Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mount TBR: Climbing Everest (Checkpoint #2)

Even though Goodreads says that I'm behind on my overall reading goal (150 books), I'm right on track in my trek up Mt. Everest.  So far, I've managed 51 books (or about 14,805 ft up the mountain).  The air has gotten a bit thin and I took a bit longer over my latest book (The Taming of the Shrew) than anticipated.  Hopefully, this isn't a sign of rough travels ahead.

I may still have a fuzzy brain from my Route 66 excursion, so my poetry attempts are a little weak this time...but having said how much I liked that little activity, I thought I better make a showing. And since I've been reading a huge number of mysteries, the poems are a little doom and gloomish.  Here goes (almost in haiku form):

Such Friends Are Dangerous
The Morning After Death,
the Death of a God 

So Many Steps to Death 
lead from a Bland Beginning
to A Finer End

Good luck to all the climbers on our next quarter's journey!

The Taming of the Shrew: Mini Review

I would normally feel a little intimidated trying to write a review on Shakespeare.  I, mean, seriously after hundreds of years you'd expect everything that needed saying to have been said.  But that wouldn't stop me from throwing my two cents in as well.  However, this time, I really feel at a loss.  I started The Taming of the Shrew 10 days ago (which is a long time in Bev reading time) and didn't touch it all over vacation.  I expected to have reading time while on the road (and even brought along three other books--"just in case"), but it never materialized. the time I got back to Kate and Petruchio, I had a hard time getting back into the ol' Shakespeare mood.  And maybe I should give this one another go sometime.  But for now, I've finished it and here's what I've got....

Rather than try to do my usual longer, more indepth review and synopsis, I'm just going to throw a few thoughts out here.

First, I expected to like this one way more than I did.  Thus far, I've read Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Othello and I've really like all of them, with Othello being my favorite.  But I'm just not into Kate being rude and downright nasty to anyone and everyone without even a hint of a reason.  Sure, she's got a father who expects her to marry when she doesn't want to....but it's the 16th Century.  Every woman is expected to get married...and it's not unreasonable (for the times) for fathers to meddle in the matrimonial proceedings.  So, that's not really a legit reason for her unspeakable behavior.  I agree that she needs a lesson or two.  BUT....

Second, I take great exception to Petruchio's method of "taming" her.  Lessons are one thing...out and out abuse is another.  Starving her and depriving her of sleep is extreme to say the least.  I sort of see the point of the extreme "lesson" being needed to meet her extreme behavior...almost, but not quite.

Third, the subplot of Bianca and her suitors.  I had a hard time keeping the players straight and just found Bianca boring in the extreme.  I guess it was good that she had her looks, 'cause I can't figure out any other reason why these guys would want to marry her.  

Fourth....well, at this point I can't really think of a fourth.  I'm all out of steam.  Hopefully, once I'm back in the work routine, I'll get my reading and reviewing act together.  I'm giving this one a nice middle of the road, three star rating.  Mostly because it's Bill Shakespeare, darn it, and it's supposed to be good.   I think maybe I should take one of the Goodreads reviewer's suggestion and go watch the Elizabeth Taylor version of the movie.....

Friday, June 29, 2012

Route 66: Traveling the Mother Road (Days 3, 4& 5)

Monday, June 25th: Would have liked to eat at the Cafe on the Route, but they only serve lunch and dinner.  So we opted for a small diner called Weston's Cafe.  It doesn't look like much on the outside...but inside is good old-fashioned, down-home cooking.  The cafe is decorated in country style with vintage car models displayed on shelves.  And we got to listen to plenty of local "expert" political commentary over our bacon and eggs.

We left Baxter Springs and before we could blink, we were in Oklahoma.  Route 66 only travels through 13 miles of Kansas, cutting across the southeastern corner.  In Quapaw, we passed by more murals (deteriorating) with some showing scenes of a steam engine and an old gas station and saw the Dallas Dairyette, a cute little ice cream stand with small-town eats.  From Quapaw, we traveled through Commerce and Miami, but we didn't really see anything on our trip west that struck our fancy (we did see some of the sights on the way back...more on that later).  After Miami, we decided to take the Pre-1937 optional route and travel one of the oldest sections of Route 66. This section was paved in 1922, but little of the asphalt remains.  The road is mostly just a narrow concrete base with asphalt bits and pieces (few & far between) and covered over with gravel.  It was a very bumpy ride and we thought we might have lost Route 66 at one point, but we successfully exited back onto the newer Route 66 and can chalk up the "real old-time" experience.

