Cool Places in America~ Grand Canyon Caverns and the Coolest Hotel Room

What a Cool hotel Room..

Its your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler,  once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months….

My parents had a gig near the Grand Canyon off of Route 66. If you sing that song I will give you your kicks, kicks in the pants (My father edited this..). Well they were working for a company that created a video game in which some hikers stumbled upon an ancient civilization of aliens that were hiding in the canyons. It was a very strange game.. Never less, I got to go exploring in the Grand Canyon Caverns.

In 1927 a cowboy named Walter Peck almost broke his neck falling in this hole on the way to a poker game. Later he came up with the idea to charge a quarter per person to lower them into the caverns. Now you can take a guided tour or go on your own through them. They run more than 63 miles, so bring lots of string.

The other cool thing about them is in one part is a hotel room. Imagine that a hotel room that is:

  • Largest. 200 feet by 400 feet with 70 foot ceiling
  • Oldest: Caverns and walls over 65 million years
  • Deepest: 220 feet below the surfaces, access via elevator
  • Darkest: absent of any light
  • Quietest: the only sound is your heart beating and your breath. You are the only living thing in the caverns… The only living thing
  • Driest: zero humidity, nothing lives in the caverns, not a fly, not bat, nothing!

It only costs $700 a night. So needless to say, we did not spend the night.

One other cool thing we did there was to watch the Goonies in the cave theater next to the room. It had seats donated from the American Film Institute and had amazing sound as the audio echoed through the cave. The best part of the film was when they were in One Eyed Willie’s cave at the end. Lights reflected in our cave just like in the movie. My father said the only thing better than this was a private screening of the Blues Brothers in the original Blues Brothers bar in Harvard Square with the house sound system.

Then like many places on Route 66 there was this Dino Statue outside of the Grand Canyon Caverns Inn. I know, dinos did not drag their tales, but it is an old statue.

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. It is now available in paperback at most bookstores. Ask for it by name. Keep checking back for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up being your best vacation you ever had!

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How an Illustration is Made: Milk Street in Salem

This One Will Have You Creaming…

At least that is what this famous illustrator would want; he has shares in Puleo’s Dairy in Salem. What were you thinking with your dirty minds…

Welcome back to the wacky news from the magical whimsical side of Salem! I am Mr. Zac spilling all the odd secrets of this quirky town. Today Matt Maguire is the milkman on a currach, a leather boat St. Brendan and the Culdee monks sailed to America before Lief Erickson. He is making his delivery to me on Milk Street. This is a weird corner. This is where Collins Cove reached the shore in the days of Prince Henry Sinclair and his third generation Vikings from Orkney. Just behind this corner is a house with a flooded tunnel from the high water table that still exists. They used to drop goldfish into it from the basement above it.

So Matt who has illustrated several illustrated stories for Heavy Metal and once was set up to be the illustrator for Wolverine was kind enough to pose for this illustration.  He was drawn on some cold press bristol with graphite and then painted with watercolor and colored pencil. He is drawn on a separate piece of paper from the background to achieve a level of detail not gained from drawing him on the same piece as the background.  So he is scanned and placed seated in the boat in the final drawing using Photoshop. This conserves paper costs also. I was drawn in the same way.

Above you can see the finished piece composed using Photoshop much like a Colorforms activity. Now look in the tree and see if you can find all of the hidden images. List them below.

Pick up the first book of the Salem Trilogy, A Walk Through Salem, at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, The Witch House, or Remember Salem and learn a little more about Blackbeard.

 

Cheers
~Mr. Zac

Come back every Tuesday at 3PM for new stories about Salem and images from the Salem Trilogy.

How an Illustration is Made: Kūkaʻilimoku’s Escape

Strange Things with this Hawaiian God

 

Welcome back to the wacky news from the magical whimsical side of Salem! I am Mr. Zac spilling all the odd secrets of this quirky town. Before we start I will pass on our best wished to the people of Hawaii who had suffered recently in the volcano eruption and earthquake. Luckily the most our volcano has done in millions of years in Collins Cove was crack one foundation…

By the way, above is the graphite drawing of Dave Ward, a shaman from the family of Sitting Bull. The family joke is they are full of bull… Hi Dave! This image was done first then scanned into the computer.

Later the rest of the background was drawn in and arranged on the computer with Photoshop. Kūkaʻilimoku was then drawn and added. Later the dancer and the second native was added. He was drawn from the likeness of Brudha Iz the famous singer. Each was scaled and moved into the right place doing comps on the fly and only settling in on the final when satisfied. Sometimes, different comps are saved on different layers and saved for later.

The funny thing about Kūkaʻilimoku and A Walk Through Salem, the illustration depicts Kūkaʻilimoku being rescued and sent back to Hawaii. Soon after the publication of the book, he was indeed sent back home. There are three remaining statues of him; one was in England, the second in Hawaii, and the third was in the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. They all were put together in Hawaii in the Bishop Museum for the first time in quite some time. After the show, Hawaii did make arrangements to have them returned for good.

The final illustration depicts a news story in the Salem Gazette where the public finds out about the Hawaiians smuggling Kūkaʻilimoku out of the museum and into the Unzipping Tree in the Salem Common back to Hawaii. I never did find out how they actually did transport him back…

Pick up the first book of the Salem Trilogy, A Walk Through Salem, at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, The Witch House, or Remember Salem.

