Category Archives: My Green Jell-O Story

CORNUCOPIA – A Journey through the Mountains of Gold

My Green Jell-O story

Actual Book Cover (2013_09_10 03_28_45 UTC)

It’s been close to ten years since my first “real” published works: CORNUCOPIA – A Journey through the Mountains of Gold, hit the book stores. A story I did not intend to be put in book form. I originally wrote the piece as an article for a digital photography magazine. I was having difficulty hacking the story to under 10,000 words. A friend, who was editing the story, thought it was pretty good and suggested I stop trying to shorten it and instead submit it as a Novella. Thus – CORNUCOPIA – A Journey through the Mountains of Gold – became my first official published work of non-fiction.

The format was not the only change to be had. I titled the piece “Green Jell-O.” The publishers felt…on second thought, why reinvent the wheel. I’ll let them justify their reasoning behind the title change:

Editors Comments on the title: 

As a title, Green Jell-O might snare a few readers who are looking for light juvenile reading, but I have difficulty with it as an apt title for this particular book, a true-life tale of intense suspense and life-threatening situations, written for adult readers.

The author, Laurel Anne Sappe, does make a case for her title, bookending her Preface and the final scene of Part I of her narrative with short scenes that focus on herself, her boyfriend, her son, and her dog after they have successfully survived their harrowing adventures in the mountains. They, along with Sappe’s mother and grandmother, are sitting around her grandmother’s kitchen table and eating green Jell-O. The author mentions how “insignificant” and “ridiculous” the green Jell-O is, compared to what she has just experienced. As the Jell-O begins wiggling, the author begins giggling, and she notes how “unassuming” the florescent green Jell-O seems. Despite trying to tell her mother and grandmother about her harrowing adventures, the author feels that both her mother and grandmother will never be able to understand the life-or-death drama of what happened in the mountains; to these women, the green Jell-O seems to have more authenticity.

In her brief epilogue, the author again mentions green Jell-O, and she says that she hopes her readers will “get the chance to experience for themselves their very own life-altering, spoonful of green Jell-O.”

I’m confused. How has green Jell-O-O become “life altering”? Earlier, it was described as “insignificant” and “ridiculous.” Jell-O is a sort of silly, wiggly-jiggly dessert. This is an odd invitation. We don’t pick up a book hoping for a green Jell-O experience. Most of us read in order to jumpstart our imaginations into other worlds. Figuratively, our own worlds are already too full of green Jell-O. Books entertain us; they take us to places we’ve never been before, describe things we’ve never experienced, introduce us to People we’ve never met, and they teach us new ideas and new ways of looking at life. I fail to see how the title Green Jell-O epitomizes this particular book.

However, if the author believes that Green Jell-O is appropriate for this work, I hope that she’ll consider choosing a subtitle that offers a brief, but more literal suggestion of what this book contains. Sappe has a style that will instantly captivate readers. She’s written a can’t-put-down story of survival that readers will instantly lose themselves in. I hope that the title Green Jell-O attracts the readers that her book deserves.

Well…that was nicely put and I appreciate the critique – however, it would take the threat of potential trade-mark/copy-write infringement lawsuit from the makers of Jell-O to convince me to rename my book. I never have liked the new title. I put little thought into it. I was on a deadline and needed to come up with something relatively fast. I figured my best chance of selling even a single copy would be to slap a locally recognized title on it and put it in the local Bed and Breakfast type establishments of my home town….viola, CORNUCOPIA was born.

I learned a few things about the book publishing process before my book went to print. I learned about trade-marks, copy-write and when to use italics in place of quotation marks. I learned I can’t spell worth a hill of beans and my grammar totally sucks. I learned that spell check cannot replace a good copy editor. I learned the difference between words like “then and than and further and farther.” Or would that be: then/than and further/farther? Whatever…I still don’t care for the title and wish I would have held onto “Green Jell-O.” Err….I mean, Green Jell-O. I also learned when referencing titles of books, one is to place them in italic – not quotation marks. Go figure.

I suppose I should have been flattered. Was anybody really that concerned the makers of Jell-O would give a cats behind about an insignificant novelette written by an unknown, and likely to stay that way, author? An author. I am an author. Am I an author? I write, but I do not consider myself an author. I consider myself a writer. There is a difference, at least in my head. To be an author has a sophisticated, if not staunch, cadence to it. I am neither. Shoot, I can barely spell sophisticated. If it weren’t for spell check, sophisticated would have an “f” or two in it.

