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The O Trilogy and Sequel

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Bacteria image in RS Perry post dangerous bacterial superbugs Bacterial Superbugs

Bacterial Superbugs

Scientists have warned for years that the overuse of antibiotics can lead to the creation of bacterial super-bugs resistant to our most potent treatments. Because of the rising death toll, it is presently hard to envision something worse than the novel coronavirus pandemic. But with the rise of dangerous bacterial superbugs it is not only possible, it is probable.

Like viruses, bacteria present a threat to the world population. Bubonic plague, or the Black Death—caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis—killed an estimated 50 to 200 million people in the fourteenth century. If antibiotics had been available and the Y. pestis bacteria had not developed immunity, the bubonic plague might have caused little damage to the human population.

We have become accustomed to antibiotics curing us. Health care workers and scientists are aware, however, that this is changing. There are several bacteria that are now resistant to antibiotics.

Warding off the Plague.

Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics

Antibiotic Microbial Resistance (AMR) bacteria have become a major global health concern. To most of us, AMR is no more on our radar than coronavirus was a few months ago. Just like viruses, bacteria are here to stay. And while they have been subdued since the arrival of penicillin, their suppression will not necessarily continue.

E coli bacterium in RS Perry's blog In 2016, a mutant antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli bacterium (photo left) was found in a Pennsylvania woman’s urinary tract. Finding only one patient with such a bacterium might not seem significant, until one realizes the E. coli strain contained a gene known as mcr-1, resistant to colistin, the antibiotic of last resort used against Gram-negative superbugs.

“The fear is that this could spread to other bacteria and a bacteria resistant to everything,” says Dr. Beth Bell, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

Bacteria pass on their genes through lateral gene transfer. In other words, bacteria can give their resistant genes to other bacteria. If antibiotics have no effect on them, there is nothing to stop them from multiplying and infecting others.

“The more we look at drug resistance, the more concerned we are,” says CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden. “The medicine cabinet is empty for some patients. It is the end of the road for antibiotics unless we act urgently.”

Nusmen and the Nusbug

Off The Edge, RS Perry adventure book first in the Jim Johnson seriesIn Off The Edge, the weird genius biochemist Nusmen develops an antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacterium. He accomplishes this not by genetic engineering, but by laboratory acceleration, i.e., he simply treats his bacteria to a continual stream of different antibiotics. The few bacteria that survive each round multiply until, eventually, the only bacteria surviving become resistant to all antibiotics, including the vanquishing drug for Gram-positive bacteria – Vancomycin. In RS Perry’s the adventure-thriller series, the secret Biological counterterrorist group dubbed Nusmen’s bacterium the Nusbug.

Causing Resistance

Like all living entities, bacteria seek ways to survive. In the world of hospitals and clinics, antibiotics are sometimes dispensed indiscriminately, and resistant bacteria persist.  If one superbug is controlled, another stronger and more resistant to microbes might, inadvertently, adapt and survive. Something similar happens with Nusmen’s lab experiment with Staph aureus bacteria.

When we apply antimicrobials to our kitchen counters, we kill the susceptible bacteria and leave others to multiply. Soon, only the resistant bacteria remain.  If, for instance, the bacteria left to multiply are Salmonella, they could prove dangerous and even deadly.

Bacterial Mutations

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE bacteria) in RS Perry aventure book Off The Edge is pictured inMutations—a change in the microbe’s genetic code— can also take place, allowing selected organisms to survive.  This can occur when viruses and bacteria make a small error during division.  These changes, or mutations, are often inconsequential. As with the mcr-1, however, certain mutations can help organisms survive and proliferate.

New Superbugs

The centuries old Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacterium that causes gonorrhea, now seems to be evolving into a superbug. Recently, gonorrhea has shown resistance to the last remaining treatment, Ceftriaxone.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB, is becoming resistant to isoniazid and rifampicin, the components of the recommended multi-drug treatment for the illness. Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) poses a serious threat—the revival of a grievous disease that we assumed to be part of our history and not part of our future.
(Above) Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) bacteria is pictured in this medical illustration provided by the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention.

