Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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End of the Trail

January 16, 2017

I mentioned in my last post that Mrs. Chatterbox and I were going to break out of our snow-choked prison and travel to the coast for a weekend get-a-way—and I promised pictures. CJ and his lady, the lovely Andrea, arrived with news that CJ had finally popped the question and the two are now officially engaged. Mrs. C. and I couldn’t be happier.

           

It was CJ and Andrea’s idea to make a trip to the coast. I’m not a confident driver and wouldn’t have considered such a trip in these conditions, but this particular snowstorm arrived from the south and hadn’t blown down from Alaska so the coast was actually 15/20 degrees warmer than Portland, or so we were told. Also, CJ is an accomplished driver and mechanic, and since he felt his Wrangler could make it, I tried to relaxed. Also, Mrs. C made a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies to bring along; if we got stranded in the mountains we’d be among the few who gained weight waiting to be rescued. Fortunately, we didn’t need to be rescued and I didn’t eat any of the cookies.

           

The trip started off fine; the hardest part was getting out of our unplowed neighborhood in the foothills. (As I write this, temperatures in Portland remain below freezing and five days after the snowstorm nothing is melting.) The freeway leading into the coastal mountains was sanded. I enjoyed letting CJ drive while I sat back and observed scenery resembling pictures I’d seen of Vermont and New Hampshire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Ice near the summit.

 

 

 

CJ stepped out from behind the wheel to snap this picture. Had I taken time to look at it when he handed back my camera I might have demanded we turn back.

           

 

Portland is separated from the coast by a hundred miles of rolling hills that give way to heavily forested mountains. About halfway to the summit we encountered icy pavement and CJ switched to four-wheel drive. We slid around a bit but nothing too exciting, although cars were pulling over and chaining up along the way.

 

 

 

 

We arrived at Seaside, Oregon, mid afternoon. It was colder than we’d expected, around 25 degrees, but skies were clear and—NO SNOW! I’ve never visited when tourists were so scarce. A few shops and restaurants were closed but most were open and happy to see us.

 

 

 

The sun was beginning its descent a few hours after we arrived.

 

 

Seaside marks the spot signifying the end of the trail for Lewis and Clark, and a statue now commemorates their Corps of Discovery, launched by President Jefferson in 1804 and reaching the Pacific Ocean a year later. The statue is usually circled by throngs of picture-taking tourists but this image, taken from our hotel window, shows only a few people braving the chill.

 

 

 

 

I’ve seen this statue several times and always appreciate the details, especially the big dog at the feet of the explorers. The 150 pound Newfoundland named Seaman completed the entire journey. The 35 men comprising the Corps of Discovery would eat over two hundred wild dogs before returning home, but beloved Seaman was spared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End of the trail.

 

 

 

                                                                                                         

 

 

Happy trails! Stay warm and always travel with a big bag of cookies.

 

 

 

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Comments

24 Comments
Congratulations to Andrea and CJ on their engagement. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend together.
By: Daniel LaFrance on January 16, 2017
Congratulations to CJ and his sweetheart! What a lovely time you had....hopefully your return trip is uneventful also! Happy Trails and pass the cookies please
By: Kathe W. on January 16, 2017
It's a real winter wonderland there. That statue looks like they're stepping on poor Seaman. (Also what a terrible name for a dog.)
By: PT Dilloway on January 16, 2017
It is a great day when your child can take over the driving! I love the Oregon coast -- have only been there in late April/early May so have managed to avoid large numbers of tourists.
By: The Broad on January 16, 2017
I generally don't mind driving in the snow too much, but that road in the mountains I would have turned back.
By: cranky on January 16, 2017
Congratulations to CJ and his fiance! Sorry your snow isn't melting, but the snow covered fields and trees are beautiful. Sounds like it was the best time to go to the beach.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on January 16, 2017
Incredible scenery - especially the snow scenes. I would probably have remained home and demanded the cookies stay with me. I'm pretending I didn't see the part about eating the dogs.
By: Kelly on January 16, 2017
Congratulations to CJ and Andrea - a new chapter is beginning! That road looks scarier than anything we have here because all our snowplows are on the job as soon as we get enough to turn the streets white. Those are beautiful photos and an intriguing story behind the statue, one I was not familiar with.
By: jenny_o on January 16, 2017
Congrats to CJ and Andrea. What wonderful news to start a trip with. Don't envy the trip across the mountains but having the beach to yourselves had to have been special. I didn't know about the dog and found it interesting.
By: Arkansas Patti on January 16, 2017
I have a Wrangler Jeep and they sure come into their own on icy roads! Congrats to CJ and Andrea!
By: LL Cool Joe on January 16, 2017
Happy Trails and best wishes to the happy couple!
By: messymimi on January 16, 2017
Thanks for a delightful post. Our congratulations to the happy couple and to mom and dad C. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery of your winter drive.
By: Tom Cochrun on January 16, 2017
Congratulations!! Maybe there'll be a grandchild in your future?
By: fishducky on January 16, 2017
Congrats to the happy couple, and I DON'T mean Lewis and Clark. Good thing CJ has the Jeep Wrangler. The drive looks treacherous. As for the Corps of Discovery...was there not wild game plentiful in that wilderness? That's over 5.7 dogs per person! Where could they find that many "wild" dogs? I've not seen many wild dogs, but I've seen lots of deer. I'm not buyin' it! Somebody needs to do an expose' on those explorers!
By: Val on January 16, 2017
I can see why you were apprehensive about this trip. I will have to look at the map to see where you went.
By: red Kline on January 16, 2017
That snow is incredible. Hey, I would have eaten the bag of cookies regardless of the weather!
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on January 16, 2017
Even though I grew up in North Dakota and drove through blizzards from time to time I don't think I would have taken the chance on that very icy looking road. Glad you made it.
By: Catalyst on January 16, 2017
Such beautiful, snowy scenery! And congratulations to CJ and his fiance!
By: Pixel Peeper on January 16, 2017
It's great to be able to visit spots like that out of season. And I'd have had to try at least a few cookies for quality control purposes!
By: Botanist on January 16, 2017
Amazing that - in that dangerous weather - you had such a great trip and wonderful photos for us. More amazing, you didn't eat any cookies. Congratulations to your son and soon-to-be DIL.
By: Robyn Engel on January 16, 2017
PS I've been working on trying to add you to my sidebar. There's been something weird going on in that regard. It seems I was dropped from your following (for a second time)? Perhaps you were dropped from mine. At any rate, I wanted to let you know that it's not from lack of trying. I've been trying to add your blog. And I tried in the past too. I'm persistent. Will give it another go. You're a staunch loyal, and I appreciate you. =)
By: Robyn Engel on January 16, 2017
These pictures in the snow look like postcards. It is so beautiful. Right now, we have no snow at all and it is supposed to go up in temps. How weird is that? Congrats to a future wedding...you will be busy, maybe creating a portrait? Glad you all made it safe and sound as well.
By: Birgit on January 16, 2017
Congrats to CJ! And what a great job of driving he did. I love being at the (other) coast during the off season.
By: The Bug on January 17, 2017
Congrats to CJ and Andrea, and a big thanks to CJ for chauffeuring you and Ms C around and getting you back to us safe and sound.
By: scott park on January 17, 2017

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