Friends, Books, Rivers and Bats in Southwest Texas

Mary S. Black signing books in Rocksprings, TX on her book tour of southwest Texas.

I had a great time last week touring around southwest Texas with author Margie Crisp as we talked about our new books, made new friends and reconnected with ones we already love, and splashed around in the beautiful Nueces River.  I want to thank the public libraries in Rocksprings, Del Rio, Uvalde, and Camp Wood for hosting  us for events in their cities.  Librarians are some of

And food. Did I mention food?

the best people in the world, and Texas is lucky to have people like Kristen Satterfield, Barbara Galvan, Mendell  Morgan, Dixie Frizzell, and Jim Holder providing information and education to their communities. Free public libraries were the brain-child of Benjamin Franklin back in the 1700s, because he thought knowledge should be equally available to everyone.  That kind of thinking about and providing for the common good is one of the things that has made America as enlightened as it is, and today’s librarians keep the light burning.  It was my pleasure to add a small bit to that last week, plus, we had fun!

Margie Crisp and guest share a laugh at a book talk.

Margie showed me some great swimming holes in the crystal clear water of the upper part of the Nueces, thanks to landowners she knows from her research on that river.  Her new book is called The Nueces River: Rio Escondido, and she follows it from the headwaters to the mouth at Corpus Christi where it flows into the Gulf of Mexico.  She recounts the history, environment, and changes in the river over time.  If you want to know about the condition of our rivers in this state, read Margie’s book.  She makes it clear that our water supply is A) limited, and B) endangered.

I thought my travel guide From the Frio to Del Rio might be a tough sell to natives of the region,

Texas Parks and Wildlife staff gave us a fabulous tour of Devil’s Sinkhole bat cave!

but they welcomed it with open arms.  It is the first guide to the Lower Pecos region and one of only a few to cover the Western Hill Country.  Over and over people told me that even though they had lived there all their lives, they learned something new from my book talk.  That just goes to show you what looking at a place with new eyes can do.  Sometimes outsiders find more to look at than people who see the place every day.

By San Felipe Creek in Del Rio

I also want to thank Debra Wolcott, innkeeper of the Historic Rocksprings Hotel, for putting us up in style for two nights.  You couldn’t ask for a warmer welcome or a nicer place.  You’ve gotta try it, if you haven’t already!  The hotel was built in 1916 and furnished with beautiful antiques. I also thank Steve Black for sharing his cabin overlooking Eagle Nest Canyon with us one night. It was Margie’s first time to Seminole Canyon, and I think she’s hooked.  To Allen from Kickapoo Caverns State Park and his counterpart from Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area, what can I say but thank you?  Wowie-zowie, those bats were incredible! Yes, there’s plenty to see and do from the Frio to Del Rio.  Thanks for a wonderful book tour, everybody!

 

Two Nature Gals on a Book Tour. Come and Join Us!

Devils River State Natural Area. Photo by Jack Johnson.

My colleague Margie Crisp and I are setting out on a book tour next week, June 13-16, 2017, throughout the Western Hill Country and the Lower Pecos Canyonlands.  We will speak together about our new books at various libraries in the area. Afterwards we will sign books for anyone who would like one.

Margie Crisp will speak next week about the Nueces River.

Margie is the author of a great new book called The Nueces River: Rio Escondido.  She paddled, hiked, or drove the entire length of the river from the headwaters on the Edwards Plateau to the mouth on the Gulf Coast to describe the condition of the river today.  There are places where it goes underground for miles, and places where it burbles up again with flowing springs.  She catalogues the animals and plants that depend on the river habitat, such as alligators and belted kingfishers.  William B. Montgomery created paintings of Nueces flora and fauna that amplify the narrative. Detailed maps and photographs help explain the riverine environment as well.  Margie’s book on the Colorado River River of Contrasts: The Texas Colorado, won the Ron Tyler Award for Best Illustrated book on Texas History and Culture, awarded by the Texas State Historical Association and the  Carr P. Collins Award for Best Book of Non-fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters in 2012.

My book, From the Frio to Del Rio,  is a travel guide to the Western Hill Country and the Lower Pecos Canyonlands.  I tell you

Mary S. Black will talk about her new travel guide next week.

what to see, where to eat, and what to do.  The Western Hill Country is home to the Nueces, Frio, and Sabinal Rivers which offer plenty of recreational opportunities.  The Lower Pecos Canyonlands contain some of the finest ancient rockart in the world, a real treasure of prehistoric art. Abandoned US Army forts from 1849 remain in these areas today to remind us of the cavalrymen, Buffalo Soldiers and Black Seminole Indian Scouts who once served there.  Museums and state parks call to those wanting to explore history and nature.

