I just looked on this blog and I realized I hadn't posted since Sept. 21... 2021. Oops. Well, that's embarassing!
So what's been going on in the last year? Particularly on my follow up to Friends in Low Places
Buy on Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/a/23143/9780358410768
The Blurb: A handsome stranger. A dead billionaire. A citywide treasure hunt. Tuesday Mooney's life is about to change . . . forevermore. Tuesday Mooney is a loner. She keeps to herself, begrudgingly socializes, and spends much of her time watching old Twin Peaks and X-Files DVDs. But when Vincent Pryce, Boston's most eccentric billionaire, dies--leaving behind an epic treasure hunt through the city, with clues inspired by his hero, Edgar Allan Poe--Tuesday's adventure finally begins.Puzzle-loving Tuesday searches for clue after clue, joined by a ragtag crew: a wisecracking friend, an adoring teen neighbor, and a handsome, cagey young heir. The hunt tests their mettle, and with other teams from around the city also vying for the promised prize--a share of Pryce's immense wealth--they must move quickly. Pryce's clues can't be cracked with sharp wit alone; the searchers must summon the courage to face painful ghosts from their pasts (some more vivid than others) and discover their most guarded desires and dreams.
Thoughts: I liked this book. It was part mystery, part treasure hunt, part paranormal, part family drama. I enjoyed the various characters and how they interacted with one another. I always love a good treasure hunt with seemingly undecipherable clues and how one seemingly benign reference pulls the threat that unspools the entire mystery. However, I do think there were areas where the book could have gone all in... the missing friend from childhood, the family drama between siblings, even the treasure hunt itself, but instead just plays to the surface on some of the subplots. Overall. Enjoyed.
Well, where does a month go! After a year of waiting, the family and I finally made it to Oahu for a much-need vacation. It was a great week in paradise, complete with snorkeling, surf lessons, mai tais, malasadas, and relaxing on the lanai and reading and writing.
For this edition of the Places of “Friends in Low Places,” we go to one of the islands in the middle of Huntington Lake. This spot plays a key role in the story. Personally, I’ve only been on this island twice, once a couple of years ago.
Unfortunately, the other time was about 10 years ago in the midst of the tragedy. We watched the recovery of a man's body who had drowned and gone missing just a few days before. We toasted the man that evening, but those images of the Sheriff speeding by in his boat, throwing a tarp over a mass, then taking it away is forever imprinted in my brain.
In this edition of the Places of "Friends in Low Places," we trek to Rancheria Falls. In the novel, the hungover crew walk through the mountain trails to get to this beautiful spot. This is the moment when they really begin to contemplate their futures as adults. Little did they know how much those expectations would change. Personally, I've made this hike a dozen times and each time marvel at the beauty tucked into the wilderness.
In today's editions of the Places of "Friends in Low Places," we actually head down the hill just a little bit. While most of the book takes place at Huntington Lake, some of the inspiration of stories take place down the hill at Shaver Lake. Some of the scenes: the campfire on a huge granite mountain edifice, the private shoreline, lounging in couches, the deck of two of the cabins, are all inspired by these settings. I don't know how many cups of coffee I've had on these decks, or marveled at the sunsets on that rock, or games of cornhole and bocce on these shores. Note: The one with my own father holds special meaning, even five years after he's left us.
The Blurb: Jack Reacher is an innocent bystander when he witnesses a woman kidnapped off a Chicago street in broad daylight. In the wrong place at the wrong time, he's kidnapped with her. Chained together, locked in the back of a stifling van, and racing across America to an unknown destination for an unknown purpose, they're at the mercy of a group of men demanding an impossible ransom. Because this mysterious woman is worth more than Reacher ever suspected. Now he has to save them both--from the inside out--or die trying...
Thoughts: Oh I didn't want high brow fiction. I didn't want to think about life and my place in it. I had a long road trip ahead of me and wanted to take my mind off the lonely highway. Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels are the perfect driving companion. They know what they are and do it spectacularly. This is Lee Child's second in the Jack Reacher series so he's not on autopilot yet. The action is crisp, the plot twists carefully planned and the ending satisfying.
Ah, the Lakeshore saloon. I don't know how many times I was in this place on our final night at Huntington Lake. I remember before I was 21 walking by and hearing the raucous sounds pumping out of this wood structure. The first time I actually went inside, the Mike Tyson-Peter McNeely fight was happening... And before we got a beer, it was over.
There were the nights when my buddies would be looking to meet some women (I had a girlfriend, who later became my wife, so I was the ultimate wingman). We also had nights when we put two tables together and played liars dice all night long.
One time, I was into Long Island Iced Teas and after that night, I am no longer into those drinks. One of my buddies continues to drink White Russians only at this place.
There are stories about the saddle in the rafters and the thin wall between the men's and women's restrooms, and the various fights we helped break up through pure charm.
Currently, Lakeshore Resort, including its saloon, is closed. Some say because of Covid, some say the Creek Fire, others say it was sold and they are looking to refurbish. Others say it's unsafe. Who knows? I just hope that eventually it opens again.
The sights of Friends in Low Places takes us to Rancheria Campground at Huntington Lake, CA. This is the campground where Jim, David, Rob, Paul and Jesse spent many of the years. Inspired by the trips I took with my friends. If you look at the campsite map, you can see Site Number 119. When I camped there, it was site 152. Friends in Low Places is available on all online retailers, including Amazon.
The sights of Friends in Low Places take us to many spots in CA. The first is Hank's Swank Par 3 Golf Course in Fresno. Great memories at the self-subscribed “Blue Collar Country Club.” This fun par 3 golf course near the Fresno airport is where the guys played an annual one-club tournament and began their annual trips.
On my own trips with friends, this was always the first stop. it was a meeting spot before we headed up the hill. It was here I'd greet my friends for the first time in a year, then buy a round, pull out a seven iron and play a round. The sixth hole is the most deceptive with 2 bunkers to carry and interestingly the eighth hole is one of the shortest and hardest, particularly with a 7 iron.
If you are ever in Fresno, you only need one club and you will have a good time playing Hank's Swank Par 3 Golf Course. https://www.facebook.com/hanks.swank/
Recent Reads and other thoughts
I fail to keep up with the books my wife reads. She read over 100 in 2020. I read 50. You get my thoughts