The above are only a few examples of the increasing list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Scientists are struggling to find new antibiotics, providing the time for bacteria to acquire the resistance necessary for their survival. Could an antibiotic-resistant superbug cause the next pandemic? Only time will answer this question.

More likely, many diverse resistant bacteria will cause an increasing death rate throughout the world. Current worldwide death rates from drug-resistant bacteria are estimated at 700,000. The annual deaths in the US are 23,000 and in Europe 33,000. According to a recent statement from the World Health Organization, “Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest threats we face as a global community.”

 

Genetic Engineering

image of genetic engineering in RS Perry post on Bacterial SuperbugsWith the advent of molecular biology, the process of inserting genes, genetic engineering, into bacterial DNA has become widely and effortlessly performed in laboratories. The costs of setting up such labs is well within the means of many groups or individuals throughout the world. Laboratories possessing the ability to manipulate the genetic code much more rapidly than in nature and with potentially more exotic and deleterious results could introduce a lethal bacterium into the human population.

As we did with emerging novel coronavirus 2019 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – SARS CoV-2), we will likely remain complacent until one of these bacteria causes death and suffering on a large scale.

 

 

Marburg virus for RS Perry Killer Virus post Marbourg virus

Pandemics, viruses, and the world’s greatest viral killer

The subject of RS Perry’s latest adventure novel, Ecuador -Pandemics, viruses, and the world’s greatest viral killer.
Deadly pathogens: viruses, bacteria, and prions; play a part in all of RS Perry’s Jim Johnson adventure books. Ecuador, the author’s fourth book, is no exception. With viruses very much on our minds currently, a thriller that casts a killer virus in a starring role is indeed both relevant and timely.

Coronavirus RS Perry's killer viruses postThe novel coronavirus.

Living through the present-day coronavirus (photo left) pandemic, and experiencing intensely the effects of Covid-19, leaves us wondering when it will end, how bad will it get, and will our friends and family become infected? The mystery of what our future will be, leaves us feeling uneasy. We can’t predict the future any more than the team at the Biological Warfare Center can as they struggle to trace a virus in RS Perry’s latest novel, Ecuador.

Novel coronavirus strain, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV-2)  viral infections. which cause the disease Covid-19 (2019).  Mortalities are increasing daily. The death toll from coronavirus in the US has far surpassed the US death toll from the Vietnam War and is quickly approaching the estimated death toll of US soldiers both in Vietnam and Korea. It must be noted that the US casualties are only a small portion of those killed in the Korean and Vietnam wars, where the combined death total, including civilians, is estimated to be as many as 7 million.

Viruses.

The mortality numbers from wars, however, pale in comparison to those of the deadly viruses. Throughout history, viruses have killed far more people than all wars combined. The greatest viral killer of all time is smallpox, or Variola major. In the 100 years before a vaccine, smallpox killed approximately 300 million people—nearly the current population of the United States. Historically, smallpox killed an estimated total of 500 million people. An incredible figure given that the world’s population was much less than it is now. During that time, parents often did not bother to name their children until after they had survived the scourge. Could there be even more lethal viruses waiting to jump species, mutate, or be genetically engineered? Could this novel coronavirus mutate into something much worse than it already is?

Ebola virus RS Perry's deadliest virus postViruses need to live in host cells. They are just small packets of either DNA or RNA. The RNA containing coronavirus we call the novel coronavirus (novel meaning new), that causes Covid-19, is similar to other coronaviruses that cause SARS and MERS. Aside from coronaviruses, there is a long list of existing dangerous viruses lurking in the shadows – Marburg (top photo) and Ebola (pictured left) as two examples. Any of these, and dozens of others, could suddenly mutate. Rabies virus, which we have all heard of, could be extremely dangerous. There is no cure and it has a nearly 100% mortality rate. What if it became highly transmissible through a mutation or combination with another virus?

How deadly were other virus pandemics?

