HOME ON THE RANGE!

A lovely place to live, but make sure the burners are turned off!  Wait a minute, that’s a different kind of range.  Never mind.  I got confused, since I was thinking of the west.  (As in “Westinghouse!”)  Where was I?  Oh yeah, the range…  where the deer and the antelope play (play what?)  where seldom is heard, a discouraging word (only a few bad jokes) and the skies are not cloudy all day.  (just at night)

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED the spectacular peaks and rugged valleys of Yellowstone Park, but I was expecting to meet Jerimiah Johnson.  (or at the very least, Robert Redford!)  Well, instead of attending a “mountain man” seminar, we got to visit a genuine fake Indian village.  These native-Americans were all lawyers!  (“Sioux” Indians!)  Naturally, the poor heathens were greatly amused by my racist humor.  (We got good tickets from a “scalper!”)  Good thing we had “reservations” for dinner, because the tribal elders kept mention something about tying me to a good steak.  (Did I spell that word correctly?)

I really enjoyed ingratiating myself to my red-skinned brothers, even though we witnessed a minor tragedy.  It was a very hot day and one of the chiefs drank 30 gallons of iced tea!  (He drowned in his “tea pee!”)  I’m not sure why, but none of the braves found this joke amusing.  In fact, just before we left the res, I was given an Indian name…  (which was quite an honor)…… my Sioux name is “Dumbwhiteass,” which speaks for itself.

Anyway, one of the Indian maidens found me borderline hysterical.  She loved my animal jokes….  I told her I saw a donkey look both ways before crossing the road.  (He was a real smart ass!)   A weasel walks into a bar and the bartender asks “What can I get for you?”  “Pop,” goes the weasel.   (come on, that’s funny!)  Have you noticed that people are making apocalypse jokes like there’s no tomorrow?  (That joke went over big at the cave of St. John on Patmos last summer!)

So after barely escaping from some hostile Indians, we drove down to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which was settled in the early 1800s.  (A fitting date, since most clothing items cost about $1,800!)  Jackson Hole is a favorite watering hole for the rich and infamous, but I must admit, it was quite lovely.  If you’ve got an unlimited amount of cash (or borrow my wife’s credit card) you can participate in many fun activities….  hiking, fly fishing, rafting, horseback riding, or hot air balloons.  I went to a wine-tasting event, which was rather memorable.  (I think)  I drink a lot of wine only because my psychologist told me not to keep things bottled up.  (Hey, the guy has a bachelor’s degree, so he knows what he’s talking about.)

In case you’re wondering, I only drink wine because my relationship with whiskey is on the rocks.

Well, before I close, let me mention that I will soon be heading for the Bahamas for one of my wonderful family outings/book signings.  If you should find yourself at the Atlantis Resort next week, please look for my book table in the lobby.  (If you buy enough books I can stay longer, so please keep that in mind.)  Also, I shall add some more fascinating photos at the end of this hilarious blog, so please scroll down to view.

If we learn from our mistakes, how come I’m not a genius already?

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Love to all,

Doc Yanoff

 

 

DAYLIGHT SAVING CRIME!

Well, my friends, it’s that time of year again…  time to adjust your clocks and sundials.  In case you’re confused, I believe you’re supposed to Fall ahead and Spring backward, but I’m not positive about that.  (I’m retired, so I don’t wear a watch.)  Nonetheless, you must conform, lest you intend to oversleep tomorrow morning.  (Like me)  I would normally post a “rant” about losing one hour of the day, but I don’t want to get into any more trouble on the Internet.  Besides, I have always felt that there is a very thin line between “I should post that on Facebook” and “I should see my therapist about that.”

If memory serves, I promised to write a tad more about my recent adventures in Yellowstone National Park…  The east entrance is a reasonable drive from Cody, Wyoming.  This year the park was celebrating its 147th year (being open to the public) but I think the place is actually a few years older.  (11 or 12 million years at the very least!)  The park encompasses about 2.2 million acres, and as many of you know, it contains more geysers than any other spot on earth.  (We had a few old geysers on our bus, but they seldom “spouted off!”)  Wait a minute, make that “old geezers” not “old geysers.”

We spent 3 full days driving around the park, which has to be one of God’s most beautiful creations.  (Just behind my grand-daughters)  I loved every minute of our trip, but was often amused by some of the signs posted by the National Park Service.  One sign (written in 5 different languages!) reminded visitors to keep at least 100 yards away from grizzly bears and wolves.  No offense, but if you have to be reminded to avoid a close encounter of the edible kind, you should not be allowed to wander around a park!

