2017 Reading List

2017 was a year of nostalgia and new discoveries. In January I re-read The Second Deadly Sin by Laurence Sanders, which featured his character, Edward X. Delany. I enjoyed that so much I re-read the four books in his Commandment series which features a variety of interesting main characters which Sanders is famous for creating.

In the spring I got back into Jack Higgins novels after many years of not reading anything from him. Back in the early 80’s I discovered the book, The Eagle Has Landed. It’s the story of a secret mission by German Paratroopers to parachute into England and assassinate Winston Churchill. It has remained one of my favorite novels to this day. In the early spring, one of my co-workers was reading a Jack Higgins novel from his Sean Dillon series. I purchased the first book in the series, titled The Eye of the Storm, and was hooked.

Reading List

  1. Odessa Sea – Clive Cussler
  2. The Second Deadly Sin – Laurence Sanders
  3. The Sixth Commandment – Laurence Sanders
  4. The Tenth Commandment – Laurence Sanders
  5. The Eight Commandment – Laurence Sanders
  6. The Seventh Commandment- Laurence Sanders
  7. 1984 – George Orwell
  8. The Emperor’s Revenge – Clive Cussler
  9. The Einstein Prophesy – Robert Masello
  10. The Lost Codex – Alan Jacobson
  11. Duty and Honor (Jack Ryan Jr. Series) – Grant Blackwood
  12. Deception Point – Dan Brown
  13. Eye of the Storm – Jack Higgins
  14. Thunder Point– Jack Higgins
  15. Angel of Death– Jack Higgins
  16. Drink with the Devil– Jack Higgins
  17. The President’s Daughter – Jack Higgins
  18. Dragon Teeth – Michael Crichton
  19. Midnight Runner – Jack Higgins
  20. Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles – Bernard Cornwell
  21. Nighthawk – Clive Cussler
  22. Raiders Wake – James L. Nelson
  23. The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival – John Vaillant
  24. Medicus (did not finish) – Ruth Downie
  25. Bad Company – Jack Higgins
  26. The Archers – Martin Archer
  27. Tucker – Louis L’Amour
  28. The Eagle Has Landed (re-read) – Jack Higgins
  29. Without Mercy – Jack Higgins
  30. The Archer’s Castle – Martin Archer
  31. Touch the Devil – Jack Higgins
  32. The Dogs of War  (re-read) – Fredrick Forsyth
  33. Confessional – Jack Higgins
  34. Lost City of the Monkey God – Douglas Preston
  35. The Bormann Testament – Jack Higgins
  36. The Holcroft Covenant – Robert Ludlum
  37. Shock Wave (re-read) – Clive Cussler
  38. The Odessa File (re-read) – Fredrick Forsyth
  39. Typhoon Fury (Oregon Files)– Clive Cussler
  40. Pharaoh –  Wilbur Smith
  41. Myths of the Norsemen (Puffin Classic ) – Roger Green
  42. Loch Garman – James L. Nelson

Fall hike to Mt. Moosilauke

Back at the end of October I went on a meetup.com group hike to Mt. Mooslauke in Warren, NH. Although it was a little past the foliage peak, a hike to Mt. Moosilauke is always a treat. Another bonus of the trip was that I could see the new Dartmouth Ravine Lodge.

I think they did a great job with the design and construction. The inside was equally impressive.

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Mt Moosilauke October 28 2017-7It was a beautiful fall day for a hike. At one of the viewpoint along the trail were were able to see remnants of the “valley fog” that happens on many fall mornings in the area.

We finally made it to the summit. There was enough snow at the top to remind us that winter is coming!

Since it was a sunny, clear and cool day the views were spectacular.This is a view towards Franconia Ridge. The plaque in the rock is a memorial plaque for Dick Sanders, who was the manager of the Moosilauke Summit Camp and president of the Dartmouth Outing Club for a number of years.

The photo above is a view of Mt. Lafayette near Franconia Notch. Lafayette is on my list of mountains yet to climb.

The photo above is a view towards Lincoln, NH and South Peak part of Loon Mt. ski area. You can see one of the ski trails on the upper left hand corner of the photo. The tall building with the red roof is the RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain.

View towards Long Pond and Black Mt in Benton, NH.

