"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Itchy Boots Season 7 ENDS: Central African Republic to the Netherlands


When I posted about Itchy Boots' adventures in early February, she was in the Central African Republic. Since then she made her way across several other countries, and finally concluded her ride, but not in the way anyone hoped.  Here is the final post about her trip.

February 5, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 15, 28

We watched episodes 79-86 which were in the Central African Republic, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, and Angola

While crossing a river in the dark, Alaska fell in the water. A mechanic took 3 or 4 hours to fix it in the dark. (ep. 80)

Interesting to see Noraly wait over an hour for gas and for her to ride on the nice Chinese-built road (ep. 81).  In order to avoid the Democratic Republic of Congo, Noraly sailed around it into Angola which was very nice and had cheap gas.  In Angola, her motorcycle got a nice service.  Noraly enjoyed how the locals called her amiga, but felt old when the kids called her tia even though she said she was an "auntie." (ep. 84). Angola is a lovely country with a huge waterfall especially in this rainy season, and a rushing river.

March 3, 6, 10, 13, 18, 20, 24, 27, 31

We watched episodes 87-95 which were in Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Ethiopia (airport and hotel only), and Madagascar

Noraly was frightened to be caught in a thunderstorm with lots of lightning, but in the next episode she continued on to the border with Zambia crossing some sketchy wooden bridges. We laughed at pigs enjoying the mud puddles in the middle of the road. She also rode through thick sand before reaching the border (ep. 88).

I enjoyed the nice people in Lusaka (ep. 90) and the wild animals on the safari in Zambia (ep. 91). Noraly decided to fly to Madagascar where she rented a KTM Enduro bike in order to explore some of the paths. She also took along a guide, Didier, for most of this visit. There were many rough roads, but the scenery was pretty. She mentioned being there during hurricane or cyclone season.  

April 3, 7, 10, 17, 21, 27, 28

We watched episodes 96-103 which were in Madagascar

During a nighttime forest walk, we saw some lemurs and giant snails. (ep. 96). Noraly's Enduro bike did well in the sand, but her guide had a Chinese bike which made the trails tough, and he ended up falling quite a bit.  (I read a comment that he was given that bike because all of the other Enduro bikes were rented for an event taking place around this time.)  I enjoyed the children Noraly saw around episode 100, and absolutely loved her time with the fishermen and videoing them underwater (ep. 101).  In episode 102, Noraly traded bikes to a vintage African Twin due to her being more on tarmac as she rode towards the capital. Also, she said goodbye to Didier who guided her throughout her Madagascar adventure near the western areas.

May 1, 5, 8, 12, 15, 19, 22

We watched episodes 104-110 which were in Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania, and the Netherlands

Noraly declared Madagascar to be one of her top 5 countries after having visited over 100. She ended her time there with food poisoning that left her racing for her destination in order to leave the country. Back in Malawi, she was reunited with her bike, Alaska, and we saw beautiful views and a huge lake. She was also able to meet up with her best friend Mandy who was visiting Malawi at the time. Unfortunately Noraly left her rain jacket at the last place she stayed, and because the roads were tricky, she decided to not go back for it. One day she saw local college students out fixing the road (ep. 108). 
Unfortunately in Tanzania, something happened that caused her trip to end abruptly. She was going to tour Tanzania and end her journey in Kenya, but things didn't go as planned (episode 109.)  In the final episode she told everyone about her rescue, leaving Tanzania, and her surgery and recovery prospects. The surgeon punctured her lung during surgery and they didn't realize it so she's also dealing with a collapsed lung.  Note to self: the x-ray in Tanzania indicated that her crash was on April 17th. Based on other things she said, I think her surgery was in early May.  It was rather emotional seeing Alaska loaded up. Noraly has already said she is getting a new bike for her next adventure. Alaska carried her through many states, provinces, and countries. 
I really enjoyed her time in Africa, and look forward to seeing where she goes next!  I hope she rests this summer and heals, and we'll see her on YouTube again in coming months.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

April Books


All My Secrets by Lynn Austin -- Three generations of women, Junietta, Sylvia, and Adelaide, live together during the Gilded Age, and the older two are trying to influence the youngest. Does she want to marry to save her family home, or should she look to do whatever makes her fulfilled?

My Name Was Eden by Eleanor Barker-White -- After a drowning incident, Lucy is relieved when her daughter Eden coughs up the water and lives. However her personality is totally different and Eden now declares that she is Eli, the name Lucy gave the twin she carried for a short time during her pregnancy.

The Silence in Her Eyes by Armando Lucas Correa -- Leah has lived with motion blindness since an accident when she was eight. Now at 28, her sharpened senses of smell and hearing have her befriending her new neighbor, Alice, and attempting to save Alice from her abusive husband.

Family Family by Laurie Frankel -- Alternating between now and when India was in high school and college, this story explores what makes a family. Fig and Jack are twins, and Fig has a secret: she's met (online) a child her mom placed for adoption when she was 16. Rebecca now goes by Bex, and she does something to "out" her biological mom.