Of course, there are exceptions to the above rule…  several guys from New Jersey got into a little trouble searching for wildlife.  (No, not loose women!)  They heard that there were moose and elk in the park, so they began to look for their lodge.  Silly boys.

One day, we toured an organic potato farm, which was surprisingly interesting.  (The place had a lot of “appeal”)  In fact, we got to peel a few spuds during our stop, which were then used to make vodka!  This fun stop put me in a contemplative mood, and here is my conclusion about potatoes…  Potatoes make French fries, chips, and vodka.  It’s like the other vegetables aren’t even trying.

To be perfectly honest, it would be impossible to single out any one sight in Yellowstone Park.  This place is truly a national treasure, and I would have to say it is absolutely one of the most stunningly gorgeous spots on earth.  Just as lovely as Positano or the Greek Islands, but in a different way.  Best part?  You don’t have to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to be amazed by nature.

Incidentally, one of the coolest features of Yellowstone is the enormous variety of wildlife.  While gathered around a campfire, telling tall tales, we spotted a herd of wild horses (at the McCullough Peaks Wild Horse Area) and hundreds of free-roaming bison.  If you’re lucky, you will also see a few bald eagles.  (We saw two of them, and another eagle with a toupee.)  What can I say, birds of a feather flock together.

Next time we shall head on down to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which was the last stop on our trip.  Luckily, I was drawn back to this majestic area for a wedding in Aspen, Colorado, so be prepared for more hair-raising adventures.  (Who would want to raise hair?  A barber?)  God, I’m so deep.

Well, before you depart, scroll down to the bottom of this post and take a gander at some of my Yellowstone photographs.  By the way, be careful if you take a real gander, as they have sharp beaks.  (I’m just trying to get your goose!)  All right, I know what you’re thinking, these jokes are for the birds!  Stop squawking.

Yikes, I don’t know what’s come over me this morning!  (So many bad puns!)  Well, have a great week, and please keep the following “deep thought” in mind:

“We come from dust and we shall return to dust…  which is precisely why you should never dust…  It could be someone you know!”

Take care, dear friends,

Love to all,

Doc Yanoff

 

 

 

 

 

WHY NOT WYOMING!

Well, when last we met, I was galloping through West Texas in pursuit of fame and fortune.  (Actually, I was in pursuit of a great taco and some tequila, but why quibble?)  In any case, before my Texas detour we were about to enter Cody, Wyoming, which is named after that great American showman “Buffalo Bill Cody.”   Young William, as he was known as a child, was born on February 26, 1846, in what was then “Iowa Territory.”  As many of you know, he grew up to become an army scout, pony express rider, bison hunter, Indian fighter, gold prospector, and showman.  (The poor lad obviously had trouble keeping a job.)

Mr. Cody, like yours truly, had an interesting circle of friends and associates.  Among his closest buddies were “Wild Bill” Hickok, Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane, Sitting Bull, and Civil War generals Sherman and Sheridan.  (How’d you like to have dinner with that group!)  When those folks went to a restaurant they let Chief Sitting Bull handle the “reservations.”  (Ouch!)

Most folks think of Buffalo Bill as just a showman, but since he makes an appearance in my next book, I have been doing some research about him, and I’ve discovered that he was also a civil rights activist (for Indians), a supporter of women’s rights, and an ardent conservationist.  (He was actually one of the first people to propose hunting seasons in the West.)

Cody, Wyoming, is a charming little town with much to offer.  We spent the entire afternoon at the Buffalo Bill Museum, which is one of the best museums in America.  (Fabulous gun collection!)  The town also hosts a DAILY rodeo during the summer months.  We went to the evening rodeo, and it was simply smashing.  (The bulls smashed most of the stuff.)  One cowboy got injured and taken to the hospital, but they said he was in “stable condition.”  (Ouch!)

After Cody, we saddled up our ponies and made our way across the Big Horn Mountain Pass, which is a death-defying road that goes straight up to the clouds and then veers west toward Yellowstone National Park.  The Big Horn area is almost  indescribably wild and beautiful, and when you reach the highest point, you are actually ABOVE some of the clouds!  I couldn’t even imagine how the road was built, and I would definitely not want to be around when the snow starts falling.  (There were still patches of snow on the higher peaks in July!)

More about Wyoming next week, but let’s move on to another topic….  My speaking engagement at the Lakeway Men’s Breakfast Club was a HUGE financial success.  (I found some guy’s wallet)  But seriously folks, it was another wonderful event, and I actually sold many books.  I would like to thank my good friend, Loyd Smith, for making all of the arrangements.

Next weekend is the Texas Book Festival, and once again, I will be honored with some sort of gala dinner and a new book award…..  (which I can’t detail until it becomes official)  All I can reveal for now is that my new mystery novel, CAPONE ISLAND, has been singled out for some welcomed praise.  (I need all the head-patting I can get!)  More on the award next week!

For those of you who love the American West, please scroll down when you finish reading this highly entertaining and educational blog post.  Your efforts will be rewarded with some lovely photographs of my western pilgrimage.  The photos may not be in sequence, so to speak, but they show a panoramic view of this gorgeous area, and as you will see, this is truly God’s country.

Well, I’m feeling a little “grizzly,” so I think I’ll take a shower and shave.  (My wife can’t “bear” how I look unshaven!)  I hope you all have a wonderful week.  Enjoy the photographs and remember how lucky we are to live in such a magnificent country, surrounded by so much beauty.  Un til next time, Iove to all,

Doc Yanoff, Bronco Buster

 

 

 

THE WEST IS THE BEST!

When last we met, (last Sunday) old Doc Yanoff was driving through the quaint town of Marathon, headed for the most western point of South Texas.  (And believe me, there are plenty of western points down yonder!)  Prior to our arrival in Lajitas, which is on the border, we stopped in Alpine, which is another one of those places with a name that doesn’t quite fit.  There was no snow, no ski trails, and only one or two people yodeling in public.  (Actually they were howling at the moon, but that’s almost the same thing.)

I think the name Alpine came from the town’s elevation (4,475 feet above sea level) and from the mountain peaks that surround the metropolis.  (By the way, the metropolis has about 6,000 full-time residents.)  There is also a university, a fine-looking campus known as Sul Ross State University.  (I thought it was named after Saul Ross, who owned a famous bagel shop in Brooklyn, but I was wrong.)  Mr. Ross was a Confederate States Army general during the Civil War, and also a former governor of the state.  The university is housed within 600 acres of prime real estate, and there are roughly 2,000 students, three herds of cattle, and a prairie dog.  (The unofficial school mascot)

Incidentally, Sul Ross U was the founding home of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association in 1949.  The student body reflects a great love of the rodeo life, and many of the students are bow-legged.  I didn’t see anybody with chaps, but I did spot a young coed applying chapstick.  All in all, folks seemed quite happy, if not downright giddy.  (They like to giddy-up on weekends!)

I suppose that the highlight of our adventure was a death-defying drive along the River Road, which offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the west.  The road starts in Terlingua and follows the Rio Grande River north, up to the bustling town of Presidio.  (The town wasn’t really bustling, but several cowboys were busting out of their jeans after too many plates of frijoles!)  The locals know the road as FM-170, and if you decide to take a drive, be prepared for some stunning viewpoints.

There are plenty of striking rock formations (a few of them in the road!) so drive slowly and bring a good camera.  (A first-aid kit and a Bible would also be helpful)  I’m not quite sure how to describe Presidio, but it did remind me of Roswell, New Mexico.  Very similar.  There were a few spots that looked like “Area 51,” surrounded by high, barbed wire fencing.  There were also some heavily armed military-looking individuals that supposedly worked for the Border Patrol.  (Patty thinks they were MIB agents.)  Come to think of it, she may have been right about the Men In Black.  I did hear them talking about aliens!

Well, in any case, the trip was a complete success and I will never forget the incredible beauty of West Texas.  If you travel west, have fun but NEVER answer the call of nature near a prickly cactus.  (I will explain, if you wish, through private correspondence!)

So what else is new?  Well, for those of you who crave brilliant lectures, I shall be appearing (or should I say, re-appearing) at the Lakeway Men’s Breakfast Club this coming Wednesday, September, 25.  My oration will entail a synopsis of my newest “Adam Gold Mystery,” which is titled, CAPONE ISLAND.  After a brief, but enlightening summation of the book, I will be answering some questions and then participating in a book signing.  Books will be available for purchase, or if you can distract my security detail, you can simply steal a copy.  (Stolen books will not be autographed!)

For those of you who enjoy great photography ….. try another blog.  My photos are a little lame (like my jokes) but I have nonetheless attached several shots from my recent outing.  Nobody will ever confuse me with Ansel Adams, or any other member of the Adams Family, but I have posted some of the best pictures of the trip.  (My photographic skills are still “developing.”)  So enjoy!

Have a wonderful week and smile as much as possible.  Love to all,

Doc Yanoff

 

 

 

WAY OUT WEST! (CHAPTER 1) “The Rio Grande Was Truly Grand!”

Howdy, folks, this is old Doc Yanoff reporting from Lajitas, Texas, the last stop before you cross the big river.  (That would be the Rio Grande, not the Mighty Mississippi.)  Why on earth, you might ask, have I traveled 1,000 miles to come out here?  Good question.  I have to come to the Big Bend Country to spread the gospel of Adam Gold (i.e., sell some books) and see this marvelous area for myself.  (Believe it or not, this is my first trip to the Big Bend National Park!)  Well, it took a while to get here (50 years) but it was worth the trip.  This part of Texas is simply M-A-G-N-I-F-I-C-E-N-T!  Truly some of the most stunning scenery on earth.

We left Austin on a Sunday and traveled northwest, through the charming city of Fredericksburg, which is now surrounded by an assortment of Hill Country wineries.  (Yeah, we were forced to do a couple of “taste-testings.”)  Then it was due west (via Interstate 10) to Fort Stockton, where we participated in another round of wine tasting and enjoyed a gourmet picnic with some distinguished local authors.  I might have consumed a tad too much vino, but you know what they say…  good judgment comes from experience.  And experience?  Well, that comes from poor judgment!

After we sobered up (and had a good night’s sleep) we turned south and drove on a VERY deserted road to the quaint western town of Marathon.  (The name doesn’t quite fit, since nobody runs down there.  Too hot.)  After lunch we toured the famous Gage Hotel, the gem of Brewster County.  (Brewster is the largest county in Texas, which is still the largest state.  If you don’t count ice and snow.)

This grand hotel (see photos below) was built by Alfred Gage, a young man from Vermont, who at the age of 18, arrived in Texas with little more than a twenty-dollar gold piece in his pocket to become a rancher.  (In 1878)  Over the span of several decades, Mr. Gage amassed a ranching empire of over 500,000 acres, and almost died mowing the lawn on Sundays.  (Just kidding about the lawn)  I am the most famous writer to have ever visited the hotel, but another guy named Zane Grey also stayed there.  As did Gutzon Borglum, the Mount Rushmore sculptor.

After touring the semi-deserted town of Marathon, we drove further south, spending several hours on Highway 385, which leads to Big Bend National Park and then to Terlingua, which bills itself as “The Chili Capital of the World.”   (Another strange name, since it is NEVER chilly in Terlingua!)  Naturally we had to visit the ghost town, which was really an old mining camp, and we were also compelled to dine at the Starlight Theatre, the town’s most famous dining venue.  (The Starlight was fun to visit, and they make a fine bowl of chili and a marvelous prickly pear margarita.)  Beware of drinking too many margaritas, or you might become a little prickly yourself!

The remainder of our adventure was spent at a lovely place called the Lajitas Golf Resort, which is further west.  (On the border of the Rio Grande.)  The golf course is known as “Blackjack’s Crossing,” because this is the very spot where General “Black Jack” Pershing crossed the river to pursue Jose Doroteo Arango Arambula, better known as “Pancho” Villa.  Mr. P, as his comrades called him, was never caught by the U.S. Army, which chased him and his band of outlaws for nine months.  Thus, I thought I would try to find the illusive bandido!

With the help of my trusted companion, Mr. Shawn Dunham, a rather famous cowboy-veteran, we rode into the Chihuahuan Desert to pick up the outlaw’s trail.  (Shawn was also a professional rodeo bull-rider, so he was used to being around my type of bull!)  We did not pick up the desperado’s trail, but we did pick up some garbage left by inconsiderate campers.  I was also shown the natural rock pen where Pancho Villa kept a string of reserve horses.  (He would change his mount then make a mad dash to Mexico when he was being pursued by the U.S. cavalry.)

All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend the morning, and as many of you know, I am an accomplished equestrian.  (My main accomplishment is not falling off!)  Shawn Dunham was a great guide (and a fascinating man) so if you’re ever down in Lajitas you should look him up and book a trail ride.  You will learn a lot and have a memorable experience.  (You can check him out @ http://www.shawndunham.com)  Oh, and one other thing, don’t forget to thank him for his service to our country.  (As in two tours of Iraq!)

Just between you and me, I wanted to ride bare back, but Shawn asked me to keep my shirt on.  (I guess he didn’t want to scare the coyotes!)

I will share the remainder of my great western adventure next Sunday, so please set your clocks accordingly.  In the meantime, what else is new?  Well, I am happy to report that my new mystery novel, CAPONE ISLAND, will be prominently featured at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany in October.  The book was recently chosen as one of the “Outstanding Mysteries of the Year,” and I’m quite excited to receive so much exposure.  (The Frankfurt fair attracts about 300,000 visitors each year!)  Dankeschon, my friends and supporters!

Well, that’s all for now…  my strudel is getting cold.  Have a safe and successful week and please remember to roll with the punches… Some days you’re the pigeon;  other days you’re the statue.  (There’s a lovely thought!)

Love to all,

Doc Yanoff                      *******PHOTOGRAPHS ATTACHED*******

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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HOW THE WEST WAS WON…

Frankly, I didn’t know it had been lost, but I’m happy to report that the lovely states of South Dakota and Wyoming have decided to remain in the Union.  (After my recent visit, I wasn’t so sure.  Too many bad buffalo jokes!)  Nevertheless, I am now back in Austin and enjoying my recollections of my great Yellowstone adventure.  Our Western Book Tour/National Monument Trip was a huge success, and we met a large number of wonderful folks from across the country.  (And gained some great new blog followers!)  As I’ve frequently said, you meet the nicest people while traveling.

Our particular guided tour was called “Legends of the American West,” and was sponsored by Tauck Tours.  When I first read the name of our tour, I assumed it was referring to me, but they were actually referring to some of the national monuments we visited.  (Oh well)  We began our western trek in Rapid City, South Dakota… and then went to Mt. Rushmore.  Those names scared me a little,  being the type of fellow who likes to take it slow and easy.  (Fortunately nobody in South Dakota moved rapidly and nobody rushed more either.)

The slowest gent in the state is the poor guy that’s been carving the Crazy Horse sculpture for the last two thousand years.  (Or so it seems)  The poor chief is barely recognizable, but the sculptors are determined to finish the monument some time this century.  The project began under a chisler named Korczak Ziolkowski (real name) but has since been taken over by his son, “Korczak the Magnificent,” who is a “chip off the old block.”

Like everything else in America, the project, though well-intentioned, has produced some heated controversy.  Apparently, Crazy Horse was never photographed and deliberately buried where his grave would never be found…  consequently nobody knows what the old boy actually looked like!  (Thus, carving his image becomes pure speculation, and subject to cultural interpretation.  See where this is going?)  Some folks have, dare I say, “reservations,” about the entire project, but that’s life.

Incidentally, I posted a short video of our group being surrounded by a herd of bison a while back.  (Have you herd of bison?)  All right, no more buffalo jokes.  In any case, there were two other bison “charges” in the last few weeks, and you can watch them by Googling “Bison Attacks in Yellowstone Park.”  Luckily, nobody has been injured or killed.  (But one of the poor tourists sustained some major damage to his rental car.)  The poor tourist should have rented a Mustang, then he could have out-run the buffalo!  (All right, now I’m really through with those buffalo jokes!)

As I mentioned in a previous post, Mount Rushmore contains the stone images of four American presidents…  Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lincoln.  The main sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, chose these gents based upon their importance to American history and the great outdoors.  If you study the photographs at the bottom of this post, you will notice that there is actually room for two more images….. so, let’s have some fun…. send me an email and let me know which two American presidents you would add to the mountain.  (Let’s assume that we are required by law to add two more images.  Who would you choose?)  I shall publish the results of this stimulating poll on a future blog…. so vote early and vote often, as they say in Chicago!

So what on earth is new besides the American West?  Well, for those of you who have been following my brilliant literary career, you might have seen the most recent review of my last “Adam Gold Mystery,” which is titled, CAPONE ISLAND.  If you haven’t read this review, don’t fret.  I shall attach the complete review at the end of this blog.  Please memorize the salient points of this glowing synopsis, and share with a few hundred of your closest friends.  (My accountant, Jesse James Lipschitz, will be very happy if we increase book sales.)

By the way, CAPONE ISLAND has recently been nominated for several prominent book awards, so keep your fingers and toes crossed for me!  If I win any loot, I will give you a cut.  (No money, just a cut)

Well, time to leave, as today happens to be my daughter’s birthday (Miss Rebecca) and we are having a pool party in her honor.  It’s sort of a surprise party.  (We don’t have a pool)  But seriously folks, there is much to do, and I am running far behind schedule.  (I really need to stop sampling the tequila punch!)  I do hope that you all have a safe and superb week, and we shall meet again in the near future.

Until then, love to all…..

Doc Yanoff