Authors write things like, The Great Gatspy, The Odyssey or The Iliad. I’ve not read any of them. I only googled famous works of classical literature so I’d have something semi-intelligent to include in this write-up. Google: The great IQ equalizer and my best friend.

With a new title, minor modifications to the cover design and some major copy editing, CORNUCOPIA – A Journey through the mountains of Gold was delivered to the masses in both print and digital format. At least once a year I get a whopping dividend check that has yet to exceed $12.00. Fortunately, I have retained my day job.

I may never feel comfortable referring to myself as a published author. Yes – there is a book full of words out there with my name on it and perhaps, on a good day – more than 3 people not directly related to me have read it. If that qualifies me as published, so be it.

I do not seem to possess the attention span to write thick novels spanning 360 plus pages. My limit hoovers in the 50-60 page realm. Enter…blogging. I discovered blogging a few years back. It seemed a perfect medium for my style of writing. I am able to get my “geek fix” by maintaining the web site hosting my blog and the internet offers a vast audience limited only by the web master’s (that would be me) ability to optimize search engines. I think I have 12 subscribers. The web master is still working on her search engine optimization skills.

I write whatever inspires me whenever I’m in the mood. I write about personal adventures, exploits and quite often the mishaps that seem to be my constant companion. I prefer to call them adversities. Adversity builds character, so I hear. I should have a lot of character if nothing else.

There are times when I just don’t feel like writing. Much like the case the last few months. I can’t tell you why it happens. It just happens. Instead of letting my blog sit stagnant (not good for search engine optimization) I sometimes post older pieces of my work. I figured: Why not post my one and only published book as a blog post? Sure, it might cost me a book sale or two by posting it for free. However, I feel confident in my ability to scrape by on $12.00 less each year.

So…that’s where I’m at. I’ve decided to post sections of CORNUCOPIA, my Green Jell-O story, along with the editorial review comments from the publisher. You heard me, I said: “GREEN JELL-O” story. If the makers of Jell-O read my blog and decide to sue me for copy-write infringement – I would be totally honored and thrilled to death. Just think of the free publicity? I can see the headlines now: “Local unknown author takes on the Green Giant of gelatin!

I wrote CORNUCOPIA – A Journey through the Mountains of Gold after returning from a backpacking excursion into the Eagle Cap wilderness.

~

CORNUCOPIA

A JOURNEY THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS OF GOLD

By: Laurel A. Bryan

Copyright © 2005 by Laurel A. Bryan All Rights Reserved.

Dedicated to Spud … the hero in all my stories.

~

Foreword

Gold was discovered in the small mining town of Cornucopia, Oregon, sometime around 1884. It is said its gold ore was so rich that nuggets would literally fall out of the rock, thus giving the town the name of Cornucopia: signifying wealth and plenty.

In the early 1900s, my grandparents, Emery Jennings Bryan and Alice Rose Aklin Bryan, purchased a small piece of ground in this once-bustling town. They built a cabin just off the banks of Pine Creek. Grandma planted two pine saplings: one on each side of the cabin’s porch, which faced the creek.

Cornucopia is now a ghost town. My grandparents’ cabin is long since gone. The only thing remaining of the original cabin is two towering pine trees standing guard over my family’s heritage. I never knew my grandfather; he died when my own father was nine months old. My grandma often spoke of Grandpa and their life together so many years ago.

Even though I never saw the cabin or met the man, I have always felt a special bond with the land where they once stood. Pine Creek, Cornucopia, and the beautifully rugged Eagle Cap mountains hold a lifetime of memories for me.

I never panned for gold in its creeks or staked claim to its many mines, but wealth and plenty I certainly have derived from its bounty of heritage, adventure, and a magic which cannot be bought with all the gold her mountains contain.

 

CORNUCOPIA

A JOURNEY THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS OF GOLD

“Green Jell-O”

Wrapped in my grandma’s worn terrycloth bathrobe, I sat at the kitchen table, mentally and physically exhausted, staring at a spoonful of green Jell-O. I don’t think I have ever seen anything more insignificant, or more ridiculous, than those little, pie-shaped pieces of pineapple, suspended in a blob of florescent green gelatin. My grandpa use to say: “There’s nothing like a spoon full of Jell-O to make you giggle when it wiggles.” I think maybe he was right! This spoonful of Jell-O didn’t have to wiggle; it didn’t have to jiggle, or even move. What started out as a subtle grin soon developed into insuppressible giggles each time I glanced at the spoonful of green Jell-O staring up at me from my plate. It was only a matter of seconds before the giggles turned into insuppressible laughter. Tears streamed down my sunburned face as I tried to contain what was fast becoming an embarrassing case of hysterics. I couldn’t tell if I was laughing or crying … probably both.