How does the current coronavirus compare to the 1918 influenza, (Spanish flu), caused by the H1N1 virus? In one year – 1918 to 1919 – the flu pandemic caused 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide, with 675,000 losses in the US alone. It is currently anybody’s guess whether Covid-19 will surpass the 1918 flu, or not.

However, the new coronavirus is not likely to kill as many as either Variola major or the 1918 H1N1 flu virus. Not likely is the key word. There are already indications that novel coronavirus in the US is mutating. It could either become more lethal, or a mutation might not be beneficial, causing it to die out. Our wide ranging and sophisticated medical technology may be able to stop this virus, but we have to be prepared for the fact that it might not.

Can old viruses still infect us?

An effective vaccine and a concerted effort lead to the eradication of smallpox in 1980. Smallpox had a weakness that was exploited, and consequently this once lethal disease is no longer a threat – Or is it? As stated in Ecuador, “Allegedly, there are only two places” that have stocks remaining of Variola major: “the CDC and the Russians’ facility at Zagorsk.” The CDC alone has over 400 strains in their freezers. Could there be more still sitting in frozen limbo in freezers around the world? What if these were to escape? Could smallpox still be a danger to humans?

Variola major, small pox image in RS Perry's killer virus pandemic postBesides natural strains, what if the Variola major virus (pictured left) were genetically engineered or combined with another deadly virus such as Ebola?  And what if the incubation period were shortened to a few days? Smallpox could spread rapidly, making it difficult to control. In Ecuador a Russian virologist from the Vector Institute near Novosibirsk, Siberia, defects to the US, and the CIA funds him to work at a university research lab in Bogotá, Colombia. His previous work in Russia had been finding a way to combine the smallpox with other viruses, and dispersion on warheads, to infect large numbers of people.

The new coronavirus, like smallpox, and along with dozens of other viruses, could be genetically manipulated and set loose in the world. It is no longer difficult to manipulate strands of DNA or RNA, and small labs can perform these experiments. The lessons learned from dealing with Covid-19 should encourage governments to prepare for future viral threats. But then, so should have the lessons from previous pandemics. As years pass, our memories of this virus will fade, just as have those of smallpox and Spanish flu.

RS Perry's Jim Johnson adventure book series - Off The Edge, Over the Line, Out Of Time, and EcuadorThe Biological Warfare Center and the Jim Johnson series.

Pandemics, viruses, and the world’s greatest viral killer -smallpox  alongside antibiotic resistant bacteria, play a part in all of RS Perry’s adventure novels. Jim Johnson, aka Dr Johnson, aka Colonel Johnson, and his sidekick, Brush, are supported by skillful red-headed Sheilla, their mission director, the wild-haired genius biochemist Nusmen, elite hackers, Misa and Vidya, ex FBI agent, Glenda Rose, the gruff but lovable General Crystal, Heather the llama lady and Jim’s partner, and a host of other unforgettable characters, including the sexy and dangerous psychopath – Najma.

Armed with a Ph.D. in microbiology and combined with his background in Special Forces, the protagonist, Jim Johnson, is sent on many missions. His primary job description is to investigate and stop biological threats, however, he laments that often times his missions are more as hired gun.

RS Perry book cover Ecuador Jim Johnson novels chasing the greatest killer virus of all time in a race to stop the pandemic Ecuador

Who will stop the virus pandemic – the greatest…

In RS Perry’s latest thriller book – Ecuador – about the adventures of the Biological Warfare Center’s secret agent Jim Johnson – this time he is faced with a kidnapping that leads to a chase to discover the release of a killer virus.  In the race to solve the mystery and stop

RS Perry book cover Ecuador Jim Johnson novels chasing the greatest killer virus of all time in a race to stop the pandemic
A high-stakes chase to stop a Pandemic.

