Paradise in N.C.


North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a long stretch of barrier islands, is not only beautiful, serene, and a fantastic vacation destination, it’s also the spot—Kill Devil Hills—where the Wright brothers first took to the air.

Of particular interest to writers and Nicholas Sparks fans, Rodanthe (Nights in Rodanthe) is a town on the Outer Banks. In fact, portions of the film adaptation of Sparks’ book were filmed in Rodanthe.

Our first stop on the islands is Jockey’s Ridge (above photo), the tallest sand dune in the eastern United States. The height of the dunes vary from 80 to 120 feet depending upon the weather and winds.

Jockey’s Ridge is located in Nags Head, N.C., home of world-record fishing, shipwreck remains, and the pirate, Blackbeard.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in the country. Standing at 208 feet tall, it’s also the tallest brick lighthouse. The light’s beacon can be seen from 20 miles out to sea, warning sailors of the dangerous Diamond Shoals off the coast of Hatteras.

The waters off Cape Hatteras are so dangerous to passing ships, the area is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

In 1999, the 6,250 ton Hatteras Lighthouse was moved further inland due to an ever-eroding shoreline. A circle of stones marks the lighthouse’s orignal site. In the photo above, the lighthouse can be seen in it’s new location. By the way, Cape Hatteras is the nearest point of land to Bermuda (563 miles as the pelican flies).

Names of former lighthouse keepers are engraved in each stone in the circle.

The Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla, N.C. was first lit on December 1, 1875. It remains unpainted to distinguish it between the two nearby black-and-white-striped lighthouses.

The marsh near the Currituck Beach Lighthouse.

Walkway through the marsh.


A family of geese enjoy their protected status.

Beach at Nags Head.

Nags Head coastline.

Footprints in the sand are the only sign of human presence. Part of the attraction to Nags Head is the seclusion.

Clinton Presidential Library


Our Weekend Road Trip this week takes us to Little Rock, Arkansas for a tour of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library. The 150,000 square foot structure cost approximately $165 million to construct, and it sits within the boundaries of a 28 acre park. The Clinton Library is the second largest Presidential Library. The Ronald Reagan Library is the largest.

And, I know a secret about the library that no one else does! Soon, you’ll know it too.


William J. Clinton Presidential Library


Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham—the college years



A full-size replica of the Oval Office.


Gibson Lucille-style guitar signed by B.B. King, Jonh Fogerty, Eric Clapton, Gloria Estephan, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, John Mellencamp, Garth Brooks, and Lenny Kravitz.


Okay, here’s the secret. I noticed this guitar was hanging upside down (it’s a right-handed guitar positioned as if a left-handed guitarist was about to play it)  and it was bugging the heck out me, assuming a non-musician hung it that way. And you know me, I went straight to the top for answers. Well, I was correct, they didn’t know it was upside down. Not a clue. So the head honcho sent a message to someone else who forwarded it to someone else…well, you get the idea. Finally, though, I did receive the information I sought…sort of. Here’s what they told me (basically, they passed the buck). Still, this is great “inside” information that no one knows but you and me.

“This guitar was part of our temporary exhibit “World of Music” which ran from May, 2005 to January, 2006. This exhibit was designed by Ralph Appelbaum and Associates from New York and our museum staff had little to do with the installation.

Because we had little involvement, we can only guess why it was hung that way (it kind of looks like two of the signatures are right side up when you hang it this way, one is sideways and one is upside down) but we cannot say for sure.

One thing I want to make sure you know: This item is no longer on exhibit at the Clinton Library. When it came down in 2006, it was returned to storage.

The guitar was a gift to President Clinton from Hootie and the Blowfish and it is signed by that band.”






Actual presidential limousine. It’s heavily armored.



Ballet shoes worn by a young Hillary Rodham.

Crank up the heat


We lived in Boston for a few years and, after shoveling and blowing mountains of snow while braving bitterly cold temperatures, we decided to head south, leaving many dear friends behind. Well, we’re thinking of all of you today as you dig out from Nemo’s wrath. Also, I thought I’d help out by giving you a few minutes away from the cold, drifting snow.

So, crank up the thermostats to 80, put on your best shorts, sunglasses, and flip-flops, and pretend you’re with me. Come on down!

Mt. St. Helens


After a long week of playing cops and robbers, it’s finally time to take a day off from fighting crime. And, in celebration of The Graveyard Shift’s five-year anniversary, here’s the very first Weekend Road Trip.

Also, you’ll find clue #4 in WPA’s “Name The Keynote Speaker” contest at the bottom of the page. Good luck!

Please, sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.






*     *     *

We’ve received numerous responses to the “name the keynote speaker” contest. Please keep them coming.

For those of you who are joining us for the first time, here’s how the contest works.

To kick things off this year, we’re running a super-easy contest, and here’s how it goes. The first person to guess the name of the 2013 WPA keynote speaker wins a free FATS session (Firearms Simulator Training). I’ll post clues each day, starting today, until Monday when I’ll reveal the names of the winner and of the keynote speaker. You must, however, send your guess to me via email at Please DO NOT post the name on this website!! We want to give everyone a shot at this.

So here goes, and good luck!