Five people sat around Grandma’s kitchen table that afternoon: my mom; my grandma; my boyfriend, David; my son, Dillon; and me. Only David and Dillon could possibly understand what had come over me. Only the three of us knew what we had endured and how we came to be at my grandma’s house in little Halfway, Oregon, the heart of Pine Valley.


Part I

The Journey

One person’s spoonful of green Jell-O may be another person’s adventure of a lifetime.

It was Saturday morning, June 26, 2004, the second day of my vacation. I would have an entire week off from work. No phones, PDAs, pagers, or computers. No ringing, beeping, buzzing, or mysterious reboots for nine glorious days. Nine days to do anything I wanted, or nothing at all. My boyfriend, David, my son, Dillon, and I decided to pack into Pine Lakes. Dillon and I had packed into Pine Lakes the year before, but David had never been there. We decided to take a different route than before. We would start at Summit Point, make our way to Pine Lakes, and return by way of the steep, grueling trail that switched back and forth along Pine Creek, ending our trek at the Cornucopia Pack Station. We hoped the difference in elevation would make our ascent from Summit Point much less difficult than the switchbacks we conquered the year before. We later learned those switchbacks were appropriately dubbed the “Nip and Tuck.” The hike would be longer, but the climb less severe. Pine Lakes—elevation: 7560 feet—can be found nestled deep within the Eagle Cap Wilderness, a stunning example of nature’s most treasured creations.

We made arrangements with my father, Jerry Bryan, to move our truck from Summit Point to the pack station. I couldn’t help thinking, “Man, I hope Dad doesn’t forget to move the truck. It would certainly put a damper on the whole trip to walk all the way off the mountain, only to find we had no vehicle waiting for us on the other side.” I could imagine Dad scratching his head and mumbling, “Oh, that pack station!”

We parked the truck at Summit Point and began strapping on packs full of carefully chosen gear. We had matches of all sorts and sizes: flimsy book matches, strike-anywhere matches, and those green waterproof matches that I swear must have to be wet before you can light them. You sure can’t light them when they are dry. They remind me of childproof medicine bottles … the only people who can get them open are children. We packed various types of food, including packages of freeze-dried entrees, assorted flavors of instant oatmeal, a couple of military MREs (meals ready to eat), and a lifetime supply of instant potatoes ranging in flavors from butter and chives to herb and garlic.

Most importantly, I had my camera. For me this was the sole purpose of the entire trip. A $900 5 mega-pixel Olympus DC5050 with attachable lenses and filters ranging from polarized to UV. Oh, yeah! I placed the camera in a blue canvas fanny pack, bought specifically for the occasion, and strapped it securely around my waist. I could hardly wait to get started.

Even Spud, my 92-pound, white, German wirehaired pointer mix, seemed to anticipate my excitement. As I dropped the tailgate to the extended cab Dodge pickup, he easily jumped to the ground. The Rimadyl pills his vet prescribed seemed to be helping with the arthritis. I reached down to pet my big, beautiful, take-a-bullet-for-me dog. It is hard for me to admit that he is not a puppy anymore. Over the last few years, he has started showing his age. I think it is easier for me to accept my own ever-increasing age than it is to realize my loyal friend is ten, almost eleven years old … seventy in human years. He stood patiently while I strapped the extra-large dog pack to his back. Even with the Rimadyl pills contributing to his increased agility, I packed his load lighter. This year he would carry only his dog food and the first aid kit containing my expired bee-sting allergy kit. I wondered if an expired kit would do me any good if I actually got stung in the middle of the wilderness. I’d take it anyway. It was light enough. Besides, I think they put expiration dates on things just so you have to buy new ones.

With Spud properly packed, David, Dillon, and I flung our own packs across our backs. Were they this heavy last year? Surely not; but how could we pack any lighter? We would need every single item, including the little bottle of hair gel I had tucked away with my trial-sized shampoo and disposable razor.