the killer virus pandemic, Dr Johnson aka Colonel Johnson and a cast of colorful characters go on a whirlwind tour from Rio de Janeiro, to Bogotá, and to  the Shuar people of the Amazon. Howe is the CIA involved, Conflicts rage between drug cartels, governments, the army and the FARC rebels of Columbia.  Who are the good guys; the sad eyed lanky Jago that leads the rebels, his sometimes partnerCherry Bomb, the feisty Angleicá, Angel to her friends, or the BWC team of unforgettable characters: the laid back Canadian Brush, the ex FBI agent Glenda Rose, the high achieving Asperger’s virus expert Nusmen, the unique Special Forces team headed by Neilly, and the BWC support team with the twirling Sheilla, and Misa and Vidya, elite white hat hackers. Heather struggles to understand Jim as she takes care of the llama ranch in Eastern Washington, her adopted son Pedro, and the Phantom of the Mountains, Old Man Shuskin. A thrilling adventure with exquisite scenery, alongside enduring characters that become your friends. This sequel to the O Trilogy will keep you turning the pages.  RS Perry books are a unique mix of science, beauty, adventure, and romance.

RS Perry books

A lethal virus, insidious plot, adventure, romance, excitement, infectious…

Ecuador, the long-awaited sequel to the O Trilogy – high stake battles, political intrigue, mystery, kidnapping, suspense, and romance as old friends and new, chase a lethal virus hatched in an insidious plot. From Rio to the Amazon, Quito to Bogotá, familiar characters, like old shoes, walk us through a kaleidoscope of adventure:  Nusmen, Old Man Shuskin, Sheilla and, of course, Jim, Brush, and Glenda. A team of some of the world’s best hackers and researchers from the secret biological laboratory in Washington State support multiple hair-raising missions. Colombian rebels with unexpected charm and integrity link up to aid Jim’s team. Throughout, Colonel Johnson battles himself and his past while attempting to blend his professional life with a normal home life with his family. In Jim’s absence, Heather oversees their remote ranch with starlit skies, glass apples, and dangerous predators. While their young son Pedro attempts to fit into a white America. A shock ending lurks along the dark edges of the story and finally comes to light in its last pages. Available through most sellers. Release date May 5, 2020. rsperry.com 

   

Education articles

HOW WE THINK AND LEARN

…from Chapter 13 The UK Space Design Competition book available at https://www.amazon.co.uk/UK-Space-Design-Compe…/…/0985538147 by Catherine Twomey Fosnot – Most people assume that learning results from teachers transmitting knowledge: clearly explaining concepts, procedures to be practiced, and facts to be memorized; then testing to assess retention and application, with subsequent feedback. Yet this could not be further from the truth…Read the full chapter in http://uksdc.org resources http://uksdc.org/how-we-think-and-learn-2/… does not start with concepts, but rather the other way around: concepts are the results of cognitive processes… Scientific inquiry describes the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work. Scientific inquiry also refers to the activities through which students develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas…. it is at the heart of how students learn. From a very early age, children interact with their environment, ask questions, and seek ways to answer those questions. Understanding science content is significantly enhanced when ideas are anchored to inquiry experiences. Scientific inquiry is a powerful way of under- standing science content. Students learn how to ask questions and use evidence to answer them. In the process of learning the strategies of scientific inquiry, students learn to conduct an investigation and collect evidence from a variety of sources, develop an explanation from the data, and communicate and defend their conclusions…Read the full chapter in http://uksdc.org resources or by clicking http://uksdc.org/how-we-think-and-learn-2/…One of the most significant impacts of the SDC is the effect it has on students’ career paths. Experiencing the SDC is stressful and challenging, yet many of the participants become so enthralled, they not only return year after year, they veer from what they previously thought they would pursue and opt instead for space science as a new career choice…The SDC offers new doors. Involving a diverse group of students from schools around the country who ultimately may even compete internationally; the project introduces new worlds to many. It also provides a startlingly rich contrast to the traditional teaching of math and science, which too often are still characterized by transmission, practice, test, and feedback.
Continue to read in http://uksdc.org/how-we-think-and-learn-2/ or by clicking http://uksdc.org – resources.