Note: I have seen Bex in several books lately. Usually books located in the UK, but this one is in the US. Still, it's worth noting as a thing.  The Eden book above also had a Bex.

The Truth About the Devlins by Lisa Scottoline -- TJ is the black sheep of the Devlin family, but he has a good heart, and wants to solve the mystery his older brother John brought him into. Things turn weirder when John starts accusing TJ of relapsing and committing a crime. 

End of Story by A.J. Finn -- I read a bit over a fourth of this 400+ page book, and decided it wasn't good enough to keep reading.  DNF

Everyone Is Watching by Heather Gudenkauf -- Five contestants gather at an estate for a new reality TV show that promises ten million dollars to the winner! Although the contests are grueling and bordering unethical, Maire, Camille, and the three guys duel it out as the assistant/host Fern encourages them on. Pretty good.

The Underground Library by Jennifer Ryan -- When Germans bomb London and the library is destroyed, Juliet, the deputy librarian in Bethnal Green, and her friends Sofie and Katie among others decide to move books to the underground where folks sheltering from bombs can enjoy the stories. Pretty good.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris -- Grace is the main caretaker for her sister Millie who was born with Down's Syndrome. Grace would like a husband and family, but knowing that she is the one who will care for Millie, often has boyfriends scrambling when they find out. Enter Jack Angel...who not only loves Grace, but adores Millie, and wants to take care of them both. After a whirlwind engagement and marriage, Grace is stunned to discover Jack missing on the night of their wedding. Where has he gone? And what will it be like to be married to Jack?

Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter? by Nicci French -- Three incidents - two of them over thirty years prior - and one recent murder. Are they somehow connected to the disappearance of Charlotte Salter the evening of her husband's fiftieth birthday party? When Morgan decides to do a podcast about the events - and gets his brother Greg to give his side of the story, the police reluctantly decide to take a closer look.

The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf -- Wylie is in Iowa renting a house and writing a true crime story about an event that took place decades before. Josie lost both her parents on the same night that her best friend Becky and her brother Ethan went missing. No one was ever arrested for this crime. Meanwhile a little girl lives with her mother in a basement. Her father sometimes brings her treats and food, and sometimes he doesn't.

The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen -- Lindsey has always been the smart twin who worked hard to make it to the top whereas her sister Alex seemed to have it made easily because of her stunning looks. When Lindsey moves back to Maryland due to a major job fiasco in New York, she and Alex have more time together than they have in years. A pretty good story.

Never Lie by Freida McFadden -- Tricia and Ethan are on the way to a remote area to look at a house that's for sale. Unfortunately a blizzard means they are stuck at this house, but thankfully they are able to get inside and spend the night there. They realize they are in the house of a therapist, Adrienne, who went missing three years ago and presumably killed by her boyfriend. A pretty good thriller/mystery type.

Good Half Gone by Tarryn Fisher -- Iris is a teenager when her twin Piper is taken by some men. The police wonder if it's truly a kidnapping or if Piper just ran away. This is told in the timelines of Iris then - as a teen begging for help in finding her sister - and today as she gets a job helping those deemed incompetent to stand trial. She wants to get close to someone she believes is connected to her sister's disappearance. 

The Night Shift by Alex Finlay -- Years ago Ella was the only survivor of a stabbing spree where she worked at Blockbuster. Now that a similar crime has occurred, she's been summoned to talk with Jesse, the only survivor who has been hospitalized. Sarah Keller is an FBI agent called in to help (because the local police needs the feds' resources), and Chris is a public defender with ties to the past case. Pretty good. 

Death in the Details by Katie Tietjen -- After Maple's husband dies in the war, she turns her hobby of making doll houses into a business in order to support herself. She has always had perfect recall for details, and after witnessing a disturbing scene, she recreates it in order to solve a possible murder.

Becoming Madam Secretary by Stephanie Dray -- An interesting book about an impressive lady, Frances Perkins (sometimes Wilson), who served in FDR's cabinet among many things.

If Looks Could Kill by Kate White -- Since I read several of her books already, I decided to read the first of the Bailey Weggins Mystery series. In this story, Bailey is helping her friend Cat solve the mystery of the nanny who winds up dead in Cat's house. 

The Dilemma by B. A. Paris -- This alternates between Adam and Livia on the day of Livia's fortieth birthday party, something she's been saving for and planning since the couple was young and needy.  Fast read

She's Not Sorry by Mary Kubica -- Meghan is a critical care nurse charged with caring for a young woman brought in as having attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge. Later a witness comes forth claiming someone else was on the bridge with Caitlin and it might be more than meets the eye. Meanwhile Meghan is trying to raise her 16 year old daughter mostly by herself since she and her husband divorced recently. Also she's trying to help a high school friend, Natalie, who recently came back into her life.  Pretty interesting story.

Watch Where They Hide by Tamron Hall -- This is the second book in the Jordan Manning series. Jordan is called by a distraught woman who claims her sister disappeared, but she's getting little help from authorities. As an investigative reporter, Jordan is asked to help. This book was OK.