Our thanks to the libraries for hosting this book tour. We invite you to come and see us at any of the following locations next week, June 13-16, 2017.

June 13  Gilmer Memorial Library                     5:30 PM   Rocksprings

June 14  Val Verde County Memorial Library  12 noon   Del Rio

June 15   El Progresso Memorial Library           7:00 PM  Uvalde

June 16  Camp Wood Public Library                   6:00 PM  Camp Wood

Come out and see us!  We’ll have books for sale, or you can get them through Amazon.com.

 

From Frio to Del Rio Featured on Madam Mayo

C.M. Mayo

C.M. Mayo writes the “Madam Mayo” blog which covers a wide range of topics.  Maybe you’ve heard her on her “Marfa Mondays” podcast?  She is the author of several books on Mexico and Texas, and is currently the artist-in-residence at Guadalupe Mountain National Park.  She interviewed me about my new travel guide in her latest  blog, http://madammayo.blogspot.com.   The following is from her blog.  Many thanks!

 

 

Q & A with Mary S. Black About Her New Book, “From the Frio to Del Rio”, Monday, May 22, 2017

 One of my very favorite places not just in Texas but in the galaxy is the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, so I was delighted to see that

From the Frio to Del Rio: Western Hill Country and Lower Pecos Canyonlands. Now available at Amazon.

Texas A & M Press has published Mary S. Black’s splendid and much-needed guidebook, From the Frio to Del Rio: Travel Guide to the Western Hill Country and Lower Pecos Canyonlands

From the catalog:

“Each year, more than two million visitors enjoy the attractions of the Western Hill Country, with Uvalde as its portal, and the lower Pecos River canyonlands, which stretch roughly along US 90 from Brackettville, through Del Rio, and on to the west. Amistad National Recreation Area, the Judge Roy Bean Visitors’ Center and Botanical Garden, Seminole Canyon State Park, and the Briscoe-Garner Museum in Uvalde, along with ghost towns, ancient rock art, sweeping vistas, and unique flora and fauna, are just a few of the features that make this distinctive section of the Lone Star State an enticing destination.

“Now, veteran writer, blogger, and educator Mary S. Black serves up the best of this region’s special adventures and secret treasures. From the Frio to Del Rio is chock-full of helpful maps, colorful photography, and tips on where to stay, what to do, and how to get there. In addition there are details for 10 scenic routes, 3 historic forts and 7 state parks and other recreation areas.”

Herewith an interview with the author:

C.M. MAYO: What inspired you to write this book? 

Mary S. Black

MARY S. BLACK: I think what inspired me was the land itself, and the history. The Lower Pecos Canyonlands are not well known by most people, but the landscape is incredibly majestic and unexpected. You can be driving 70 miles per hour down the highway through the desert, when, wham, a huge canyon veers off to the left like a sudden tear in the earth.

These canyons were inhabited by human beings for thousands of years. They lived off the land and made paintings on the canyon walls that illustrate their gods and belief systems. Over 300 of these paintings still exist, and you can visit some of them. They are a treasure of human culture, and I hope more people will learn to value them as something important for us to save. The people who settled this area historically were a diverse bunch with a lot of gumption. Do people know that word anymore? I guess in modern language, we might say they had a lot of guts.
C.M. MAYO: In your view, what is the most underrated place in this region?

MARY S. BLACK: If I have to pick only one, I’ll say Las Moras Springs Pool at Ft. Clark in Brackettville.  I’m always looking for

Las Moras Springs Pool

great swimming holes. Las Moras Springs Pool is the third largest spring-fed swimming pool in Texas. Crystal clear water at a year-round temperature of about 70 degrees comes into the pool from a strongly flowing spring, yet very few people swim there because they don’t know how to get access.

The pool is located on Ft. Clark, and old U.S. Army fort originally built in 1849. You can get a day-pass for $5.00 at the guard house to enter the fort, enjoy the pool or play golf on either of two gold courses, and look at all the old stone buildings that remain from when the place was an active Army fort. There is also a really interesting museum there that is open on Saturdays.