So our ascent began on a crisp morning just after daybreak. It was a beautiful day: not too cold, but not too hot. A nice, cool breeze stayed with us most of the morning. “Man, these new packs sure are heavy. I don’t think they fit us right. I wish we knew how they were supposed to fit. Are they supposed to ride low on your hips or high on your shoulders?” Dillon carried the pack I had used last year. It had ridden directly on top of my hips. By the time we had made it off the mountain, my hips were bruised and swollen. Not wanting a repeat of last year’s discomfort, I purchased a new internal pack. This one sat higher on my shoulders—maybe too high, for it was hard to breathe.

We stopped beneath an old, gnarled ponderosa pine to take our first rest and check the elevation. My GPS read 6485 feet. We had come an entire one hundred yards. Already tired and breathing hard, I looked back toward Summit Point Lookout and was surprised to see a patch of snow, lying sheltered from the sun beneath a grove of pine trees. I didn’t expect to see such a sight in late June. Good. The existence of snow meant an increase in water; and an increase in water meant the lakes would be filled to capacity. Last year’s hike was in September, a few days before Labor Day. By then the hot sun had long since melted any remnants of snow, causing the lake to be half-empty … or half-full, depending on your outlook.

We took the time to nibble on a handful of tropical blend trail mix. It was here that we discovered Spud’s fondness for honey-coated dehydrated oranges. Good, this would give me something in which to administer the Rimadyl he would take twice a day.

Now rested, we trudged on, following the trail along an old barbed-wire fence—the last remnant of anything resembling civilization. Another good mile and the trail crested a small hill overlooking a lush meadow. Smack-dab in the middle of the meadow lay a pond fed by an underground spring. Not until a year later would we learn the meadow’s name: Little Eagle Meadows. Snow rimmed the west bank of the little pond. Bright sunlight reflecting from the waters’ surface lay in complete contrast to the crisp, white snow that met the water’s edge. I was overtaken by an urge to run barefoot through the snow. There were no thistles or stickers of any kind … nothing but lush, green grass, shallow water, and that rim of cold, white snow, hanging desperately to life before the oncoming summer robbed it of its form forever. Off went my shoes, and why not? There wasn’t anyone to tell me it wasn’t proper; and besides, I knew what my feet were about to undertake. It would do them some good to soak in the cold water. It says so right in my Bradford Angier’s Backcountry Basics. Old Bradford himself said proper care of a person’s feet is of utmost importance while hiking through the wilderness. The author goes on to say a good hiker, or poor lost soul, whichever the case may be, should stop and rest every twenty minutes, removing their shoes and soaking their feet in a cold stream whenever possible. I stripped my feet of shoes and socks and gingerly stepped into the ice-cold pond. Not even Spud was going to put his feet in that water! He watched me from shore with a look I can only describe as saying, “My human is an idiot.”

David removed his pack and sat by the underground stream, playing with water skippers as Dillon took after the numerous frogs inhabiting the pond. Though my son made several attempts to bean one with his wrist rocket, he assures his toad-loving mom to this day that he missed every one. It is hard to believe he missed. I have seen the boy shoot a magpie in the head with a BB gun at thirty yards.

Once everyone was rested, we hoisted our packs up on our backs and took to the trail. After a few hundred yards, the trail began to wind its way up the first of many ridges. Good-bye, barbed wire. Good-bye, little pond. Good-bye, civilization. Our adventure had begun.

The trail wound us higher and higher up the ridge. When we reached the top, an hour from the little “frog pond,” we were panting and out of breath. Each of us slung off our packs. David and Dillon reclined against a large boulder. Dillon pulled his hat down over his eyes. He reminded me of the cowboys in those old westerns. I didn’t have a hat; I slathered on more SPF 50 sunscreen. I knew from experience how quickly the sun at high altitudes can redden even a person with my darker skin tone. I snapped a few pictures, looking back toward the direction we had come. You could barely make out the frog pond, with its little patch of white snow gleaming in the distance.

While the boys rested, Spud and I walked to the edge of the ridge to see if we could spot where the trail would pick up again. To say that “what lay ahead was something of a shock” would be an understatement. The ridge overlooked a huge bowl littered with pine trees and much more snow. So much snow, in fact, that it completely covered the trail. I walked back and forth along the ridge, trying to make out where the trail might be.

Soon David and Dillon joined me. David thought he saw part of the trail leading off the top side of the ridge, heading somewhat west. That didn’t make sense to me, but I probably have the worse sense of direction known to man. Leaving his pack behind, David disappeared over the top edge of the ridge to look for the trail. Dillon and I waited seemingly forever on the rocks. We joked that David had been kidnapped by Bigfoot … never to be seen again. Dillon laughed, “It’s more likely he wandered off after something with antlers and got himself lost.” I could believe that theory since, next to new white socks and toilet paper, antlers are his favorite thing. But get lost? Not David. He was a walking compass. After we examined a few other ridiculous theories, David finally popped back over the ridge.

