Smith Mountain Lake Mystery Writer

Contemplations from a quiet cove on Smith Mountain Lake.

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Location: United States

I'm a Southern gal who loves life, my husband and our family (which, to date, includes 13 grandchildren). I enjoy being with friends and family. But I also like being alone and thinking up plots for future books. I've published two novels, both mysteries, and I'm working on my third. For more about my books, visit me at If you ever hear me say, "I'm bored," please get me to the ER immediately! Paddling my kayak and snapping pictures of the critters I see relaxes me. Beach music has the opposite effect--when I hear those old "doo-wops" I want to dance.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Leaving Breisach, Germany, on May 3rd, we traveled down the mighty Rhine toward Strasbourg, France. Did you know that 14,000 boats travel the Rhine every single day? That's a lot of boats! We passed castles, vineyards, small towns. And, of course, I took lots of pictures, most from the top deck of our ship. 

 A wind surfer enjoying the wind and high water.

One of the numerous wineries and vineyards.

Another vineyard.

 Clouds starting to build.

 A small town along the river. Note the vineyard 
and winery in the background.

 Love the architecture--a blend of old and new.

 The vineyards are planted vertically to take 
advantage of the sun and the drainage.

What could be lovelier than an old fortress
surrounded by a vineyard?

A picturesque village with vineyards keeping watch.

 More lovely architecture and grape vines.

I can't imagine any warring people breaching 
these castle walls.

One of many commercial riverboats.

 Mountains, vineyards, the Rhine, a castle, and a 
village--what more could you want?

 Many trains passed along the river.

 More mountains, vineyards, a village, 
and a flooded Rhine River.

 Another village with a small fortress just in case.

To work these steep vineyards, workers have to 
hook up to wires or ropes.

Click to enlarge and you will see three men 
working on the vines.

 Another castle and more grape vines.

 I think the architecture here is incredible.

 A "ship" that isn't really a ship.

 Passengers enjoying the scenery from the top deck.

 An incredible view.

 Storm's coming.

Another view from the top deck.

 Close to civilization.

More old and not as old.

 The building closer to the center is a hotel.

More lovely architecture.

Hope you've enjoyed the cruise. More will come in a few days.

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Thursday, July 09, 2015


After lunch on our ship, we boarded a Viking bus and headed to Colmar, a small town in the Alsace area of France. Throughout the centuries, Germany and France waged war on each other many times. Those poor Alsatians; whichever country won demanded that the conquered Alsatians speak the winning country's language. So one year they would be speaking French, and then a few years later they'd have to switch to German! I know I don't need to remind you to click on the pictures to enlarge, but I just can't help it.

 A picture of the countryside taken from our bus.
 I'm a horse nut, so including this photo was a must.

 One of our first views of Colmar.

I mentioned in my first Rhine River post that one of my favorite things about our cruise was the architecture. Above is an interesting old house. On the shutter are two shoes, which makes me wonder if the building was/is the home of a cobbler. 


Many signs such as the ones above and below adorned store fronts. Our guide told us the name of the sign maker, but I can't remember it. If one of you knows, I'd appreciate it if you'd tell me.


The buildings and homes in Colmar were taxed by the square footage at street level, so some of these ingenious folks built the first floor smaller and the other floors up and out, hence the overhang you can see in the photo below.

 Half-timbered buildings.

To Alsatians, storks mean good luck, so when the stork population dropped to fewer than nine pairs in the Alsace region about twenty-five years ago, Gerard Wey, a.k.a. "Papa Stork," took steps to stop the decline. Now the population has grown to 270 or more pairs in the Alsace-Lorraine regions. They are magnificent birds to see. I took pictures, but they were too blurry to include here. There's lots of interesting information on the internet about storks if you're interested.

 Two stork nests on man-made frames. 
Each nest can weigh up to half a ton.
 This building, now a restaurant, fascinated me. 
Note the pot mounted on the wall.

 Another lovely half-timbered building. We saw many 
statues in Colmar, most with one arm raised like this one.

I'd love to pack my husband and our kayaks, and live in one of these houses in the Little Venice area shown below for a couple of months! Ready, Ron?

 The Little Venice area in Colmar.  Nice, huh?

The picture above is a good example of a half-timbered house with decorative painted panels. Lots of these were built in the 15th and 16th centuries.

 Considered the smallest house in Colmar, France.

This house is less than 300 square feet, has a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and living room. You enter from the courtyard behind the buildings and go up a set of stairs. I would have loved to go inside, but it is a private dwelling occupied, I heard, by an artist.

 Another half-timbered building.

I enjoyed stumbling onto interesting alleys that beckoned me. I wanted to explore, to discover their secrets, but didn't dare.

An old town square.

Stay tuned for the fourth post and Strasbourg, France.

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Thursday, July 02, 2015


The drive through country roads toward the Black Forest was gorgeous. I took LOTS of pictures. Don't worry; only a few are in this post. Click on the pictures to make them larger.

Driving into the Black Forest.

The Black Forest isn't really black; it's mostly made up of dense firs and other evergreens. It was also the setting for "Hansel and Gretel" and "Little Red Riding Hood" books.     

The Black Forest Gateau.

When the clock on the front of the Black Forest Gateau chimes at 12:00, the wooden figures on the balcony waltz slowly in and out of the building.
An enlarged picture of some of the dancers.

We passed under this old raised train track on our walk through part of the Black Forest.

A heavily-flooded stream.

Our guide, concerned about our safety, cut our hike short because of flooded streams and slippery rocks and bridges. As much as we hated to turn back, I believe she made a wise decision.

Ron standing on a foot bridge.

For some reason this house that we walked by fascinated me, especially the doors and the roof. I would have loved to sit quietly on the bench for awhile.

Above is one of the many cuckoo clocks for purchase inside the Black Forest Gateau. The price on this small clock was $495. It is thought that Black Forest craftsmen had developed the first cuckoo clocks by 1630, although some believe that clockmaker Franz Anton Ketterer created the first cuckoo clock in 1738. 

I really didn't want to try a piece of Black Forest cake, but at Ron's insistence I agreed to share a slice with him. Oh my! After the first bite I wished we had ordered a piece for each of us, maybe even a whole cake! If you ever get the opportunity to sample a true Black Forest cake, go for it! I'm almost salivating just thinking of it.

A whole yummy Black Forest cake.

Ron taking his first bite of cake. He liked it, too.

I snapped this picture of the countryside through the bus window on our way back to the ship. After lunch on the ship, which was docked in Breisach, Germany, we headed out for an afternoon tour of Colmar, Germany.

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