What Have We Done by Alex Finlay -- Jenna, Donnie, and NIco were best friends at a group home, and years later weird things happen that reunite these friends in order to solve a mystery. Pretty good.

A Body to Die For by Kate White -- Second in the Bailey Weggins series... Bailey is looking forward to her weekend getaway to her mom's college friend's spa, but when one of the massage therapists ends up dead, Bailey gets involved with trying to figure out what happened.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

March Books


The Book Club Hotel by Sarah Morgan -- Every year three friends spent a week in a hotel in order to connect and discuss a book. Most years they meet in the summer, but this year they postponed their gathering until December. Elaine usually chooses something in the city and definitely not cute and Christmassy so Claudia and Anna are surprised when she chooses a quaint inn in rural Vermont decked out in Christmas finery. They soon find out why, but I won't tell you here. Pretty cute story though maybe a bit too much dialog for me at times. What's funny is that this book was written by a lady living in London and though the book is mostly about American women, it's peppered with what I consider Britishisms. 

For instance one of the ladies was crying so her friend pulled out a pack of tissues. Take the "lot," she told her friend. In my experience, an American would be like "here, take them all" or "keep the whole pack." Another was talk of a bookmark being a good stocking filler rather than what I've always heard, a stocking stuffer.

Also, there is the constant lack of "that" such as a sentence like: "Now I checked Delphi is okay, I will check on the guests." Though we are known for dropping extra letters like "u" in color, neighbor, and labor, we add words like "that." (I would write that sentence more like, "Now that I checked that Delphi is okay....")

Also, someone said "reckon***." Hahaha. And "Shall we do this?" instead of the more American, "Do you want to do this?"

As the story involved the ladies going to a local book shop, there was much talk of "cookery books," too.

*** I'd give "reckon" a pass if these were Southern friends, but Northeastern ladies.... nah!

The Women by Kristin Hannah -- I enjoyed this look at the Vietnam war through the eyes of Frances "Frankie" McGrath who served two years there as a nurse. First the reader gets a glimpse of what life was like over there, and then as Frankie returned to the US where she was spat upon and flipped off, and where she struggled to survive the mental anguish that memories of Vietnam gave her.  Good story!

Just a Regular Boy by Catherine Ryan Hyde -- When Remy is five, his dad takes him to a remote property where they can mostly live off the land and be free from all that's happening in the country. All goes well (kind of, but not really because that is a strange way to live) until one night when Remy's father doesn't return from his hunting trip. Meanwhile Anne is a foster mother who loves a challenge. She wants the children most people would pass over. Good story!

Beyond That, the Sea by Laura Spence-Ash -- Scared about bombs dropping in London, Reg and Millie decide to send their eleven-year-old daughter to America to live out the war years. She lives with Ethan, Nancy and their two sons Wiliam and Gerald. Beatrix fits in age right between the boys, and she's the girl Nancy always wanted. Bea loves her new family and the experiences she has with them. Meanwhile Reg and Millie miss their girl and see her growing up through pictures and read about her adventures in letters. A good story.

Don't Look for Me by Wendy Walker -- Molly is driving home from her son's football game when her car runs out of gas just a few yards from the station. Unfortunately it's closed due to a hurricane coming through the area. When someone stops his pickup truck and offers her a ride, Molly accepts. Molly had been thinking she might just run away from her family. After all, her husband seems to prefer someone else, her daughter hates her, and her son ignored her even though she traveled several hours to see him. Pretty good.

In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward -- Decades after two young girls went missing and one stayed missing while the other returned, the police are looking into that case again due to some recent developments. Rachel is the girl who returned, now she's a woman who looks into family histories. Connie and Sadler are detectives looking into the case. Pretty good.

First Lie Wins Ashley Elston -- Evie Porter is on assignment, cozying up to a boyfriend. Hey, he even invited her to move in with him!  Only problem is that Evie Porter doesn't exist. She's on assignment from "Mr. Smith" to infiltrate her target's world. But then things get interesting...

The Lace Widow by Mollie Ann Cox -- A bit of historical accuracy mixed with a made-up mystery involving Eliza Hamilton only a couple weeks after her husband was buried. When her son, Alexander Jr., is accused of murder, Eliza seeks information to clear her son's name. An OK book.

Overkill by Sandra Brown -- Though their marriage ended acrimoniously years ago, Rebecca never wavered from wanting Zach to make end-of-life decisions for her. Zach is stunned when his ex wife is left in a vegetative state, and he is required to decide on her fate: remove the feeding tube or keep it. Eban Clarke, the man who put Rebecca there, is up for release though an ADA informs Zach that Eban can be retried for murder if Rebecca is allowed to die. What a thought!  I really kind of hated this book, and not for this ethical dilemma; rather the ADA and Zach.

Nine Lives by Peter Swanson -- Nine people are sent lists with nine names printed on them: their own plus eight strangers. When one by one these individuals are dying, police rush to figure out the connection and why they've been targeted by a killer. Interesting story.

