Tag Archives: New York

NaNoWriMo – The Mona Lisa Sisters

Not long ago I asked for help in developing an idea for the 50,000-word project I intend to complete in November for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). http://www.nanowrimo.org

Help has not been forthcoming.

Monday at Julaina Kleist’s Polish Your Writing class, Julaina gave us an in-class assignment. She passed out copies of different photographs to groups of two or three. Emily and I were handed the below picture.

Mona Lisa Girls

Our assignment, write an elevator pitch of twenty-five words or less. We came up with several pitches, none destined for fame.

While other students read theirs aloud, my mind began sketching out my entry for NaNoWriMo. After class, I went home and spent six or seven hours researching the story line. I DID NOT WRITE. I hope I didn‘t violate the rules.

Before I left class, I knew my story would be unlike anything I have ever attempted. Set in 1894, it is from the point of view of a twenty-eight year old widow. I will change the girls’ dresses into the appropriate design for the time.

Walking Suites 1894

I found a half dozen or so photographs and drawings. With the collection of samples, I can see the two girls, and my protagonist, Lura Grisham Myer. My problem is I can’t for the life of me describe women’s clothing. I could use some help. (Hint, Hint).

The story begins in New York several months before Lura comes across Mary Margaret and Ada Mae Dean viewing the Mona Lisa at The Louvre in Paris.

New York Cabs 1890

Cabs will play an important role in New York City.

SS La Touraine

Lura will travel to France on the SS La Touraine as a First Class Passenger. It is an entirely different ship when she is forced to return to New York as a Second Class Passenger with two young girls in tow.

I have several photographs and drawings that play various roles in the developing story line. I won’t share them with you now. It would give away the story line that will undoubtedly change as my characters journey from New York to Paris, and back. Look for an interesting trip for Lura and the girls. There might even be a mysterious stranger lurking in the background.


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Father’s Day on the Road

Father’s Day started at 8:50 a.m. when we left Glacier National Park – East Gate. It was cold and we dressed light. I was wearing 5-11 Cotton Cargo pants and a sweatshirt over a T-Shirt. 40º at 60 – 70 MPH is colder than I like.

The ride from East Gate to West Gate is 55 miles of glorious scenery. US 2 skirts the south side of Glacier National Park. This ride just gets better and better.

2013-06-16 07.54.04

Snow covered mountains stood to the north for most of the way. During the hour long ride to West Gate, we saw 20+ oncoming motorcyclists.

Biker welcoming curves enhanced the ride. There were no unfriendly curves.

2013-06-16 08.10.07

Last year when we ate breakfast at the West Glacier Village Restaurant, we met two Russian couples who were riding from the West Coast to New York. They were interesting. We decided to eat there again.

After breakfast we had fifty of the most boring miles of the entire trip. Within miles of West Gate, the scenery took a holiday. We had no scenery but plenty of traffic. The ride to Kalispell was just plain boring.

Ten miles west of Kalispell the great Montana countryside returned, as did the heat. Within an hour I was down to a T-Shirt and sans gloves.

Father’s Day riders were everywhere. After a hundred on-coming bikes, I lost count. During the ride, I estimated over two-hundred bikes. The next day the count for the day was probably around fifty.

We began the day in Montana and ended at Newport, Idaho. It was only a 290 mile day, but we were tired. We were in bed by 8:30 p.m.


Filed under Motorcycle


After a good night’s sleep we woke to find that it had rained. The Harleys were covered with water. The sky exhibited all the signs of a storm passing through, but the clouds were breaking up. After an in-depth debate (5 seconds) we decided, It’s not gonna rain, but we need warm clothes.

Gateway Inn 6.13.12

In hindsight, the sky looks like rain.

The lady working the motel office was a font of knowledge. “Did you know that Grangeville is the largest city in Idaho County?”

I gave an intelligent response, “Oh.”

“Yes, we are and do you know how many traffic lights we have?”

I was at a loss but made a valiant try, “I saw a flashing yellow light.”

“It doesn’t always flash, and there is one more. We have two traffic lights.”

I’m not sure what value this knowledge holds for me, but as Walter Cronkite used to say, “And now you know.”

We left Grangeville for Missoula at nine. Six miles later I spotted a D.E.E.R. A doe was standing about ten feet off to the left of the roadway.

After Grangeville

We climbed from the valley floor to this beautiful stop on Idaho 13 midway between Grangeville and Kooskia.

