Friday, February 26, 2021

Photo Friday: Patagonia National Park, Chile

A year ago I was in Patagonia with my husband and brother-in-law. Part of our trip was a 10-day road trip through Argentina and Chile. I wrote about the early parts of that trip here and here. The center of the trip was Patagonia National Park of Chile, not so very far from the southern terminus of the Carretera Austral. Many of these photos are by Dave Dempsey.

Entering the park. Tom and I are rearranging the car in the background, to make room for one of the hitch-hikers hoping for a lift to the campground.

The Parque Nacional Patagonia has at its core the Chacabuco Valley, until recently one of the region's largest sheep ranches. It was purchased in 2004 by Kris and Doug Tompkins, to be re-wilded, then turned into a park under the control of the Chilean government. Doug Tompkins didn't live to see his dream fulfilled, but did get things well under way. His widow eventually negotiated the creation of five Chilean national parks through the-profit conservancy that owned the lands.

The park road is dirt, but may have been in better shape than the equally unpaved Carretera (Ruta 7).

The developed part of the park includes a beautiful stone Visitors Center, a very pricey lodge... and the very cheap walk-in campground, with shelters (handy, as those clouds produced rain). We spent two nights, so that we could do a very long hike.

Matching tents, and dinner preparations under the shelter.

As we started up the trail to the Lagunas Altas (High Lakes), we could see everywhere the impact both of the restoration of the landscape, and the careful thought Doug Tompkins put into everything from the campground and the lodge to the layout and construction of the trail. The resulting signage, for example, seemed very familiar to users of the US Parks.

Starting up the trail. It was 20 km, more or less.

The trail climbed in and out of the beech forests--very like those we'd experienced in New Zealand the year before--and despite the late-summer timing, there were some flowers as well as views.

Note the very abrupt tree-line on the hill in the background. Beech trees are apparently not good pioneers, so the forest tends to end abruptly, without adventurous trees growing above their mates.

After a nice stiff climb, we reached the high lakes, many of them in fantastic settings.


The lakes meant waterfowl. Dave was able to get several good photos of birds that are almost, but not quite, familiar.

These ashy-headed geese were among the most striking of the birds we saw that day.

It wasn't all about birds--we had several close encounters with guanacos, the wild camelids from which llamas were bred.

The guanacos were fairly habituated, or maybe they just aren't easily spooked, but a telephoto was involved here. I wouldn't want to get too close and find out what they do when annoyed.

What's not to love about a face like that? And get a load of the eyelashes!

We were footsore and happy to see our camp at the end of the day, but it was well worth the effort--to get there, and to hike all day.

Last light on an amazing landscape

 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2021
 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Cozy Review: Spring Upon a Crime


Spring Upon a Crime (A Seattle Wilderness Mystery) by ML Erdahl

About Spring Upon A Crime


Spring Upon a Crime (A Seattle Wilderness Mystery)  

Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series  

Publisher: Wild Rose Press (January 13, 2021)  

Paperback: 294 pages  

ISBN-10: 1509234608  

ISBN-13: 978-1509234608  

Digital ASIN: B08P87F6J1 

Wilderness guide Crystal Rainey leads a group of college students to a private campground amidst the awe-inspiring Olympic Rain Forest. The excursion is ruined when the charming hostess Roxie is discovered standing over the land owner's body, murder weapon in hand.

Enlisted to investigate the crime to absolve her friend, Crystal descends on the quiet city of Forks to find loggers, developers, and eco-protesters circling the property, intent on either exploiting or protecting the bastion of old-growth forest. The list of suspects is intimidating. Can Crystal find answers in a community determined to keep her in the dark?

My Review:
I have to say it: this book was totally worth it just for the scene where the main character and her side-kick interview a buck-naked eco-warrior on a tree platform. Still, that's not the only reason to read it. The characters are engaging and the rain forest lovingly depicted. I enjoyed scenes both in the forest and in Seattle, with an extra bonus for places I know and could recognize.

That said, I wasn't 100% happy with the book. Some aspects of the story failed to carry conviction, and I was impatient with those moments that struck me as "off" as I always am. Still, those were not plot-busting issues, and in the end the story pulled me in so that I had to read through to the end in a rush. I enjoyed the touches of humor and about the right amount of tension and excitement. The clues to the killer were there, and I suspected who it was, but certainly didn't tumble to the complexity of the motivations.

The writing is solid and well-edited.

My Recommendation:
A feel-good easy read, this can be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts and city-slickers alike.


 Now, an interview with Author ML Erdahl! (We were down for a character interview, but I sent the wrong questions, so enjoy meeting the author!).

Thanks for coming by for an interview, ML! Let’s start at the beginning: when did you start writing? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer, or did you stumble into it later in life? 

In sixth grade I had a three page assignment to create my own Greek myth, and I turned in twelve pages worth of writing.  I think I knew then that I wanted to be a writer. Over the years, I dabbled with short stories for myself and my friends, and began at least four novels that never got past twenty pages.  However, it wasn’t until my early forties that I began to take it seriously.  I joined a writing association, read books on the craft, and began to write in earnest. The rest is history.


What are your books about and who is the audience?

My books are cozy mysteries featuring Crystal Rainey, an office worker who jumps off the corporate hamster wheel to pursue her dream job of being a wilderness guide. As luck would have it, she constantly stumbles upon dead bodies, and is invariably roped into solving the murder.