RS Perry Jim Johnson novel home ranch with yellow balsam root and Oval Peak and the Cascades in the distance. O Trilogy

WOLF CANYON RANCH AND O TRILOGY

Wolf Canyon Ranch and the surrounding Pasayten Wilderness play prominent roles in all of RS Perry’s adventure novels. The Pasayten is a real place, and Wolf Canyon Ranch was a real ranch. From 1980 to 2000, it was home to the book’s author, RS Perry. It has since been sold to the Washington State Department of Wildlife and no buildings remain, however the canyon is as beautiful as ever.  In Perry’s O trilogy— Off the Edge, Over the Line, Out of Time, and the trilogy’s recently released sequel, Ecuador— Wolf Canyon Ranch (WCR) is the beloved home of protagonists Jim Johnson and Heather Asplund.

Author RS Perry with Shariffa on Wolf Canyon RanchThis beautiful area is located on the east side of the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Three mountain passes will eventually get you to the Methow Valley. Several homes follow the Twisp River as it enters the valley from the Canada border, eventually joining the Columbia River. Other dwellings dot the more remote hillsides, including those near the ranch.

This region is drier than west of the mountains. The north sides of the hills and mountains bear ponderosa pine while the lower elevations of the south sides support a sagebrush ecosystem. In spring, the hills are awash with wildflowers ranging from yellow balsam root to blue lupines. Wolf Canyon Ranch possesses one of the largest groves of aspens in the state. Each year, they turn a mellow yellow in the fall. Scenic roads from the valley lead to hiking trails in the Cascades and the Pasayten Wilderness. For hikers, the land presents a stunning backpacking playground. They can easily encounter here weather both fair and mild as well as cutting and raw.

Above- The author with Sharifa on Wolf Canyon Ranch with the Cascades in the background.

The drive to the Methow Valley is spectacular. The North Cascade Highway, which opened in the fall of 1972, is one of the most dramatic and scenic routes anywhere in the United States. The highway threads through snow-peaked mountains and lush meadows and eventually passes through the small towns of  Winthrop and Twisp. The highway then climbs out of the valley toward WCR and crests a small group of mountains to the east. At the crown is found the local ski area called the Loup Loup. All of these places inhabit the O trilogy.

WCR is nestled up a canyon, eight miles  from the ranching town of Twisp and nearly as close to the old wild-west town of Winthrop.  Remote and untouched, the ranch entertains no human sounds other than that of an occasional plane, woodpecker, and coyote howl. Deer, black bear, and great horned owls are an everyday occurrence. Occasionally a cougar steps into the canyon. Eagles by the dozen drift on the current up and down the canyon. The ranch is an anomaly, situated so close to civilization yet with such a solitary ambience. Not everyone would define Twisp as civilized, but it has everything most people need, from gasoline, groceries, pharmacy, a coffee and donut café, and a brew pub. Of course, if you raise horses, cattle, or llamas, then you will need the Twisp Feed Store. Through the years, Twisp has changed from primarily a ranchers’ town to a blend of cultures and politics. “Coasties, from the Pacific side of the mountains” and environmentalists mix with the descendants of homesteaders. A playhouse and art gallery have even cropped up in town when Wolf Canyon Ranch still had a contingent of llamas, alpacas, horse, cows, reindeer, two dromedary camels, and of course Rosie O Twisp and Guinness, the Irish wolfhounds.

Above – Looking toward Coyote Ridge on upper Wolf Canyon Ranch.

 

 

O Trilogy

JIM JOHNSON NOVELS PLANES HELICOPTERS

Jim Johnson novels cont. – Off The Edge, Over The Line and Out of Time.

Continued from previous post

The mountains between  Jim and Heather’s llama ranch and the west coast (Seattle) were notorious for bad weather, especially high winds and icing conditions. He quickly realized that he need a plane that could fly over the weather, carry more people and cargo, including the occasional llama, have instruments capable of getting the plane through treacherous weather and ways to shed ice. The Piper Seneca PA-34 is a twin turbo charged plane with known icing capabilities. Heated props, windshield, air intakes and expandable boots on the wings for shedding ice are worthwhile options for mountain flying. It could fly nearly twice as high as Jim’s first plane, a Piper single engined Cherokee and a lot more safely. Safe or not, his partner, Heather, was afraid of flying.