From there, we traveled through Afton and Narcissa--crossing the Horse Creek Bridge and seeing the "giant" (not) penguin statue transferred from the Tulsa zoo to decorate a car lot (why? I don't know).  Theoretically, we also went 'round Dead Man's Corner, but neither Brad nor I noticed a particularly tricky corner or any dead men on our way to Vinita.  At Vinita we did notice the signs for the "World's Largest McDonald's" (I'm ready to believe this one) and we made a side trip for a pit stop (ice cream for Bev!) and see this massive restaurant which spans the Interstate.  When you go inside to the dining area, you can watch semis (and other traffic) zoom by underneath your feet.

Onward to Chelsea, we saw the remnants of two old motel signs--the Chelsea Motel and the Country Court.  We stopped in Chelsea for lunch at the Main Street Cafe (nostalgic Route 66 decor and home cooking) and browsed in Aunt Nannie's Antiques where I bought two books (that I have managed to mix in with the list of books bought at ABC Books in Springfield and I can't remember which is which) and Brad almost bought a Blondie & Dagwood comic book.  Leaving Chelsea, we went through Bushyhead and Foyil, home of the Tin Foyil well as Andy Payne, winner of the 1928 "Bunion Derby" (a Transcontinental Foot Race from LA to NYC along Route 66).  In town there is a statue commemorating Andy's bunions.  Or something like that.

Next up was Claremore, once famous for "radium" baths--mineral water discovered in 1903.  Claremore is also the hometown of Will Rogers and the place is loaded with Will Rogers memorabilia--from statues along Route 66 to Will Rogers Blvd to the Will Rogers Memorial and Museum--which we visited and spent about an hour and a half looking at the displays and taking pictures.  There is also rumored to be a statue of Will somewhere along his boulevard with him sitting on a park bench so you can sit with Will and have your picture taken.  It must be invisible at the end of June because we couldn't find it. For arms and ammunition enthusiasts, Claremore is also the home of the J M Davis Arms & Historical Museum which contains the World's Largest Private Firearms collection PLUS an Army Tank outside!  We settled for looking at the tank as we went by.  We also saw the "giant" plastic cowboy boot outside Dottie's Western Wear.

We left Claremore and headed for Verdigris where we crossed the Twin Bridges which span what once was a channel of the Verdigris River (now down-graded to be named Bird Creek) and also crossed the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System--a 445 mile waterway that links Tulsa to the Gulf of Mexico.  After Verdigris, came of the famous Blue Whale, a grinning contraption made of concrete that sits in a former swimming hole.  Tourists used to be able to slide out the whale's ears and dive from his tail when Hugh and Zelta Davis owned the property--until 1988.  Now, although the whale has been restored and repainted, there is no swimming allowed (and, really, seeing the pond--you wouldn't want to; it needs dragged and cleaned), but you can walk into the belly of the whale, snap lots of pictures, and enjoy the picnic area.

Given the time of day we approached Tulsa, we decided to zip by on the interstate, picking Route 66 up west of town.  We saw several abandoned motels (some re-vamped into apartments) and old gas stations on our way to Sapulpa.  We snapped a picture of a restored caboose in  front of  the offices of the Tulsa-Sapulpa Union Railway Company; a caboose that tells us to "Ship it on the Frisco!" Then we stopped at Happy Burger, the oldest hamburger stand in Supulpa, which has been open since 1957.  Well-known for their burgers (which are good), but I was even more impressed with their tater tots.  Extra crispy and extra tasty!  There are lots of "ghost ads" in downtown Sapulpa--making it look like vintage motels, restaurants, soda fountains, pharmacies, and gas stations are in business and waiting for you to stop by.

We headed into Stroud and stopped at the classic Skyliner Motel for our last night west on Route 66. It still has the historic Skyliner neon sign outside and it's definitely a motor court kind of stop, but for a night's stop, it's good value.

