Iceland Trip- part three

Waiting for everyone to gather to see how rye bread is baked with geothermal.

Day 2 continued. From the first parliament assembly field we drove to Fontana. Here we learned how geothermal heat is used to bake rye bread.’

The young woman who instructed us on the process was the granddaughter of the woman whose recipe is used at the Fontana cafe and pool. The dough is mixed and put in a metal pot. The pot is then wrapped in plastic wrap. She said they are trying to find a more environment friendly substance and have been working with a corn and oil substance, but for now the plastic works because it melts and seals the pot not allowing any water or sand to get into the bread.

shows two mounds with a rock on top.

She showed us how they mark the mounds over the pots with different items to tell whose pot is underneath as the whole town can come down and bake their bread along the edge of the lake.

digging out the hole

The mound was dug to the side and she dug down to the pot about a foot down from the surface. The pot was flipped out of the hole with the shovel and hole made a bit deeper allowing the boiling water from the ground to fill the hole.

The new batch of bread was dropped into the hole and covered with dirt and a mound to better seal the heat in. It takes 24 hours for a pot to cook.

New pot in the boiling water and ready to be covered

After the new pot was covered, the hot one was placed in the lake water to cool it down. Then the plastic and lid were removed to reveal the bread. Our baker said there is always a 50/50 chance the bread won’t be done or water or sand could leak in. But ours turned out perfect. We entered the cafe, where the bread was dumped out of the pot, cut, and we were able to sample. She admitted it had a cup of sugar in it making it more of a dessert bread than a sandwich bread. I thought if it had some ginger and molasses it would have been a tasty gingerbread!

After lunch at Fontana we wend on to Geysir, a hot springs and spouting geysers. It is a small equivalent to Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park.

From there we went to Gullfoss- a three tiered waterfall. Here we walked the trail from the parking lot to the rocks above the waterfall. It was beautiful, but there were so many tourists it was hard to take in all the beauty. And we only had a set amount of time because we had more places to go.

And those places will be revealed in part four.

Iceland Trip- part two

View from the breakfast room in the hotel.

Day two of my Iceland trip started with breakfast on the top floor of the hotel before meeting with our guide in the hotel lobby. We loaded up into a small bus and started our trek of the Golden Circle.

The first stop was part of our literary tour. These stops usually were for our group alone and they all had knowledgeable speakers. This day we stopped at the home of Halldor Laxness (winner of the Novel Prize for Literature in 1955). The home and farm, Gljufrasteinn, had been in his family for more than half a century. Now it is open to the public as a museum.

A specialist on Laxness’ life gave us a rundown of his life as a child, adult, and into his later years as well as his frame of mind on each step of his literary works.

Our next stop reminded me of the history of American Indians. While it might be a far stretch for some, as we stood at Thingvellir, the open-air assembly area where the chieftains of each clan and many of their followers would meet for two weeks every year to settle disputes, I thought of the gatherings of American tribes as they traded and discussed the coming of changes. This assembly would set laws that all men would abide by. And it was here that the decision to convert from paganism to Christianity came, although they said they would live and believe as Christians to make the King of Denmark happy, they also agreed that they could still carry on some of their pagan ways as long as no one knew about it.

This is one of the “booth” mounds.

Their were mounds that revealed where “booths” of huts were built that people lived in while at the assembly for two weeks. Around 50 fragments of these booths built from stone and turf are visible. This is now a National Park and is visited by many tourists each year. But I could see the Icelanders of the 10th century meeting here- rowdy, loud, and demanding their quarrels be settled.

This was a long day- I’ll tell you more in the next two posts.

Iceland Trip- part one

The Pearl- one of the places we visited on the first day

I had a wonderful time on my trip to Iceland this last week. It was a birthday present to myself. When I received the information about the trip through the Authors Guild in an email and saw the trip was the week of my birthday, it felt like kismet. I told hubby about the trip and said I’d like to go. And being the best hubby ever, he said, “Go.”

The wonderful thing about this trip was it had been put together to not only take us to the usual tourist sites but it also had literary events set up just for us.

I left Boise, ID on Sunday afternoon and arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland at 8:30 am on Monday. An hour and a half later, after taking two buses from the airport to my hotel, Center Hotel Arnarhvoll, I had time to put my things in my room and grab lunch and meet our guide, Ragnor, in the lobby before we headed out to see the area near our hotel.

