Driving the Al-Can Highway in early 1960’s- Unforgettable Memory #6 by Nancy Radke

While my husband, Walt, and I were attending the University of Washington, we spent our summers in Anchorage with his parents, where I worked one job. Walt worked two 8-hour construction jobs since we had almost 24 hours of daylight up there. We drove up the Al-Can (Alaska-Canada) Highway each spring, and then back to Seattle each fall. We could make enough to pay our tuition for that year.

There were some unique features about the highway that I won’t forget. There were miles and miles of nothing but mountains and forests. Not all that many cars. If you came across a motorist with a stalled car, you stopped and gave him a lift to the next town. The towns were marked on the map, all named, but usually consisted of just one house and some outbuildings; sometimes with a gas station, but always with someone who had a tow truck and extra tires. Unlike Seattle, the gas stations on the Al-Can all had hot water in the restrooms, hot enough you would almost burn your hands, and I remember just how good that water felt.

We carried extra tires, but once blew three in a row, so Walt took one tire and I took another and we rolled them down the road until a truck came by and took us to a farm where the man fixed our tires and drove us back to our car.

The roads were smooth in the fall, but in the spring, after the winter had frozen and thawed the roadway, there were parts of it like a washboard, with a series of humps about a foot high. They appeared unexpectedly and had to be driven slowly or you would ruin your car. After going through the humps, you would drive slowly for a while, and then speed up until you hit the next series. The roadway had no centerline, and no warning signs before you hit the washboards.

Besides the beautiful scenery, the highway offered plenty of wildlife, since what animal would tramp through the tundra when it could walk down the roadway? The moose especially liked it. Once we had to wait for a herd of several hundred caribou to cross near Tok Junction. The roadway was often elevated four to six feet to get it above the permafrost, and one other time, also near Tok Junction, we had a huge bison suddenly jump up on the road in front of us. He stood there, head lowered, while Walt slammed to a stop and backed up as fast as he could. That bison waited a bit, then sauntered across the road and down the other side.

One spot on the highway hadn’t been elevated, and when we drove through the mud, our car’s bumper wasn’t high enough to clear, so we skimmed off the top of the mud as we drove along. It crept up over the hood, then our windshield and finally over the rest of the car. The wipers weren’t strong enough to clear the mud, so I would open my passenger window and wipe it off enough that Walt could see the road. This stretch seemed endless, but was probably only about 20 miles.

Anchorage just had another large earthquake, but I figure the folks there will get out their trucks and tractors and do a quick fix on the roads and throw up some army type bridges to get them through until summer construction time. No problem.

So far I’ve only “visited” Alaska once in my novels. In Stolen Secrets, my hero and heroine fly to Anchorage to try to find out who is stealing company secrets. Stolen Secrets is my story in the Sweet & Sassy Suspense collection.

Nancy Radke

A USA Today bestselling author, Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse’s nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. Nancy spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said “Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes.” It is light and humorous. Nancy currently has over 30 books written, both modern and western. All her stories are sweet and wholesome.
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Her Mr. Miracle by Donna Fasano #NewRelease #mgtab

I’m excited to share my New Release with you. Her Mr. Miracle is the 8th book in my Ocean City Boardwalk Series. I fell in love with the ocean many years ago, so this series is special to me.

The awesome thing about Her Mr. Miracle is that the story went in directions I was not expecting. I love it when that happens. One secondary character in particular will remain memorable to me. She showed up out of the blue, and she made a decision that I found, well… shocking. But once the scenes were written, I found myself coming to a place of compassion and understanding for her. I hope readers will do the same.

Here’s a little more about Her Mr. Miracle:

Veronica “Ronnie” Clark has had it up to here with her family. So she shoves her suitcase into the trunk of her car along with that billowy, lacy, monstrosity of a bridal gown and hits the road. Unfortunately, her old Volvo gives out, leaving her stranded on Christmas Eve in the nearly deserted seaside town of Ocean City, Maryland. Oh, boy, does she ever need a miracle!

And like Christmas magic, her Mr. Miracle appears. Adam Rone stops to offer her assistance, and once the tow truck drives away with the Volvo, he suggests she stay at Ocean Dreams, the hotel he owns and operates in the tourist town.