View towards the Webster Slide cliffs with Lake Tarleton and Lake Armington in the distance.

We rested and had some food near the foundation stones of the Summit Camp that burned in 1942. The Moosilauke page on the Hike the Whites website tells us,

In 1860 the Prospect House, a stone hotel patterned after the Mt Washington Summit House was opened on the summit of Moosilauke. It went through many changes over the years, and it’s name was changed to the Tip-Top House. The hotel and a circular tract of land on the summit was given to Dartmouth in 1920 and students ran the place during the summer months like an AMC hut. It burned in 1942, and the stone foundation can still be seen.

Below is my favorite image of the hotel from the Hike the Whites Moosilauke page

It must have been quite the experience to have stayed up there overnight. I bet visitors witnessed some fantastic sunrises and sunsets. I bet they witnessed some wild storms as well.

Foliage hike to Mt. Abraham and Lincoln Peak

In the fall I like to get in a hike as close to the foliage peak as possible. This year I joined a Meetup.com group for a hike on the Long Trail to Mt. Abraham in Warren, VT.

Mt. Abraham Trail Sign

There were lots of other hikers on the trail and the summit of Mt. Abraham was a busy place.

We had a great view to the west through the gap to Bristol, VT and Lake Champlain in the distance.

Naturally we had to go see the Mt. Abraham plane wreck while we were there.

The New England Hiking page tells us,

“On June 28, 1973, a pilot on his way from Twin Mountain, Vermont to Newburgh, New York was trying to navigate through a thick cloud and struck some trees at roughly 3,000 feet elevation on Mount Abraham. He survived the plane crash, but parts of the place still exist on the mountain today.”

I had been studying the maps for this hike for some time and had the crazy idea to hike past Mt. Abraham and the plane wreck along the ridge to Lincoln Peak, which is also the top of Sugarbush Ski area. I wanted to get some photos of the views in addition to the ski lodge from the summit.

 

Key Largo Dive Trip 2017

At the end of June I was able to spend a week in Key Largo diving at the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary. It was a rough week due to the weather, wind and waves. Lots of people got seasick on the dive boats (but not me!). Dive trips from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday morning were cancelled due to high winds and five to eight foot waves.

So I had a couple days to relax and do other activities. I took a short course at Rainbow Reef Dive Center to get my PADI Emergency Oxygen Provider certification. It was a fantastic course and I think  learned a valuable new skill that could help later if i take the rescue diver course.

I also had time to enjoy some long lunches at Skippers Dockside (formally known as Coconuts). I was finally able to have some conch chowder again, which is a dish you don’t see much in New Hampshire. It’s a little spicy so it sure hit the spot on Sunday afternoon when it was pouring rain outside.

The sign outside the men’s room made me chuckle.Mens Room Sign at Skipers Dockside Key LargoOn Tuesday afternoon I was hanging out at the hotel pool and talking to a women who told me about Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill on the bay side. She told me it was a popular place (especially on Tuesdays when ladies drink for free from 6 to 7 pm) with great sunset views. Naturally, I had to go check it out.

Wow, was it busy! I did well to find both a parking spot (after circling the lot 3 times) and a seat at the end of the bar. Much to my surprise the bartender I was talking to at Skippers Dockside at lunch was bar tending at The Big Chill that evening. Although it was too cloudy for a great sunset they did have a nice outside tiki bar and deck with a great view to the west. The band was playing a nice mix of 70’s and 80’s tunes.

Of course I was impressed with the statue of Captain Morgan. We had higher than usual waves for the rest of the week but it was manageable. During the trip I had several memorable sea life encounters and even got video footage of a few of them.

On Wednesday afternoon I was trying a new underwater video camera. It was an Intova X2 Waterproof Action Camera. It was a good first experience with the camera. I need a few more accessories like a tripod mount adapter and handle to get better video footage. However I did see a nice Queen Angelfish to watch for a few minutes.

On Thursday morning I switched back to using my GoPro Hero 3. Due to the waves and current we returned to Molasses Reef. During the dive I enjoyed watching a Porcupine Fish swim around for awhile.

On the Thursday afternoon dive we encountered a school of beautiful Yellow Jacks.