The first three clues are:

Clue #1 – One of his/her books was made into a mid-90’s TV movie.

#2 – He/she sold his/her first book at the ripe old age of 20.

#3 – This superstar author used to work in the food service industry.

Today’s clue:

Clue #4 – The author writes one series where the protagonist resides in Massachusetts, in the same city where I used to live.

*Remember, send your guess to me at DO NOT post your answer in the comments section of this blog!  Doing so will automatically disqualify your entry.

The first correct answer receives the free FATS session at the 2013 WPA. The session is for the winner of this contest only, and is not transferable. There is no redeemable cash value.

Also, a second contest begins next Tuesday, with another great prize going to the winner!

Boston: Love that dirty water


Our Weekend Road Trip this week takes us to one of my former backyards, Boston. One of the best ways to show you this wonderful old city is to pahk our cah and catch a ride on one of the many duck boats. These crafts are able to maneuver on land and sea which makes the tour quite interesting.

The Duck Tour starts at the Science Museum and winds through downtown, passing places such as, Boston Commons, Copley Square and Newbury Street, Boston’s answer to Rodeo Drive.

The ride is a journey through U.S. history. Boston is an old city that’s mixed with plenty of new ideas, such as the Big Dig Project, a massive highway tunnel beneath the entire city.

With a full view of the largest cable suspension bridge directly in front of you, the duck boat driver takes a right turn and drives directly into the Charles River for the last segment of the tour, a thirty minute glimpse of Boston’s waterfront.

So, leave all your troubles and woes in the yahd. In fact, fuhgedaboudit. Have a little fun. See you Monday.


Boston is a mix of old and new


Duck Boat


View of Boston and Cambridge skylines from the Duck Boat. The lights from Fenway park were at our back when this shot was taken. This was a time when the Red Sox were midway through the playoffs and you could smell World Series in the air. At least that’s what the natives were saying. What I smelled was that “dirty water” the Standells crooned about in their song about Boston and its once very polluted river. A large clean up effort paid off and the river is fine, now.


Boston skyline.


Oh, here’s the skipper of the duck boat, Captain “Duck” Tape


Hike in Olympic Mountains


Another week has passed and, although crime still marches on, everyone deserves a break once in a while. So it’s time for us to sign 10-7 ( out of service), pack the car, and head out of town for a little R&R. Our Weekend Road Trip this week takes us to Washington state in the Olympic Mountains overlooking the San Juan Islands. Take a deep breath. The hours-long hike up and over to the water is not for the weak.  Enjoy the view.


Western hemlock trees are abundant along the coastline. Able to grow to heights over 100 feet, some western hemlocks have been known to live 1,200 years and beyond.


It was an exhausting trek through dense brush, but definitely worth the effort.


The waters just off the coast are the playground to orcas. And, interestingly, the islands, unlike nearby Seattle, get sunshine around 250 days a year.


After an hour of exploring and wildlife-watching, it was time to start the long arduous climb back. Seeing a couple of bald eagles soaring above, though, was a nice end to a great day.

Come On: Hearst Castle


The Hearst Castle, built by William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan, is perched high above the Pacific Ocean at San Simeon, California. The project began in 1919 and lasted thirty years.

The main house consists of 115 spectacular rooms. I can’t even begin to describe the awe-inspiring detail in each of the rooms.

The estate is also home to the largest private zoo in the country. Exotic animals still wander throughout the hilltop property.

The castle was built to serve as a weekend retreat for Hearst.


Looking out toward the Pacific Ocean from the castle.


Stairs to the main house.


Outdoor pool


Marble statues surround the outdoor pool.




Each tiny mosaic tile on the walls and in the indoor pool is made from 23 carat gold.  Famous guests, such as Winston Churchill, Joan Crawford, Charles Lindbergh, and Cary Grant often enjoyed a weekend swim. In fact, Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan) made a few dives into the water from the balcony.


Indoor pool


Fountain in front of the Gothic Study


Gothic Study


Seals lounge on a nearby beach.


Sunset at San Simeon.

Capitola California


Capitola, California is located in Santa Cruz County on Monterey Bay. According to Capitola/Santa Cruz lore, in the early 1960s, a large group of normally passive birds began attacking Capitola residents and tourists.

Nearby Santa Cruz was a favorite vacation spot for a well-known movie director. He’d read about the bird attacks and decided to make a movie about it. The director’s name was Alfred Hitchcock. The movie…The Birds.






One of my favorite spots in the world…

Flowing River


Life passes much too quickly, so why not stop for a moment and see what it has to offer? Take a drive out into the country, park the car, get out, and take a few steps in any direction and you just might see something like the places I’ve posted here. Besides, it sure beats seeing the wailing, weeping, and gnashing of teeth on social media. And yes, this is indeed a wonderful and beautiful country, as you shall see below …


















Drive an hour north of Boston on I95, then turn right and head for the coast and you’ll end up in Newburyport, the area where we spent many weekends kayaking and browsing the beaches. Kayaking the Merrimack to the ocean was simply fantastic.

So, since I’m so sick this weekend I thought I’d post a repeat of one of our favorite places in the U.S.

I’m heading out to see the doctor in a few minutes, so please enjoy the warm weather photos while I’m trying to fight this fever.