 

Cheers
~Mr. Zac

Come back every Tuesday at 3PM for new stories about Salem and images from the Salem Trilogy.

How an Illustration is Made

The Salem Custom House and Hawkes House

Welcome back to the wacky news from the magical whimsical side of Salem! I am Mr. Zac spilling all the odd secrets of this quirky town. Today I will share the process my illustrator Chris Dowgin uses while illustrating.

Below you will see three images of the process of his creation of the illustration of smuggling past the Customs agents on Derby Street. Chris starts the drawing in graphite and then scans it into the computer before painting. This allows him to do several versions of the painting and also gives him the ability to save the drawing if a cat knocks over the water jar on the painting…In the image below you will see the background drawn and painted.

On a separate piece of paper, he is able to draw the head at a much larger dimension and then add it to a body drawn much smaller on Photoshop. Both images get scanned in and then scaled to fit before they are added on to the background. The body does not take much detail, but faces do and seem easier to him on a larger scale.

Then helping Elias Hasket Derby, America’s first millionaire, are two other figures drawn much in the same way. The funny thing is that Tim Maguire possed for all the characters, actually looks like the real Elias Hasket Derby. These figures below were added to the cargo they are carrying and applied to the background also utilizing photoshop. After attempting several placements and scales of the figures, Chris had decided on this final composition. What do you think, tell us below?

Pick up the first book of the Salem Trilogy, A Walk Through Salem, at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, The Witch House, or Remember Salem.

 

Cheers
~Mr. Zac

Come back every Tuesday at 3PM for new stories about Salem and images from the Salem Trilogy.

 

 

P.S.~ In Salem Derby would not have smuggled so openly; in fact, he would have used one of the three miles of tunnels in Salem. To learn more about this, read Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City published by Salem House Press. Available at the same places above. If you do not see it, ask your favorite bookseller to order any of the books.

He Haunts this Town

and Proud of it!

Welcome back to the wacky news from the magical whimsical side of Salem! I am Mr. Zac spilling all the odd secrets of this quirky town. Today I will tell you about the town’s favorite ghost. Mike was the first model Chris Dowgin illustrated for his Salem Trilogy appearing in A Walk Through Salem.

Many things about Mike and A Walk Through Salem are uncanny. Soon after publication Mike died of mysterious causes and found floating in the harbor not too far from his favorite fishing spot. His death still remains a mystery but what has not is, Mike always wanted to be a ghost. In fact, on the morning of his death, he at least visited 3 friends in their dreams.

What might have been the beginning of this fascination? He used to live in his wife’s family home where there was a ghost who would haunt the tunnel leaving the house in Chelsea. An odd member at the local poker games they held in a room off the tunnel. Later in life, Mike hosted a local ghost hunter’s film series for years. Now he haunts the harbor catching the ghost of the fish he caught and ate in the past.

So what else was weird about Mike and the book A Walk Through Salem? The funeral home and the church his funeral was in appears in the same illustration near the middle of the book. Also, he is the one who informed the author of many wonders under the Visitor’s center including Romanov Crown Jewels and Blackbeard’s skull. Maybe one day he will leave the wharf and stop aggravating his wife by smoking in her bedroom in the afterlife (which she still can smell) and take the rocket to heaven.

Till then he will be just chasing the ghost fish through Pickering Wharf…

Pick up the first book of the Salem Trilogy, A Walk Through Salem, at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, The Witch House, or Remember Salem.

 

Cheers
~Mr. Zac

Come back every Tuesday at 3PM for new stories about Salem and images from the Salem Trilogy.

Eclectic Locations in Salem MA!

One of the Many Whimsical Places…

Welcome back to the wacky news from the magical whimsical side of Salem! I am Mr. Zac spilling all the odd secrets of this quirky town. Today I will highlight some of the more fanciful places in Salem Ma.

The Carousel House sits just off the corner of Pleasant Street and Washington Square North and East.  Home to many artists over the year. In fact, you might hear some piano from one of the windows. The carousel horse in the bay window on the second floor is truly magical. There is also the carriage house out of Hansel and Gretel on Bott’s Court, a small winding road that terminates at the Salem Atheneum. There is the house shaped like a riverboat down on Juniper Point. The man who invented the paddle boat was indeed from Salem… Then there is Mr.Pelinger’s House on Federal Street Court behind the Rope’s Garden; filled with wormholes and many mysteries. Also do not forget, the many locations from H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction including the Crowninshield-Bently House, The Curwin House, The Essex Institute, and the Old Burying Point. Come on down or up to Salem and see these wonders!

Pick up the first book of the Salem Trilogy, A Walk Through Salem, at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, The Witch House, or Remember Salem.

 

Cheers
~Mr. Zac

Come back every Tuesday at 3PM for new stories about Salem and images from the Salem Trilogy.

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Sticky Wicket

The Newest in the Mr. Pelinger’s House Series

We return to Mr. Pelinger’s House once more! The house in Salem MA where anything can happen which has its own wormhole. This time around the Foster Siblings are entered into a game show that pits the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and Queen Victoria as the celebrity guests in a game over which is the better country; England or America.

Here are some illustrations from the new book:

Come back every Wednesday and see which ruler beats the heck out of the other verbally, mentally, and in all other ways…

So who do you think is winning this week? Which country is better? Tell us below in the comment section.

Till next Wednesday have a Cherio Time!

~Mr. Pelinger