C.M. MAYO: What is your favorite place?

MARY S. BLACK: Hands down, the White Shaman Preserve. The best studied of all the ancient murals is located there.  This is

White Shaman Mural

a polychrome painting about 25 feet long and 13 feet high done on a rock wall overlooking the Pecos River. This painting tells a story about creation and how the sun was born, according to Dr. Carolyn Boyd. You can visit the preserve on Saturdays at noon if you make a reservation online through the Witte Museum.  Tours are two-three hours long, and require a fairly strenuous hike down a canyon to a rockshelter, then back up.  But to be up there, to see the mural up close and in person, to look out over the river and imagine the people who made this painting, can change your whole perspective. It’s that powerful.

C.M. MAYO: Your favorite seasonal or annual event?
MARY S. BLACK: I have two: autumn color near Lost Maples State Natural Area near Vanderpool, and tubing in the cold Frio river in summer. Both are unique experiences in Texas and shouldn’t be missed. An isolated stand of bigtooth maple turns orange and red in Sabinal Canyon in late November. And swimming in the Frio at Garner State Park is like heaven on a hot day.
C.M. MAYO: What surprised you in researching this book?
MARY S. BLACK: How fascinating the area really is. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know.  The region has seven state parks and natural areas, nine ghost towns, three historic Army forts, and many scenic drives. But the coolest part was reading about all the crazy things that have happened there, like train robberies and early airplane adventures. And Indian battles. When settlers from the US and Mexico started coming in after the Civil War, the native Apaches and Comanches were fighting for their lives. And of course the U.S. Army was trying to drive them out. It gets complicated, but there were many interesting people involved in all this, like the Black Seminole Indian Scouts at Ft. Clark, and others. One of the first settlers in the Nueces River valley was a woman named Jerusha Sanchez, who came in the 1860s. Later a widow named Elizabeth Hill and her three sons also pioneered in the area. Blacks, women, immigrants from Italy, Mexico, Germany, and other places, and Native Americans made the history what it is.
C.M. MAYO: You offer an excellent bibliography for further reading. If you could recommend only three of these books, which would they be?
 MARY S. BLACK: Hmm, they are so different, let me see.  First I think Carolyn Boyd’s new book, which is called simply TheWhite Shaman Mural, just published by University of Texas Press in 2016.  She details her 25 years of research on the painting in this book and explains how she cracked the code on what it means, an amazing accomplishment.
Then I nominate Judge Roy Bean Country by Jack Skiles, published in 1996, which is a compilation of local stories of life in the Lower Pecos. The Skiles family has been ranching in the area for over 75 years and can tell stories about mountain lions and smugglers that will make you faint.
Finally, one I found fascinating was The Newton Boys: Portrait of an Outlaw Gang by Willis and Joe Newton as told to Claude Stanush, published in 1994. It tells how they became train robbers and learned to blow bank safes with nitroglycerin, which they did in Texas and the Midwest all through the 1920s. By the time they were captured, they had stolen more money than all other outlaws at the time combined.

> From the Frio to Del Rio is available from amazon.com or your independent bookseller.

 

 

 

Order Your New Travel Guide to SW Texas Now for Great Adventures!

Available April 2017 at your favorite bookstore or on Amazon today!

From the Frio to Del Rio: Travel Guide to the Western Hill Country and the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, is now available on Amazon for advance order! 

If you’re planning a trip to southwest Texas, you need this book or else you’ll miss half the fun. I give you the low-down on what to see, where to stay, and what to do that you might miss if you don’t have good information on the area. Easy-to-read charts lay out all the facts about places to camp and hike in the state parks and other recreation areas.  Detailed information helps you find restaurants, lodging and supplies.  Plus, there are Scenic and Special Interest Routes, history, prehistory, and environmental overviews that lead you deeper into the colorful cultural landscape.

Interested in military history or African-American history?  You gotta have this book for information on  historical forts dating back to 1849 and stories of the Buffalo soldiers and the Black Seminole Indian Scouts.  Love to ride motorcycles?  Take the Twisted Sisters ride  north of Garner State Park and continue on over to Vanderpool and Lost Maples State Natural Area to see the beautiful trees in the fall.  Like bass fishing?  I’ll tell you where to stay to visit Lake Amistad, a top-rated bass lake by ESPN.