The second tank dive on Thursday afternoon was at Eagle Ray Alley. We saw three dolphins! This is the first time I had seen dolphins underwater. They swam by way to fast for me to get video footage but it was still thrilling to see them.

On Friday morning we were on Molasses Reef at a site named Aquarium. Within a few minutes after starting the dive a Nurse Shark swam right by me. This turned out to be one of my favorite video clips from the trip.

During the afternoon dive our group had special encounter with two Porcupine fish. They were swimming around like a couple on a date.

Towards the end of the dive we were lucky enough to have a Reef Shark swim by.

Saturday morning turned out to be very special. I was on a dive boat that was going to Molasses Deep for a drift dive. Soon after getting in the water I spotted a Nurse Shark swimming along the bottom. A little further on one of the guides spotted a Lion fish. Lion fish are an invasive species from the Pacific Ocean that is wrecking havoc on the food chain in Florida and the Caribbean. The guides are trained to kill them and one of them proceeded to spear it and finish it off quickly with his dive knife. The Nurse Shark must have caught a “scent” of the kill. It soon came over for a visit to check us out before swimming back to the dead Lion fish.

During the remainder of the dive we saw three sea turtles. An exciting moment occurred during our safety stop before surfacing when we spotted a large hammerhead shark swimming below us. This was the first hammerhead shark I had seen underwater.

I must say that the sunrises in Key Largo are beautiful. It’s the sun behind the cloud formations over the ocean that make it special. There were several mornings I was able to enjoy a similar sunrise to the one in the photo below.

2016 Reading List

the-sum-of-all-fears2016 was a big year for reading and re-reading Tom Clancy novels. It had been  a while since I had read his books. I was amazed all over again at Clancy’s military and espionage knowledge in addition to his story telling skills.  In some cases I had seen the movie, but not read the book. I made the assumption that the movie followed the book pretty closely. Boy, was I wrong! As usual the books were much better with far more depth.

The “campus” series featuring Jack Ryan Jr. was especially good. Clancy published The Teeth of the Tiger in 2003. He wrote the second book in the series, Dead or Alive, with Grand Blackwood. He wrote the next two books in the series with Blackwood but wrote Vector Threat with Mark Greaney. Since Clancy passed away in 2013 Blackwood and Greaney have continued his Clancy’s work by writing more stories featuring the characters Clancy created.

In February I read a wonderful non-fiction book titled, Sailing Alone Around the World by Captain Joshua Slocum. It’s the story of Slocum’s journey around the world between 1895 and 1898. I was inspired enough by the story to plot the stops on his trip on Google Maps and write a Blog article about the book.

I purchased a book by my old favorite, Alistair MacLean, named The Last Frontier. According to Wikipedia, the book was published in 1959 and was released in the US with the title, The Secret Ways. I may have even read it decades ago when I first discovered Alistair MacLean. The story took place in Budapest during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. British agent Michael Reynolds, is on a mission to just-one-damned-thing-after-anotherrescue a professor being help against his will by the Communist government.

Another great discovery in 2016 was The Chronicles of St Mary’s by Jodi Taylor. It’s a series about modern time traveling historians that go back in time to observe the past. Everything that can go wrong usually does, but somehow they make it back, more or less in one piece. You can also learn a lot about history in a fun way since the characters visit some pivotal events and battles. The stories are fun and funny most of the time, but at times the author yanked the old “heart strings” and made you feel sad.

I enjoyed a series by James L. Nelson that took place during “viking age Ireland” fin-gallabout 852 AD. Book one is titled, Fin Gall. The story follows Thorgrim Nightwolf, a raider from Norway, on his way to the “Viking longphort there, known as Dubh-Linn

I had heard the recent hit movie, The Revenant, was based on a book. I never made it to the theater to see it, but I did purchase the book. It was awesome! It is based in the true story of Rocky Mt. fur trapper Hugh Glass. Glass had survived a brutal bear attack. Fellow expedition members that were caring for him stole his weapons and abandon him to die of his wounds or at the hands of attacking Indians, whichever cam first.

Decades ago, I had enjoyed several Wilbur Smith’s novels set in Southern Africa. I discovered he has a new series of books that takes place in ancient Egypt, which is a fascinating time in history. The first book I got was titled Desert God. Taita, advisor to the Pharaoh, is on a mission to form an alliance with the king of Crete and defeat the Hyksos, who had invaded lower Egypt.