That day we toured the National Museum of Iceland. It had the story of the island and many exhibits of the way the earliest occupants lived. The first inhabitants of Iceland were Norsemen. They came from Norway in the 900s because they didn’t want to pay taxes and follow the rules of the king.

These first people were considered pagans because they didn’t have structured religious beliefs. Though through the Icelandic Sagas and what I learned, they had similar views of the earth and life as the American Indian. They believed there was a creator and also that earth, animals and the solar system had a part in their journeys on earth.

This was one side of the living space. See the other bed behind this one.

One of the interesting pieces of the museum was this replica of a house they would have lived in. The beds were not long enough for anyone to lie down. I was told they slept sitting up in the beds, each facing the opposite direction. This kept down the hanky-panky and allowed for family members and non-family members to share beds. A small home could sleep 8 people as there were four beds in this particular replica.

We drove by the Parliament building, sculptures, and many of the city’s landmarks. The other place we stopped was the Hallgrimskirkja church. It was beautiful and had a statue of Leif Erickson in front.

The huge organ in the church is the largest in Iceland.

The walk up the stairs was worth the views from the tower. We could see all of Reykjavik from all four sides of the tower.

That evening we had a three course dinner at a downtown restaurant. Even though it was fish (which we had at either lunch or dinner or both every day) I enjoyed the ambiance and the meal. As well as getting to know the 9 other members of our tour group.

This wall not only at one time held back the ocean, it was a wall of the restaurant where we had dinner the first night.

I’ll be posting a couple of blog posts a week here with photos and escapades of my Iceland trip. Follow my blog if you want to see all the things we did and photos of Iceland.

$0.99 Birthday Special!

From now until July 1st you can purchase the Letters of Fate Trilogy as an ebook box set for only $0.99!

It’s my birthday month and I like to give. So for this limited time you can get Davis, Brody, and Issac for a steal of a price. The normal price for these this box set is $9.99.

These are my “mail-order grooms” books. Only instead of the hero getting a letter from the heroine, he receives a letter that changes the course of his life and puts in the way of his future bride.

Three historical western novels filled with steamy romance and the rawness of a growing country.

Davis: Davis Weston receives a letter from his sister asking him to marry a friend. Widowed with two small children and a ranch to run, Mariella Swanson knows she needs help, but isn’t sure her heart, or neighbors, will accept her marrying a stranger. Can the two compromise or will fate once again leave them alone?

Brody: After receiving a letter, Brody Yates finds himself escorted across the country to work on a ranch rather than entering prison. However, a revenge driven criminal, the Oregon high desert, and his grandfather’s beautiful ward may prove more dangerous than anything he’d faced on the New York docks.

Isaac: The last thing Isaac Corum needs or wants is a snooty woman. Dang it all, the woman doesn’t do a single blasted thing she’s told, and Isaac can’t just sit back and let her go traipsing off into the mountains alone…

Universal link: https://books2read.com/u/47zp6R

Authors4Veterans Giveaway

I’m excited to share this amazing giveaway with you all.  It was such a privilege to participate in this year’s annual Authors4Veterans charity drive.  Not only did we help veterans’ families, we also have 4 bags to share with our readers.

So, to back up a little bit, Authors4Veterans is a non-profit organization started by Stacey Joy Netzel and PJ Fiala in 2017.  The purpose of Authors4Veterans is simple; they contact fellow authors like myself, asking for a small monetary donation and books, swag and comfort items.  They bag them up in beautiful canvas zippered bags and deliver them to Fisher House Wisconsin.  Fisher House is a fantastic organization, located on the VA grounds in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where military families who need temporary housing can stay while their loved one receives care at the VA hospital.  This is all free to the families.  There are currently 84 houses in operation.  You can find out more about Fisher House here – https://www.fisherhouse.org/

Authors4Veterans’ came to be as Stacey and PJ both come from strong military backgrounds and they wanted to give back in some way.  To date, our author bags have been given to over 115 families.  Sometimes families have little notice that they have to rush to the hospital and these bags come in handy as they usually contain toothbrushes, toothpaste, shower soap, hand lotion, etc. in them as well as the books and swag.  Families are given a bag upon check-in.  Fisher House has shared that the families are often over-come with emotion at the generosity of the authors and how comforting the bags have been.

