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Blogophilia week 50.10

It’s time again for Blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martien gives participants prompts. This week’s are:

Ecrits Blogophilia Week 50.10 Topic – Without Music Life Would Be A Mistake
**BONUSES:
Hard (2 pts) Mention a TV Game Show
Easy (1 pt) Include a Type of Wine

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I had planned to work on Jorick, part 2, but then I wrote a special Valentine story to send to my newsletter subscribers on the 14th. Apparently 9,000 words are all I have in me this week. They say without music, life would be a mistake, but without Blogophilia the week would be a mistake, so, even though you don’t get a story, I’m throwing something at you for points. No, not points you can do anything with, like Wheel of Fortune, but points I can use to try to get my hands on the fictional jacket. Being bad at guesses, I doubt I’m going to catch up to it. Maybe I should pour a glass of merlot and forget it?

Ah, what the heck. Let’s guess anyway.

topic: Myke

photo: Irene
1) leaning tower of Pizza. 2. Model home 3. home for giraffes 4. Alpine inspired 5. golden hour 6. are those skulls stuck on the building? 7. Is this a real place or a model? I can’t tell. 8. follow the yellow brick road. 9. Is the wizard inside? 10. It’s no emerald city. 11. It makes me think of fish for some reason. 12. in the jungle, the mighty jungle 13. the lion is sleeping in silk sheets tonight. 14. I’m not going to get this one. 15. tall house 16. it’s “peaked” my interest. 17. Ha ha ha ha! 18. It also looks kind of swiss. 19. Heidi’s vacation home. 20. I give up.

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Blogophilia 42.10 – Zuri Part 2

It’s time again for blogophilia, the cool blog group where Martien gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blogs. This week’s prompts are:

Ecrits Blogophilia Week 42.10 Topic – Kryptonite
**BONUSES: Hard (2 pts) Incorporate a lyric by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (something didn’t seem right)
Easy (1 pt) Use the word “chrysalis”

I missed last week. I had actually started it, and technically could have posted what I had, but I got greedy and wanted to wrote more and… and with limited computer time I wasn’t able to, nor was I then able to post what I already had, so you get it this week instead. I’d hoped to finish the story, but I rewirked the beginning, (which y’all won;t see until it’s published later this month or whatever), and that took forever.

Anyway, Zuri is in the bar, talking to the bartender, wishing vampires could get drunk to distract him from his forced “leave of absence” from the Executioners.

***

 

Zuri reached to tug on his necklace, a nervous habit, but stopped when his fingers found nothing. They’d ripped away the Executioner amulet when he was taken prisoner, and laughed about it. He’d expected to get a new one, but since he was still on leave…

“You lose something?”

Zuri looked sharply to the bartender, but saw no malice in his eyes. No, he had no way of knowing. The comment had probably been an innocent one.

Footsteps came down the corridor, then a pair of vampires swept aside the filmy black curtain and ducked inside. The bartender moved away to serve them, and Zuri took his cue to leave. Though his apartment was the last place he wanted to go, he hated the thought of a crowd even more.

It could be worse, he told himself. I could still be with them.

***

“What am I?” Zuri stared through new eyes, looking at his extended palms, stained in blood, then on to Logan.

The man smiled; revealing those strange elongated teeth, like the smile of a fox. “You are as I am, made stronger with my blood.”

Blood. There was a lot of it. It was on Zuri’s hands, splashed on his chest, staining his shirt, pooling on the floor around the savaged body of a young girl. He squinted and recognized her as the inn’s serving girl who’d shown him to his room earlier. That she was…had he…

And then the pain came, ripping through him like a hot knife, and he fell to the floor next to her. He writhed, eyes squeezed closed, as if to blot out everything, including the sick memory of what he’d done, of the way her flesh had rent, the way her blood had tasted so delicious…

Zuri jerked awake and the memory-turned-dream faded.  Logan. How long had it been since he’d last seen his master? 1779, wasn’t it, when Logan had announced he was bored.

“I have more than taught you what you need to know; nature herself could have shown you the way. Perhaps it was my vanity that held us close, or my curiosity. Regardless both have run their course and the time has come for us to part ways.”

Zuri had stared at him for a moment, and then shrugged. What else was there to do? It wasn’t as if he had the words to describe the complicated mess he felt; a mess better kept to himself, anyway.

And that was it. Logan had tipped his hat and walked away into the night, his boots clacking on cobblestones. Zuri had watched him for a moment, then turned back for the inn and their rented room. After that he’d followed the same life style – rented rooms, nightly meals, money taken from victim’s pouches – until he’d become a guard for The Guild. From there he’d moved on to greater guard, and finally became an Executioner when Kateesha left the first time.