Tuesday, June 26th: With the progress we made in four days, we decided it might be wise to head home on Tuesday rather Wednesday.  We wanted to be sure to have at least a full day of rest before going back to work on Monday.  We packed up and had breakfast at the historic Rock Cafe. A Route 66 eatery since 1939, the restaurant burned in a devastating fire in 2008.  The rock walls remained and the owner rebuilt--making it as close to original as possible.  The place is beautiful inside with all the wood and even though you can tell it's new, it still has that classic feel.  By the way, the owner was the inspiration for the Sally Carrers in the movie Cars.

On the way back through Oklahoma, we actually saw some of things we missed on the way West.  Like the second "giant" (not) penguin at another car dealer ("Whosit's Used Cars has a giant penguin--I've got to have one too!"), another mural in Sapulpa advertising the D. W. Correll Museum, the Nut House ("Pecans and other nuts") beside Hot Mama's Cafe, and The Top Hat Dairy Bar.  We also got to cross the Twin Bridges at Verdigris (it's a one-way, east-bound kind of thing). And then we liked the Main Street Cafe in Chelsea so much, we decided to stop there again for lunch.

When we stopped in Afton for gas and a break, we were much surprised to look up at the area beside the station to see a Buffalo Ranch.  Not as big as it once was, there are still plenty of of buffalo for camera-happy Route 66-ers (like myself) to snap pictures of.  Also along the way was they Waylan's Hamburgers the Ku-Ku sign (and the restaurant's still in business if you happen to be hungry when you pass through Miami, OK--we weren't). We also saw the Mickey Mantle statue (outside Mutt Mantle Field--named for the ball player's dad) in his hometown of Commerce, OK.  We kept our eyes peeled for a little bookstore that we thought we had seen on a downtown corner in one of the small Oklahoma towns (closed when we went west), but never did find it again.

After going through Joplin, MO for the second time, we decided that we would cheat and make the rest of the journey from Missouri to western Illinois via Interstate.  My rarely-travels husband was feeling the toll of being on the road and wanted to get home even quicker than planned.  But we did make a few in Springfield, Missouri, we spied the ABC Bookstore where I went a little crazy with book buying, but not too much.  See my Route 66 Book Bonanza post for full details.

Stopped for the night at the classic Route 66 Motel in Lebanon.  It was a decent room with the Route 66 shield on the door--and a nice price.  But if we make this trip again and need a room in Lebanon, then I'm going to vote that we try the classic Munger Moss Motel.  The Munger Moss is reputed to be decorated with more Route 66 nostalgia and to be an even better stay.

Wednesday, June 27:   In the morning, we got up and had breakfast at the world's tiniest Waffle House (well, maybe not....but it was definitely the smallest one I'd ever been in).  It had a sign advertizing "Buses Welcome!"--I have no idea how they thought a busload of people would fit in there.

Who would have thought that driving the Interstate would cut our travel time in half?  We knew we'd get home sooner than anticipated, but certainly didn't anticipate being home by midweek. Even with that being the case, we still managed to spy a few Route 66 icons when the route jumped on board the interstate for a few the sign directing us to the Toy Museum and Gift shop right beside the Jesse James Wax Museum in Stanton, MO.  We stopped off expressly to visit the Toy Museum...only to find it closed (permanently) when we got there. We took advantage of their large "Welcome to Main St. America, Route 66" sign out front for a Route 66 photo op for each of us.  Then we popped into the Wax Museum to see if we thought we wanted to take the tour.  We opted out, but did find a few souvenirs in the gift shop.  Speaking of...we later stopped at the Ozarkland Gift Shop ("worth waiting for") and I couldn't leave the store without buying a jar of strawberry-rhubarb jam.  I love strawberry-rhubarb pie, but had never seen it as jam. I couldn't wait to try the jam on toast. (Now that I'm home, I have. It's yummy!)

We enjoyed the pleasant Missouri scenery again while we made our way back to St. Louis.  It was nice to have the calm before the storm....You see, the plan was to take the Route 66 option along Winston, Chippewa, and Gravois as we head on our way east until we got to I-70.  We we going to follow that North along the Mississippi and stop at the Chain of Rocks Bridge for a nice little break and Route 66 moment.  The Chain of Rocks Bridge is rumored to be "awesome"--built in 1929, it was abandoned in 1968 and fell into disrepair.  Trailnet, Inc. began refurbishing it in 1997, but didn't finish the job, so it's open for foot and bike traffic only.  But the point was, we could walk out over the river and take cool pictures.  Right?

