands. No surprise there, as Megan won the overall Tour of California last year. She is, by every measure, one of the racing world's biggest stars. In second place, just 8 seconds behind, was Anna van der Breggen, a powerful racer from The Netherlands and one of Megan's teammates. It was a spectacular race.

This is when the racers first appeared as they approached Emerald Bay.



Part of bike racing strategy is to stay back in the group so the group leaders do the work of blocking the wind. Teammates help each other out by shielding the one they think has the best chance of breaking free from the group and carrying that momentum to the finish and possibly win. Racing strategy is complex, making it very hard to predict the winner.
(A group of bike racers is called a "Peloton," French for "platoon.")
The next day was the second race, 68 miles with huge climbs and descents. This circuit was a tortuous loop that went from Heavenly, out through the South Shore, up over Luther Pass at 7740 feet, down through Hope Valley and then down to Carson Valley at 4700 feet of elevation. The racers then climbed up Kingsbury Grade, a 2,800-foot ascent to Daggett Pass, rode back down to Lake Tahoe, and then back up the final ascent to Heavenly.

The first racers coming down from Luther Pass toward Hope Valley. How fast were they going?
I don't know, but it was FAST. 50 mph? 60 mph?

The curve they were approaching wasn't sharp (just to the left of this photo). But their speed required them to lean hard into the turn.

A few hours ago as I write this on Friday, May 12th, I was at the finish line at Heavenly Resort as the second race was nearing the finish. 

The announcer was getting race reports in his headset and was passing the information on to the crowd. He spoke loudly into the microphone, his excitement contagious as he relayed the information that Anna van der Breggen, the second place finisher from the day before, was in the lead. But it turned out that another racer, an American named Katie Hall was coming up from behind. Known as a hill climber without equal, Katie Hall had apparently demolished the crowd on the Kingsbury Grade ascent. However, she is apparently not as fast as some racers on the level and on the descents. As they came down the lake side of Kingsbury and headed toward the final climb, Anna had taken a strong lead.

The announcer's words were something like, "The latest report is that Katie Hall is launching an attack on Anna van der Breggen's lead. Katie's approaching from behind. If she can narrow Anna's lead just enough, then Katie can possibly catch her when they get to the final ascent, which is Katie's specialty." 

"Anna van der Breggen knows she has to maintain a good lead in order to win. If she doesn't have enough distance on Katie Hall, Hall might power past her on the climb."

"Now Katie has caught up to Anna van der Breggen!  They are just two K out, on the final climb to the finish. Anna is an amazing racer. But Katie Hall, who races for UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team, is known for being a climber. She has an astonishing ability to power up mountains."

The announcer was now shouting. 

"Now Katie Hall has pulled ahead of Anna van der Breggen. Katie Hall is the lead! Nothing can stop this woman! She is a climbing star! Okay folks, she's now five seconds ahead of Anna. She's moving faster. Increasing her lead. Wait, I've just been told she's opened her lead to ten seconds. These women have already climbed and descended six thousand feet in this race. Luther Pass. Kingsbury Grade. The climb up to Heavenly. Kingsbury alone is almost three thousand feet of vertical rise in just seven miles. Hold on, everybody. Katie Hall's lead has increased to fifteen seconds! This is amazing! She will be coming into view any moment. Folks, this is one of the most amazing finishes in Amgen California Tour history!"

At that moment, down where the final stretch turns into the Heavenly finish lane, the crowd saw a patrol car appear, light bar flashing. Next to it was an official car and a race-official on a motorcycle. The flashing lights got brighter, then pulled off to give the entire lane to Katie.

"There she is!" The announcer shouted. "Katie Hall's lead is still increasing! She's now ahead twenty seconds, so much that she could possibly pull into the overall tour lead and earn the coveted yellow jersey!"

We all squinted against the sun, which reflected off the vehicles and the distant snow-capped mountains. Mt. Tallac loomed over the western side of Lake Tahoe, its jagged cliffs and brilliant snowfields demanding attention. Behind Tallac, the Sierra Crest ridge line was a row of 10,000-foot saw teeth. In front of that spectacular view, heat waves off the pavement made the patrol car shimmer. The red and blue flashes danced, rising a step, wavering to the side, then coming back into position like a mirage that couldn't be trusted.

We stared. The crowd hushed.

Through the mirage, a tiny figure gradually emerged.

"Folks, Katie Hall is coming down the stretch! She seems to be accelerating. She's still increasing her lead!"

As the racer approached, wearing a blue jersey, we sensed the rapid pulse of her legs and feet churning into a circular blur. The crowd started cheering.


