Wicked Wednesday–The Best Trip

One thing the Wickeds have in common–we love to travel. Planes, trains, airplanes, and ships. I know it’s like choosing your favorite child, but give it up Wickeds–best trip evah. Give us a description that will make us drool with envy.

And there it is....General Sherman Tree himself. One giant tree.

Edith: I have traveled extensively, and have lived abroad in some pretty unusual places (can you say Ougadougou?). But if I have to pick one best trip, it would be taking my sons, 18 and 21 at the time, to Sequoia National National Park where I grew up camping every summer with my parents and siblings. The air is clear and pungent with evergreens. The giant Sequoias are majestic and drop dead gorgeous. The trails we used to hike on, the snow-melt creek we swam in, the night sky alit with zillions of stars in their constellations – I got to share it all with my children. And they loved it.

Liz: Barb, visiting you in Key West is right up there! But I have to go with London. It’s such a cool place, and I felt really at home there. Over the course of two visits last year, I did a Jack the Ripper tour – which was awesomely creepy! – and ate amazing Indian food, visited a boat-turned-bookstore parked in a channel and manned by a sweet dog, spent a lot of time in Neal’s Yarde at bookstores and organic shops, and took the tube everywhere. It’s nice to visit with a local, too, so you get to do different things. I really loved it.

Sherry: It’s so hard to choose, but I have to agree with Liz about London. We went a few years ago and it was a dream vacation. London was everything I hoped for and more. I almost wept when I was in Westminster Abbey. So much history! We also spent a fun day in Paris.

Jessie: I agree with Sherry! It is really tough to choose! I cannot decide between a trip IIMG_0007 took to Iceland in 2016 for the Iceland Noir conference or the visit I had with my son in Scotland and England last spring. I loved Iceland for the wind and the terrain and the lilt
of the language. I adored wandering through the streets and tow paths of Oxford, the alleys of London and Edinburgh, the twisting roads of Thame and the shoreline of St. Andrews..

Our window

Barb: I asked this question but it was almost impossible to decide. My husband, daughter and I had a wonderful trip down memory lane discussing which one to choose. I’m going with our 2014 trip to Paris. A friend of ours does an apartment swap every summer and couldn’t use the last two and a half weeks, so Bill and I took it. The apartment was a beautiful, huge place with views of the Musee D’Orsay and the Seine. Everyone said August would be awful, but the weather was perfect and Parisians have system of rotating vacations so every neighborhood has an open boulangerie, patisserie and grocery. We spent long days wandering through the city, and tracking down offbeat attractions. We loved it!

JAH Camel Ride 3-23-2010 11-23-30 AMJulie: I love to travel, both in the US and abroad. I’ve taken a couple of river cruises which were wonderful, but I have to say that my 2010 adventure is my favorite memory. I had always dreamed of going to Egypt, and I finally got a chance with a group of folks from Harvard. We had an Egyptologist traveling with us, and had regular lectures. There aren’t many folks who you can climb into a tomb with, and happily sit for forty-five minutes while the details of the space arJAH at the Great Pyramid 3-21-2010 1-55-35 AM 3-21-2010 1-55-35 AMe explained in great detail. One of the highlights was a three day cruise down the Nile. One of the best prep books I read was Barbara Mertz’s Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt. As Elizabeth Peters, her Amelia Peabody series is one of my favorites, and I thought about them while I was there. I’ve had other wonderful trips, but Egypt was a dream come true.

Readers: Tell us about your best trip–where did you go and why was it the best?


By Sherry

I wrote a post before the horrible, brutal attacks in Paris and Lebanon. As the world is still stunned by the senseless killing of innocent people, it makes us, as writers of mysteries, think again about what we do and why. We write and read cozies because, at day’s end, these stories restore the world to right, justice is served, and people are safe. Je Suis Paris.

Instead of the post I wrote I’m sharing photos I’ve taken over the years. I hope you enjoy them and are reminded that there is much beauty in the world. Readers: I’d love to hear about a place that makes you happy.

The hydrangeas in my yard.


Jacksonville Beach, Florida



St. ThomasIMG_0291


Jefferson MemorialIMG_1935




Bedford Farms, Bedford MassachusettsIMG_4234


Notre DameIMG_3056


Fall, Northern VirginiaIMG_5999


Rockport, Massachusettssorority reunion 052


St. MartinIMG_0171




Town common, Bedford, MassachusettsIMG_4157


Jacksonville Beach, FLIMG_2265


Spring in my neighborhoodIMG_2023


The Old North Bridge, Concord, MAIMG_3756


Monterey, CaliforniaIMG_4160


Rockport, Massachusetts IMG_2952_2


Sea glass Monterey, CaliforniaIMG_4382_2


Dayton, Ohiome&chris

Monterey, California

IMG_4453_2And finally a photo by photographer Meg Manion Silliker.


One Memorable Moment

Edith here, on the penultimate day of the year!calendar

Wickeds, tell us one memorable moment from 2014 that is NOT writing related.

Edith: I’ll start. On my California trip in March, I spent a few days with my last remaining uncle, San Francisco author Richard Reinhardt. I have
Dick2014adored this man my entire life. His dear wife Jo, my father’s sister, passed away several years ago at age 82 after nearly sixty happy years of marriage to Dick. And now, despite still missing Jo deeply, he has found love again in the person of Judy, with whom he worked on John Kennedy’s presidential campaign many decades earlier. I was delighted to see them both happy, bantering together, cooking together, and enjoying each other’s company in their mid-eighties. Life goes on for them in the best of ways. And I even got to go to his birthday party!

IMG_1796Sherry: What a lovely story, Edith! I had to sort through a lot of events to come up with one. But it has to be my ride along with the Fairfax County Police Department. We did a bit of everything from the mundane — going to court and sitting at a non-injury accident waiting for a tow truck to show up. To the exciting — responding to alarms, pulling people over, teens with pot, helping who I call “the crying girl”, and heading down the road with lights and sirens blaring to help look for a stolen car. My respect for the dangers the police face with every stop multiplied that night.

Liz: Can I share two? They’re kind of related…First, my surprise 40th birthday party wasLiz Bday definitely the highlight of my year, full of fabulous family and friends.

And to continue with my birthday celebration, we finally got to visit the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, which was amazing. Full of rescued farm animals, this place is a fabulous experience for people to really get to know farm animals and see how very sweet and grateful they are. We got Woodstockto pet the goats, talk to the chickens, hug turkeys and hang out with sheep. Highly recommend!

Barb: This is hard. One highlight of my year was our two and a half weeks in Paris this August. Thanks to a friend, we stayed in a gorgeous apartment right behind the plaza of the Musee D’Orsay with a view of the Seine and the Tuileries. It was the best vacation evah, both a great sight-seeing trip and a relaxing time. It’s not often you achieve that combination. Plus, Paris.

Julie: As I write this as I’ve had a brief but wonderful visit with both sisters, my parents, my brothers-in-law, and the nieces and nephews. Honestly, hard to top sitting around playing Uno and laughing with some of the people I love most in the world. My blessings are many.

Dear Readers: Please chime in with yours, too.

Murder on the Orient Express

by Barb, who is home in Boston after two and a half blissful weeks in Paris

orient2I was excited last week when Julie posted her blog about one of the greats, Agatha Christie. There was even a bit of a discussion in the comments on that blog of Murder on the Orient Express.

I’m a long time Christie lover. Hers were the books I moved to when I outgrew the Nancy Drews. To me, they will always evoke rainy days at my grandparents’ summer home in Watermill, Long Island, when you could lay around all day and read an entire book. That same grandmother took me to see Margaret Rutherford in Murder She Said, when I was nine. Scared the bejesus out of me.

orient4So when I heard the Museum of the Arab World was having an exhibit of the Orient Express rail cars while I was in Paris, I was all over it.

The Orient Express was a lot of trains and a lot of routes, but the best known was Paris to Istanbul. It was started in 1883 and ran until 1977. There is currently a privately owned train of the same name that runs from Paris to Venice and makes an Istanbul run once a year.

orient6orient10Service was suspended during both world wars, and reached it’s zenith in the 1930s. Christie took the train many times to visit her husband while he was on archaeological digs in the middle east. Once she was briefly stranded due to flooding that washed out the tracks.

For her famous novel, Christie combined two current events. One was the infamous kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. The other was an incident where the Orient Express was snowbound for six days in Turkey during a blizzard. The European press reported on this breathlessly and daily, so I guess CNN’s wall-to-wall coverage of crippled cruise ships is nothing new. Christie wrote the book in a hotel room in Istanbul.

The exhibit consisted of the rail cars, engine, lounge, dining car and sleeper, as well as materials related to the famous passage. Passengers were honored–both real ones like Josephine Baker and Mata Hari, and fictional ones like Hercule Poirot and James Bond.

Bill and I had great fun at the exhibit. It almost felt like being there.


The Lalique insets in the bar car.

The Lalique insets in the bar car.



Ms. Christie's hat and coat

Ms. Christie’s hat and coat

 What do you think readers? Do you love or hate the book or one of the movie versions? Any memorable train trips?



A Lesson in Bartering on Portobello Road

By Sherry Harris

From Northern Virginia where the weather has more twists and turns than Lombard Street in San Francisco

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

IMG_2539I’m not a big fan of bucket lists but as a garage sale enthusiast there are events I want to attend. The World’s Longest Yard Sale is held every year in August. It follows Route 127 for 690 miles, beginning 5 miles north of Addison, Michigan and ending in Gadsen, Alabama. Portobello Road market is in London and Marche aux Puces de St-Ouen is outside of Paris.

IMG_2543Last spring I finally made it to Portobello Road with my family and my daughter’s roommate in tow. It was packed with people, vendors and food stands — everything I dreamed it would be. As we squeezed through the crowds of people, we heard many different languages. Lots of people shared my enthusiasm for Portobello Road.

My daughter loves elephants and as we visited the various booths we kept an eye out for them. Finally about halfway down the street she spotted a painting of three elephants. We IMG_2545asked the owner how much he wanted and he said 30 pounds which translated to roughly 45 dollars. My daughter studied the painting, hem and hawed, and eventually set it down deciding she didn’t want to pay that much.

After we walked a few steps away, I pulled her aside and told her we could offer him less. She asked how much. I told her we’d try this: We’ll offer him 15 pounds. He’ll say no. I’ll ask what’s your best price and he’ll say 20 pounds. “Do you want it for 20 pounds?” I asked her. “That’s about 30 dollars.” My daughter agreed but asked me to do the negotiating.

We returned to the booth. “Will you take 15 pounds?” I asked. He clasped his arms to his chest and said, “that hurt my heart a little.” I said, “Mine too.” He laughed and studied me. “How about 20 pounds?” he asked. “Sold,” I said. I was shocked it played out exactly as I said it would. But I let my family think I was a bartering goddess.

IMG_3346_2My daughter and her roommate caught bartering fever. As we continued shopping they begin to ask for a better price. Sometime the answer was yes, sometimes no, some things were left behind. It was fun passing on the thrill of buying something and bartering for a better price.

Do you like to barter for things?

Opening Lines

We are writing opening lines for the picture below. Add yours in the Reply section!


Barb: She walked ten feet and did a double-take. She had never seen a statue so realistic.

Jessie: Competition was stiff for the role of Snow White in the school play but Anna felt confident that she had an edge.

Sherry: It all started with a little peck on the cheek.

Edith: Thank God for the birds. It took her attention away from the graves I’d just finished filling behind her.

Liz: Everyone around them was captivated by the performance, but Josie thought it looked like a scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds – something that could end very badly.

Julie: It worked! Months of training and she was ready to pay back that two-timing, conniving, ornithophobic SOB ex-husband of hers.