New Book From Autumn Birt

One of the best things about being an Indie author is meeting other Indie authors. In the year since I published On Unfaithful Wings, I’ve met more great people than you can shake the trunk of a fallen cedar tree at (thought some of them would give me shit for leaving a preposition hanging at the end of a sentence with its ass exposed like that). Today, one of my favourites of these people is releasing a new book…and I don’t think she cares where I stick my prepositions. Without further ado, I give you Autumn Birt and her new book Danger Peligros!

What are Peligros? That is a tough one to explain. They are the best and the worst of your day, travel, life. They are what draws us out from safe and comfy homes – the little itches that make such abodes feel too confining, too much the same. They are the essence of that moment when everything has gone horribly wrong and you are left thankful to be alive with parts that still add up to a functional whole. They are that moment when someone you don’t know lends you an unexpected, warm hand. They are when your luck goes from nonexistent to good, because you wouldn’t need good luck if things hadn’t looked scary for a time, now would you?

You know what a Peligro is, only you just didn’t know what to call it.

Raven and I have been traveling since we met on Martha’s Vineyard oh-so-many years ago now. From those early days barely surviving learning to sail on Vineyard Sound to more recent motorcycle trips through the Canadian Maritimes, we’ve had our share of trouble and of luck. Danger Peligros! collects some of those stories of our misadventures so that when you follow a Peligro out the door, you might be a little better informed!

Danger Peligros!

Explore the best moments, mischief, and mayhem from the adventure travel website No Map Nomads. Whether by boot, by (motor)bike, by boat, or by whatever it takes, Raven and Weifarer will take you along to experience trips from sublime to nearly disastrous. With serendipity tucked into the saddlebags along with some capricious Peligros, every turn leads to the unexpected.

This book includes the complete story arc to Cruise Ship Mutiny, the Cabot Trail on motorcycle, memories of the first motorbike trip to Canada (in October no less), hikes on tropical islands and much more.

Find it on Amazon:

Or on Smashwords:

Serendipity and the Accordion Music Festival

A free wheeling motorcycle excursion through Quebec takes a turn for the worse when we end up in the midst of an accordion music festival.

In the brief pause as the musician walks to a different section of the restaurant, Raven’s shoulders loosen. He takes a bite of his dinner and whispers a hopeful “Maybe he is done?” It is not to be. The accordion breathes in with a jolly hum before being launched into a frolicking melody. Soon everyone in the restaurant is clapping and singing along in French. Everyone except us, that is.

My French is workable at the speed of molasses. Raven’s usage relates to food. Exuberant Quebecois songs sung to an accordion are not in our repertoire. “Just try to relax and enjoy it.” After seven years of marriage, I can read the look Raven gives me over his pasta without the need to speak above the accordion’s notes. Clearly I do not understand his view of reality. I know he hates loud noises – unless he is the cause of them. But everyone else is having a good time. The musician is pretty good for playing on an accordion. “Let’s just eat and get out of here.” I sigh and nod. Really, I doubt that will help.

Our tendency to not have a plan while riding our motorcycles had landed us in the thick of it this time. By afternoon when we stopped our meanderings to check the map only one town close to us was listed as having a campground: Montmagny. It was Labor Day weekend, but traffic had been light all along the roads of inner Quebec. Prospects looked good for serendipity to smooth things over once again.

That is until we queued in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way into Montmagny. All of it seemed to be headed toward the only campground. RVs, tents, and campers were stuffed double to a space inside the chain link enclosure. Oddly, at the time we still hadn’t figured out what was going on. Instead, we were enraptured by an historic motorcycle museum’s advertisement we discovered while waiting in line at the campground office.

You don’t need to know much French to figure out when a campground is full. The kid behind the register shook his head. Dismay weighed on my shoulders. Whatever was going on was a big deal and I doubted we would find any campgrounds open for miles. Then the teenage boy looked at us again, a light in his eyes. “Pas électrique? Pas l’eau? – No electric? No water?”

“Oui, une tente pour un nuit – Yes, one tent for one night.” His smile grew a little larger. “Attente ici – Wait here.” He ran off. It took a few minutes, but our plight was shared. The desire to help was strong and we were shown to a spot outside of the full enclosure. We got a patch of grass next to the closed pool. By the time we were set up and ready to head into town for dinner, there were a few other campers in tents along the pool fence as well.

We followed the foot traffic back into town, finally noticing the signs: World Heritage Accordion Music Festival. I had never given accordion music a thought, but Raven apparently had. His eyes were popping out of his head. We spent quite a bit of time studying menus for cheap fare and checking out exactly how many accordion musicians were located inside the establishment. The Italian restaurant and ice cream stand called Bistro LeFontaine had looked safe. Until five minutes after sitting down the apparently late minstrel arrived.

Now Raven’s jaw is clenched too tight for him to eat. His blue eyes hold a glaze of desperation over the angst. Chance and luck have turned tails up. I don’t see the world from his perspective where loud sounds are jarring and crowds pressing, but I know when he has had enough. Something is going to have to give.  And then the musician walks to our section.

He meets Raven’s distressed gaze, sweeps over my defeated shoulders and starts to speak in French. I only catch about half of what he says, but what I understand surprises me to my core. He explains to the crowd that the jubilant notes are not to our fancy and he is going to play a different tune, just for us. He launches into Stray Cat Strut.

I’ve never heard jazz on an accordion, so I have nothing with which to compare that serenade. After remembering to close my jaw, Raven and I share a nervous smile. Then we are laughing, closing our eyes to smooth notes that hum like smoked brandy, even on an accordion.

Everyone applauds the rendition, a few giving us smiles and happy nods. We blush and smile back. The musician moves on.

It isn’t really serendipity or fate that guides us on our journey. Deep down, we know we can rely on each other. More than that, when we have taken a wrong turn and fallen short of hopes we have always been gifted with kindness. Strangers have read our plight in the lines of our faces when our words could not be translated. Such experience has removed the fear of the unknown and turned us into seekers of the out of the way path.

Before we leave the restaurant, we buy ice cream cones with sprinkles to accompany us on our music filled walk back to the campground. It is apparently going to be a late night for the festival. But from our corner of the campground by the pool, it is mostly an odd mixture of notes and laughter floating above the St. Lawrence.  Our whimsical method of choosing routes has landed us in a myriad of odd places from lunch spots next to closed asylums with torrid histories, a Beetles playing guitar group around a campfire on a pebble beach, and now an accordion music festival. Oddly enough, it’s all been good.

Note from Raven:  Yes, it’s true. I would rather eat a fried rat than enjoy accordion music. I have to say, however, the city of Montmagney is absolutely beautiful. The women are just as pretty and the food is magnifique. I would happily return on any of the 51 weeks the music festival is not in town.

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