Of particular interest to some is the rock art at White Shaman Preserve and Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site.  Fantastic paintings made thousands of years ago by Native Americans are still preserved in these places.  Once you see them, your view of the ancient past will change, I almost guarantee it.

Scenic Routes include the New Money and Old Art Trail, the Bat Trail, the Aviation History Trail, the Dead Man’s Trail, and others. This guide will tell you how to get there, and how to have a great adventure on your next trip to southwest Texas.  Thomas C. Self, Jack Johnson and others contributed over 100 wonderful color photographs to illustrate the book.

This guide covers the western Hill Country south of I-10 and west of San Antonio, plus the Lower Pecos Canyonlands from Del Rio to Langtry along the Rio Grande.  Places to visit, sleep and eat are included as well as information about the natural environment and history of the area.    Place your order now to reserve your copy for March shipment!

Texas A&M Press did a wonderful job with publication, I’m sure you’ll agree!  Thanks, everybody!

Stand Up for What You Believe In

Shepard Fairey's poster for the recent inauguration and Women's March, 2017.

Shepard Fairey’s poster for the recent inauguration and Women’s March, 2017.

Usually I use this space to scribble on about Texas or books I’ve written or trips I’ve made.  But this week I’ve got something else to say.  This week I am encouraging every American who loves this country–in all its diversity of land and people–to stand up for what they believe in.

We have a chaos president running the country now.  Someone totally ignorant of the issues, the causes, and the consequences.  He is pushing through a totally unqualified list of cabinet nominees.  People who don’t even know what their proposed agency does. Rick Perry and Betsy DeVos, I’m looking at you.

It’s going to be a tumultuous two years until the mid-term elections. Our goal should be to take back Congress at that time and put in back in the hands of intelligent, concerned people who won’t bully the American people.  Ted Cruz, that’s directed at you.  And oh yes, then impeach Cheeto, because by then we probably will have discovered undeniably who he’s beholden to (Russia, most likely, for starters).

Even after that, we’ll have Mike Pence, an ultra conservative who wants to turn this country back to 1950.  He would rather women die from botched alley-way abortions than be allowed decent medical care.  He would rather deport children’s parents who may have come from Mexico or other Latin American countries and leave the children to what? fend for themselves?  Unbelievable and UnAmerican.

I urge everyone who loves this country and refuses to live in fear of our neighbors to read this guideline to resistance  and take a stand. Make America Proud Again!

Americans Eating in Japan

 

My son and Brother ready for dinner after a relaxing, hot bath.

My son and brother ready for dinner after a relaxing, hot bath at our hotel in Takaoka, Japan.

The three of us who traveled to Japan recently liked to think of ourselves as fairly adventurous eaters, partial to spicy, exotic food.  But we were in for some surprises.  For example, we found that none of us really likes fish eyeballs for breakfast.

We had several traditional Japanese dinners at the ryokan, Japanese-style hotels, where we stayed.  Usually

A poster advertising sushi of various kinds.

A poster advertising sushi of various kinds.

there is a crab leg to start off, followed by various kinds of fish, sashimi (raw fish), soup, and maybe a stew of some kind. Plus rice, pickled vegetables, and tea. The first night of this was not unpleasant, except in my case, for the sashimi. I just couldn’t take the texture of the fish. My brother dared me to eat it, and I had the devil of a time getting it down, and keeping it down.

The second time we had this kind of dinner, the “stew” was all white, slimy things of unknown origin that none of us found appetizing. The worst part was when they served us almost the exact same menu for breakfast–with no coffee. I repeat, NO coffee. We were unhappy with this particular hotel anyway, and had no trouble ditching our reservation for the next night and hightailing it out of there. Fortunately, most train stations have coffee and bakeries these days.  I have to confess I ate more croissants than fish eye balls on this trip.

Japan lives by the sea, and sushi and sashimi are extremely popular.  One new twist we saw in Tokyo is “conveyor belt” sushi.  In this kind of restaurant, little dishes of food are put on a conveyor belt that goes around the counter where people sit.  People take whatever they like off the conveyor belt and eat. Quick and handy.

 

Another evening in Matsumoto, we ducked into a yakitori (grilled chicken) bar for dinner.  People sit around the counter and watch the grill master do his magic.  The first skewer brought out to us was announced as “chicken tail.” I thought, oh no, but knew I had to eat it.  A perfectly seasoned and grilled little packet of fat slid down my throat. Chicken leg and neck (who knew you could eat the neck?) came out on other skewers.  The master seasoned each offering precisely, like an artist at work.  His movements were dance-like as he held the shaker over the chicken parts in a ritualistic display of pride in his craft.  After a few beers, the noise level in the tiny bar went up and we were getting to be old friends with everyone. When we left, everyone waved and said goodbye.

