Crocodiles, thunderstorms, and grenade launchers, oh my!

One of the worst things about being in lockdown this time of year is that during the summer many of us travel. We look forward to leaving our homes to visit friends and family, searching for adventure when vacationing in new locales, and participating in pastimes that are not always available where we live.

My sweetie pie and I generally find an ocean to leap into, since we’re avid scuba divers and can think of nothing better than a good swim with the fishes. But, alas, we’re now stuck at home with no trips on the horizon. And that makes us reminisce about travels we’ve taken in the past. Most of the time these excursions were glorious, but as travelers know sometimes vacation treks can be anything but easy.

Me wreck diving

My sweetie pie and I enjoy scuba diving, but the Covid-19 virus has us marooned in the desert.

I recall the time we boarded a tiny plane in Costa Rica that would take us to Drake Bay, a wee dot on the map with an airport to match. Actually, airport would give it much more credit than it deserved. Upon landing on the jungle airstrip, we were greeted by a single wooden bench.


We crossed through deep water on a Costa Rican beach not realizing salt water crocs swam in at high tide.

An SUV appeared out of the woods and our gear was tossed on board. We bounced through a thick rainforest on a rutted road and approached a river, which had me scanning the area for a bridge. Turns out we didn’t need one. We sloshed through the water, wound through the jungle, and were deposited on a beach, where high tide surged up into the trees. Our driver pointed to the other side of the clearing, where a rustic building — our hotel — perched on a wooded rise. He showed us how to hoist our bags over our heads and disappeared.

Ryan and I stared at one another, then we lifted our gear and waded through the surf. Later, cold beer in hand, we sat with a few other folks staring at that flooded beach, which we were told would be clear by morning.

“Then, the crocodiles will go back out to sea,” one local explained.

“Crocodiles?” I squinted at the man who shrugged as if saying, “No big deal.”

On the trip back to the Costa Rican capital of San Juan, our small plane bounced in a set of thunderstorms, which precipitated a wide, looping flight pattern around the airport. The pilot announced it was too rough to land. Immediately thoughts of How much fuel do we have? and What happens if we’re struck by lightning? danced in our heads. Then, Ry pointed at the cabin door. Rain was pouring inside the plane. We held hands wondering if this might be the end. Of course, it was not. Our brilliant pilot landed us safely, albeit a bit damp.


Ry and I enjoyed our trip to China, until we faced a serious problem at the airport.

Our scariest travel moment was on a trip to China. We stood in a group in Wuhan’s massive airport, amid our two-week excursion to the ancient country. A soldier appeared with a rifle slung over his back. He pointed at a suitcase which like all the others had gone through an x-ray machine. Our guide said, “Who owns this bag?” Immediately Ryan stepped forward. When I pointed out that the suitcase was mine, he shook his head, intimating that I should remain silent, which is something I rarely do. Still, I acquiesced and watched as he was led away.

Our group waited; some folks concerned that we might miss our flight. Our guide paced and fidgeted with our passports. We had no idea where Ryan was taken.

After forty-minutes passed, I learned what occurred.

“They took me to a small room. Three soldiers with assault rifles were pointing at the bag and speaking in Chinese, but I didn’t understand what they wanted me to do.” Ryan spread both hands. “One of them grabbed a cellphone and swiped through some photographs. Then he showed me the phone and pointed at the screen. There was a picture of a grenade launcher.”


Somehow, Chinese soldiers mistook a cardboard tube and a hair dryer for a grenade launcher.

Ryan was told to open the bag and search through the contents while the soldiers watched. What did he find? A cardboard tube holding a watercolor painting of birds that I’d purchased. Turns out, my hairdryer was positioned right next to the cylinder. Humm?

I felt a surge of relief when we finally boarded our flight. There’s no telling where Ry might have ended up.

“I would have stayed, if they didn’t bring you back,” I assured him.

“No, you would get on the plane and go home.”

That didn’t seem quite right, but my sweetie pie was adamant, so for the second time in less than an hour I demurred. And I agreed that next time we’re accused of harboring a grenade launcher in our dirty laundry, I will do as instructed.

Despite our travel travails the road still beckons. We long to go somewhere soon.

Here’s hoping.

Wild Horses on the Salt Cover 2

Wild Horses on the Salt

A woman flees an abusive husband

and finds hope in the wilds of the Arizona desert.

Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Order your copy here:

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

2 thoughts on “Crocodiles, thunderstorms, and grenade launchers, oh my!

    • annemontgomeryauthor2013 says:

      The good news, Catherine, is that I have managed to slip out of trouble each time. Guess that makes me a lucky girl. And I bet you have plenty of cool stories to tell. You are, after all, an author. 😉


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