Jim Johnson, the hero of the Jim Johnson novels, didn’t learn to fly for fun but rather as a means of getting over the mountains quickly. While the Cherokee partially satisfied that goal. It only did so  only in fair weather. The thirty hours learning to fly the small single engine plane quickly turned into a 100 hours of instrument training in the much more complex Seneca. Well, that explains why he ‘needed’ a complex plane; it doesn’t explain his need for a helicopter.

Occasionally fixed wing plane pilots and helicopter pilots do not enthusiastically share the air spaces and many helicopter pilots are not licensed in fixed wing aircraft. They are two entirely different birds. Jim learned to fly for easier transportation than driving, but he purchased his white Enstrom F-28 for love. It was also turbo charged (for rising to higher altitudes),  with the same continental engine as the Seneca (back in the 1980s they were the same), and a good choice for flying through and over high mountains.

Flying planes is a technical exercise while flying helicopters is more of a seat of your pants exercise. The truth is, Jim didn’t need the Enstrom  like he needed the Seneca, but if he could have only one material possession, something just for the sheer pleasure of looking at it and flying it – it would be his small, sleek, white helicopter.

Jim’s Enstrom is an important part of the Jim Johnson novels. The novels can be purchased in paperback or in digital formats at Amazon or rs.perry.com.

 

O Trilogy

FLYING INJURED LLAMAS AND ALPACAS

Llamas, planes and helicopters play an important role in the Jim Johnson novel book series by RS Perry – the Jim Johnson trilogy – Off The Edge, Over The Line and Out Of Time. James L. Johnson lives on a llama ranch in north central Washington. Planes are important for many reasons in the novels but one that stands out is flying injured llamas and alpacas. Colonel Johnson works at the “secret” Biological Warfare Center (BWC) south of Seattle/Tacoma, Washington. His job as an agent specializing in biological threats is not a typical daily nine to five. Still, he makes the 140 mile flight on average weekly. And if his services are urgently needed, his boss, the director of the BWC, General Will Crystal sends a plane or helicopter to bring him in.

Is it then extravagant for him to have both a helicopter and twin engine plane? Jim would be the first to say it is, as by nature he is conservative with money. Heather his partner would be the second to say it’s extravagant. However, he spends little money on other things, even on his llama ranch in Twisp/Winthrop. And the white Enstrom helicopter just makes him feel good to look at and even better when he is flying it.

The author of the Jim Johnson series has flown Llamas and Alpacas from Wolf Canyon Ranch near Twisp, Washington to Pullman, Washington for emergency medical treatment at the Washington State University veterinary school. I’m sure Jim would do the same.

Jim didn’t learn to fly until he started living at Wolf Canyon Ranch. He knew, from flying with his men in Vietnam that he loved hekicopters. He never thought about getting a plane or helicopter until he purchased his ranch. It was approximately 100 miles from Seattle by air. While the curvy mountain roads across one of three passes extended the driving distance to over 200 miles. The shortest drive, about 3.5 hours, could be beautiful especially on the little traveled North Cascade Highway, however it was closed during winter. And winter made the other two passes oft times an exciting icy driving adventure taking extra hours to drive, taking as long as 5 hours.

A reasonably fast plane such as a Piper twin engined Seneca cut that journey time to 50 minutes, depending on weather. Jim’s first plane  was not the Seneca however,  but a Piper single engined Cherokee. While cheap to purchase and easy to fly, and also a good plane to earn his private pilots license in, it had several limitations starting with  minimal instruments and a single piston engine.  Continued in next post… Books available on rsperry.com in paperback and kindle.

 

O Trilogy

PASAYTEN WILDERNESS

My first llama packing trip in the Pasayten Wilderness in north central Washington State was on a sunny September day. Not an unusual day for one of the largest wild areas in the lower US, which is shielded by mountain ranges to the west, effectively blocking the low lying Pacific rain clouds making their way eastward. The flowers were gone but the grasses and sedges were still green against blue sky. The llamas rarely lifted their heads as they gorged. It was peaceful and idyllic. Especially since there were no bugs. Why not? Well it seems the disappear when the flowers do. Not when it gets colder in this wilderness. Astonishing really – being out away from any human sounds, in nature, with no mosquitos and only the occasional fly. The Pasayten Wilderness became the inspiration for RS Perry’s book series. Image above is RS Perry llama packing in the Pasayten Wilderness near Cathedral Peak.