We had one dinner of katsudon (fried pork steak) like the ones I remember from 45 years ago that was

A ubiquitous vending machine painted with Matsumoto Castle.

A ubiquitous vending machine painted with Matsumoto Castle.

especially good, but I couldn’t find many of the kinds of restaurants I so vividly remembered.  Instead there were hamburgers and fries, pizza, and KFC fried chicken.  We had a hamburger made of marbled Hida beef in the mountain town of Takayama. Food preferences have changed dramatically in Japan since I was there as a young woman, not necessarily for the better. I saw a fair number of overweight Japanese people, which simply didn’t exist when I was there last.

Of course in Tokyo you can find anything, and fortunately there was a good Indian place near our hotel to satisfy our need for heat. Convenience stores like 7-ll saved us on more than one occasion with a good selection of salads and sandwiches at cheap prices.  Before we’d get on the train, we often stopped at 7-11 to get our lunch supplies and other snacks.

We tried to keep it simple, and cheap, when we could, so we did not seek out the many fine dining establishments Japan has to offer.  Other people will have very different culinary experiences, no doubt. But for us, a backpack full of snacks is always essential. Part of the adventure of traveling is that you often don’t know where or when you will next eat, nor certainly what it will be. Bon Apetit!

Cooling off the drinks with cold mountain water near a rice paddy in the village of Shirakawago.

Cooling off the drinks with cold mountain water near a rice paddy in the village of Shirakawago.

Mary in Japan, 7-5-3

Children dressed up in their finest for the shichi-go-san (7-5-3) festival where they will be blessed by the priests.

Children dressed up in their finest for the shichi-go-san 7-5-3) festival where children ages seven, five and three will be blessed by the priests at the temple.

One of the pleasures of visiting Japan are the many festivals and cultural events that occur all times of year. You can plan your trip around catching a specific pageant, or you can just bump into them by chance, like I did recently when I visited Japan with my son and younger brother.  There are 15 national holidays in Japan ( http://www.japanspecialist.co.uk/travel-tips/national-holidays-in-japan/)  and many more regional festivals and family celebrations.  We happened to be in Japan during the Shichi-Go-San season, or 7-5-3.  This is a period of time when children aged seven, five and three are taken to Buddhist temples for special blessings.

A vision in gold for Shichi-go-san.

A vision in gold for Shichi-go-san.

As we made our rounds of fabulous temples with smoking incense burners and prayers

A little boy in his formal outfit for his temple blessing.

A little boy in his formal outfit for his temple blessing.

fastened to trees, we ran into various family groups taking their brilliantly dressed children to the priests. Some of the children seemed to feel awkward in their resplendent formal wear, and at least one sat right down on the curb and refused to go further with big tears in his eyes. But most hugged their bags of special candy and smiled.

While we were at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, a solemn funeral procession passed through the courtyard. The widow was dressed in white, and a priest shaded her with a huge red umbrella.

Funeral procession at Meiji Shrine.

Funeral procession at Meiji Shrine.

We traveled from Tokyo to Nagano, where the 1998 Winter Olympics were held, by  bullet train, or shinkansen.  These are the fastest trains in the world, with a super aerodynamic design (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lm1nzUU8nEI).  We loved the bullet trains!  Not only do they flash through the countryside at about 200 mph, they are also quiet, comfortable, and always on time.  We bought Japan Rail Passes which gave us 14 days of unlimited train travel throughout the country for about $420.00 each.  These passes can only be bought online by foreigners. They are not available for Japanese citizens.  Go to http://www.jrpass.com for more information.  Announcements at the stations are made in English, Chinese, and Japanese, as well as for all stops on the train itself.  I was grateful for this because 45 years ago when I took the first bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo, there was only Japanese.  International travelers have increased tremendously in Japan, due no doubt to services like these.

Two bullet trains wait at Tokyo station.

Two bullet trains wait at Tokyo station.

 

We spent a few hours in Nagano visiting Zensoji Temple. Just catch the bus right at the train station, and go straight up the street a mile or two to this magnificent place.  Zensoji is famous for taking in travelers on the road, and they run several hostels in the mountains nearby. The next night we spent at one of these temple hostels in the little town of Takayama.  Stay tuned for more on this later.

