Saturday, October 18, 2014

“Death, Long Long Ago” Available on the Amazon Kindle Site

Andrew Choice

The second novel in my “Dr. Ray Raether South Carolina Travel Mystery” series is available for download as an e-book from Amazon’s Kindle site. Here’s the link for download.

You don’t need a Kindle to read “Death, Long Long Ago.” For other devices simply follow the instructions on the Amazon purchase page. Most anything with a screen and internet access will do. Even smartphones!

This second novel in the series isn’t as long and, I hope, a better read. Experience; experience! Just over 300 pages. It’s written for adults, but the content is appropriate for younger readers as well.

Ray Raether and his constant canine companion, Samantha, return to Iroquois State Park for a few days of camping in their Aliner RV just two months after their earlier visit. Only to become involved in yet another murder investigation. Iroquois County Sheriff’s Department Chief of Detectives, Salvatore Patrick Ryan, asks Ray to help him discover who murdered Steve Crane, then buried his body in the grave of Revolutionary War Patriot Hero Colonel Jedidiah Hathaway.

For those you you who insist on hard copy, a paperback version should be available on Amazon in a couple of weeks.

Here’s the book blurb from the Kindle site: 

     “Earl! Monty! What do you think you’re playin’ at?” Iroquois State Park Assistant Manager Valerie Simpson shouted as she sprinted through the woods toward her two German shepherds. “Stop this instant! You’re actin’ like a couple of terriers.” But the usually obedient Earl and Monty continued their high-pitched yipping while digging frantically in soft sand beside an upended grave stone. Why wouldn’t they stop?
        Then in the early Sunday morning light she saw it. Earl and Monty had uncovered a death-gray human hand and forearm. Palm up, fingers slightly curved. Just a shade lighter than the surrounding sand. Dead for sure, Valerie thought as she apologized to her canine companions for shouting. “You knew I had to see it, didn’t you. Good boys.” The dogs stood stiff-legged back a ways from the grave now, tails straight down, looking back and forth from Valerie to the partially buried human hand.
        A grave desecration on Park land was a certain PR disaster. And this wasn’t just any grave. This was the burial site of Revolutionary War Patriot Hero, Colonel Jedidiah Hathaway. He’d been killed at the Battle of Moncks Corner in 1780. But he remained Iroquois County’s most celebrated citizen.
        That hand, though, wasn’t Colonel Jedidiah’s. It was far more recent. Covered with only a few inches freshly dug sandy soil. Somebody had buried a recently dead corpse out here right above the Colonel’s casket.
        Valerie choked down the bile burning her throat, pulled out her cell phone, and dialed the Iroquois County Sheriff’s Office, hoping she didn’t sound as frightened as she felt. This was a crime scene. Probably a murder scene. She needed law enforcement backup, and needed it fast.
        Dr. Ray Raether heard about the bizarre discovery early that afternoon when he and his constant canine companion, Samantha, checked in for five days of camping in their little Aliner RV. They’d visited this Park only a couple of months ago. This very site. After which Ray had published several blog posts about the county and town of Iroquois. The posts had been well received. This time he hoped to collect enough information for a series of longer articles. Well, and also hoped to enjoy a few more breakfasts and lunches at Sadie’s Restaurant in downtown Iroquois. Served by Marge, Sadie’s irreverent waitress of indeterminate age.
        Last trip he’d met Chief of Detectives, Salvatore Patrick Ryan, a retired New York City police detective now working for the Iroquois Sheriff’s Department. They had become friends, and Sal had invited Ray to help interview several difficult suspects in an unusual murder investigation. Ray’s long experience collecting and evaluating sensitive information had helped solve the case. Maybe Sal could use his help again. Last visit, working with Sal, Ray had met Iroquois citizens who never would have agreed to an individual interview. It might work again. Well worth the time.
        Ray’s hopes were realized. Discovery of the body at the Revolutionary War hero’s grave gave the investigation an unusual degree of sensitivity in history-conscious Iroquois County. As Ray helped Detective Sal Ryan untangle the web of ancient and recent secrets he met even more of Iroquois County’s colorful but reclusive residents. Always accompanied by Samantha, the 110-pound American Alsatian whose wolf-like yellow eyes seemed to see and understand everything.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Riverbanks Botanical Garden, Columbia, South Carolina


I recently had an errand that took me across the river to West Columbia.