Katie Hall coming first over the finish line. An attending motorcycle follows her because she is all alone out front of the group.

There seemed to be a kind of group surprise about the image taking shape down the stretch, an awareness that this person who was winning the race was so small as to be shocking. The racer approaching at high speed was nothing like the conquering, muscular athlete we'd imagined. She was closer to a diminutive Nike, a small, winged goddess of victory.

There is a kind of disconnect in these situations. When we see a victor like Katie Hall, we tend to categorize her into the dancer or gymnast box, a tiny athlete who can do amazing things. But then, when we reconsider what she's done... when we realize that, but for a few elite male bike racers, she can blow every male bike racer wannabe off the road, we get a sense of the enormity of her accomplishment.

(Hey, male bike riders, feel good about your accomplishments. Be proud that you're in shape. Bask in the joy of getting out and pointing your bicycle up the mountains while your friends are sitting in front of the TV. But the next time you see a tiny woman out on her two-wheeler, working up a sweat, don't ever, ever think that she's "pretty good for a girl." And never dare suggest a challenge to her about who could ride up the next hill first. Because if you do, and if anyone's around to witness, they'll engrave "Here Lies a Fool" on your gravestone.)

The crowd roared as Katie flashed by.

Katie Hall has won a ton of races. She's in the top tier of women racers worldwide. Today, she did it again. She took on a grueling race, climbing up mountains at high altitude, and she crushed the competition and was all alone as she came through through the finish. Anna, pedaling very fast, appeared down the finish lane and came in second, repeating her standing in the previous day's race.

Katie's win was so pronounced that her combined times for two days of racing put her in the overall lead, winning the coveted yellow jersey.

When she took the podium and received her award, the cheering began again. We all knew we had witnessed something we'd be talking about it for years.


Katie Hall's combined times for two days of racing earn her the number one position and the coveted yellow jersey.

As this blog "goes to press," the Stage 3 race just concluded in Sacramento. The overall rankings have Katie Hall, Anna van der Breggen, and Megan Guarnier in first, second, and third place, with only ONE SECOND separating Katie and Anna! Sunday's 4th stage will tell who wins the overall First Place! Check out the lastest on the Amgen Tour of California website here.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

In Tahoe, May Is A Winter Month

Yes, we've had some nice spring weather in the last couple of weeks. But we don't let that fool us.

Six times in the past, I've done outdoor shows in Tahoe on Memorial Day. Five of those times it snowed. Once, it was a lot of snow.

So today, Saturday, May 6th, was no surprise when the snow came in fast and furious. I'm not kidding when I say that the flakes conglomerated into golf ball-sized artillery. It didn't hurt when they struck. But they covered me in white in the time it took to run from the car into the grocery store.

Don't get me wrong. We'll take this record snow that has filled up the lake and inundated our soil. Our road has developed a gushing spring. A hole opened up in the middle of the asphalt and water flows 24-7. Nearby roads have turned into continuous small creeks. Squaw Valley and Mt. Rose ski areas have recorded season totals over 60 feet. At our house, our season total was, perhaps, only 40 feet. We still have 8 feet on the north side of the house. My full-time job of snow removal is over. But I won't soon forget what it's like.
Shoveling into our house back in 2011 and again this year.

Here's to the coming summer!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Advice I Wish I'd Gotten When I Was 18

I didn't like high school. I got through it by focusing on music and skiing and riding my bicycle. I never had a broad outlook on education. Unfortunately, when I went on to the university, I still didn't have a big picture of education. I tried some different subjects and even went so far as to major in Pre-med (because I was good at the sciences). But that approach didn't take.

I'm happier now as a writer than I've ever been. But I wish I'd gotten focused on this novel business at a younger age. What would have provided a focus sooner? I knew that a broad education was valuable. But when I was young, I needed something more concrete. Something that, for me, would have explained the dichotomy between common knowledge and uncommon knowledge.

It would have helped if someone I respected had said something like, "You can't just hang out and hope a good life or a good job comes along. It is best to plan. And the best plan is to look at all the things you might like to do, and then study the ones that give you uncommon knowledge."

Perhaps that is obvious. But the obvious often escapes me.

The desired sage advice would have gone on with specifics: "The more common your knowledge and skill, the harder it will be to find an interesting, well-paid career. The more uncommon your knowledge and skill, the easier it will be to earn a living in an interesting way."

The advice would have included examples:

"If you become very good at skiing (a somewhat common skill), you can teach it. But you won't be able to charge much or find many takers because tons of people are good skiers. In contrast, if you become very good at brain surgery (an uncommon skill), you can explore some of the most interesting stuff known to man. And you will be in high demand because of the rarity of your knowledge. A bonus is that you'll likely get wealthy in the process."