Ronnie is drawn to the compassionate single dad, and the attraction they feel is undeniable. But when she learns all he’s going through to keep his family together, she can’t bring herself to reveal to him that she’s running from hers. All she wants is for him to take her in his arms and kiss her, but he keeps asking about that stupid wedding dress!

Find Her Mr. Miracle:

Kindle

Paperback

Hey, readers! We’re looking for Santas and Reindeer! Visit our December Contest and YOU could win gift cards, paperback books, and book bundles. Click here to play! 

Donna Fasano

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR DONNA FASANO is a three-time winner of the HOLT Medallion, a CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award winner for Best Single Title, a Desert Rose Golden Quill Award finalist, a Golden Heart finalist, and a two-time winner of Best Romance of the Year given by BigAl’s Books & Pals Review Blog. Her books have sold nearly 4 million copies worldwide and have been published in two dozen languages. Her books have made the Kindle Top 100 Paid List numerous times, climbing as high as #5.

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I’ve always loved Poetry.

I am sometimes told in review that there is a poetic lilt to my writing. I have always loved poetry, my favourites being Longfellow, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Coleridge and some of more modern poets.

My love of poetry started at the age of seven at the knee of my great uncle Will’ in a little village in Glamorganshire on the coast of South Wales. Uncle Will was a miner and also a scholar, who when not working long shifts down the  mine, taught the children of the village.  He introduced me to my first poem from a book The Thousand Best Poems in the World. This was a book published in 1891 by EW Cole. Some of the authors were famous, others anonymous as was a premise for some ladies writing in those times, most of the poetry held the flavour of nostalgic Victorian poetry.

As the festive season is nearly upon us I hope you will enjoy the one given below written probably one hundred and fifty years ago by an anonymous poet.  The poetry echoes the theme of my book written specially for Love at Christmas 2. This box-set has such a wonderful variety of stories both in the contemporary or historical style.

In the coming year, I hope to present some of these poems in my blog and website now nearly built.

https://www.katy-walters.com

‘Live for Something’

Live for something, be not idle-

Look about thee for employ!

Sit not down to useless dreaming –

Labour is the sweetest joy.

Folded hands are ever weary,

Selfish hearts are never gay,

Life for thee have many duties-

Active be, then, while you may.

 

Scatter blessings in they pathway!

Gentle words and cheering smiles

Better are than gold or silver,

With their grief – dispelling wiles,

As the pleasant sunshine falleth

Ever on the grateful earth,

So let sympathy and kindness

Gladden well the darkened heart.

 

Hearts there are oppressed and weary,

Drop the tear of sympathy,

Whisper words of hope and comfort,

Give and thy reward shall be

Joy unto the soul returning,

From this perfect fountain head,

Freely, as thou freely givest,

 

Anonymous. Just Before the Village Blacksmith by Longfellow

Page 207 The Thousand Best Poems in the World – First Series.

Published 1891

 

Katy Walters

Katy lives on the South coast with her husband and a loving hyper friendly dog who likes to greet and lick everyone on sight. She has a BA Hons (Psych) BA Eng.Lit. MA in Religion and Mysticism and a Hon Dr. Science for research into pain control.
She was a psychologist and hypnotherapist before changing direction for full time creative writing, Her main genres are historical romance, crime and science fiction.

Meddling Family and Holiday Hijinks

My contribution to Love, Christmas 2 is Almost Christmas in Connecticut, based on the classic movie Christmas in Connecticut.


The movie involves a war hero who’s invited to spend Christmas dinner with the cooking columnist whose articles nourish his spirit while he recovers in hospital. I brought the story into the twenty-first century by making the soldier female, and her love interest, a video blogger.

One of the things I love about the movie, besides starring Barbara Stanwyck, is the madcap mishaps caused by the fact the columnist can’t cook, and the additional premise maintained in her column that she’s married and has a baby. I’m not sure if there’s a specific trope for those; it’s not mistaken identity but false pretense creating conflict. This can often lead to trust issues, but following in the movie’s spirit I focused on the opportunity presented by the truth.

I already knew the hero, Tanner Frost, as his brothers have been finding love in my Small-Town Sweethearts series. I needed a heroine, though. One who currently served in the military, and who could mistakenly be described as a wounded warrior. I reached out to readers for some suggestions and realized how important it was to get Winnifred “Fred” Carmichael right, and not insult the entire military community and all of our true heroes. How could I portray Fred as an injured soldier in a silly, short romance without trivializing the work of so many men and women?