I finished the year reading another book in the series titled, The Quest. The mighty Nile river has nearly dried up and the people of Egypt are dying. Taita is sent on a mission to find the source of the Nile and discover what evil has caused the river to dry up.

  1. The Sum of All Fears – Tom Clancy
  2. Clear and Present Danger – Tom Clancy
  3. Architect of Destiny -Amy DuBoff
  4. Veil of Reality-Amy DuBoff
  5. Bonds of Resolve -Amy DuBoff
  6. The Show – John A. Heldt
  7. Sailing Alone Around the World – Joshua Slocum
  8. Command Authority – Tom Clancy and Mark Greaney
  9. The Teeth of the Tiger – Tom Clancy
  10. Dead or Alive – Tom Clancy and Grant Blackwood
  11. The Last Frontier – Alistair MacLean
  12. Locked On – Tom Clancy
  13. Threat Vector – Tom Clancy
  14. Wood’s Relic – Steven Becker
  15. Patriot Games – Tom Clancy
  16. One Damn Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary’s) – Jodi Taylor
  17. A Symphony of Echoes (The Chronicles of St Mary’s) – Jodi Taylor
  18. A Second Chance (The Chronicles of St Mary’s) – Jodi Taylor
  19. A Trail Through Time (The Chronicles of St Mary’s) – Jodi Taylor
  20. The Whalemen – Edouard A. Stackpole
  21. No Time Like the Past (The Chronicles of St Mary’s) – Jodi Taylor
  22. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (The Chronicles of St Mary’s) – Jodi Taylor
  23. Cardinal of the Kremlin – Tom Clancy
  24. Under Fire (Jack Ryan Jr. Series) – Grant Blackwood
  25. The Coral Thief – Rebecca Stott
  26. Fin Gall – James L. Nelson
  27. Dubh-linn – James L. Nelson
  28. The Lord of Vik-lo – James L. Nelson
  29. Glendalough Fair – James L. Nelson
  30. Night Wolf – James L. Nelson
  31. Total Recall – Philip K. Dick
  32. The Atlantis Gene – A..G. Riddle
  33. Wood’s Reef – Steven Becker
  34. The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge – Michael Punke
  35. Desert God – Wilbur Smith
  36. Ships and Stings and Wedding Rings – Jodi Taylor
  37. The Trespass – Scott Hunter
  38. The First Deadly Sin – Laurence Sanders
  39. Landfall – Jerry Aubin
  40. The Quest – Wilbur Smith

Winter Hike to Smarts Mt.

On November 28th our Meetup group headed up the Lambert Ridge Trail on our way to the summit of Smarts Mt. in Lyme, NH. It was overcast and foggy for most of our hike across Lambert Ridge.

We were surprised to see numerous bear tracks in the area between Lambert Ridge and the base of Smarts Mt.

bear-track-smarts-mt-hike-2016Good thing we had Microspikes since the trail was steep and icy. It was a tough climb and I was happy to reach the fire tower at the top. The great surprise of the day was the view from part way up the tower. It was so overcast and foggy on the way up I never expected such a nice view. It was a wonderful combination of snow covered trees, valley fog and interesting cloud formations.

smarts-mt-nov-26-2016-2smarts-mt-nov-26-2016-5

Return to Blueberry Mt., September 2016

On September 5th, 2016 we returned to Blueberry Mt. What a big difference from our April hike. Everything was lush and green. And we found lots of ripe blueberries!

blueberry-mt-sep-5-2016-3blueberry-mt-sep-5-2016-4This time we went past the summit and over the other side to a lookout with a view towards Mt. Moosilauke. Just off of the main trail we found a rocky area with a great view to have snack, relax and enjoy the view.  As luck would have it, our rest spot was surrounded by blueberries.blueberry-mt-sep-5-2016-12

blueberry-mt-sep-5-2016-11I put on my 300mm lens for a zoom shot of the exposed rock near the ravine.

blueberry-mt-sep-5-2016-15blueberry-mt-sep-5-2016-16The exposed “rock” looks more like loose gravel and dirt. I bet it’s a stream bed and waterfall during the spring.

We have already made plans to go back next season in early September for the blueberry feast hike.