Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts



Rocky Mountain Beauty

Idaho is dominated by the Rocky Mountains range and the Snake River winds its way through the rugged western border of the state carving the deepest river gorge in North America. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area provides spectacular views of the dramatic landscapes the Snake River took thousands of years to sculpt.

Fossils are prevalent and entire cityscapes of stone appear. The City of Rocks was encountered by native peoples, pioneers and modern-day adventurers. It became a kind of way-station or landmark for those who were westward bound. Today it is well-known as a  destination for rock climbers.

Inventors seem to like Idaho too. Beyond the list of patents for improvements to printing presses and railroad technology, Idaho is the home of the television. Philo Farnsworth invented the necessary technology that brought the small screen to mass market.

One of the famous people born in Idaho is Sacajawea – Explorer and Guide – (May 1788 – December 20, 1812) In 1805, Sacajawea joined the Corps of Discovery expedition with her husband Touissant Charbonneau and her son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. As a guide and translator, the Shoshone woman’s presence signaled to others that the expedition’s mission was a peaceful one. I had no idea she died so young.

My favorite memory of traveling through Idaho was a stop in Coeur D’Alene for lunch. The restaurant had a wonderful salad bar with refrigerated plates. I thought it was a grand marketing tool that the plate receptacle cover was a toilet seat lid. Others in my group didn’t see the humor in it. That was about 35 years ago and I’m still talking about it. While eating we got to watch a logger running on logs in the lake outside our window. He was moving them around with a long pronged gaff. Of course we were waiting for him to go in the water, but he didn’t. It was quite the entertainment.

Beauty and Diversity

I had the privilege of living in the Tacoma, Washington area from 1977 to 1991. It was a treat to be able to leave work in the early afternoon and in an hour be in the bustling center of Seattle, or on the coast in Westport, or up on a mountain logging road communing with nature at the base of Mt. Rainier. Add a little more time and you could be driving the Columbia gorge through high dessert in the eastern side of the state smelling apple blossoms (if it was spring). I miss the diversity of its beauty.

People say it rains too much in Washington, but if you look up weather information for western New York State, where I now live, it actually has more grey days than Washington. New York state also has diverse areas that are breathtaking to look at and visit but there is no sight better, to me, than the sun or moon appearing from behind Mt. Rainier. I used to drive to work at dawn and want to pull over just to enjoy the sight.

A few years ago my husband and I traveled to Washington to attend a live recording session of a jazz singer friend of ours, Nancy Kelly. It was November and the “mountain was out,” as the locals say, all three days we were there. Unheard of! I took him for a circular drive over Snoqualmie, Blewett and White Pass and back into Seattle. We experienced sunshine, rain, and blinding snow on that trip in just a few hours. Now he understands how you can have any temperature you want in Washington if you are willing to drive to it.

Seattle’s Public Market is world renowned. You have probably seen a video of the guys throwing big fish back and forth. Seattle is also the original home of Starbuck’s coffee. The first shop was on a side street between the market and the waterfront. You had to know where it was or you would miss it. Now there is a Starbuck’s on most every corner of the U. S.. When I have a cup it brings back memories of going to that first store.

The Army, Air Force and Navy are well represented in Washington. That’s how I ended up there, as an Air Force wife. The wife part didn’t last long, but my memories of living in Washington are vivid and happy. I hope you get to visit there one day and the mountain shows itself for you to gaze at. And, if my novel ever gets published, you’ll find the Washington setting is almost as important as any of the characters.




Take That Time Off

Project: TimeOff has uncovered an alarming trend over the last 40 years: Americans are taking fewer and fewer vacation days. To reverse this trend, we aim to prove that vacation travel is valuable and necessary for strengthening personal relationships, inspiring creative thinking, improving professional performance, and promoting better health. [courtesy-National Day of Calendar] Continue reading “Take That Time Off”

A Whole Big State

Louisiana epitomizes the phrase “melting pot” probably more than any other state. Throughout the history of the state, Native American, French, Spanish, German, African, Irish and Caribbean cultures have blended in a variety of ways creating a diverse and distinct culture in the bayou. From the food to the language, the music and history, Cajun (French Canadian or Acadian), Creole (European, African, Caribbean or Spanish mixed ancestry) and even the landscape impact the enchantment that is Louisiana. Within its mysterious gulf, Louisiana holds the secrets of pirates, conflicts of slavery and the paths of progress.  The bayou teems with life and stories untold. [courtesy National Day of Calendar] Continue reading “A Whole Big State”

Swirling Mass Departs

Cliff swallows are cousins of barn swallows and purple martins. They have long, narrow wings, forked tails, and weak, tiny feet. Incredibly graceful in flight, they feed on the wing, catching insects in their wide mouths; they can effortlessly make abrupt changes in direction or speed as they feed. There is a large population that arrives in San Juan Capistrano, California (about an hour south of Los Angeles) in March and departs in October. They winter in Goya, Corrientes, Argentina. [courtesy National Day of Calendar] Continue reading “Swirling Mass Departs”

To me Kentucky means the Derby, Fort Knox, horses, and the twice a year huge quilt exposition in Paducah. It is a grand place to live and play. Continue reading

My Home State

As a young Air Force wife in the ’70’s, the first general question I heard was, “Where are you from?” Of course I said New York. About 95% of the people I met thought I meant New York City. In other states, and in Europe, people didn’t seem to understand New York was a great big state. I finally started telling folks I was from Niagara Falls. They understood that was a long way away from NYC.  Continue reading “My Home State”

Bucket List Vacation

It’s National Read a Road Map Day. I love how these days occur where I can fit in a subject I want to talk about. A few of you noticed my blog was missing last week. That was a big compliment. I wasn’t in front of my computer because I was using a city map to walk the streets of New Orleans; mainly, the French Quarter, a bucket list vacation.

My husband and I like music. I prefer country and we have had the privilege of walking Broadway in Nashville a couple of times. Loved it. My husband prefers jazz so last week we walked the French Quarter and are ready to go back as we didn’t get our fill of Dixieland Jazz with brass instruments in the bands.  When we checked into the Royal Sonesta hotel on Bourbon Street they gave us a city map. We didn’t go anywhere without it. By the third day we pretty well had the streets in the Quarter learned, but then we walked to the World War II museum that was in the Arts district. I will admit, we liked our vacation so well, we have been talking about retiring there and dreaming about real estate.

Last night on NCIS, the team’s phones were hacked so they couldn’t use the GPS on them. Gibbs asked them if they knew how to read a map. We had to chuckle as we had just relied on a map for a week.

We also used to ride a Harley and one of the fun things we did is go on road rallies. The map we got was more like a written list of landmarks we had to follow to get to check points. We usually did it in the locale I was raised in and often arrived at our final destination in the top 10% of the group. A feather in our cap (helmet).

Reading a road map, whether landmarks one is familiar with, city street names one can’t pronounce, or following interstates seems to be a lost art among the young. I’m glad I know how to do it. And, if you like music and people watching, New Orleans French Quarter is a great place to do both. Take lots of single dollar bills as everyone expects a tip, even the guys that drape beads around your neck.

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