Mary’s Trip to Japan

Could it be? Yes! It's Godzilla towering over Tokyo.

Could it be? Yes! It’s Godzilla towering over Tokyo. We could follow him home to our hotel in Shinjuku.

I spent the last two weeks of October 2016 away from the political campaign, which alone would have been worth the trip, traveling around Japan with my adult son and younger brother.  My son was born in Tokyo 45 years ago, but we left when he was four months old.  All these years I have dreamed of taking him back to see the land where he was born.  And I finally did.

Needless to say, a lot has changed in 45 years, myself certainly included. In the next few posts, I’ll tell you what we saw, what has changed, and what has stayed the same, at least from my perspective.

A gray day in Shinjuku from my hotel window.

A gray day in Shinjuku from my hotel window.

We flew into Tokyo, nonstop from Dallas, about 13 hours.  We landed at Narita Airport where we changed money, exchanged our vouchers for Japan Rail Passes, and caught the N’EX (Narita Express) train straight from the airport into Shinjuku, about 90 minutes away.  All seats are reserved on the train, but they give you one immediately when you exchange your voucher for the rail pass.  In our case, pretty much door to door service from the airport to the hotel, which was only about five blocks from the train station.

For travelers thinking of going to Japan, let me say that Shinjuku station is one of the largest and busiest in the entire world.  It will pay to study a map of where your hotel is (in Shinjuku or any place else in Tokyo), and find the correct exit at the station.  Going out the right exit will save you probably $30.00 in yen in cab fare.  There are about four floors of

Little Piggy beckons you to come in.

Little Piggy beckons you to come in.

shopping malls and food courts in the station, plus a major business center.  Who knows how many train lines come in there, but it’s a lot. There are hundreds of thousands of people there at any given moment.  The place can be difficult to navigate when you’ve been traveling about 20 hours, dragging your luggage around, and completely dazed.  But once you find a cab, they can take you straight to your hotel without any hassle.  Of course if you go out the wrong side of the station, the cab will have to drive all the way around, and that will add up, but you really won’t have any other problem getting to the hotel.  Show them the address written on paper, if possible.

Our experience was that all hotels and ryokans we stayed in had English-speaking staff.  English is pretty much everywhere in Japan now, whereas when I was there as a young woman, there wasn’t a word.  We stayed in an APA hotel, which is a modern chain with moderate prices.  As we learned, there are two APA hotels in Shinjuku, and as luck had it, we stayed in both.  They were exactly the same.  Very small rooms by Western standards, but perfect for falling face-down on the bed after your flight.  Good AC was very welcome, large wall-mounted TV, private bath, very sound proof and quiet.  Good bed, but I later realized the pillows were very skimpy.  Not that I cared the first day at all.

We could see Godzilla from the window in our room.  We could look down on him and see all the lights

Kabukicho at night.

Kabukicho at night.

of bustling Shinjuku.  We were in Kabukicho, which my son kept informing me was the largest red-light district in Asia.  Well, I don’t know about that, but there were a lot of bars and rather, er, specific, clubs. But walking around in early evening or during the day, especially with two grown men beside me, was not uncomfortable at all.  I was in bed every night by 7:30, so I don’t know what went on after that.

At the Robot Restaurant.

At the Robot Restaurant.

 

My brother wanted to go to the Robot Restaurant a few blocks away, but we found out there were neither robots nor a restaurant at this establishment.  Instead there is a big floor show with remote-controlled floats. Very loud, high energy, raucous.  Oh, yeah. It’s also costs $80.00 each to get in, with not even a free beer thrown in.  Makes Vegas look good.  Anyway, we went for this one big splurge. One of the highlights was watching Godzilla battle a space monster.  My videography sucks, but stay with it just to see what happens to the girl.

Where is Mary Going? Hint: It’s Not Texas!

Where is Mary going now? Hmmm....

Where is Mary going now? Hmmm….

I’m off on a magnificent trip for the next two weeks that I’ve been dreaming of for 40 years.  Using the photo above as a clue, guess where I’m going.  Leave your guess in the comments section below.  Correct responses will win a free autographed copy of my novel Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyons, which has nothing whatsoever to do with this trip.

Now your job is to figure out what I’ve been thinking of for all these years…..