Most of my life I had been too busy to go llama packing or into the wilderness but life had changed. Lanette who lived on Wolf Canyon Ranch convinced me that there was more to llamas then just breeding them for profit. Prices reached a lofty high in the eighties and then cascaded down the right side of a bell shaped curve nearly as fast as they had risen. The business of breeding and selling had slowed allowing time to find out what else llamas were capable of. It turns out that they are wonderful animals, as I had always known they were, but living closely with them on the trail and in the mountain meadows – they became truly special.

The characters in Off The Edge, Over The Line and Out of Time are for the most part fictional or bits and pieces of lots of people all mixed into someone new. The llamas, however,  such as Pipestone , Shasta, Meteor are just as they were. the same colors, the same personalities, at least as I remember them.  It was the Pasayten Wilderness and the llamas, along with special people that inspired the book trilogy. And made them such a joy to write. Writing about them takes my mind back to the wonderful times spent in the ranch canyon, nestled partway between Twisp and Winthrop in the Methow Valley. Times that can’t be repeated but can be well remembered.

RS Perry llama packing in the Pasayten Wilderness

 

RS Perry Adventure Novel in the Sonoran Deserrt Weekly Posts

OVER THE LINE FROM FORT HUACHUCA TO NOGALES WITH…

Spring is just around the corner but the long evenings are still with us. Time to snuggle up with your favorite RS Perry novel and dream of a trip to some of the locations featured in them. It may be a little cold for a hike in the Pasayten, but how about a trip to Arizona, making a short hop Over The Line into Mexico.

If it’s a touch of the old Wild West you’re after, you can’t go wrong in Tombstone. You can shoot it out in a gunfight at the OK Corral like Heather’s friends Kristina and Nicola or visit any number of saloons and Music Halls. And for those of you like Ralphy who are more keen to fill your stomachs than empty your guns, there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and ice cream parlors to choose from.

If you are interested in mining and want to see what a mine was like in its heyday, then head to Bisbee. You can have a tour of a real mine and learn of some the hard and sometimes tragic life of the miners. You can even go prospecting for gold.  But don’t feel you need to avoid the abandoned mine near El Sauz. The terrible things that happened to the University group there were only fiction, thank goodness.

The Arizona-Sonora desert museum is not to be missed. There are examples of many of the plants, minerals and wild life of the area, all in surroundings as close to their natural habitat as you can get. See if you can spot olneya tesota or ironwood and peniocereus striata, the plants that the two sergeants were supposed to be collecting when they went on their recon mission to the hacienda.

Just Over the Line from the U.S, border town of Douglas, Arizona is Nogales. As in most cities, it is best to be careful but if you want to pick up a bargain at up to half what you pay stateside, there are plenty of shops and stalls aimed at tourists doing just that though you will need to haggle. You can also sample authentic Mexican food and wine.  After that, you will probably want to drive straight through Tubutama with your windows closed!

Arizona is surely a must for those who, like Jim Johnson, are interested in anything to do with astronomy.  It has some of the most prestigious observatories in the world including Kitt Peak Observatory, the University of Arizona Biosphere, Spencer’s Observatory  and the Planetary Science Institute. University of Arizona astronomers were just involved in finding the largest black hole yet discovered.

Unfortunately, the Fort Huachuca Museums are closed for renovation at the moment but we only have room to mention some of the places to visit on your Over The Line tour. There are plenty more, such as the Nature Conservancy birding center in the Huachuca Mountains. And hikes and trails enough to keep you occupied for a week or maybe more. Why not re-read the book and plan your own itinerary in the footsteps of Jim, Brush, Heather and their companions. Remember, stay watchful, stay safe and enjoy. It could turn out to be a great adventure.