David discovered a trail heading west along the ridge. It appeared to wind around and head in the opposite direction of the lake. That might very well be. Many times last year, Dillon and I had checked the GPS to see where we were in relation to the lake. More than once the lake had actually been behind us as the trail wound its way around. At times the GPS had shown the lake at less than a quarter of a mile away as the crow flies, but still three or four miles away by trail. Oh, how sweet to be a crow at a time like this. My GPS! I forgot I had it! I still had Pine Lakes marked from last year’s hike. I took the GPS out of my pack and started walking back and forth across the ridge. For some stupid reason, you have to be walking at least 1.2 miles an hour before the GPS can get an accurate reading. Who comes up with this stuff? Watching the little arrow, I wandered around in a tight circle, trying to maintain the proper speed while finding our bearing. There. The needle pointed to the northeast, the opposite direction of the trail David had seen. We assumed there must be two trails and agreed to head on into the snow-covered bowl.

Without an actual trail to follow, we took a more direct route down into the bowl, side-hilling ridges of snow as we went. At times the snow made it difficult. If you lost your footing, you would slide toward the bottom of the bowl and have to start back up, sometimes waist deep in snow. It was a pain, but not impossible nor dangerous. Now and then the trail would emerge from a bare spot where the snow had melted, giving us a glimpse of hope that, indeed, we were going in the right direction. Again, I was surprised at the sight of so much snow. I assumed it would have long since melted. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

We continued along the edge of the bowl, fighting patches of snow as we went. Several hours later we had made our way across the bowl to the opposite ridge. I glanced at Dillon’s face as he looked back over our trail. He hated the whole thing. I could tell. You didn’t have to be a mind reader to know he was thinking he would rather be doing just about anything other than trudging up a mountain with 50 pounds strapped to his back. David didn’t look much better. He is a little harder to read; but the quiet, almost restrained look in his eye told me he hated it, too. I didn’t like feeling responsible for their discomfort. What did they expect? Dillon had hiked with me before. Other than the addition of some unexpected snow, this particular route was actually less severe than the route we took last year. Still, I did feel responsible for their misery, and I hated it. I didn’t mind the hike, the steep hills, and waist-deep snowdrifts. I didn’t mind the hot sun beating down on the top of my dark hair. I didn’t even mind the ill-fitting pack that dug into my shoulders and bruised my hips. What I hated was worrying about everyone else’s discomfort and feeling responsible for it. There wasn’t anything I could do about it now; besides, I didn’t force either one of them to come. I could have easily gone by myself … and would have.

Each of us stood atop the ridge and looked down into yet another bowl, scattered with even larger areas of snow. The horizon was notched with two saddles sitting opposite each other on the rim across from us. We could barely make out the trail as it zigzagged its way up the hill from one saddle to the next, and back again. There was no way of knowing through which saddle the trail would lead. David checked his watch: 8:30 pm. It would be dark in less than an hour. I wanted to kick myself for choosing this route. I had no idea how far we were from the lake, or even if we had taken the right trail. I turned my face upward. The bleak, cloud-covered sky mirrored my darkening mood. We needed to find a place to camp for the night, and fast. If the sky was any indication, it was likely to rain. Great, just what we needed. There was no way I was going to pitch a tent on the top of the ridge. By the looks of the clouds, I feared they contained much more than rain or even snow. I had no intention of being the tallest thing on the mountain.

We walked down into the bowl, looking for a good spot to set up camp for the night. Near the bottom of the bowl, the trail came to a fork. Placed at the fork was an old sign in the shape of a cross. Barely legible were the words: Crater Lake, 8 miles; Pine Lakes, 5 miles. It might as well have read: Here lie three really stupid people and a big dog. We could only assume that we were closer to Pine Lakes than we were to Crater Lake. An even bigger assumption was which fork went to which lake. Again I glanced up at the darkening sky. More rain clouds joined the others. We needed to set up camp soon, or we would be setting up in the rain.

We walked another quarter of a mile before it became apparent there would be no ideal spot to set up camp. We were no longer in the bottom of the bowl, but had started ascending the other side. This meant finding a flat spot was all but impossible. The only semi-flat spot clear of snow was right smack in the middle of the trail. The ground was soaked from melting snow that trickled down the side of the mountain, searching for the lowest ground in which to form puddles.