Yeah, no.  This would be where the navigator (me again) lost map/sign-reading skills again.  We managed to miss our turn onto I-70 (twice) and wound up seeing more of downtown St. Louis than we really needed (or wanted) to.  By the time we missed the proper exit the second time and found ourselves headed across the river using our previous southern route, we were frazzled enough that we just wanted to put that area of Missouri/Illinois behind us as quickly as possible.  Once we calmed down, we were headed for Route 66 north to Virden and Springfield, Illinois.  Why, Virden?  Well, if you check out my Book Bonanza post, you'll see that we were on target to stop at The Sly Fox, advertized as the only mystery bookstore in that section of Illinois and on Route 66.  That stop led me to the most awesome used bookstore in recent years--Books on the Square (across the square from The Sly Fox)--where I unloaded a large portion of vacation cash.  We thought we might make it up to Springfield to have dinner at the Cozy Dog, home of the original corn dog, but Brad decided he definitely wanted to make it home that night, so we headed southeast to Indiana instead.  We settled for A&W Rootbeer (paired with Long John Silvers) for dinner.  That rootbeer sure tasted good on a hot day!  We caught I-70 east as soon as we could and buzzed home--hitting the driveway at 11:30pm.

We had a great vacation--lots of memories and we saw a lot of interesting sights.  And--we have a plan for a future trip.  Back to Route 66 for corn dogs at the Cozy Dog and another book-buying binge for Bev at Books on the Square!

If you'd like to see more pictures from our road trip, please click HERE. (same pictures as linked to Days 1 & 2)

Route 66: Traveling the Mother Road (Days 1 & 2)

Saturday, June23: We left Bloomington at about noon--this was later than we wanted, but you know how life gets in the way sometimes.  Our non-Route 66 travels to western Illinois took us on Indiana 46 and Interstate 70 until we picked up the most modern version of Route 66 on I-55 between Edwardsville and Collinsville (post 1963).  At Collinsville, I made sure to get a picture of the giant* catsup bottle for my son--who likes catsup on  his catsup.

*Please note that the term "giant" is used very loosely.  It can mean everything from the size of a water tower (in this case) to man-sized (in the case of a "giant" penguin later in the trip).

We followed I-55/Route 66 across the Mississippi and around St. Louis, getting our first view of the Arch (lots of pictures).  Following this section of Route 66 took us along Gravois, Chippewa and Watson in the southern/southwestern portion of downtown St. Louis.  There were lots of "ghosts"--remnants of old businesses and homes in these neighborhoods as well as some very well-kept brownstone, cottage-style houses (in several repeated variations) and beautiful old churches.

West of St. Louis, Route 66 jumps on and off I-44 as well as moving from one side of the main highway to other.  It took us through small towns with names like Eureka, Gray Summit, St. Cloud and Bourbon.  It was a lovely drive through forested hills and it was nice to be away from the frantic traffic of the interstate.  Many pictures of the road and, just for my friend Richard, a picture of the "water" tower labeled Bourbon.  Our first night was spent in the charming, recently remodeled (as in refurbished to look original) Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, MO.

The Wagon Wheel holds the distinction of being the oldest, continuously open motel on Route 66.  The owner kept rooms available through-out the remodeling process in order to maintain the honors. [according to the clerk who checked us in--online info seems to indicate that the motel was closed during restoration] The main building which holds the office (w/original check-in desk and file card registration system) and a small gift shop is gorgeous.  She removed a dropped ceiling which had been added sometime in the late 60s/early 70s to expose the original, all-wood ceilings.  The ceiling, now that it has been refinished and restored, glows.  She also began tearing down a large/dilapidated second building to discover the intact original garage area with oil pit.  This building is now display-only, with a vintage car over the oil pit to add verisimilitude.

Sunday, June 24: Not much was open for travelers in search of breakfast on Sunday, so we wound up "Lovin' it" (not so much) at McDonald's. BUT on the way through Cuba to our morning meal we did get to take a look at Cuba's other Route 66 claim to fame: Murals all over the town.  In fact, according to one brochure, Cuba is known as "Mural City."  Buildings all long Route 66 are decorated with scenes of apple-processing (1), Amelia Earhart (2), a cottage-style filling station (3), Cuba's Gold Star Boys (4), the first Model T in Cuba (5), Civil War battles in the area (6), a tractor supplier (7), and Bette Davis (8).