Die For You by Lisa Unger -- Isabel tells her husband goodbye as he's off to work, but he never comes home. When she goes by his workplace, it's ransacked and many more strange things happen. What happened to Marcus, her husband of five years?  Not my favorite of hers, but not bad.

Last Night by Luanne Rice -- Hadley is on her way to see her sister and niece during a New England blizzard, but neither is there to greet her. Maddie left a note that she had a quick meeting, but should be back soon. Hadley is concerned about Maddie and CeCe, and goes to look for them only to stumble over her sister who is lying dead in the snow. CeCe is nowhere to be seen.

Bring Me Back  by B.A. Paris -- After Finn's girlfriend disappeared, he eventually gave her up as dead and over time, met Layla's sister Ellen and asked her to marry him. But then weird things started happening as tiny Russian dolls were left on the wall outside their house, and Finn gets emails from someone asking about a cottage where he and Layla once lived.

The Fury by Alex Michaelides -- Elliot Chase is a playwright telling one final story: the story of his soulmate Lana and their last outing to her Greek island. Along with Elliot and Lana are Lana's son and husband and best friend, and, well, a murder happens.

Maybe Next Time by Cesca Major -- Emma is way too busy, and once again, she's forgotten the importance of this Monday, but she is too busy to rectify things between her and her husband Dan. When the day ends tragically, she cries herself to sleep only to wake up and have a fresh Monday where she knows what happened the day before yet no one else does. It's Groundhog Day in a book!

American Ramble: A Walk of Memory and Renewal by Neil King, Jr. -- This journalist takes a walk from his home in Washington, D.C., to New York City talking about people he met along the way and interesting sights. I tend to like books like this, though this one was a bit more boring than some. I really miss Tony Horwitz's books!  He was great!

The New Couple in 5B by Lisa Unger -- Rosie and Chad are stunned when Chad's uncle dies and leaves them his Manhattan apartment worth a small fortune, but life in this old New York City building is odd. First there is the doorman who seems to always know what is going on because the apartments have intercoms, and cameras are everywhere. Also, he's almost always on duty. A good, fast read if you like this type of book.

Oath and Honor by Liz Cheney -- A Memoir and a Warning ; I saw someone mention this book on Facebook so I decided to check it out since my library had it. I knew much of this, but I learned more about the January 6 committee and the things leading up to the insurrection. Sobering read, especially since Donald Trump, despite his numerous lies, is still so popular among many Republicans. I don't understand his appeal.  Blah.

The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan -- Rachel is a law student doing a summer stint with the DA while her husband, Jack, is a defense attorney who despises the lady Rachel is working for. This makes life interesting. 

The Guest by B.A. Paris -- After seeing a teenager die after an accident, Gabriel and Iris take a trip to get away from things. When they come back to their house, they realize their Parisian friend Laure has made herself at home. It's fine; this is how close their friendship is, except Laure won't leave, and after weeks, it's a bit much. Meanwhile Iris makes friends with a new couple in town, who along with their gardener, make up most of the cast of this story. Pretty good.

Like a Mother by Mina Hardy -- After Sarah's husband Adam dies from cancer, she is stunned to meet a lady claiming to be Adam's mom. Adam always told her his parents were dead, but Candace looks like Adam and says things the same way he always did. In a desperate situation, Sarah decides to move in with Adam's mom, but finds her new residence quite odd. Pretty good.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

February Books


The Heiress by Rachel Hawkins -- When Camden gets an email from his cousin, he realizes he needs to return to the home he departed ten years ago when he fled all the baggage of family. His wife Jules is enthusiastic about her trip to see the famous (or infamous) Ashby House in the mountains of North Carolina. In between their sides of the story, we read publications about the McTavish family as well as letters written by Ruby McTavish, the heiress who adopted Cam when he was three. Pretty good.

The Mystery Guest by Nita Prose -- Once again, a story about a maid and a murder featuring the lovable, quirky Molly. When a popular author reserves the hotel tea room for an important announcement - a secret he's kept - but falls over dead before he can spit it out, the police get involved. This book deals with that plus Molly's own childhood memories of working with her Gran in Mr.Grimthorpe's house.  Cute story.

The Beach at Summerly by Beatriz Williams -- Emilia Withrop, one of the locals with a long family history in the area, is the help to the wealthy summer crowd.  Story of her and her friends Shep and Amory, and also nowadays as she lives with her sister Susana.  This is during the era when the US and Soviet Union were at odds. Pretty good.

The Fiction Writer by Jillian Cantor -- Olivia's book sales are struggling so when her agent approaches her about someone well-known wanting her to write a book for him, she takes a trip to Los Angeles to meet him.

Riding Rockets by Mike Mullane -- "the outrageous tales of a space shuttle astronaut."  This book was referenced in one of my favorite books last year about the first six women who were chosen to be astronauts in the US. They were in Mike's class, and the author of that book mentioned this one which I got for Christmas. Pretty interesting.

Wicked Redhead by Beatriz Williams -- I believe I would have enjoyed this one much more if I'd read the earlier book about Wicked City instead of starting with this one. Alas, I had this one on hand with no other library books, and decided to give it a go. Ginger is a redhead during the time of Prohibition.  She likes two brothers, one more than the other. In more current times, there is Ella who recently left her cheating husband. Meh... this one was OK.

