Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Lesson Too Late for the Learning: Don't Venture Forth on Thanksgiving Lest You Tempt the Raging Gods of the Open Road

Approaching the Delaware Memorial Bridge after the horrors were over

It was a hairy ride, as in hair-raising, hackle-lifting, heart-pounding, white-knuckle driving on one of America's most infamous major highways, the New Jersey Turnpike. How foolish we were, looking back on it, to have even considered joining millions of other homesick Americans to travel great distances by automobile to stuff our pie holes with family on Thanksgiving, that most sacred of secular holidays.

It started last Tuesday, two days before Turkey Day '09, when we left our peaceful home on the bucolic Eastern Shore of Virginia for my old peaceful home in the bucolic Berkshire hills of New England, some ten hours away. We thought we had left early enough to beat the hordes; we were wrong. In between those two idyllic points lay the Northeast Corridor and a wasteland of vehicles storming the roadways at ludicrous speeds, bumper to bumper, in rain, wind, and fog. What could be worse? It was worse, much worse, for the driver of a fully-loaded 18-wheeler who lost it, big time, going under an overpass on the Jersey Turnpike. The crash was spectacular, the resulting fire so hot it appeared to have damaged the structure of the overpass, and shut the Turnpike down for over six hours--during the Thanksgiving-go-home weekend. We know because we were there.

A hard lesson learned, sure enough. But between those bookends of vehicular madness, we had a fine time. It was the first time in over a quarter of a century that I had spent Thanksgiving with family. My ancient, nursing-home bound parents were delighted, we re-bonded with cousins/nieces/grand-nephews we had not seen in years, and I finally got Terry away from her desk/fax/email/telephones for a few days so she could de-stress. Still, had we understood the risks-per-mad-mile factor, we would have stayed very happily put right here on the Chesapeake and cooked our own turkey rather than nearly having our gooses cooked for us on the road.

Next Saturday we head to New England again, this time on business, and this time during a normal travel period. Still, we're flying and leaving the roads to the good, the brave, the mad, the bad, and the ugly.

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