Dillon and I pulled out the little two-man bivy tent and proceeded to assemble our shelter for the night. David had brought only a piece of plastic to use as his tent. The plastic wasn’t even the good kind. This plastic was that flimsy, light stuff a person might use to cover a casserole! David had brought Saran wrap instead of a tent. To this day I have no idea what he was thinking. Why he didn’t bring a real tent is beyond me. One thing I do know … he will never make that mistake again.

There wasn’t a minute to spare between the time our shelters went up and darkness consumed the night sky. Spud lay just outside the head of our tent. Dillon and I were crammed into the bivy tent like sardines. “Two-man” was a stretch of the imagination. You might get two people in one coffin, but who would want to! This tent reminded me of a nylon coffin: barely six feet long, bigger at the head and tapering off toward your feet.

I don’t remember the ground ever being this hard. I could feel every little rock and twig beneath my sleeping bag. Dillon, on the other hand, seemed to be snug as a bug in a rug. Soon all I could hear was his heavy breathing and a low, distant rumble, rolling slowly across the night sky. I adjusted my pistol, flashlight, and knife within reach. The pistol was for protection against ax murderers and cougars that might be roaming the wilderness, prowling for their next victim. The flashlight was needed in case I had to find the tent’s zipper in the middle of the night. The knife was insurance, just in case I couldn’t find the flashlight. I have a little problem with claustrophobia and confined spaces … such as tents. If I couldn’t find the zipper, I’d cut my way out. With my gear laid out and the location of the zipper burned into my brain, I closed my eyes and prayed for sleep.

Moments later it began. With a splat … splat … plop, heavy drops of rain pelted the top of the tent. The third drop brought Spud diving for the small opening I had left in the tent door. He smelled like a dog and shed profusely, but I didn’t argue. It was comforting to have my big guardian close by. Seconds later more rain fell, accompanied by even louder rumbling. Soon the distant rumble turned into deafening explosions of thunder, as if shot from the barrel of cannon, directly over our heads. The rain, no longer distinguishable as drops, came in buckets, as if poured from the night sky.

It could have been three minutes or three hours before it dawned on me: David was out in the storm, wrapped in his little piece of Saran wrap. What kind of girlfriend thought of her dog’s well-being before that of her man? I think I hesitated for a few more seconds. How would he fit? I wasn’t about to send my dog back out in that storm just because the guy wasn’t prepared. Besides, it was his own fault; he had chosen to bring a roll of Saran wrap instead of paying thirty bucks for a real tent. I called out his name. “David?” He didn’t hear me at first over the booming thunder. “David, how are you doing out there?” What kind of a question is that? What did I expect him to say? “Are you getting wet?” Another profound inquiry on my part. I sincerely hoped that, by some miraculous feat, he was tucked up under a tree, dry as a bone, and I wouldn’t have to kick my dog out to make room for him. After all, why should poor planning on his part constitute an emergency at the expense of my puppy! I didn’t have to ask again. Of course, he was not OK. David crawled into the tent, dragging his rain-soaked sleeping bag behind him. He was a mess. Shivering from the cold, David curled up into a ball at the head of the tent. The dome-shaped pop-out was barely big enough for the six feet two, 240-pound drowned rat. Spud, who appeared to be making himself as small and inconspicuous as possible, seemed to vanish farther back into the cramped little tent. He must have thought if nobody noticed him, he wouldn’t be tossed out into the storm. Later we would be glad to have him in the tent with us. A big, smelly dog was a warm dog, nonetheless.

More than once during the night, lightning seemed to strike within inches of our tent. I counted the amount of time that lapsed between the deafening cracks of thunder and the flashes of lightning that followed. “One, one thousand … two, one thousand …” Crrrrack! Thunder echoed through the canyon like a high-powered rifle. You could no longer distinguish the time between the sound of thunder and flashes of lightning. Each flash lit the inside of our tent with an explosion of light that left us temporarily blinded. The wind howled and whipped at the walls of our little tent. I feared the tent would be ripped apart at any moment. Without our combined body weight to hold it down, I am sure our tent would have ended up somewhere over the rainbow, with a dead witch under it. “Spud, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

To be continued…..

Click here for the Kindle version for a buck 99…can’t beat that even if you don’t like it!

Original cover concept
Original cover concept

 

These are a couple of the original cover concepts I played with. The publisher didn’t like either one of them. :(Kind

original cover concept
original cover concept