The Outcast Girls by Shirley Dickson -- I remember reading a book or two by this author and adding a few of her other stories to my Amazon Wishlist. This is one I got for Christmas, and it's about Frieda, a German Jew who was brought to England during World War II. She meets an English girl, Sandra, who has lived a life of service. The two of them wind up on a farm helping the war effort. Pretty good.

The Lost Children by Shirley Dickson -- Twins Jacob and Molly are eight years old when their mom decides to send them to the countryside where they will be safe from Hitler's bombs. They are sent to the area I read about in the book before, and this book has some of the same characters so I'm glad to read these stories back-to-back. Another pretty good tale.

The Orphan's Secret by Shirley Dickson -- Lily leaves home to become a Lumberjill during World War II.  Her husband is serving in the war, and Lily wants to do her part. She meets Ethel, who grew up an orphan, and the two eventually become friends. When both of them realize they are expecting babies at the same time, and Ethel has nowhere to live, Lily invites Ethel to live with her until something can be decided. Pretty good story.

Five Bad Deeds by Caz Frear -- I'm back to reading library books. This one is about sisters Ellen and Kristy, and mostly Ellen's hectic household and group of friends/acquaintances.

Black Out by Lisa Unger -- Annie keeps having flashbacks to when she was a teenager who moved with her mother from New York City to Florida so her mom could pursue a relationship with a man behind bars. Although this stuff is in her past, it keeps rearing its head and life is quite frightening! 

Random in Death by J.D. Robb -- If I'm so inclined I see that I have about sixty other "futuristic thrillers" available to read in this In Death series featuring Lt. Eve Dallas and her fellow officers. In this book a couple of teenaged girls are jabbed with a needle full of a blend made to kill them within minutes. Lt. Dallas is in charge of identifying the suspect. Decent book, but I would know more about these characters if I'd read the other sixty books, no doubt. But, whew!  I did not like the teenage lingo throughout the book.

The Therapist by B.A. Paris -- When Leo suggests he and Alice move in together, he finds a house in London behind a gate where Alice believes she will be able to make quick friends. When she learns from a private investigator that something terrible happened at the house where she now lives, she decides to ask the neighbors in order to learn more about the therapist who lived at house #6 in The Circle. 

One Wrong Word by Hank Phillippi Ryan -- When your reputation is in ruins, Arden Ward is who you want working for you. Only, now she's been falsely accused and given the sack yet her boss wants her to do one last job for him. Cordelia hires Arden to clean up the image of her husband who was acquitted of running over someone yet the moms at school still give Cordelia the cold shoulder. Pretty good story.

The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman -- A British actor comes to Los Angeles to audition for several roles. At one casting, she meets Emily who gives her her wallet and keys to top off the car meter, then disappears. While juggling reading scripts and auditioning, Mia wonders what happened to Emily and decides to search for her. Pretty good. 

The Eden Test by Adam Sternbergh -- It's their third anniversary, and Craig is ready to leave his wife after a quick meal. He's got plans with another woman, yet Daisy surprises him by not being at home and instead giving him instructions to meet her at a cabin in upstate New York. He does, and instead of a quick meal and goodbye, Daisy tells him she's booked the place for a week and it's some kind of couples retreat... so weird.

The Bones of the Story by Carol Goodman -- Nell is a dean of the college she attended, and she's busy preparing for a big event complete with most of her friends from back then.  When a snowstorm traps most of her peers together, strange things happen including a murder or two. An OK book.

Keep Your Friends Close by Leah Konen -- While going through a separation from her husband, Mary is looking for housing, a preschool for her son Alex, and a job in a new area. One day she happens upon Willa, a friend she'd made who ghosted her. Only when she confronts Willa, she acts like Mary is a stranger. What is going on?  Pretty good.

The Woman from Lydia by Angela Hunt -- Book one in The Emissaries this told the story of Euodia, a supporter of Paul's ministry as he told the good news of Jesus Christ. In this book she and a couple servants travel to various cities along the Via Egnatia in search of a girl, Sabina. I rather like this quote at the front of the book:

"If a man gets lost in the mountains, hundreds will search and often two or three searchers are killed. But the next time somebody gets lost just as many volunteers turn out. Poor arithmetic, but very human. It runs through all our folklore, all human religions, all our literature - a racial conviction that when one human needs rescue, others should not count the price."  -- Robert A. Heinlein

Two Dead Wives by Adele Parks -- This was a sequel to an earlier book: I knew some of this sounded familiar, but I really didn't remember what all transpired in the first book. Still, in this book Kylie is missing presumed dead by her former BFF who pushed her over the cliff. What? Yeah, and Daan and Mark are out a wife since Kylie was married to them both. Kind of.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Itchy Boots Season 6 Notes Finished (Mexico to Alaska)


See the first part of Season 6, here

August 12, 2023

watched episodes 84-86 which take place in Mexico

Pretty mountain roads, tunnels under the streets and cool temples.