1. From 1895-1920, Cuba was the largest producer, processor, & distributor of apples in Missouri.
2. Amelia Earhart made a forced emergency landing in Cuba on September 4, 1928.
3. Paul T. Car build the cottage-style filling station in 1932.
4. Cuba's "Gold Star Boys" served in World War II.  Mural shows them on the Blue Bonnet Frisco Train, which took Cuba's service men to join the war.
5. Mural shows A. J. Barnett, first cashier and President of the Peoples bank from 1920-59, cranking the first Model T in Cuba.
6. Five murals depicting the conflict between the troops of Confederate General Sterling Price and Union General Thomas Ewing in September 1964.
7. During the tenure of Al West, Sr., Cuba's mayor from 1946-58, the city was modernized with electricity and water/sewage systems--this brought factories (such as the tractor manufacturer) to town.
8. In 1948, Academy Award-winning actress Bette Davis and her husband arrived in a Packard station wagon and stopped at the Southern Hotel. Reporter Wilbur Vaughn asked for a photo.  When the actress refused, he snapped one anyway and was chased by Davis' irate husband.  The photo later appeared in the Cuba News & Review.

After breakfast, we continued our journey on the curving, wooded section of Route 66.  We stopped to take a picture of the "giant" Rocking Chair at the US 66 Outpost in Fanning and passed an incredible amount of grape stands--not fruit stands, just grapes.  We also passed the "giant" (not-so-much) Dripping Faucet --a neon sign that may have advertised a plumbing company (?)--that we thought we could live without a picture of.  It's possible it's more impressive at night.  Our guide book also told us to watch out for an original A&W Hamburger family in St. James (remember the Papa, Mama, Teen & Baby Burger?), but if it was still there we managed to miss it.  We did stop at the Mule Trade Posting to search for Route 66 memorabilia and to take a picture of the giant (truly) mechanical Hillbilly sign--his arms move like a windmill.

I loved this bit from the EZ66 Guide for Travelers (best road guide ever!) about out next section of road before entering Rolla: "the Outer Road (Route 66) from I-44 Exit 172 to Exit 169 is a bit rough so drive with care until it gets fixed! NOTE: A drug sting is at times operated at Exit 176 to catch alleged culprits that exit here after a sign warns of an upcoming 'checkpoint' on I-44.  Route 66 tourists shouldn't worry (just don't carry illegal drugs!)."  

Rolling on through Rolla *tee hee* (I was singing the old "Rawhide" song "Rolla, rolla, rolla...keep those doggies rolling" all the way through town), we saw a half-scale replica of Stonehenge carved with high-speed water jets.  The University of Missouri at Rolla is also home to the first Nuclear Reactor in Missouri....but we didn't see that.  Our next photo op was after running along Hooker Cut to the Devils Elbow.  As we crossed over the 1923 bridge which crosses the Big Piney Rive, I snapped a picture of the Elbow--named for the bend that caused major logjams on the river. Just past the bridge, I insisted on stopping and rescuing a turtle who thought he was car.  At least he was traveling down Route 66....I moved him to safety in the grass along the side.   Next up was Waynesville and a big boulder jutting out of the hillside that was painted to look like a "giant" (sortof) frog.  We crossed the recently restored 1923 Rubidoux (I just like saying that...) Creek Bridge, headed through Laquey and Buckhorn, and then things got interesting....

At this point in the journey, your navigator (that would be me) lost her map-reading/sign-reading skills for the first of two episodes...OR, as I like to say, Missouri fell down on the job in signage.  Just after leaving Laquey/Buckhorn and entering the Mark Twain National Forest, we were supposed to follow MO AB to continue on Route 66.  There were all kinds of letters of the alphabet along that road (and NOT in alphabetical order, mind you, because that would take all the fun out of deciphering the directions), but not an AB to be found.  After cruising along through the Forest (which is quite pretty, by the way, and a good thing since we got to see more of it than we anticipated) for much longer than it seemed like we should have, I reacquired my map skills and got us headed back towards Route 66.  Only to run into road construction and a detour.  All-in-all, we spent about and hour or so becoming more acquainted with the Forest than planned.