Cozy mysteries are a genre founded by Agatha Christie. They are typically murder mysteries, but the blood and gore happen off-stage. Likewise, the language is relatively clean and the sexy stuff goes on behind the scenes as well. That said, it’s a fun adventure for the reader, since they are meant to solve the crime along with the amateur sleuth who tackles murder case after murder case. If properly written, they are heart-warming, funny, and have what we in the biz call an HEA ending (Happily Ever After.)


Now we can get into the fun stuff: What is the strangest job you’ve ever held?

To pay for college, I worked summers in a salmon cannery in the remote Alaskan village of South Nak Nek, where the population of bears outnumbered humans. Trident Seafoods flew us in on tiny six-seater planes to a desolate dirt landing strip and dropped us off in the wilderness, until a van showed up to shuttle us to our bunkhouse.

In consisted of sixteen to twenty hour work days, seven days a week for months. It was terrible and exhausting work, but let me graduate college with no debt. Not surprisingly, this job started my coffee addiction that continues to this day.


That’s hard work, for sure. I knew a few people who did that back in the day, but I wasn’t brave enough! After experiences like that, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I love where I live in the Pacific Northwest, but I’m going to cheat, and say I want to buy a van and be on the move constantly. Every few weeks or months, I want to pull up stakes and move on to a new adventure.


Not a bad ambition, but there are drawbacks. For me, it would be the loss of my garden. Do you garden? And do you focus on vegetables or flowers?

I have both flowers and fruit. Vegetables are too much work, and I always seem to lose them to either insects or the rabbits that sneak under my fence at night. However, I have a raised bed for strawberries, several blueberry bushes, and two dwarf cherry trees that gave me enough of a harvest to have home-grown fruit until the middle of winter.


If there’s a spider in the corner of the room, do you a) panic, b) have to drop everything until it is removed, or c) hope it’s planning to eat the more annoying bugs that get in?

When a spider is discovered in my house, my wife panics and yells for me to come “Right Now!” The dogs and cat run around in a frenzy at the noise, and I sprint as fast as I can to gently and humanely escort the spider out of the house and admonish it to please stay outside or get better at hiding.


Very good advice for the spider!

On to writing technique: Do you draft your books longhand or compose at the keyboard?

I find that my creative juices flow much better when I write longhand. When finished, I turn over my pages (with gosh-awful handwriting) to my patient and talented-typist wife, who enters the first-draft into the computer.


What’s the weirdest thing you’ve had to research for one of your books?

Oh my gosh, so much murder related material. Like all mystery writers, if someone I know turns up suspiciously dead, I’m headed to the slammer for sure.


We mystery writers all worry about the FBI showing up at our doors!

More technique: Do you use a detailed outline before you start writing, or... ?

I am what is classified as a “plantser.” I sketch out a minimalist outline (minimalist sounds so much nicer than half-assed, don’t you think?), and begin writing. Midway through, I pause and revise my outline, because my story invariably veers off in an unexpected direction. I find that if I let that happen organically, the story will write itself much better than if I force it down my pre-determined path.


Good advice about the mid-way pause and revision of the outline! I’ve become pretty big on the outline, but still end up needing changes, so agree it’s a good idea to let the story develop and adjust the outline to go on from there.


Thanks again for coming by and sharing a bit about yourself with my readers!


About ML Erdahl

Award-winning author ML Erdahl lives amidst the trees of the Pacific Northwest, where he pens humorous cozy mystery novels set in the wilderness he has spent his lifetime exploring. The only thing slowing him down is when his adorable rescue dogs, Skip and Daisy, demand to be pet and cuddled on his lap while he types. When he's not working away in front of a computer, you can find him gardening, hiking, or grumbling to his wife, Emily, about the perpetual Northwest winter rain that prevents him from going outside.

Author Links 
Facebook Instagram Twitter Goodreads Bookbub  

Purchase Links
Amazon Barnes and Noble Apple Books Kobo Google Play

Book 1 in this Series

a Rafflecopter giveaway


February 22 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

February 22 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

February 22 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST

February 23 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
February 23 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

February 23 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW


February 24 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – GUEST POST

February 24 – Christy's Cozy Corners – REVIEW

February 24 – Laura's Interests – REVIEW
February 24 – The Ninja Librarian – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

February 25 – Literary Gold – REVIEW

February 25 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW

February 25 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

February 26 – I Read What You Write - SPOTLIGHT

February 26 – Novels Alive – REVIEW

February 26 – Here's How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

February 27 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST

February 27 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST

February 27 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

February 28 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 28 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT
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Monday, February 22, 2021

Are you getting notices?

This is kind of a tricky one, since I'm thinking that if the answer is "no" you won't see this--but here goes.

I have heard from at least one reader that she's not getting notifications of my new posts. I think that's through Feedburner. I've signed myself up as a test, but would like to hear from my readers how and if you are getting notices of new posts--something that seems more important than ever, as I'm not blogging as regularly as I once did. Let me know if you get notices, and if you use Feedburner or what.

On another but not unrelated note, I am planning to migrate my blog to a new and better platform. Blogger seems to be less and less well-adapted to all devices (I know this blog doesn't read well on phones, for example, but can't figure out how to fix it). Share your suggestions, or if you know how to bring a Blogger blog into the 21st Century, let me know about that!

Thanks, and happy Monday. 

Here are a couple of pictures to prove that the entire country is not covered in winter. I hope it makes those who are cold feel hope, not homicidal envy!

I don't know what sort of tree this one is.

This is my peach tree, promising me yummy fruit come summer.