Ancient history, he told himself. More than two hundred years ago. Does any of it even matter anymore?

He had no answer, only a gnawing thirst that told him the sun was gone it was time to rise.

He climbed out of bed, showered, and dressed, stopping again when it came time to slide the missing necklace over his head. For a moment he saw the twisted face of his captor – a sniveling, dark haired vampire with deep eyes and a sneer of contempt. Fabian, the brother-in-law of Oren. Fabian had ripped the necklace free and thrown it on the floor.

“You’re nothing now, Executioner. This – this is a symbol of what you were, and now it’s gone and you’re nothing!”

The world had faded in and out, blurred and cleared in time for him to see the raised dagger in Fabian’s hand, in time for him to realize he was going to die, just as Dismas had died.

But another had stepped in. Muscles stacked like building blocks gleamed under his ebony skin. A voice like molasses murmured, “There’s been enough death.”

Fabian jerked away. “Who the hell are you to tell me what to do?”

Jorick had stepped in then. “You can fight over his bones later. We need to catch up to the others.”

Fabian looked ready to argue, but Oren shushed him with a motion. “Jorick’s right. Pack him up and we’ll head back to the den.”

Zuri couldn’t move his arms. Was he tied? He tried to push against the bonds – as a titan he was stronger than other vampires, and stronger than any rope they could find – but for some reason he couldn’t fight this, he couldn’t…

A loud knocking pulled Zuri back to the present. He tugged his shirt smooth and moved to open the door. In the corridor stood Beldren, tall and slender with a blonde ponytail and his own flashing silver medallion.

Zuri nodded a greeting. Beldren didn’t bother to disguise peering over his shoulder, eyes raking over the tidy apartment.

“I have to go back out in a couple of hours, but I wanted to see how you were doing.”

Zuri shrugged and stepped to the side to let Beldren pass. The vampire moved to his accustomed chair and smoothly folded himself into it. “Jorick is leaving tonight for Munich.”

Jorick had left Oren’s war coven the day after the fight. Even as a prisoner, Zuri had figured that much out, and oddly in Zuri’s blurry memories it was Jorick who’d returned twelve days later, to drag Zuri back to the citadel. A penance for the crime of leaving him there, perhaps? But if so…

Something didn’t seem right.

“Leaving? He’s still here?”

“Of course. He hasn’t been let go yet.” A muscle in Beldren’s jaw twitched. “After you were…imprisoned, Jorick and his human were apprehended for those murders, which they didn’t do. But during the trial he was found culpable of Dismas’ death and your predicament. As punishment, Malick reinstated him as an Executioner.”

Zuri stiffened. Punishment? He was punished by being given an Executioner post – the same post Zuri would give his eye teeth to have back?

“Eileifr was against it, and in hindsight everyone thinks Malick did it because he was hoping Jorick would join him in the revolt, so he wanted to make sure Jorick was available. As you know, he didn’t. Anyway, you won’t have to worry about running into him. He’s heading out for Munich tonight.”

Zuri shut the door and paused, an eyebrow arched. “Munich?”

Beldren nodded. “Someone has to report to the True Council about what happened here. You know how old ones are. They have to have someone in person so they can pluck it from their brains. Anyway, I believe Eileifr is planning to send Verchiel and one of the new Executioners with him.”

New Executioners?

Beldren went on, as if he already guessed the question. “There are three new ones, to replace the defectors. There’s Cyprus, I think his name is. He was a guard here. You might have seen him. A mane of long red hair nearly to his waist.” He motioned the appearance, then waved it away. “Then, there’s a woman – Lisiantha I think her name is. Dark hair. We’ve worked with her a few times. And…who was the third? Oh yes, Fallon. He’s been a greater guard for some time. I remember him from clear back in the fifties. Or maybe the sixties. He’s blonde, curly hair, looks young. Anyway, Apparently Cyprus used to be a guard for Munich, so he’s going with Jorick as a kind of liaison. Why Verchiel is going is anyone’s guess. Probably because Eileifr wants rid of him as much as we do.”

Zuri took the opposite chair and folded his hands in his lap while Beldren added, “I assume you know everything else that happened? Oren and Traven’s covens attacked, Malick revolted and took off, Eileifr’s taken over the council-”

“I know that.” Bitterness made Zuri’s words brittle. “He’s the one who insisted on this ‘recovery time’.”

“Is that what he’s calling it?” Beldren asked. “Not that you couldn’t use some time off. We all could. I’d fancy a vacation, too-”

“A vacation,” Zuri cut in. “But this isn’t a vacation. This is little better than being Traven and Fabian’s prisoner!”

