Friday, July 1, 2016

5 National Parks Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon Books Got Me Scared Of

My summer of reading Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon park ranger mystery series continues.  I’m currently halfway through book #14, Winter Study.  If the title doesn’t give away any hints, the story takes place in Isle Royale during the winter season.  Between October and May the park shuts down to tourist.  This allows fifty-plus years of research to continue, regarding the study of the moose/wolf activity surrounding the island.  And that’s a dollop of information best left to experts and the internet to explain to you.  I could break the research down–coming from what's given to me via the book.  However, it would appear as weak as pre-generic Dollar Store coffee.  So with one operational gear of Winter Study aside, my issue is that the book takes place in fiercely below freezing terrain.  Terrain chillingly described within Barr's juggle of metaphors (lots of movie references in this one) and icy prose.  So far as my reading, Barr's Anna Pigeon has slept in this literary blizzard outside in a tent!  A tent which found her and her team under attack by an unidentified creature.  (Similar to what happened in Blood Lure, if you're familiar with the series.)  However, as of where I stand, the team believes it’s a mutated wolf of some sort.  So I must keep reading to see.  
Anna has also skidded across a froze Siskiwit Lake while setting up wolf traps, apropos the research.  And, as such elementally-heavy mystery books go, she immediately found herself thrown over into the icy waters to nearly drown.  What else crazy happened?  Oh, the team has to collect snow for water; an interesting nugget of information mentioned that quickly boiled snow is actually bad for you.  I never would've known.  Also, Anna and the team spend a day dissecting a wolf and examining moose body parts.  Cool but grizzly by way of Barr's description of rotting flesh and bloody innards.  

There's just a slew of craziness taking place in Winter Study.  But because a murder hasn’t happened yet (except for a couple of moose and a fallen wolf), I got a feeling the story is about to get crazier.  Like, Jason Voorhees level crazy!  Especially as ice and cabin fever sits in.
Yet, this is precisely why I enjoy this series; Anna’s always in some crazy-ass situations.  And it's in these situations where she has to think her way out, before she gets the ax.
So before I run off to fix a cup of coffee and throw myself into Winter Study, I want to share a few of the national parks Anna Pigeon has got my ass scared to go to!  In order from least scary to MOST!  But, being the nature lover that I tend to be, this listed is for fun.  So of course I’m not serious, because all I've wanted to do since reading these books is start a GoFundMe to see if I can tour all Anna's spots.
So the list goes...

5.  California’s Lassen Volcanic National Park | Firestorm | Anna Pigeon #4
First, “volcanic” is in the name.  So that would draw images of fire and hell.  Secondly, according to Anna Pigeon’s adventure, that place can find itself washed by a forest fire then dowsed with a winter snow storm.  At the flip of a hat, mind you.  Regardless, facing a fire then waves of snow and ice doesn't sound like a good time.  Especially while trapped in foggy backwoods with no coverage for a rescue team.  And on top of all that craziness, imagine finding yourself stuck out in this hell with a killer.  Nope!  Not for me.

4.  Florida’s Dry Tortugas | Flashback | Anna Pigeon #11
Actually, this would be the first place on my list of parks I would want to go to.  Especially if I could swim.  But I may find myself running from the ghosts of old Civil War soldiers and prisoners contaminating the island.  And by the time they’ve come out, I would have to wait until dawn for the next boat off the island!  Or wait for pirates and smugglers to hold me at gunpoint to resume their convert mission before throwing me to the sharks.
3.  Mississippi’s Natchez Trace | Deep South & Hunting Season | Anna Pigeon #8 & 10
The South.  Where I’m from.  Where I live.  Despite being so, I can deal without the swamps, religious zealous, and keen racism.  Oh, hell.  I almost forgot alligators saddling up onto personal property.  I can just feel and see the mud, mosquitoes, gnats, humidity and men with rifles looking to hunt one down in the dark.  As Anna so expertly held back with a pistol.  Sidebar: I've been living in the south all my life and only two days ago saw my first opossum up close.  In my yard.  Then next door the following night; it screeching into the dark.  Both nights combined, the sound and sight made me sick to my stomach.  But with that, I did a little researching only to find out it was making such noises in defense of its territory.  I assumed one of the neighborhood stray cats was around.  Still, my psyche is stained with the image of that opossums' naked tail swinging around a trash can to flee the motion detector lights I set off.  But I know why it was so close.  Earlier that day I threw a pot of neck bone juice out into the yard.  Never again!

2.  California’s Yosemite National Park | High Country | Anna Pigeon #13
Anna went undercover as a waitress in Yosemite's famed Ahwahnee Hotel.  Her job was to find out what happened to four of the seasonal park employees who disappeared.  Of course, snooping almost caused her her life.  Many, many times.  She found herself hunted, shot at, and beaten in a nightmare that took over two days of her running for her life in the Sierra Mountains.  Alone.  In the dark.  Injured.  Freezing.  And almost helpless without her wit.  There was even a vulnerable moment Anna was given to dispatch her hunters with an ax.  Contemplating channeling Lizzie Borden… well… I won’t give it away.  Seriously, the scenes with Anna fighting to survive not only kept me glued to the pages, but were terrifying.  Hence, I may skip this park.
1.  New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns National Park | Blind Descent | Anna Pigeon #6
This is no-brainer.  Anna runs to the rescue of an injured friend who gave message that she need Anna.  The catch is that the friend is down (and I mean down) deep in the Lechuguilla Cave.  That’s a cave 138.3 miles deep.  The 7th longest cave in the world.  Nothing but darkness.  Darkness so deep it can press into your psyche and make you lose your mind.  Who, in their right inexperienced mind, would want to deal with that!?  Should I’ve trekked deep underneath the earth to solve a mystery, I would never come back up the same.  That is if I haven't freaked out, busted into a blind sprint, and fell to my death down an abyss painted with nothingness.  Then, all in all, the stress of claustrophobia would shorten my lungs of air until there's nothing left in me.  With only a headlamp to light the way, it takes a real trooper to put up with this kind of madness.  Anna did it.  Though terrified each step of the way.  That's vicarious and good enough for my weak soul.
Been to any of these national parks?  Share your experience below.  Or for those who're familiar with author Nevada Barr, which park her mysteries have you in fear of?

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