"If you get very good at waiting tables or tending bar (a somewhat common skill), you can always find a job, which, unfortunately, often doesn't pay well. But if you get very good at being a professional chef (an uncommon skill), you might be able to start your own successful restaurant."

"If you spend a great deal of time watching TV, you'll learn the latest TV trivia and celebrity gossip (very common knowledge), and you will have spent much of your life acquiring knowledge that has almost no value. But if you learn how to write and/or produce those TV shows (uncommon knowledge), you will be able to work in the television field creating the content that so many millions enjoy.

A corollary to creating TV content would be that if you know how to write novels (less common knowledge), you can tell stories about most anything you like and maybe earn a living from it as well and work on your own terms and your own schedule and rarely have to get on the freeway during rush hour."

If only someone I respected had told me that at 18. Oh, well, we figure these things out in time...

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Writers, Be Careful With Your Bad Guys...

In the world of fiction, it sometimes seems that the only kind of Bad Guy that doesn't get a writer in trouble is a white, male lawyer or doctor in his 40s or 50s. If you move very far from that model, watch out.

In one of my books, the "Bad Guy" was a lesbian. The fact that she was lesbian had nothing to do with her being the antagonist in my book. Yet I got hate mail. After saying some nasty things about me, the person added, "Being a lesbian doesn't make you more inclined to be a murderer."

Of course not. A person murders because they are evil or because they are pushed up against an unmovable wall and see no way out other than murder. I think I made it very clear that my "Bad person" was bad for reasons that have nothing to do with gender preference. But I learned an important lesson. Some people are extremely sensitive about certain characteristics that have made people prejudiced against them.

People who belong to groups that have rarely suffered prejudice or have even benefited from privilege that comes from belonging to such groups may not be so sensitive if a Bad Guy appears to come from their group.

But lots of people are part of groups that have suffered prejudice. At the very least, that prejudice is insensitive and unfair, and it brings people pain. At the worst, members of such groups have been subject to unspeakable acts that can't be described in a PG-13 blog. So we need to walk softly if we identify a Bad Guy as belonging to any groups that have suffered from bigotry. We don't walk softly only because we're afraid of the reaction we might get. We walk softly because it is the right, thoughtful, sensitive thing to do.

There is an emerging flip side to this as well. If you identify your Bad Guy as a member of one of innumerable groups that are known for promoting hateful prejudice, you may incur that group's wrath as well. The last thing an author wants is for the wacko (fill in the name of one of the many hate groups here) to come after them.

As always, your Bad Guy does his nastiness because he's evil, not because of the groups he or she can be associated with. But not everyone will realize that. Some people will draw a connection.

You can give your novel's antagonist any kind of characteristics. But do it thoughtfully. And make it clear that those characteristics are incidental to the Bad Guy's motivation and have no connection to the cause of it.

If you're not sure you can pull this off such that your reader is confident you're playing fair with your Bad Guys, then you can always fall back on a white, male doctor or lawyer in his 40s or 50s... 




Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Rule All Writers Eventually Break

Writers always hear the advice, Write What You Know. It's a great idea. We are more likely to "get it correct" if we know whereof we speak.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work for very long.

I started out writing about stuff I knew about. By the time I finished my 3rd book, I'd used up all my knowledge. I'd plumbed nearly every subject in which I was a bit expert. I'd utilized most of the character types with which I was familiar.

To keep going, a writer needs to move into unfamiliar territory.

How do you delve into unfamiliar subjects? Read. Google every relevant question you can think of. Interview experts. Find beta readers who know the subject and can tell you what you got wrong. Due diligence will get you through any territory.

Sometimes the advice goes beyond subjects and ideas and is extended to ridiculous extremes. People will say that a writer can't write convincingly about about a character from a background that's dramatically different than the writer's background.

For example, I'm a middle-aged, straight, white guy, born in America, married a long time, no kids, somewhat educated, never poverty stricken, with no physical disabilities. (When I can't remember the names of people I've known for ten years, the question of mental disability does comes up!)

So how could I presume to write a character who is dramatically different from my background?

Research. Empathy. Careful thought.

I know lots of people who aren't very much like me. By paying attention, I can reasonably get a sense of what it might be like to be a person very different from me. If I'm thoughtful, I can create a wide range of characters.

Of course, a writer needs to be thoughtful and sensitive, especially if a character from a very different background turns out to be an unsavory person. One doesn't want to offend readers. Provoke them? Sure. Get them to question their own presumptions? Definitely. But all characters need to be treated fairly and accurately.