Beldren picked invisible lint from his coat. “You can’t really mean that. I’ve heard about your…imprisonment.”

Anger bubbled to Zuri’s lips, but he swallowed it back to say instead, “How long until I’m reinstated?”

“Good grief, I have no idea. It’s certainly not my decision. If you want, I can put in a word with Eileifr, say that you seem to be…altogether, or whatever. Not that I think it will make any difference. He’s a demon eye, and can see the outcome before he makes the decision. I assume he’s keeping you on hold because he’s seen something.”

Zuri cocked an incredulous eyebrow. There was a good chance this so called “recuperation” was to make sure he didn’t cause waves with Jorick. Malick might be gone, but he doubted the favoritism was.

“Anyway,” Beldren rubbed his hands together. “You’ve stewed in here enough I imagine. A drink, perhaps? My treat.”

Zuri shrugged. It wasn’t like he had anything else to do.

***

Zuri saw Beldren and his company of guards off, then slumped back for the elevator. He reached for the second floor button, but on a whim hit the first floor. Though he’d fed with Beldren, a cinnamon and sugar mix sounded good.

The nightclub was empty except for the bartender, who was whipping tables. Today he wore a shirt that proclaimed “My Name is John” in a scrawl similar to a handwritten name tag.

Zuri took a stool and nodded to the garment. “Is it?”

The bartender looked up from his task. “Is what?” he followed Zuri’s gaze and grinned. “As a matter of fact, it is. Pleased to meet you. Again,” he added with a laugh.

Zuri grunted a reply and turned his eyes to the glasses behind the bar. Shiny rows waiting for the late evening rush.

“Do you really get that many customers?”

John finished his task and joined the Executioner. “Sometimes. Business is down a little, though not as much as you’d expect. There may have been a lot of casualties, but the looky-loos have started showing up, wanting to gawk at the ruins. Enough about me. What can I get you?”

Zuri muttered his order – the same as last night’s – and soon had a glass in hand. He sipped the contents and waited for the bartender to start the chitchat. Just like he did last night.

When nothing came, Zuri decided he might as well do it himself. Save the guy the trouble.

“So you live with your mother?” When John blinked, Zuri added, “She’s your master?”

“Oh well, true enough there.” He smiled affably. “But no, she’s in Oklahoma still. How about you?”

Zuri shrugged. “My mother is long dead, and my master is long gone.”

“Oh. Sorry.”

Zuri shrugged again. “It is what it is. Not like the memory is my kryptonite.” He took another sip. “She died of smallpox when I was a child. As did my sisters. I survived.” Though he didn’t pull up his shirt, he knew the familiar patchwork of scars that covered his trunk, smoothed by immortality, the pits were still barely visible, the mark of the disease.

Though not a mind reader, he could sense John’s discomfort and added, “It was a long time ago. I barely remember them. Or it.”

“I guess that’s the good thing about time,” John said vaguely.

Zuri scoffed. “That it hides all wounds in a fog, like some kind of chrysalis that entombs our misery? We forget no chrysalis is permanent. Just as the butterfly bursts forth in the spring, so do the memories.”

“But surely they’ve been changed, just as the caterpillar turned into the butterfly?” John countered. “Dulled by time?”

“Or twisted into something darker.” Zuri drained his glass and set it on the bar. One look at John’s uncomfortable face left him backtracking. “I’m sorry. Just ignore me.”

“No, it’s okay. You’re obviously in a pretty dark place right now.”

“I’m nowhere right now. Trapped here until Eileifr decides I’m ‘well’, whatever that means.”

“Eileifr…That name’s familiar.”

“He’s in charge of the High Council now that Malick’s gone – and in charge of the Executioners. He thinks I need time off to ‘recuperate from the trauma’. As if all of vampiredom – and being an Executioner – isn’t traumatic. Do they think that killing illegally created vampire children, or burning bodies, or destroying unmarked humans isn’t traumatizing? Malick knew it was, but he believed trauma made us stronger. Eileifr on the other hand…Eileifr…I don’t know what he believes.”

“You’re an Executioner, then?” John asked. Zuri’s reply was a grunt, so he went on. “I imagine your vampire experience has been pretty…bloody. But I have to say mine hasn’t been traumatic. It’s actually been pretty nice.”

“It would be, being turned by your mother, I imagine. No loss, no old life left behind. That’s not how they used to do things.” He stopped before he sounded like an old man complaining about how the kids did things “these days”.  “You haven’t been immortal long, have you?”

“Ten years now. I guess that’s nothing compared to you and everything you’ve seen.”

