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


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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Last Stop

July 10, 2015






Rain followed us to Lucerne, the last stop on our trip. I was upset when it started raining during our cruise on the lake. One of the hotels we sailed past was where Mark Twain was staying when he received word from home that he’d died. His famous comment was: Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.




Then the sun broke through the clouds and a rainbow appeared.





Maybe this guy had something to do with it. Locals say He isn’t praying; he’s measuring a big fish He just caught. The composer Wagner wrote several of his operas in a nearby villa.





Lucerne was one of the most beautiful cities we visited. In the Medieval butchers’ section, a trench in the middle of the cobbled street once allowed animal blood to drain into a nearby river. Fortunately, no slaughtering was going on while we were there and there was no blood. But we did pass many bakeries with braided loaves of bread in the windows. We learned that in the old days it was mandatory for widows to cut off their long braids and bury them with their husbands, but eventually women revolted and buried the deceased with a loaf of braided bread instead.





Lucerne has two famous wooden bridges. This tower was once part of a prison, which seems odd since the water is only a few feet deep and an escapee could easily walk to shore, if not pecked to death by hungry swans.





More views of Lucerne









We stopped in this sixteenth century Jesuit church. We’d visited many churches on our trip but an organist was playing in this one. I don’t know what music was being played, but it was heavenly, probably Bach. The building pulsed with the glorious music.






For our last evening we dined at a restaurant at the top of a mountain. I thought I'd drunk too much wine because the restaurant seemed to be moving. Turns out it rotated.





Viewing platform from restaurant





Mr. and Mrs. Chatterbox 2015



By this time I was coming down with a cold. Besides, Switzerland was ridiculously expensive. One night in Lucerne we stopped at an outdoor restaurant with our friends the Nelsons and ordered cheese fondue: it cost fifty dollars, I kid you not. For fifty bucks we should have been able to bathe in the stuff. We were out of money. Time to go home, and start saving our money for the next trip.


Our flight to San Francisco took twelve hours. Another two got us home to Portland. It felt good to crawl into our bed, until the fire trucks arrived because a house across the street was on fire. But I’ve already written about that.






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A beautiful place to visit and your descriptions certainly added mille feuille of panache to each destination. Bravo!
By: Daniel LaFrance on July 10, 2015
Switzerland is horribly expensive- but aren't you glad you went? It is a beautiful country and the exteriors that are painted are incredible! Thanks for letting us travel with you and Mrs C! You two look so darn happy! Cheers!
By: Kathe W. on July 10, 2015
What great pictures! Although I hadda laugh at that "measuring fish" shot of JC! Funny! Fair warning: my next post was inspired by your archery post. If I write it today (I hope to), I'll have it on de;lay until Sunday.
By: Al Penwasser on July 10, 2015
*delay Although, I'm sure you knew what I meant.
By: Al Penwasser on July 10, 2015
That first picture (with the sun breaking through the clouds) is gorgeous!!
By: fishducky on July 10, 2015
What a stunning view. But not for the faint at heart. The inside of the church is beautiful. They don't make them like that anymore.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on July 10, 2015
'i once caught a fish that was THIS big!' is what i'm going to think of now when i see a christ statue posed like that. :)
By: TexWisGirl on July 10, 2015
Aw, I am sorry it is over. You take me so many places that I will never get to go. Thank you. You are a great tour guide.
By: Akansas Patti on July 10, 2015
what a great trip. thanks for the tour. and great ending shot.
By: Ellen Abbott on July 10, 2015
Please! More shots of cheese fondue, and less of the bottom of that viewing platform!
By: Val on July 10, 2015
We too enjoyed Lucerne, though we missed the top of the mountain restaurant. Switzerland is an extraordinarily beautiful place. Thanks for taking us along with your travel posts and photos.
By: Tom Cochrun on July 10, 2015
Thanks for the awesome pics!! I love the church and the fantastic paintings on the outside of the home. That's true "old world charm." (My mother was an organist, I bet she'd have loved to play in that church!)
By: Lexa Cain on July 10, 2015
I absolutely love the Old World architecture of Europe. This was some of the best yet! Thanks for sharing your pics and your experience. :)
By: Scott Park on July 10, 2015
Love all your pictures! Cut off your braid and bury it with your husband? What an odd custom!
By: Pixel Peeper on July 10, 2015
You've certainly got some good and bad in this post. The city is beautiful. the prices stink.
By: red on July 10, 2015
I can't believe you went out on that viewing platform. Sheesh! Not me. Not SWMBO either.
By: Catalyst on July 10, 2015
What a wonderful trip - and adventure. I do with you could have bathed in the fondue...that would make a heck of a story.
By: Cherdo on July 10, 2015
Is that your hand with the champagne? I thought artists had long fingers? Or maybe that is pianists? LOL Music in one of those big churches is perfect because they were built for that glorious resonance of sound. Brave of you both to stand on that platform...I would have needed wine for sure. So tell me, what did the men have to cut off if the wife predeeded them in death?
By: Tabor on July 11, 2015
What a stunning place, I thank you for sharing your holiday and knowledge, it has been fascinating.
By: John on July 11, 2015
Wow, what a rainbow, what a bridge, what a church. Thanks for the blogo-tour (which is probably the only way I can afford to "go" to Switzerland).
By: Tom Sightings on July 11, 2015
Thank you for the pictures, i loved Lucerne and would love to go again someday.
By: mimi on July 11, 2015
It is truly wonderful that such awesome places as Lucerne have been left relatively untouched by all of the wars that have been waged over the centuries. I mean, a jerk with a powerful army could have destroyed all of that history just out of spite.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on July 11, 2015
Braided bread...who knew? Very interesting. I'd stay off that platform also.
By: cranky on July 11, 2015
It's nice to see the happy travelers, and these sights are spectacular. Chocolate fondue is worth $50, but not cheese. I'm fascinated by the braided bread story, because that bread is what we Jews call challah. I wonder if that's the origin of our challah...Interesting. Happy weekend to you and Mrs. C.
By: Robyn Engel on July 11, 2015
Came over from Al Penwasser and I enjoyed reading about Lucerne. I have never been there but know how expensive Switzerland is. I am surprised they don't have a Jesus there showing empty pockets. I would never be caught on the outlook post unless someone drugged me
By: Birgit on July 12, 2015
These are fantastic pictures, Stephen. The Mark Twain hotel would have been fun to walk through. But overall, an excellent trip many will never see in a lifetime! Bravo!!
By: Michael Manning on July 12, 2015
Thanks for lovely photos of a lovely place. Switzerland was one of my favorite countries to visit, though that was nearly 50 years ago!
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on July 12, 2015
That place looks absolutely enchanting. Then again, so does much of Europe.
By: Michael Offutt on July 13, 2015

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