Which brings us to the question of Bad Guys. Or what writers call the story's antagonist. How do you handle it if the Bad Guy in your story belongs to a group of people who regularly suffer from prejudice?

Tune in next week.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The One Cliché A Writer Can Never Ignore

Wanna be a writer?

As writers, we learn to avoid clichés at all cost. (Oops, there's a cliché) But there is one cliché we should never forget.

Writers write.



You can talk about writing, take classes about writing, think about writing, get together with other writers and discuss writing. You can even book passage to the next major writing conference or convention and lose yourself for days learning about writing and meeting writers and readers. But even at those events, you'll notice that real writers write.

At the recent Left Coast Crime in Honolulu, this maxim was on full display. I kept hearing people saying things like, "I couldn't make the early-morning panel because I had to finish my thousand words."

As with all such events, there were wannabes in attendance. That is to be expected and desired. If you want a career as a writer, you need to sample these things, meet the serious writers, and see what makes them tick. (Oops, another cliché)

If you're paying attention at such an event, you'll notice that a large proportion of the most successful writers (try 100%) write continuously, devoting a substantial portion of every day or week to writing. Not talking about it. Doing it.

If you look at successful writers, you'll find that the only thing they all have in common is that they've written a lot of books. (Yes, there are exceptions, but they are very rare. And some of them aren't really exceptions, i.e., the one book wonder who turns out to have written two dozen novels under a pseudonym.)

At Left Coast Crime, I hosted a panel with four of the finalists for Best Humorous Mystery award. Between these four writers, they'd written a combined total of 60 mysteries. It doesn't take much arithmetic expertise to figure out that these writers have together put in something like 30 to 60 years of full time work writing.

Hmmm.

What is the hallmark of a successful brain surgeon? She's done lots of surgery. What makes for the kind of pilot who can put a plane with dead engines down on a river without losing a single passenger? Lots of flying. How did that fabulous waitperson get so good at waiting tables? Waiting a lot of tables. How in the world does a figure skater learn to do a triple salchow? By putting in more hours at the rink than you can count.

So if you want to be a writer... Yep, pay attention to that cliché.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Lesson From Lee Goldberg

During the Left Coast Crime 2017 convention in Hawaii, there were several dozens of notable moments, many of them worth remembering for writers. One of these was a statement that Lee Goldberg made during a panel.

Author Lee Goldberg
You are probably familiar with Goldberg's work even if you don't know his name. He created and/or worked on many popular TV shows including Diagnosis: Murder, Hunter, Spenser: For Hire, Monk and more.

He's also written something like 30 novels including the Diagnosis: Murder series, the Monk series, the Fox & O'Hare series that he writes with Janet Evanovich, and many others. The man is a writing dynamo.

The comment Goldberg made that struck me was when he said that "There is more story in a single TV episode today than there was in an entire season of a show back in the seventies."

For those of us in the story-telling business (especially those of us who were around in the '70s), Goldberg's statement is startling. It sums up what has happened in commercial storytelling. People want more story. Much more story.

Is this because we've all been so impacted by the profusion of inputs that only a fast-moving story will keep our attention? Probably. (I remember well the days when there were just three networks on TV, and everybody watched the same news at night - Walter Cronkite.)

Despite this new sound-bite world where a slow character-focused story has a hard time gaining attention, it's also likely that people are simply hard-wired to gravitate toward more story. We love a story that gives us many twists and turns. More of that is more exciting.

Two recent experiences made this real for me.

Back in the day, I devoured each Robert Ludlum novel as they came out. I recently reread his Bourne Identity. It was originally published in 1980. Rereading it 36 years later, it seemed rich and dense and fabulously plotted... And SLOW.

Yikes, what a terrible thing to think about a book I originally thought was fast and filled with action!

Another example: Not long ago, my wife and I rented the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The film stars Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Katherine Ross. It was a smash hit when it came out in 1969, the kind of film that many people saw multiple times for the excitement generated by a fast-moving plot and charismatic, beautiful movie stars.

On seeing it again 45 years later we still found it wonderful... But SLOW.

Double yikes.

Lee Goldberg is dead on with his comment.

What exactly is the "story" he refers to? If current shows have more story than an entire season of shows in the '70s, what does that really mean?

I don't think the answer is particularly clear. But the best definition of "story" is "what happens." This mostly means plot. Yes, character growth and transformation is something that "happens." And those character qualities haven't changed. It's the plot part of stories that have shifted into high gear.

So, while we still need to have compelling characters who draw you into their trouble, we more than ever need stuff to happen.

Of course, there will always be readers who want "literary" fiction, stories that delve into complex characters, stories where the major action is when characters make internal discoveries and conflict is quiet, no car chases desired.