I turned to my high school best friend’s big sis, LTC Karen Maskew, USA, Ret. For guidance. With her help, I fleshed out Fred and how she came to be invited to spend Christmas with Tanner.

Here’s a tease from the book:

Tanner had a wild urge to cross his eyes and stick out his tongue when yet another woman snapped a picture of him as he waited outside the arrivals gate at Bradley International Airport. He put up with his aunt’s idea of starring in a video cooking show, but he hated the celebrity that came with it. If he signed onto his social media accounts right then he’d see his face plastered repeatedly on his timeline holding a sign that said Fred.

Fred. Who named their kids that? Tanner had his aunt to blame for his being in the airport, too. She’d come up with this great promo idea by having some soldier come to the farm for Christmas dinner. Somehow they’d have to keep Fred from discovering Tanner was just the front man for the vlog. His aunt did all the cooking, but she claimed her face wouldn’t draw the following his would. And she’d been right about the number of fans.

Scanning the arriving passengers, he looked for a guy in uniform. Or fatigues. Whatever a soldier would wear to travel.

A tall, slender woman on crutches stopped in front of him, letting a duffle bag drop beside her. “That’s me.”

“I beg your pardon?” He wished she’d just take a photo and move along. The number of people coming and going were growing on his nerves.

“I’m Fred. You’re Tanner Frost, right?”

He ducked his head, dropped the sign and reached for her duffle bag. “Sorry, I expected a guy.”

“I get that a lot,” she said.

There was no mistaking her for a guy. She was clearly fit but had noticeable curves. He liked the look on her. He’d bet if she took her auburn hair out of the bun she wore, it would reach her waist. He wouldn’t mind seeing her all dressed up.

Hefting her duffle bag, he guessed she hadn’t brought a fancy wardrobe, which suited him fine. He had no idea what his aunt planned for their week, but it wouldn’t include clubbing or fancy restaurants. Their vlog was about home cooking, so there would be lots of that.

Luckily he’d found a parking space not too far from the arrival gate, since they had to move slowly to accommodate her crutches. She slid into the truck with a lot more grace than he could have pulled off, and he tossed the crutches in the back.

He didn’t talk while driving the maze they called an exit at the airport, but then settled back and relaxed. “So, you’re from Mississippi?”

“Missouri.”

“And you’re a marine?”

“National Guard,” she answered, laughter obvious in her voice. “I’m guessing you knew as much about this as I did.”

He ducked his head again and glanced out the side window. “Yeah. My aunt handles the behind-the-scenes stuff. You didn’t email her?”

“No, that would be my niece. She’s six. I’m so embarrassed! She said she wrote that I was a wounded soldier.”

Pointing at the navy canvas boot over the cast on her left foot, he said, “There is that.” He grinned and she smiled back.

“Wounded soldier gives people the idea I was injured in combat. The only thing I was fighting was the pile of rubble when a church got hit in a tornado. We didn’t even arrive until an hour after it passed through the town.”

“So you rescue people from disasters? That’s impressive.”

“It sounds bigger than it is in reality.” She seemed determined to belittle her part in the Guards. “We don’t get called out often, which is good because it means people don’t need our help. I’m really a tester at a cheese factory.”

Well, that was different. “I don’t think I’ve ever met a cheese tester.”

“That’s okay.” She grinned. “I’ve never met a vlogger, either.”

“Are you a follower of the vlog?”

Her mouth twisted to one side. “Um, do I get sent back home if I say no? I really don’t want to disappoint my niece. She wants a picture of us together, by the way.”

Her answer relieved him, if he was honest with himself. Aside from the need to keep her from finding out how little he really cooked, he wouldn’t have to put up with starry eyes and heavy sighs. He could be himself, as long as she didn’t have her phone handy to snap random photos.

Download your copy of Love, Christmas 2 today!

Ari Thatcher

USA Today Bestselling author Ari Thatcher is the naughty side of sweet romance author Aileen Fish. Ari has always loved sexy romance where love takes the leading role. Reviews have called her work “captivating” and “compelling”, and her characters “intelligent, intriguing and realistic.”