Back on Route 66, we stopped at the "World's Largest Giftshop" (I'm not sure if that's true, but it is pretty darn big) for a break and to scope out prices.  I was justly proud of myself for buying what I did at the Mule Trading Post--everything was much cheaper there.  We continued on, crossing the Nangua River using a small green-girder bridge that took us to Marshfield.  Marfield is the hometown of Dr. Edwin Hubble, the noted astronomer and namesake of the Hubble Space Telescope. Then at about 5:30 pm ET we stopped in Paris Springs at the Gay Parita Sinclair Station owned by Gary Turner.  The station is a newer icon with an old-time feel and was built by Turner and named for his wife.  He has set the replica up with vintage cars and trucks, classic pumps, original-look station office and garage.  He even has a "mechanic" stretched out under one of the classic cars--"He's been working on the that car for four years...still doesn't know what's wrong with it."  Gary loves visitors and loves to talk, so if you go, be sure to allow plenty of time.  Gary will tell you all about Route 66 and give out tips on places to see, stay and eat as you head on your way.  He gave us free "Route 66 Sodas" (best cherry soda I've ever had) and took a picture of us holding a Route 66 flag.  Definitely one of our best stops.

Just before Carthage, we stopped for gas at the Flying W Store with its "flying manure spreader" sculpture by Lowell Davis--named the "Crap Duster." From there, the Route was closed for bridge repairs and Gary had directed us on a quicker detour than what was signed and we soon found ourselves in Carthage--home of the Boots Motel, world famous for its architecture, neon, and history.  Unfortunately, it is no longer serving as a motel and has been portioned into apartments.  But the architecture is still nice to see.  We also passed the iconic 66 Drive-In--recently recovered from years of being a junkyard.   Brad was in the mood for some Chinese and the our Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide recommended the Bamboo Gardens.  Our take: not a good value for the price.  Most Chinese buffets include the drink--the Bamboo Gardens does not and they have a smaller range of dishes on offer than other buffets as well.  Skip this one and go for steak next time (as Gary advised us....).

We decided to take the "Old 66 Blvd" route from Carthage to Joplin.  This took us on a pleasant drive on curvy, narrow pavement and across a 1922 bridge.  We passed through very nice residential areas of Joplin and saw Poochies Rib Pit (in a very colorful reuse of a vintage gase station).  Crossing into Kansas, we passed through Galena and got pictures of the Rainbow Bridge--the last of three "Marsh Arch" bridges that were built on the Kansas section of Route 66.  Baxter Springs was our last city for the night--we passed the Cafe on the Route/Little Brick Inn which occupy a former bank that was robbed by Jesse James in 1876 and came to rest at the Baxter Inn.

If you'd like to see more pictures from our road trip, please click HERE.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Route 66 Book Bonaza

So...while the Route 66 Road Trip was primarily for my husband--the man of the '66 Mustang who was feeling all nostalgic and conceived the vacation idea--I had my fun too.  I got to stop at three bookstores along the way! (Oh, and, yes, I did enjoy the Route 66 driving bit too).  My total book haul for the week's journey is 37.  Here's a break-down of the loot and a brief description of the book stores.

First stop was at ABC Books in Springfield, Missouri.  This store looks like your standard store front from the outside, but hidden inside towards the rear of the store is a very nice used bookstore atmosphere.  A very substantial selection of paperback mysteries ranging from vintage pocket size (I scored two that I just couldn't live without and agonized over a third that I finally decided was out of my price range) to modern crime and thrillers. Also a smaller range of hardback mysteries.  I left the store with 10 paperbacks.

The Union Club Mysteries by Isaac Asimov
Murder at the Pageant by Victor L. Whitechurch (Dover Edition)
A Coffin from the Past by Gwendoline Butler
The Cape Cod Mystery by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
The Tragedy at Tiverton by Raymond Paul
The Fourteen Dilemma by Hugh Pentecost
The Crabtree Affair by Michael Innes (First  paperback edition)
Invisible Green by John Sladek (a locked room mystery that I'd never heard of before....)
The Labors of Hercules by Agatha Christie (1st New Dell pocket size edition!)
The Scarab Murder Case by S. S. Van Dine (Graphic Mystery Classic pocket size edition!)

Next up was The Sly Fox in Virden .  This store is advertised on the Mystery Booksellers website as the "only mystery bookstore in Central Illinois and on Historic Route 66" and was the only intentional bookstore stop on our agenda.  When I found The Sly Fox on the internet, I immediately told the hubby that we needed to make a stop in Virden as part of our itinerary.  Our schedule didn't allow us to visit during business hours on our way west, so we stopped in on our way back to Indiana.  The store was a bit of a disappointment to me.  Its focus is on new issues--and, of the small amount of stock on display, I'd say less than half (35-40%ish) is mystery.  Not that the experience wasn't pleasant anyway--the owner is very nice and after chatting about mysteries and our Route 66 journey he offered me a discount on the five Rue Morgue Press titles that I'd decided on.  And--I have him to thank for my next bookstore stop. That alone was worth the visit.  But before we talk about's the list of books from The Sly Fox:

Miss Withers Regrets by Stuart Palmer
Sally's in the Alley by Norbert Davis
Shadows Before by Dorothy Bowers
Our Second Murder by Torrey Chanslor
The Green Plaid Pants by Margaret Scherf

(at right side of photo; image source)

And now...the best book stop on the journey.  As I mentioned,  as I was checking out, George (owner of The Sly Fox) told me about the "other" bookstore on the opposite side of the square in Virden.  "He doesn't really carry much in the way of mysteries," he said--but thought that he did have selections that the hubby would be interested in.  So off we went.  Not much in the way of mysteries? Seriously?  I pushed my husband's patience to the limit and came out with a whole boxful of my vintage pocket size editions plus some Star Trek fotonovels from the 70s that we both love.  And I could have done some really serious damage to our retirement savings if I had wanted to.  There were boxes of books that I didn't even touch....and shelves of pocket size editions that I valiantly refused to hear calling my name. This lovely little (did I say little?  Three rooms full of books) rare and used bookshop reminded me of the best used bookstore ever--Mason's (sadly, no more)--when it was in my hometown.  I could have stayed for days.....And what did I bring home, you ask?  Well....

Vintage pocket size editions:
The Benson Murder Case by S. S. Van Dine (pristine Pocket Books 3rd printing)
The Canary Murder Case by S. S. Van Dine (near fine Pocket Books 1st edition)
Death Turns the Tables by John Dickson Carr (very good Pocket Books 2nd printing)
Panic by Helen McCloy (very good Dell map back 1st edition)
Murder by Latitude by Rufus King (fine Popular Library 1st edition)
Unhappy Hooligan by Stuart Palmer (fine Perma Books 1st edition)
A Pinch of Poison by Frances & Richard Lockridge (very good/near fine Pocket Book 3rd printing)
The Skeleton in the Clock by Carter Dickson (good Dell map back 1st edition)
The Strangled Witness by Leslie Ford (good Popular Library 1st edition)
Murder in the Mews by Helen Reilly(very good/near fine Popular Library 1st edition)
The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart (good Pocket Books Armed Forces Edition)

Non-Mystery pocket size:
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury (very good Bantam 1st edition)

Non-pocket size mysteries:
Stag Dinner Death by John Penn
The Sleeping-Car Murders by Sebastian Japrisot (aka The 10:30 from Marseilles)
Death Has Green Fingers by Lionel Black

Star Trek fotonovels, etc.
Fotonovel #4: A Taste of Armageddon
Fotonovel #5: Metamorphosis
Fotonovel #9: Devil in the Dark
Fotonovel #10: Day of the Dove
Fotonovel #11: The Deadly Years
ST The Motion Picture: The Photostory
ST The Motion Picture (The Full Color Comics Version presented by Stan Lee).

They only made 12 Fotonovels from the original series--all we need now is #12!

All-in-all, a rather spectacular book buying binge.  I can definitely say that I had a good time on vacation!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Getting My Kicks.....

...On Route 66.  The Hubby and I are taking off tomorrow to travel west on the historic Route 66.  My Reader's Block will be pretty quiet for just over a week.  Depending on WiFi accessibility, I may pop in at some point....but odds are you won't hear from me till next Sunday.  Have a good week!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mount TBR Challenge Checkpoint

It's hard to believe that we're at the end of the second quarter and it's time for Mountaineering Checkpoint #2. I'm calling for the second quarterly check-in post. [Imagine me in Alpine mountain gear with one of those long horns tootling away.] Let's see how our challengers are doing after 6 months are under the ol' mountain-climbing belt. Made it a couple of miles? Camping out in a cave 1/3 of the way up the mountain face? Taking refuge in a mountain hut along the way? Let us know how you're doing.  Checkpoint participation is absolutely voluntary and is not considered necessary for challenge completion.

For those who would like to participate in this checkpoint post, I'd like you to do two things:
1. Tell us how many miles you've made it up your mountain (# of books read).  If you're really ambitious, you can do some intricate math and figure out how the number of books you've read correlates to actual miles up Pike's Peak, Mt. Ararat, etc.

2. Complete ONE (or more if you like) of the following:
  A. Using any number of titles from your conquered list, compose a poem.  You may add extra words, if needed, up to the number of titles used.  (I thought this was really cool when another blogger used it as a mini-challenge for a read-a-thon that I participated in.)  Here's my contribution to that mini-challenge as an example (I added 6 words for 7 titles):


Picture of books is NOT required.
 B. Who has been your favorite character so far? Why?
 C. Have any of the books you read surprised you--if so, in what way (not as good as anticipated? unexpected ending? Best thing you've read all year? Etc.)

And what do you get for all that hard work (and distraction from the actual climb)? The link will close at 11:59 pm on Saturday, June 30.  On Sunday night (or possibly Monday) I will crank up the Custom Random Number Generator and pick a winning climber. He or she will have the chance to add to their TBR stack via my gently-used book vault (prize list will be sent). Just think, if you win a book you can start up a pile for next year's Mount TBR Challenge. 

Even if you're not in the mood for a prize or if you've only got one leg of the journey under your belt, I'd love to have you check in and tell us how your climb is going!

***Please note--the linky is for Checkpoint posts only.  The link must be to a specific Checkpoint post (not your blog's home page in general). Links that are not Checkpoint-specific will be removed--to make it easier for me to track a winner.

Sign in below with your Checkpoint post.

Booking Through Thursday: Quotable

A weekly meme about (mostly) books and reading. Hosted at Booking Through Thursday. A while ago BTT interviewed their readers for a change, and their final question was, “What question have they NOT asked at BTT that you’d love them to ask?” Ever so often they will pose those questions to their BTT followers. Like now.
Valentina asks: Do you have a favorite quote from a book? 

Um. No. I have hundreds of quotes from all sorts of books that I've collected over the years.  And they're all my favorite.  There's no way I could possibly narrow it down to just one.  So, let me give you a few of my favorites from books about books....

The trouble with bookshops is that they are as bad as pubs.  You start with one and then you drift to another, and before you know where you are you are on a gigantic book-binge.
                                    Bodies in a Bookshop
                                     —R. T. Campbell

N: And who lasts longest? [in Heaven]
M: …scholarly people, they tend to last as long as anyone.  They like sitting around reading all the books there are.  And then they love arguing about them.  Some of those arguments—she cast an eye to the heavens—go on for millennium after millennium.  It just seems to keep them young, for some reason, arguing about books.
                                    Narrator; Margaret
“The Dream”
                                    A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters (304)
                                    —Julian Barnes
There is no substitute for books in the life of a child.
                                    Recipe for a Magic Childhood
                                    —Mary Ellen Chase

“Lord,” he said, “when you sell a man a book you don’t sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue—you sell him a whole new life.  Love and friendship and honor and ships at sea by night—there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book, I mean.
                                    Parnassus on Wheels
                                    —Christopher Morley

My husband claims I have an unhealthy obsession with secondhand bookshops….either you intrinsically understand the attraction of searching for hidden treasure amongst the rows of dusty shelves or you don’t; it’s a passion, bordering on a spiritual illness, which cannot be explained to the unaffected.
                                    Elegance (14-15)
                                    —Kathleen Tessaro

…the perfect tranquility of life, which is nowhere to be found but in retreat, a faithful friend, and a good library.
                                    The Lucky Mistake
                                    —Aphra Behn
I care not how humble your bookshelf may be, nor how lowly the room which it adorns.  Close the door of that room behind you, shut off with it all the cares of the outer world, plunge back into the soothing company…and then you are through the magic portal into that fair land whither worry and vexation can follow you no more.
                                    Through the Magic Door
                                    —Sir Arthur Conan Doyle