***

topic – Christopher

pic – Sallon

  1. fish tales 2. it was this big 3. roar. 4. lunchtime 5. the sky is falling 6. the meteor is coming! 7. are you a lizard or a dinosaur? 8. how about a hug? 9. free hugs 10. monsters. 11. they’re kinda cute. 12. If i was good I could tell you what game/show/whatever they are from. 13. I think it’s a game. 14. Not little big planet, though. 15. I want a candy bar thiiiis big. 16. boo! 17. Ah! A lizard! 18. rain dance 19. jumping jacks! 20. time for dance lessons.

Blogophilia 40.10 – Zuri part 1

It’s time again for blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martien gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blog.This week’s prompts are:

Ecrits Blogophilia Week 40.10 Topic – The Method to the Madness
**BONUSES:
Hard (2 pts) Use a song title from the 70’s
Easy (1 pt) Use the word “Bodacious”
.

My hard drive is still unusable – aka it still says it needs to be formatted – which means I can’t get to any of my files. Luckily I’d emailed myself my Amaranthine notes last February, so I was able to get back to the executioner stories. That’s something at least. Now I just need $1700 to pay to get my files recovered from the hard drive. (yikes!)

We’re starting a new story this week.  it takes place during Heart if the Raven (the fifth book in the series). The events he talks about happened at the end of book 4 (Ashes of Deceit).

***

Zuri watched the snowflakes drift from the sky like soft puffs of feathers. From fallen angels, he thought absently, and as quickly dismissed the thought. It was depressing, like so many of the thoughts he’d had lately. Apparently even a walk outdoors wasn’t enough to distract him.

He stuffed his hands in his pockets and thumped his way back towards the building marked “Office”. Small and white, it sat in a grain elevator complex, surrounded by towering silver bins, a collection of metal buildings, and several seed company signs.  Train tracks zigged through the back of the property, left from days when grain came by rail car. An unused spur, it now sat under the snow, quietly rusting away, a symbol of different days.

Ugh! Can I get more depressing?

Zuri kicked a clomp of snow, as if it was the cause his problems, then shuffled into the office. A vampire with the heather skin if a famer, and a hat to match, sat behind the desk. With a nod, he pressed the button that would unlock the not-so-secret door to the citadel, home to the country’s vampire government, among other things.

Other things like the Executioners, he thought glumly. Until his last assignment he’d been one of them, an elite soldier who acted as policeman to the vampire population. But then he’d been taken prisoner, had his arms ripped off, and been held captive for twelve days.

Not taken prisoner, abandoned by that bitch, Senya. If she was still here…

The thought fell to nothing because she wasn’t. She’d left with Malick, in a spectacular revolt that Zuri had missed. And even if she had been there, what would he have done? Killed her? Not that she didn’t deserve it, but the punishment for that would be unthinkable.

Worse than twelve days captivity.

Zuri trooped into the back room of the office, where the shiny silver door waited. More sci-fi than rural, it was hardly disguised in a seed shop. That the humans who worked the office didn’t know about the vampires beneath them was impossible. Pure Guild propaganda, designed to make the immortal visitors feel more at ease.

They don’t want them to worry about humans sneaking down during the day and slaying everything in sight.

Through the shiny door was a set of stairs that led to what had once been a welcome room. Now it was a disaster, roped in caution tape and marked by shattered walls and leftover rubble, the aftermath of that missed revolt.  Most of the top two floors were that way, with damage going all the way down to the bottom level. He could only imagine what it had looked like at the time.

At least the elevators are working, he thought as he stumped towards them. Though he had no idea where he was going to go. He couldn’t stand to go back to his den and stare at the wall. When faced with the buttons, he hit the first floor and leaned back against the wall as the car descended. Maybe he could find a distraction in the public areas.

When the doors swished open, he exited and made his way down a corridor. The fighting hadn’t reached the shopping area, and vampires moved through it with bags and smiles, as if nothing had ever happened. Zuri surveyed the shops, and the shoppers, before he rejected them both.

With nowhere else to go, he headed for a nightclub. Though it seemed like the anti-thesis of what he craved, there was a certain method to the madness. He wasn’t interested in the neon light atmosphere, but this early in the night, it should be empty. It would be somewhere different to sit, at least, something different to look at than his own furniture.

It had been years since he’d been there. The blur-lit hallway was certainly new, as was the black gauze curtain over the door. Inside was just as different. Bright neon lights lit an empty stage and shone on a polished bar and empty tables. Just as he thought, the only occupant was the vampire behind the bar, who was busy wiping glasses.

Who will want to talk, Zuri thought bitterly. Bar tenders always wanted to talk, even if they were just slinging flavored blood. Better to take a table. Maybe that would keep chattiness at bay.