August 26

watched episodes 87-88 which take place in Mexico

Red dunes, the gorge, and mountains

September 4

watched episodes 89-90 which take place in Mexico

I love her reference to being too Dutch re: time when the parking lot is supposed to open at 8 in the morning, and she's still waiting several minutes later.

September 5

watched episodes 91-92 which take place in Mexico

Noraly visited people who lived in a cave, I laughed at the escape dog when she was trying to leave the guesthouse, and enjoyed learning about the zone of silence.

September 8

watched episodes 93-94 which take place in Mexico

Riding through Copper Canyon, cartel area, which had some lovely mountain views and friendly people in the towns.

September 23

watched episodes 95-97 which take place in Mexico

Ferry ride to Baja California and riding in the desert

October 7

watched episodes 98-99 which take place in Mexico

October 8

watched episodes 100-101 which take place in Mexico and USA

Border crossing and riding through the desert in California; I like that one of the border guards recognized her; he said his father in law watches [her] all the time!

October 20

watched episodes 102-104 which take place in USA (California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah)

It was funny seeing her riding with the train; she comments on the long trains, big cars and roads and portions; Noraly rode through Las Vegas; Later she was hurt on a steep hill so Ed from C90 adventures picked her and Alaska up and took them to his house in Moab, Utah, so she could recover for a few days.

November 7

watched episode 105-107 which take place in USA (Utah and Colorado)

She went in a side by side with Ed mostly in Moab while her ankle healed

November 16

watched episodes 108-110 which take place in USA (Colorado)

November 27

watched episodes 111-113 which take place in USA (Colorado and Wyoming)

She visited a town called Nederland where she found out about the Frozen Dead Guy Festival and told that story; she was surprised by a snow storm.  In Wyoming, she loved seeing bison.

December 5

watched episodes 114-116 which take place in the US (Wyoming and Montana)

Great look at the Tetons and part of Yellowstone

December 8

watched episodes 117-119 which take place in the US (Montana and Idaho)

Here Noraly met Roger with his chain saw

December 11

watched episodes 120-122 which take place in the US (Idaho) and Canada

Noraly crosses from the US into Canada (Creston) and sees the glaciers

December 12

watched episodes 123-124 which take place in Canada

Noraly visited some indigenous people and saw buildings dealing with the fur trade. She was also part of chicken and duck races - ha.

December 14

watched episodes 125-127 which take place in Canada

Noraly visited Haida Gwaii islands and did some beach hiking

December 18

watched episodes 128-129 which take place in Canada

Boat tour of Haida Gwaii islands: totems, sea creatures, hot springs.

December 19

watched episodes 130-131 which take place in Canada and the US (Alaska)

First Nations; Hyderized; ice sea and glacier


January 1

watched episodes 132-133 which take place in Canada

She went to a remote area of British Columbia with pretty views

January 5

watched episodes 134-136 which take place in Canada and the United States (Alaska)

Noraly visited the Red Onion brothel, took a ferry to Haines (I've read books from a lady who lives there), and she commented on motorhomes she saw along the way.

January 16

watched episodes 137-139 which take place in Canada

I enjoyed the silver trail museum, learning about the gold trail, Klondike River and Bonanza Creek. Meeting some of the people who work in that area including a family and a twenty-year old miner; even Noraly panned for gold. Whew, there are some huge mosquitos there!

January 19

watched episodes 140-141 which take place in Canada and the US

She followed a tradition of blowing up her panties, and found a British motorcycle gang who helped with a fork seal.

February 9

watched episodes 142-144 which take place in the US (Alaska)

Great tour of an abandoned copper mine and walk on a glacier. Met Bill the mechanic.

February 12

watched episodes 145-147 which take place in the US (Alaska)

Noraly stayed with Bill and wife, toured Cabela's and was amazed by all the stuffed animals and guns

February 20

watched episodes 148 and the first part of The Movie which take place in the US (Alaska) and recap her adventure

February 21

watched the rest of The Movie which is a recap of her adventure plus her plunge into Prudhoe Bay, Alaska ; great season!

A reminder about this journey to Alaska:

At the end of the movie, Noraly mentions that she started her journey on October 1, 2019 and ended it on August 11, 2022 when she reached the Arctic Ocean. (Remember that her journey was interrupted due to the covid-19 pandemic). She traveled 65,000 kilometers and went through 18 countries.

See more about my Itchy Boots watching, here.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Itchy Boots Season 7: Benin to the Central African Republic


Not terribly long after Noraly's break from Africa in which she traveled a bit more and managed to break a bone in her hand, she was back posting her twice-weekly videos. She started in Benin where her motorcycle Alaska had been waiting all these weeks. Noraly acknowledged that she'd left Alaska longer than she had wanted, and it wasn't a good idea to leave a bike that long. She showed where rust had formed on Alaska because the bike had been left in a humid climate. Thankfully she was able to get most of that off, and told us Alaska started immediately!  That bike took her through parts of South and Central America, and from Mexico up to Alaska before Noraly shipped her to Spain for this adventure in Africa. So, Alaska has been through a lot. In her recent (January 2024) newsletter/email Noraly said she was looking for a new bike for when she starts a new trip later this year.