On the way back I stopped at the Botanical Gardens. These gardens are part of the Riverbanks Zoo complex. A zoo admission ticket also admits the visitor to the gardens. And vice versa. With the new pricing structure an annual pass is a better bargain. If you visit the zoo or gardens four or more times.

Here’s a video of the visit. Enjoy.

Should the video fail to play properly in your browser, click here to go directly to YouTube.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Return to Keowee-Toxaway State Park, South Carolina

11 Front Sign

Problems with a twisted ankle have limited my camping trips for the past few months. I’ve had to stay pretty close to home, other than five days in one of Barnwell State Park’s luxurious cabins a few weeks ago. (Click here to see the cabin if you missed that post.)

Well, that couldn’t last. Especially during this beautiful South Carolina September weather. So last week I spent three days at Keowee-Toxaway State Park. This is one of South Carolina’s most beautiful parks. An ideal place to RV camp. Click here for posts on an August  2011 visit.

The only disadvantage of this park for me is its distance from Columbia. It takes nearly three hours to get there. And much of that is spent driving along super-highways I-26 and I-385. It’s not until after Greenville the road becomes interesting.

Pet Cow

Complaints about the lack of natural and social scenery along super highways is nothing new here. But look at this! Right in the parking lot of that left-exit rest area on I-385 where I’d stopped to wash my hands. An enormous fiberglass Holstein cow atop a small green trailer. Turns out this is one of several dairy cow displays sponsored by the Pet Milk Company. You can imagine the crowd it attracted.


Keowee-Toxaway really is spectacular. The Park’s 1,000 acres are divided by Highway 11. Also known as the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway. That road alone is reason enough to visit. Click here for some information this scenic highway from Wikipedia. Save some time during your visit to drive up and down. Some of the views are breathtaking.


In March 2009 I hiked Keowee-Toxaway’s Natural Bridge trail. Click here for the post. This trail is ideal for elder-hiking, as I recall. Rated moderate to strenuous by the Park Service. Well, that was a mistake. Not the trail’s fault. The offending ankle wasn’t quite ready for even moderate trail hiking. So I had to turn around just at the end of the section you see in the photo above. Didn’t get to see the improvements the Park folks have made a bit farther down. Next time, for sure! 

But at Keowee-Toxaway even the RV campground is set in a beautiful natural area. Here’s a short video. Enjoy.

If the above video fails to display properly in your browser, click here to go directly to YouTube.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Visit to Healing Springs in Blackville, SC


Healing Springs north of Blackville, South Carolina, just east of Route 3, is a remarkable place. In several respects. Don’t know about you, but this is the first piece of real estate I’ve come across that has been deeded to God.
Second, Healing Springs offers its remarkably pure water to any and all free of charge. Just drive up with a few empty gallon jugs. I don’t know who maintains the site. But there wasn’t a shred of trash when I visited. And the parking lot was busy! Car after car. Good to see.
Third, whoever’s responsible for the site has avoided the temptation to tart the place up. It remains simple and functional. Visitors have the sense they’re getting water from a spring in the woods. That’s nice. Well worth the visit.
Here’s a short video introduction. Enjoy.

Should your browser fail to play the video, click here to go directly to YouTube.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cabin "Camping" at Barnwell State Park South Carolina

Barnwell State Park, SC, Cabin No. 4
Efforts to repair a twisted ankle have kept me close to home and local medical folks for the past few weeks. No camping! (No blog posts either. Sorry about that.)

Well, how long can that go on before camping - - even easy RV camping - - is one of those activities with only a past? Something had to be done.

The solution was cabin "camping." That is, renting one of the Park System's fancy cabins rather than bringing along the Aliner. Lots easier on the ankle.
Barnwell State Park has some of the nicest cabins in the system, so I made a reservation. A new experience!

I've included a short video describing the cabin. Hope it posts properly.
All going well. The cabin has everything needed to sustain life other than food and toiletries. Even filters for the coffee maker! And it is spic and span, or was when I arrived anyway.
Great place to slog through manuscript copy editing. I'm nearly done with the second book in the South Carolina RV Travel Mystery series. This one, "Death Long Long Ago," is shorter and hopefully better than the first. Stay tuned.