We stopped in Kooskia for breakfast. After breakfast we gassed up for $3.91, the cheapest gas we have purchased so far. I think it is because we were on the Nez Perce Reservation.

Kooskia is located in the Clear Water Valley. I asked the server, “What’s the name of the river?”

Her answer had Jim and me laughing. “I don’t know.” She turned to another patron, “Bill, what’s the name of the river?”

His answer, “It’s the Clear Water River.”

Now she was laughing, “I just moved here in February.”

I ordered one pancake, eggs, bacon, and decaf. It seems that no one drinks decaf coffee in Kooskia. She brought me a packet of instant decaf and a pot of hot water. I decided on regular coffee. By the way, the pancake was the largest pancake I’ve ever seen

While waiting I used the bathroom. It held a surprise. When I needed a paper product, I found the dispenser empty. I tried calling Jim on my iPhone for help, but there was no service. In desperation, I looked out in the hallway. There was no one in sight. Holding my trousers up, I rushed to the woman’s room.

When I returned to the dining room, a man passed me headed to the facility. I told the server the problem and that another man was on his way. She blushed, hurried away and came back with the largest roll of T-P I’ve ever seen. I offered to carry it for her. She thanked me and away I went on my errand of mercy.

After breakfast we took a short break.

Jims Saloon

Jim felt right at home. The owner told us, “Be careful, you’ll run into road repair about ten miles up the road.”

Leaving town, we crossed the Clear Water River and turned off Idaho 13 and on to Idaho 12. Idaho 12 was another great ride. Within a few miles we saw a yellow warning sign. It advised us that we had 99 miles of windy road. It was true, wonderfully true.

Ten miles later we ran into Road Repair and stopped. I heard a loud voice. “What Blue Knight Chapter?” I looked behind and spotted a couple on a BMW. The driver, said, “What BK Chapter do you belong to?”

I was at a loss for a moment until I remembered that I had a Blue Knight License Plate Frame.

The rider said he had retired from the California Highway Patrol – San Diego office. Jim asked him, “Where you headed?”

“Deadwood, there is a big California-Texas Blue Knight get-together.”

After Kooskia

This picture is indicative of what we experience over the 99 miles of windy road along the Lochsa Wild and Scenic River. It was just another day in paradise. Well almost. Taking a close look at the roadway will show that it is wet. We stopped, unpacked all our stuff, and pulled out the rain gear. I hadn’t worn mine in a couple of years. It seems that someone removed some material, the pants don’t zip up and the buttons don’t reach the button holes.

Jim wanted to stop at a comfort station. Idaho places them along the road but do not mark them nor do they have signage telling you one is ahead. You have to guess. Jim guessed a few times before we found one.

One of those times, he was coming back onto the roadway when he dropped his Ultra in the traffic lane. There was very little traffic on the highway, except we had just pulled away from several vehicles at a road work stop.

I saw him go down in my rear-view mirror. Before I got back to him, three or four vehicles had stopped. The first arrived while he was still lying in the road. With the help of one of those who stopped we got his bike back up. I was in such a hurry to help him that I didn’t even get a picture. Jim’s comment when I told him, “If there ain’t a picture, it didn’t happen.”

It rained until we got to Missoula. At the first stop light, the rain was replaced with warm sunlight.

Our first stop was Grizzly Harley-Davidson where we purchased two much-needed shirts.

While I was pulling out of the parking lot, I saw two motorcycles parked in the lot. They had passed us earlier in the day, and we had passed them about fifty miles back down Idaho 13.


As I went by I noticed the bikes had New York license plates. Then I noticed the green flag. I saw two things, “Hart Comfort Home” and “Wellsville”. I know that the Hart Comfort Home is an outstanding asset to the families of those suffering a terminal illness. My knowledge comes from my wife, Cathy Dean Cramer, and all my Dean in-laws. Cathy was born in the Village of Wellsville.

I stopped my bike behind the two motorcycles and went back inside the store. I found two real gents, Jim Smith and Rob Warboys. Both had flags, but Rob’s came apart. They rode to the west coast and are now on their way to Glacier National Park and then on to US 2 and across the top of the states back to Wellsville.

Not only are they riding, they are raising money for the Hart Comfort Home in Wellsville. You can check it out at http://www.comforthouseofalleganycounty.org.

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