But commercial fiction has always had more action and twists and turns. This characteristic goes Way back. Just read Shakespeare. The difference today is that the action and twists and turns have to come at a much faster pace to keep readers happy.

This isn't as easy to do as it is to state. Many writers struggle with plot, sometimes complaining that they have a hard time simply plotting their way out of a paper bag.

Years ago I thought plot was the easier part of the plot-vs-character dichotomy. Now I think it's the harder part. But from now on, I'm going to keep Lee Goldberg's words in my head as I write.



Sunday, March 26, 2017

Left Coast Crime - What An Experience!


Last week, my wife and I attended the Left Coast Crime 2017 convention in Hawaii. Four days of great panels and talks. Just shy of 500 people, all fans of mystery novels, readers and authors alike. It was a rush of inputs, all valuable, many exciting, such as meeting authors whose books I've been reading for decades. I also met fans who are SERIOUS readers and dedicated to supporting mystery writers. Some of these fans are the book-a-day devotees who in many respects know the world of mysteries better than those of us who write them.

We writers draw sustenance from these readers. They support us in this business of making up stories for a living. And we learn from them, too.

My thanks to all of them.

If you are a fan of mysteries, you will likely find such a convention a great experience. There were over 70 panels where authors talked about writing and answered questions from readers. (I served on 2 panels.) I listened to many panels and all were informative and often funny. Even for writers, it's fascinating to hear raconteurs telling stories about how they tell stories.

At the closing panel...Famous authors from our left to right:
Lee Goldberg, Collin Cotterill, Faye Kellerman, Jonathan Kellerman, Dana Stabenow, and Laurie King.

Left Coast Crime was also instructive to me because I've been chosen to be the Toastmaster at Left Coast Crime 2018 in Reno. I hope to see you all there!
Click here to go to the LCC 2018 website

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Writers Beware. For Some Kids, This Profession Does Not Compute.

I got out of snow country for a little bit and found myself sitting on a bench on the American River in Sacramento, computer on my lap, working on my 2018 Owen McKenna mystery. (The August 2017 installment is currently in the editing pipeline. More on that in a future post.)

While we are still in winter at home for another two-plus months, this river in the Central Valley was rushing with snow melt, trees were in blossom, and a thousand birds were excited about spring.

Along came a school class with an eager teacher telling her students about those birds. After they began to move on, a girl left the group and walked toward me. She was about ten years old, wore large, tortoise-shell glasses, and she looked studious. It was clear from her inquisitive look that she was very bright and engaged.

When she got near me, she looked at my laptop computer and asked, "Are you a scientist?" Her tone was one of anticipation and her face was bright with enthusiasm. Imagine how exciting it would be to meet a real-life scientist.

I said, "No, I'm a writer."

She frowned, and the corners of her mouth dropped in disappointment.

To offer a clarification that might make her feel better about my profession, I said, "I write books."

At that, confusion seemed to join with severe letdown. She scrunched up her face in wrinkled dismay. She might as well have said, 'Why on earth would anyone do something so dumb?!'

Instead, she said nothing. She turned away and walked back to her group, shoulders slumped, her body language suggesting that I'd just taken all the joy out of life.

So, writers, be prepared. Your profession may go down well with some kids. But with others... Not so much!


Sunday, March 12, 2017

From 12 Feet Of Snow To Palm Trees In 80 Minutes

Yes, there are a few other places in the world that get as much snow as Tahoe. Not a lot of them. But they're out there. (As of this writing, the Mt. Rose snow survey shows 650 inches of snow has fallen as of March 1st. That's 54 feet.)

The snow gets so deep, you can't see to pull out onto the road. Your back and arms get brutalized by shoveling. Your snowblower can't always throw it high enough to get over the banks. And when you go a few days without fresh snow, those banks near the highway get nasty with dirt.



 



So what do you do? Whenever possible, you head to palm tree country. (Which we just did.)

Yes, there are other places in the world that have palm trees like much of California.



But there are very few places on the planet where you can drive from massive amounts of snow to palm trees in 80 minutes, the time it takes to cruise down the mountain from Donner Summit (Hwy 80) or Echo Summit (Hwy 50).

In California, not only is snow optional and easy to escape (like many mountains around the world), but the climate just down the road is warm enough for palm trees (unlike most mountains wherever you go).

We live in an amazing place.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

California Drought?

Four or five years in the making.
One year in the unmaking.
Was it random chaos? Were the weather gods just testing us? Or is this the new weather gyrations of climate change?
Whatever, Californians are tired of shoveling and tired of jumping into kayaks when the town floods. But, all things considered, we'll take it.

The drought map one year ago...


The drought map today...