So, all that said, we also want to give something to our readers!  Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win your own Authors4Veterans bag filled with goodies.  The giveaway ends at 11:45p CST on June 20th.  Four winners will be drawn and announced on June 21st.  There are several opportunities for you to enter the giveaway, and of course, sharing it is always appreciated.

Enter the giveaway here – https://authors4veterans.com/2019/06/june-reader-giveaway/

Good luck everyone.

Vacations Turn into Books

 In January my husband and I took a trip to Reno, Nevada. I had the highest bid for a two-night stay at the Peppermill in a silent auction the year before.

I set it up, knowing we also had an amount we could spend at the spa. All the way there I all I could think of was a nice body massage and one for hubby. We went into the spa and discovered we didn’t have enough to cover two massages. I said we could still get two but frugal hubby said, no. I signed up for a massage and my husband had a gentlemen’s pedicure.

This was a fancy spa. I entered an area just for women to change and then I could join my husband in a co-ed area with a hot tub, sauna, and a quiet lounge where we waited for our treatments. I had expected my husband to join me in the lounge, but he didn’t arrive before they called me back to the room for my massage. It turned out he’d been taking a tour of the three floors that made up the spa.

I was taken to a room and asked to slip under the sheet on the massage table. I did as I was asked. As I laid there face down, staring at the floor waiting for the masseuse to come back, my mind wandered in the direction it seems to go more and more these days. I thought, “I could be a dead body and no one would notice.” That, of course had my mind flying to all sorts of scenarios. The masseuse came in and started my massage. The whole time I was still figuring out how I could have a murder in a spa like the one I was at, and how to involved Shandra Higheagle the main character in my mystery series.

By the time my massage was over, I had the story starting in my head. After dressing, I went out and started asking the people at the sign-in desk a bunch of questions about how a spa that size was run, while I waited for my husband to come out of the men’s side.

Back home, I started coming up with a method of murder that would be plausible and started the book Toxic Trigger-point. The book opens with Shandra opening a door to a massage room and seeing someone face down on the table. She thinks she’s got the wrong room and waits in the hall. She and the masseuse discover the woman on the table is dead.

I love when I can work something I’ve experienced into a book. I’ll be taking a jet boat ride in a couple of weeks to learn more about the Hells Canyon area to set a Gabriel Hawke book there. My need to know the settings for my books will also take me to Iceland this month. My goal is to have Hawke go there to teach or learn more about tracking on cold conditions. (watch for blogs and photos about both trips)

Another great thing about traveling, our 40th anniversary trip will be to Hawaii, where I hope to send Shandra for book #14.

Seeing the places I use as settings in books helps me to experience it not only through me but through my characters.

Memorial Weekend Fun

My side of the tent at the Flea Market

I made my yearly trek to Sumpter, Oregon for their Memorial Day Flea Market. For the last four years I’ve rented a space with another writer friend during this weekend and Labor Day weekend.

Playing cards in the cabin

This year was more fun because I took my eleven-year-old granddaughter. I usually stay in a cabin 6 miles from Sumpter in the small community of Bourne.   The cabin doesn’t have any plumbing or electricity, but it’s surrounded by tall pine and lodge pole and has Cracker Creek running right behind it.

My granddaughter made the comment that she liked the cabin, but would prefer it had plumbing.  We had a good time playing cards until dark, giggling and eating popcorn.

Usually, I stay at the cabin by myself or take my small dog Tink, but I will have to say this weekend has been my favorite even though the rainy weather kept the usual number of people away.

I enjoyed talking with readers who come back each weekend we are here to purchase our newest books. And we talked to a couple of people who are writing books. I also met a Nez Perce woman who gave me her phone number and her father’s number to contact them with questions, since my fictional characters are from that tribe.

This yearly pilgrimage for me has become one of the weekends I look forward to, just to visit with my author friend, Mary Vine, and enjoy the tranquility of the cabin. I usually write when I’m at the cabin but because my granddaughter was so much fun to entertain, I ignored the computer I’d brought with me.

We had some great talks about her four brothers, which was one of the reasons she was happy to come with me. She said she needed a break from them. LOL She also has dreams of being a writer and having published books. She told me a couple of her ideas she’s been thinking about for books, and we did some brainstorming. It’s fun to have someone in the family who understands about stories and characters in my head.

We’re already discussing her coming with me in September for the Labor Day Flea Market.