In the meantime, Morocco and West Africa has morphed to Return to Africa on her YouTube channel. Here's the last couple of months!

December 3, 6, 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27, 31

We watched episodes 61-69 which were in Benin, Nigeria, and Cameroon

In these videos, she got a huge stack of money when she traded in her dollars and CFAs as the Nigerian money "is not doing well."  She started this return with a Live Chat with other subscribers (our first time joining a live chat). She noted few helmets were used in the part of Nigeria she was in which was strange since they had been required in Benin. Nigeria had so many checkpoints, many of which were sketchy so she didn't stop for them unless they seemed official, or it was just not possible to continue.  The locals used tree branches to block parts of the road.  In one episode she crossed the Niger River in a ferry. Nigerians on YouTube and Facebook said they use a bridge and didn't know you could ferry across. Also, some Nigerians wondered why she used these terrible roads instead of the main roads.  (She likes backroads usually so she might have chosen them instead of ones she thought were busier. Then again, her GPS might have taken her along these routes.)   One interesting thing to me (ep. 63) was seeing the locals dry the grain by placing it on the streets.

Noraly went to the capital Abuja to sort her visa to Cameroon. She seemed to really like this capital as she said it was laid-back, and not like those she's typically encountered. She also seemed to enjoy having running water and electricity. I think she stayed there a few days to do some work and rest up as she seemed better-rested when the videos resumed.

Episodes 65 and 66 were my favorite in Nigeria as the mountains were so pretty, the locals were friendly and she interacted with them more (or showed it more than some past videos where she just struggled to ride the bike on muddy roads.)   (Note: my mom grew up in Nigeria and her youngest brother was born there so my mom would point out things that were familiar to her. She said this mountainous region was similar to where she attended boarding school at Kent Academy.)

In episode 67 Noraly made it into Cameroon. She noted that she used this particular border crossing because other crossings were closed to foreigners due to rebel activity.  In Cameroon she has done more sightseeing which I enjoy. She admitted skipping this in Nigeria because of security issues in that country.  She visited a snake and spider museum and got instructed on how they make bronze statues.  She also visited a waterfall that was gushing water after many recent rains. We got tickled at the local who said the lake area directions. Something like "take this bad road, and the next bad road and then..."  And, yeah, there were some bad roads, but that lake area was gorgeous!


January 3, 7, 10, 14, 17, 21, 24, 28, 31

We watched episodes 70-78 which were in Cameroon and the Central African Republic

Such muddy, horribly rutted roads! Noraly dropped her bike, lost a mirror and half her windshield in Cameroon, but met kind people who helped her along the way. I enjoyed seeing the sunset at the beach and her night-time turtle patrol (ep. 72.)

In episode 73, I loved the church ladies singing in the road and Noraly's time in the capital. Yay for pizza! Also notable was her search for petrol and those huge rain drops!

Loved her riding with the cattle and something notable were those toll detours (ep. 74).

I loved the military guys taking pictures with Alaska at the border of Cameroon and CAR. Yikes, a broken start button and quickly approaching nightfall: thank goodness she stopped and found shelter with the villagers. Really great episodes in CAR! (see #75-76)

Forest elephants at their mineral-rich watering hole. Noraly counted over 100 of them! So pretty! Then in the next video, we see western lowland gorillas in the wild - fascinating!  I love the people.  (ep. 77-78).

One of my favorites (paraphrased)... When Noraly was walking down the path to see the elephants, she noted footprints several times. 

She asked her guides: Do you ever see elephants when you are on the paths.

Uh, yeaaah...

What do you do?

Hide behind a tree.

Love that.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

January Books


A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante -- I started this last week when Zach and Sophie were visiting a few days after Christmas, but we were so busy that I didn't take much time for reading. Thus I finished it this first day of 2024. When Dr. John Taylor turns up dead in a hotel room, Samantha is assigned to the case involving John's legal wife plus two other wives who knew nothing about being part of this bigamous (or trigamous) case. Wild! Pretty good.

Tumbleweed: Six Months Living on Mir by Shannon Lucid -- One of the best books I read last year was about the first six women astronauts in the U.S.'s space program. In the back of the book the author mentioned some books she read to learn more about these women. This book was one of them, and I got it for Christmas. I enjoyed learning about the author's year living in Russia as she trained for her voyage with the two Yuris. It was interesting reading about the mission as well - how she talked to folks back home, the food they ate, their exercising, how they got along with each other. Neat book!

Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space by Lynn Sherr -- Interesting biography written after Sally's death from cancer. The author was not only a journalist, but a friend. Still, a few things she learned only after Sally died. This covers some of her childhood, college years, her playing tennis, her lovers and brief marriage, her applying to NASA, some training and years later when she taught physics in California and wrote books with her partner Tam O'Shaughnessy whom she'd met years ago when they both played tennis. Pretty good.