But probably not. Hell, he might as well just nip it in the bud and sit at the damn bar.

He took a stool, and the bar tender gave him a nod. Zuri waited, but the other vampire didn’t speak, only hummed to himself as he finished his task.

The glass clean, he deposited it on a tray, and then turned to his customer. “What can I get you?”

“Do you still have cinnamon and sugar mix?”

The vampire flipped dark hair out of his eyes. “We have any flavor you want.”

He busied himself with mixing the blood drink, and Zuri leaned his elbows on the bar. How long would it be before the guy was asking him questions and acting friendly? That’s what they all did, pretended to be your friend. He didn’t need any friends right now.

What I need is to be reinstated.

The bartender deposited a glass on the bar.  “There you go, sir.”

Zuri tugged out the fancy swizzle stick and downed the dink in a gulp. It tasted close to what he remembered. Maybe a little more sugar next time.

“Another?” the bartender asked.

Zuri mumbled but nodded, and soon he had a second drink before him.

If only there was alcohol in this. And if only alcohol still affected me.

The bar tender went back to his glasses while Zuri sipped his drink. He watched the other vampire; watched the sure quick motions of the rag over the glass. How long would it be before the chattering started?

Maybe I should just get it over with.

“You worked here long?”

The bartender paused his work to shrug. “A year.”

“I didn’t think you looked familiar.” Zuri took another drink. “I haven’t been in here in a long time.”

“You should come back when the show’s going.” The bartender nodded towards the stage. “This month we have Lua the bodacious burlesque temptress.”

Zuri cocked an eyebrow. “And is she really a temptress?”

“She’s not bad looking, if that’s what you mean. She has an entertaining routine. Strips down to nothing but you never see a thing. She uses giant fans.” He held his hands out to indicate the sheer size. “Covered in feathers and such. She cleans up in tips.”

Zuri grunted. “I’m surprised you’re having shows.”

“Oh?” He blinked, then seemed to understand. “You mean the attack? Nah, it never reached here.”

“I heard there were a lot of casualties.”

“Now that’s true. It was a shame.” He paused, then added, “You weren’t here for it?”

Zuri glared at nothing. “No.”

“Be glad you missed it. I’ll remember the screaming for the rest of my life.” The bartender turned back to his glasses. “If you want to know about it, though, shouldn’t be hard to hear the stories. Everybody’s talkin’.”

Zuri finished his glass and motioned for a third. When it was delivered, the bar tender grinned. “You must like that.”

“Maybe.” Or maybe I like it better than staring at the same four walls.

“As long as you keep buying.” The bartender laughed. “I have to pay the bills.”

Zuri stirred the drink listlessly. “You own the place?”

“Yep. Bought out the previous owner last year.”

But if he’d only been there a year, that meant he’d come to the citadel and bought the place right off the bat.  Why? What possessed someone to want to serve other people? Unless it was a holdover from his human days. “Did you own a bar before?”

“Nah. I just saw the listing and thought why not? You only live once.”

Zuri shrugged a response.

“That’s what my mom said to me,” he added. “She said I might as well because-”

“Because you only live once,” Zuri muttered. “You have your mother?”

“Have? Um…”

Zuri rolled his eyes. “I mean that she’s with you, in immortality.”

“Oh. Yeah. She’s the one who turned me, actually.”

Zuri made a noncommittal noise and wondered how that worked out. To have your mother- or any blood relative – as a constant companion.  His own master had been a brief blip in his life, a bored vampire who’d turned him for a distraction and then wandered off after two years. Zuri hadn’t seen him since, though he assumed he was still alive somewhere, even more bored than he’d been.

***

And now for guesses:

Topic: Trevor

Pic: Gerard

  1. Hold me, thrill me 2. sumo 3. who needs a hug? 4. Can I cry on your shoulder? 5. Lean on me 6. I think I’m turning Japanese 7. Big in Japan 8. Life in Tokyo 9. Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting 10. ninjas 11. Okay, they’re sumo wrestlers. 12. You won;t see that on WWE. 13. Let’s get ready to rumble! 14. the big squeeze 15. big hug 16. bear hug 17. or bare hug (ha ha) 18. can I have this dance? 19. put your head on my shoulder. 20. nap time.

Blogophilia 39.10

It’s time again for blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martin gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blog. This week’s prompts are:

I wanted to start a new short story, but have been having computer issues. I don’t know if the stars have just aligned wring, or maybe the lines in the sky are out to get me, but either way I haven’t had time to work on it. I was able to copy the data, so at least I won’t lose anything. Take that starlit night of evilness! Hopefully I’ll be able to get on it this weekend, but you know what they say, