Saturday, February 17, 2018

TV Review, Globe Trekker's Tough Boats: The Nile, Egypt

Holly Morris from Globe Trekker

I am home with a cold this Presidents' Day weekend.  Flipping through the channels, I found Globe Trekker featuring Tough Boats: The Nile, Egpyt on WETA UK.  From the Globe Trekkers website (link):

Holly Morris travels back in time to explore some of the most spectacular ancient Egyptian tombs and temples along the banks of the river Nile in Egypt.

Back in 2004, I had the good fortune to travel from Luxor to Aswan on a modern "cruise" ship (not as grand as those floating around the Caribbean).  Holly's tourney is the reserve from Aswan to Luxor.  The program had already started, so I caught her in Kom Ombo.  I borrow a map from to  illustrate the Nile River cruises:

Holly mentioned taking a felluca (wooden sailing boat) from Aswan to Kom Ombo.  Again from Globe Trekkers,

Holly’s next stop is the magnificent temple at Kom Ombo, dedicated to the ancient Egyptian crocodile god, Sobek. Sacred crocodiles were once worshipped in the temple, and the temple’s museum contains over 20 mummified crocodiles that were found buried nearby.

When I visited the Kom Ombo, the temple kept live crocodiles in a pen to honor its history.

File:Flickr - archer10 (Dennis) - Egypt-5B-040 - Komombo Temple.jpg
Kom Ombo Temple
Image by  Dennis Jarvis (link)

Upon leaving Kom Ombo, Holly noted that most tourists travel the Nile by "cruise liners", but she hopped about a 1920s steam ship The Sudan (link). Her cabin included a king size poster bed.  My cabin on the "cruise liner" was the size of a king size poser bed.  Indeed, The Sudan represents the golden age of glamorous travel ala Agatha Christie's DEATH ON THE NILE.

The Sudan docked in Edfu, where Holly took a horse carriage to the Temple of Edfu.  Dedicated to Horus, the falcon headed god, it stands out as the best preserved temple in Egypt. Construction began on August 23, 237 (how do they know the exact date?) only to be discovered from its sand burial by Auguste Mariette in 1860.  Holly noted the lack of tourists did not detract the Egyptian government from posting armed guards at its historical sights.  Indeed, we spotted numerous armed guards in 2004.

When my tour group rode the horse carriage from the dock to the temple, we noticed that almost every modern home had a copier machine on the front porch - perhaps Edfu was the Xerox Capital of Egypt.  I no idea why. Most of the Egyptians walking the street also had cell phones; we chalked this up to the lack of infrastructure for landlines.  

Edfu Temple
Image by Ad Meskens (link)

For Holly, The Sudan pulled into its final port - Luxor.  She shared her visit to the Temple of Luxor along the Nile and the Tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings.  

Remember that my group started our cruise in Luxor, giving us time to see all the sights in the ancient city of Thebes:

- Colossi of Memnon, the memorial temple of Amenophis III
- Karnak Temple, reminding me of James Bond in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME
- Hatshepsut Temple, the resting place of the Queen who would be King

Our guide suggested we say "Hot-Chicken-Soup" fast if we could not pronounce her name.

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Hatshepsut's Temple
Image by Nowic (link)

Also remember that my group ended in Aswan, where we took a three hour bus trip (one way through the desert) to see the Abu Simbel Temples. Although they stood proud on the Nubian border since 1264 BC, the temples would have been flooded with the construction of the Aswan High Dam in modern time. In 1964, an international group of archaeologists dismantled and moved the temples 65 meters higher and 200 meters father from the Nile River.  Four countries who participated in this effort received smaller temples that would have been flooded. The Temple of Dendur now sits proudly in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. 

Drawing of the Temple of Dendur
Public Domain (link)

Let me tell you - the three hour drive (one way) was worth the trip. Tourists visit Abu Simbel in a caravan of buses which leave Aswan at 6 am with armed guards. We arrived just after 9 am and had only 3 hours to tour the site. We loaded back onto the buses for our caravan back to Aswan. Our bus broke down, requiring us to crowd onto another bus - who wants to be stuck in the desert? 

Putting Ramses together again at Abu Simbel
Public Domain (link)

Holly's adventure ended in Luxor ... but my tour took the overnight train to Cairo. We sat in "first class" car with Western style seats. The restroom was a hole in the floor. Our guide warned us there was no "food car" so we raided the snack shack at the train station before our departure. Sometime during the night, I awoke to see a Bedouin walk through our car with his weapons strapped to his back. 

The Sphinx in 1878 during the the Big Dig
Library of Congress (link

Once we arrived in Cairo, we toured the Pyramids at Giza, the Sphinx, and the Cairo Museum with King Tut's stuff. We ended the day at the Hard Rock Cafe ... we just wanted an American meal!

As Holly shared on Globe Trekkers, Egypt was magical. I would return to the land of the Pharaohs.

Have you visited someplace exotic ... in your neck of the woods or overseas?  One randomly selected commenter wins book swag from my romance conventions.  Comments are open through Wednesday, February 28, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Thursday, March 1.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

The Pyramids at Giza
Public Domain (link

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Aloha to the RWA in Denver ... and sightseeing opportunities in Colorado Springs

RWA2018 Logo

Registration is now underway for the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Annual Conference, July 18-21, in Denver, Colorado (link).  I look forward to hobnobbing with those creative personalities who bring humor and warmth into my life through the pages of their books.

My family is heading out on Saturday, July 14, for pre-conference sightseeing in Colorado Springs.  Colorado Springs is an hour's drive south of Denver, brimming over with Mother Nature's own majestic beauty:

Garden of the Gods - From its website (link),

Explore Colorado Springs' paradise in one magical stop. Garden of the Gods Park is a registered National Natural Landmark. Imagine dramatic views, 300' towering sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak and brilliant blue skies. 

Admission is free and the beauty is unlimited. 

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Manitou Springs - From its website (link),

“Manitou,” a Native American word for “ great spirit,” describes this beautiful mountain community. Eight naturally carbonated mineral spring fountains, located throughout this historic town, run free for all who wish to enjoy their healing benefits.

Manitou Springs is a vibrant artisan community, home to world class art, music, theater, and sidewalk sculpture displays. Manitou springs is also home to internationally famous historic restaurants as well as many favorite neighborhood dining establishments. 

Manitou Springs is the home of Miramont Castle (link).

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Pike's Peak - From its website (link),

The most visited mountain in North America and the second most visited mountain in the world behind Japan's Mount Fuji, Pikes Peak forms a stunning backdrop for Colorado Springs and the Garden of the Gods. At an altitude of 14,115 feet above sea level, Pikes Peak is the 31st highest peak out of 54 Colorado peaks. It is the farthest east of the big peaks in the Rocky Mountain chain, which contributed to its early fame among explorers, pioneers and immigrants and made it the symbol of the 1859 Gold Rush to Colorado with the slogan, "Pikes Peak or Bust".

The easiest way to reach Pike's Peak is the Cog Railway (link),

This 3 hour and 10 minute trip spans over 8.9 miles of track. The first third of the trip is along Ruxton Creek in Englemann Canyon. Right near the Minnehaha switch, where the down bound trains pass the up bound trains on many trips, is Minnehaha Falls.

Once we climb above timberline, the views become more expansive. Here passengers frequently see yellow-bellied marmots and Bighorn sheep.  The last 3 miles of the trip are all above timberline. 

Upon arrival at the "peak" station, travelers will marvel at the beauty in all directions.  The Summitt House offers coffee, hot chocolate, and "high altitude" donuts plus restrooms and souvenirs.

Aspen Peak

United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) - From its website (link),

The Barry Goldwater Air Force Academy Visitor Center serves as the gateway to the United States Air Force Academy for hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. The center provides information on Academy history, cadet life and campus attractions.

From the visitors' center, tourists can take a self guided tour along the Nature Trail to the iconic Chapel. From the chapel, you will see the cadets' "quad" and other static displays honoring pioneers in aviation.

USAFA is free and open to the public.

If you are attending RWA and interested in joining me for pre-conference sightseeing in Colorado Springs, please contact me by email at

I am giving away swag to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about Colorado - have you visited the Centennial State?  If not, what do you now about the 38th State?

2.  Comments are open through Wednesday, February 28, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Thursday, March 1.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City
Image result for pikes peak

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Aloha to Kate Collins and MUM'S THE WORD (Flower Shop Mystery Series)

Can you believe it is February?  Even if  Punxsutawney Phil predicted more weather, we can enjoy "warmth" through books!  I discovered another cozy mystery series - MUM'S THE WORD:

I don't meddle, honest! But can I help it if my nose for injustice is as keen as my green thumb? Now I, Abby Knight, law school dropout, am the proud new owner of Bloomers, my hometown flower shop. I'm devoted to making my business grow, but I'm no shrinking violet if someone needs my help to right a wrong - even if that person is already dead...


So maybe Abby's life isn't the bed of roses she was hoping it would be. She adores her job, but a new low-cost competitor is killing her profits - and a black SUV just rammed her vintage Corvette in a hit-and-run. Determined to track down the driver, she accepts the help of hunky ex-cop Marco Salvare. But their budding relationship is threatened when the trail turns deadly. Now Abby is caught in a tangle of menacing phone calls, police corruption, and murderous road rage. If she's not careful, the next flower arrangement might be for her own funeral...

File:Chrysanthemum x morifolium Dompierre 3.jpg
Image by Jebulon
Creative Commons (link)

“Where flowers bloom so does hope.” - Lady Bird Johnson

Abby is just looking for some hope after dropping out of law school and breaking up with her fiance.  She sees hope in a downtown flower shop which she buys from the owner ... and hires the owner back to ensure the business succeeds.  No sooner do they learn a "big box" garden center is undercutting their profit, a black clad young man backs into her vintage Corvette.  Abby is not a wilting flower, so she decides to hunt for the perp, only to find herself immersed into a murder mystery.

Kate Collins creates a "down home" heroine with Abby, who may be not be perfect, but she is perky enough to rise above her run of bad luck.  It is easy to laugh with and cheer for Abby as she pokes her nose into police business while delivering rose bouquets to the prosecutor's office.  The secondary characters add an extra dimension for the chaos to follow.   MUM'S THE WORD was published in 2004 ... and 18 novels followed, including YEWS WITH CAUTION in May 2017.  I look forward to reading this series.

Learn more about Kate and her book at  She is a graduate of Purdue University - my husband's alma mater!

Image result for sos aloha flowers

Let's giveaway some "spring" swag to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  What's your favorite flower?  Did you expect any other question?

Mine is the Bird of Paradise ... found in Hawaii!

2.  Comments are open through Wednesday, February 28, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Friday, March 2.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Image result for aloha on my mind bird of paradise