The Engagement Party by Darby Kane -- A library book came in so I'm back to reading mystery/thrillers. This one is the reunion of college friends who really don't want to be together yet meet up for Will and Ruthie's engagement party at a hard-to-access beach house. When a body is discovered and other strange things happen, the couples wonder if this has more to do with their past, when a friend was killed on graduation day.

Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon -- Three generations of females - Lana, Beth, and Jack - come together to help solve a mystery after Jack finds a dead person while on a kayaking tour (her job.)  Pretty cute story.

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord by Celeste Connally -- A mystery featuring Lady Petra who is disbelieving when she finds a friend died and was buried without her knowledge. Then when a footman tells her that he saw her friend - after she was supposed to be dead and gone - Petra investigates to see what in the world is going on in her privileged world.

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante -- Told from the point of view of Dr. Jennifer White as she struggles with early-onset Alzheimer's.  Well, she's 65 so that's not early-early since some folks get it in their forties, but it seemed young-ish to me.

The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell -- Cute book about a baking competition that turns ugly. Six contestants meet at a manor in the woods of Vermont, but weird stuff happens and someone ends up dead.

The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon -- Great story inspired by the life and diary of Martha Ballard, a midwife in Maine, 1789. Enjoyed this one!

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak -- Stella and Violet meet in college. Stella who has had an easy life, and Violet who has not. When Violet finally starts making her way in the TV news world, Stella's jealousy leads her to get a job at the same station. Can these best friends handle this new complexity? They already share an apartment in New York City. 

Lie Beside Me by Glytha Lodge -- I'm continuing the series featuring London police officers, Jonah, Juliette, Ben, Domnall, and the gang. In this book Lousie wakes up after being so drunk that she can't remember the night before. The trouble is there is a dead man in her bed. She has no idea who he is and why he is there. What a mystery for the police to solve!

The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger -- Rain Winter is a journalist currently staying at home with her young daughter. When a crime is committed, Rain is immediately wanting to investigate because it's a story she covered. This is told in the voices of Rain and her childhood friend Hank, both of whom were in a terrible situation that left them scarred for life. Decent story.

The Resemblance by Lauren Nossett -- Last year I read book two in this series featuring Marlitt Kaplan, a detective in Athens, Georgia, and I wanted to read this book to find out her backstory which was hinted at in book two. While visiting her mom on the UGA campus, Marlitt is one of the first upon a hit-and-run involving a student who is part of a Greek society. She and her partner Teddy investigate Kap-O, and find out more about this society. 

The Breakdown by B. A. Paris -- Cass is out for the summer holiday, and on her way home from a teachers' night out when she takes the shortcut through the woods and sees a lady sitting in her car. The next morning she hears about a woman being murdered and realizes that was the woman she saw!  Struggling with this situation and the fact she keeps forgetting - does she have early-onset dementia as her mom did? - Cass reaches out to her husband Matthew and her best friend Rachel for help. But her problems get worse.

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman -- Erin and Mark are British newlyweds on a trip to Bora Bora when they discover something on a diving trip that could change their lives. Do they turn it in or keep it for themselves?

The Legacy of Longdale Manor by Carrie Turansky -- Catherine and her mom and sister are horrified when they lose their home after the untimely death of their father and husband. While Catherine's mom tries to mend fences with her father so they'll have a place to live, the family lives with her mom's childhood friend on a sheep farm. Meanwhile, in more current times, Gwen is tasked with pricing art and other pieces for an auction at Longdale Manor. Pretty good story.  

Little Sister by Gytha Lodge -- I started reading this series around book five so I decided to start at the beginning and I've finally read all of the Jonah Sheens and Company series. This one is Keely telling her story of abuse at the hands of foster care parents and workers. The team isn't quite sure what to believe, and they are trying to locate Keely's younger sister, Nina, whom they think Keely has harmed. 

Good Company by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney -- Flora and Julian are both actors as well as Flora's best friend Margot. One day while looking for a favorite photo, Flora happens upon the wedding ring her husband claimed to lose while swimming in a pond many years ago. What's up with that? As Flora learns more about the past, she has to come to terms with secrets and forgive - if she chooses to.

The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters -- Great story about a Mi'kmaq family from Nova Scotia who traveled each summer to Maine in order to pick blueberries. One summer the littlest child went missing. This book is told from the perspectives of Joe, the next-oldest child who was the last to see his little sister, and Norma, the young woman who grew up in an overly-protective family. Really enjoyed this one more than I expected, and I think the cover is pretty.

On Moonberry Lake by Holly Varni -- After her mother's death, Cora returns to Moonberry Lake where she inherits her grandparents' lodge - a place she loved to live until she was seven years old when suddenly and inexplicably her mother took her away from her extended family. A stipulation to inheriting the property is that she has to live there a year so Cora sets about to restore the lodge to its former glory. With the help of longtime friend Sam, and Widgy, the repairwoman who never washes her coffee pot because each layer of old coffee "seasons" the pot, Cora follows her dream of restoring her grandparents' home.  A bit predictable, yes, but a cute story with interesting and lovable characters.