Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tens List with Steven Watkins - Vacation Destinations

Steve Watkins, author of the upcoming What Comes After, is here today to share some favorite vacation destinations! He's on a blog tour promoting his newest book, and you can find all the stops by clicking the banner at the bottom of the page. In the meantime though, please enjoy this simply fabulous tens list!

1. Lamu, an island off the coast of northern Kenya, not far from Somalia, with blindingly white beaches and mango groves but watch out for bandits with their pangas.

2. The Jomsom Trail, starting in Pokhara, in western Nepal and trekking through to the Anapurna base camp, eating nothing for a week except dal, bot, and subsee. 

3. The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachussetts. The honeymoon suite. With Janet, of course. Only this time we’re sticking around for that Arlo Guthrie concert at the church they converted into a home and then a concert hall in “Alice’s Restaurant.” 

4. The Lake District in England, on a bike, stopping to hike Ska Fel, visiting Beatrice Potter’s house, continuing on up into Scotland, camping next to Loch Lomond in a pounding rain storm, taking the ferry across the next day, biking on to Edinburgh to find this girl I met on the plane over from America who lives there and invited me…. 

5. Big Sur, driving up Coast Highway, when the fog billows up the cliffs from the Pacific and visibility drops to zero, and you have to pull off, but fortunately there’s a little campground, and two girls camping in the site next to yours. They’re cooking over an open fire, you have no food, but you do have your guitar, and they actually say yes when you wander over and offer to sing for your supper. They have baked beans and veggie dogs. You have John Prine and “Christmas in Prison.” 

6. In Maui at the top of Haleakala at sunset, or on bikes the next day, coasting down, down, down, thirty miles down, wearing out those hand brakes to avoid pitching over onto the lava rocks, but what a great ride! And in the afternoon: parasailing off the side of the volcano. 

7. In a hidden villa in Florence with Janet, with a balcony and big windows and a bidet, but then off to one of the big cathedrals for our friends’ wedding, and from there out into the Tuscan countryside, to Machiavelli’s old estate and vineyard for dinner and reception. 

8. Backpacking on the Appalachian Trail for a week at a time for several summers running back in the 60s and 70s with our church group, with my mom and dad leading the hikes. 

9. That hotel we stayed at for a week in Nanning, Guangxi province in China, when we adopted Lili and hung out with the six other families also adopting, and everybody was so sweet and loving, and we all lived intensely in the moment (and spent a lot of time in that wacky swimming pool they had there). 

10. Lake Turkana, in northern Kenya, waylaid there when one of the Landrovers broke down en route to Southern Sudan with supplies and vehicles from Mombassa for an International Voluntary Services aid project. Crocodiles, bilharzia, goat sacrifices by the locals for relief from the crippling drought, huge lake flounder, those Baptist missionaries in their bright red Jeep Cherokee, all manner of weirdness. Who wouldn’t want to go back there?

All fantastic places wouldn't you say? I kind of want to go on vacation with Steve now....

After her veterinarian dad dies, sixteen-year-old Iris Wight must leave her beloved Maine to live on a North Carolina farm with her hardbitten aunt and a cousin she barely knows. Iris, a vegetarian and animal lover, immediately clashes with Aunt Sue, who mistreats the livestock, spends Iris’s small inheritance, and thinks nothing of striking Iris for the smallest offense. Things come to a head when Iris sets two young goats free to save them from slaughter, and an enraged Aunt Sue orders her brutish son, Book, to beat Iris senseless - a horrific act that lands Book and his mother in jail. Sent to live with an offbeat foster family and their "dooking" ferrets, Iris must find a way to take care of the animals back at the farm, even if it means confronting Aunt Sue. Powerful and deeply moving, this compelling novel affirms the redemptive power of animals and the resilience of the human spirit.


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