Tag Archives: Books

My First Trip to Mexico

In 1973, I hauled my duffel bag  stuffed with bikinis (yes, itsy bitsy bikinis), towels, sleeping bag, mess kit, and summer reading on a greyhound from San Rafael to meet my then boyfriend Kirby in Elko, Nevada. Kirby came from Ketchum, Idaho in his beater VW bug—the Spud Mobile. We were headed south to Old Mexico, but first we had to stop at Kirby’s grandmother’s winter home—she was a snowbird—in Sun City, Arizona “to check on things.” Actually to borrow her pickup with a camper shell on the back.


We were vampires, sleeping in the air-conditioning all day, only appearing outside after dark when the temperature cooled off to 95. We saw a lot of the late night golf course, a popular hang-out for the over sixty and after ten o’clock set. I didn’t see much more of Sun City other than the grocery store and gas station, but we managed to outfit our expedition and get underway in about five days. Seriously under-capitalized and under-prepared.



We crossed the Nogales border at dawn on August 8, and made Kino Bay by the full heat of the day. We pitched camp perched on an empty bluff over a beach where gulls circled and called and took inventory of our equipment and supplies. Folding chairs. Check. Camp stove and fuel. Check. Tarps and nylon rope. Check. Flipflops. Check. Pancack mix, eggs, beer, watermelon. Check. Reading material: Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth, The Abortion: An Historical Romance by Richard Brautigan and Tom Robbins’s Another Roadside Attracton. Check.  I sat down in one of the folding chairs and got to work on Jonathan Livinston Seagull. Kirby popped a cold one.



The next time I looked up (the book engaged me) we’d made Mazatlán. We found a palm shaded trailer park outside of town right on the beach and sank roots. The place was half filled with characters from The States. One hippie woman, living in her school bus with her small, naked children, kept a pet coatimundi, a south American cousin to the raccoon, that thrived on rum and coke and liked to sleep in a hammock with me. Old Tom told us stories about anything and everything, mostly his exploits in the war. We bought fresh fruits, vegetables and marijuana from Raul who drove his horse drawn cart to the trailer park every other day. We paid him $20 for a medio kilo.  I cut out a lid of the best buds then sold the rest to the surfer dudes who arrived a few days later for $20 and a bottle of rum. Everyone was happy, especially Kirby and the coatimundi, who did not smoke pot.


Raul and son. “Hey amigos, wanna little smoke?”

For a month we swam, snorkled, ate fresh fish, saw the sights and finished our summer reading in the hammock. We went to the disco, took a boat ride to the island, and ate at the Shrimp Bucket. Until we ran low on money.

Time to head home.


Kirby drove straight up to the border, and I dumped the baggie of pot out the window before we crossed. We spent all but a few dollars on gas in Nogales, AZ to get us to Sun City. The desert, so fragrant and wide open with limitless possibility on the way down had turned inhospitable—an endless dun-colored landscape, dangerous and foreboding. images-1But we were kids, and when we’d spent all but our last dollar at the breakfast counter in The Silver Dollar Casino in who-knows-where Nevada, I invested it in the giant dollar slot machine and won fifty silver dollars.

In 1973 it was enough to get home.






Meet me in Mexico!


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Filed under Autobiographical Writing

Eat local. Shop local. Read local.

Everybody knows I have some favorite local authors, but do you know that my reading list is made up of mostly Left Coast writers? We’re a talented bunch here in the land of “fruits and nuts.” Maybe it’s all the fresh food, or maybe you just have to be a little crazy to be a writer. Whatever it is, some of the best writing today is coming from the west coast.

I paused to think about this phenomenon after a student suggested I post a list of local authors I enjoy on Building a Better Story. I’ve echoed the saw that ‘a good writer is an avid reader’ for ages, so a list sounded like a great idea. OMG! I didn’t realize the task would turn into a major research project and make my brain explode with the vast numbers of authors and books I’ve read or have stacked on the shelf yet to read. Alas. Too many books, too little time. You might call me a biblio-loca-maniac.

I wish I could take a sabbatical and just read. Here is the list I’d start with. In fact, this is my current reading list—

First, I’d finish David Corbett’s Do They Know I’m Running? Of his books, I’ve read:

                        The Devil’s Redhead

                        Done for a Dime (my favorite)

                        Blood Paradise

Also unfinished, Susan C. Shay, The King’s Jar.

Then I’d read Lisa Brackman’s Ellie Cooper series (is there a third on the horizon?):

                        Rock, Paper, Tiger

                        Hour of the Rat

Lisa’s Getaway is one of the books that inspires my own series. There’s a sequel coming out soon.

Next in the queue:  Kelli Stanley:    City of Dragons  and  City of Secrets,  followerd by Cara Black’s Aimee Leduc mystery series set in Paris. I’ve read 5 of 11. The latest is Murder in Passy. Start with Murder in the Marais and read in order.

 You probably are noticing that I’m interested in thrillers, mysteries and noir. Not a local boy, but my number one favorite author is Arizonan, Clark Lohr. Follow Manny Aguilar and a trail of blood and corruption from Tucson to Mexico and back in Devil’s Kitchen, and, in The Devil on 85, ride along with Manny on State Highway 85—a smuggling corridor where guns and money go south and drugs and migrants go north. Lohr blends noir with magical realism to create a fresh voice in crime novels. I’m hooked! When’s the next book, Clark?

But I don’t read only crime fiction, and although she’s a Southern writer, I’ve just added Sue Monk Kidd’s newest, The Invention of Wings to my must read list.

Here are some of my favorite local authors:

JC Miller                                    Vacation            

Jordan E. Rosenfeld                 Forged in Grace

Susana Solomon                        Point Reyes Sheriff’s Calls

Laura McHale Holland            Reversible Skirt      

                                                      The Ice Cream Vender’s Song

Ransom Stephens                     The God Patent    

                                                     The Sensory Deception

Amanda McTigue                      Going to Solace

Amber Lea Starfire                     Not the Mother I Remember

Gigi Pandian                                Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries

P.S. Foley                                     West Newport Blues                       

Terry Shames                             A Killing at Cotton Hill                                                   

Sheldon Siegal                          Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez mysteries             

Persia Wooley                            the Guinevere trilogy

Jody Gehrman                           Summer in the Land of Skin

Lynn Freed                                Reading, Writing, Leaving

                                                    Home:   Life on the Page

My goal for 2014 is to read 26 books.

Join me!


Filed under Books