I ran away this week, sort of.
Sometimes you just have to move, get out of your space, and explore.
I’m working on a short story that takes place in the mountains. I enjoy doing the research for my stories, but there is only so much you can do can on the internet. So I ran away to then mountains.
The San Bernardino mountains are visible from my neighborhood. I’d say from my front porch, but there are too many trees and buildings in the way. To see them I have to walk to the corner and look southwest, and there they are in all their glory.
I though it’s a beautiful day, and maybe I should just trot on up the hill and see the lay of the land for myself.
My first stop was a Paradise Mountain Coffee in Crestline. I met my friend and co-municipal liaison for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Lyn. She lives in the area, and we seldom spend face-to-face time together. So over our cups of coffee, we chatted about NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo, religion, politics, and life in general. What I thought would be an hour visit ended up being nearly three. It’s amazing how time flies by when you’re having a good conversation.
My second stop was the San Bernardino County Library, Crestline Branch. Now you’re thinking, isn’t there a closer library to my home, right? I needed to stop because I wanted to see how the library was set up and its proximity to Lake Gregory. My main character needs to go to the library to research something and his internet connection in his cabin is non-existent, so off to the nearest library, he treks.
My next stop was Running Springs, the central location of my story. After several wrong turns, I found the small mountain village, nestled between Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear. It’s where the CA 18 and CA 330 meet, so most travelers will fly by it and never notice the quaint little town.
Originally a sawmill called Hunsaker Flat, when the lumber companies moved out in 1896, development moved in. The area was advertised a country club, resort, mountain playground. It became Running Springs Park in 1925.
The small community of about five thousand people is worth your time. There are several antique shops and art galleries. They have a coffee shop and a pizza parlor. The folks are friendly, too. When I started asking questions about where this or that might be located, or how long does it take them to drive to San Bernardino or Crestline, they were more than happy to be helping get my story accurate.
So are you curious about the story? Here’s a little taste:
In 1927, Rachel Doolittle was found dead in her Running Springs home of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning. The coroner reports that the accompanying head injury was due to a fall when she was overcome by the poisonous gas from a faulty furnace.
It’s 2017, and true crime writer Eric Cartwright is facing a deadline. He retreats to the mountains above San Bernardino to complete his current project. He is told by the realtor that the house is haunted, but he laughs it off. After a series of strange occurrences, he sees her in the mirror, standing behind him, while he shaves.
What would you do if a beautiful ghost asks you to solve a ninety-year-old murder?
Until next time, the door is always open, and the kettle is always on.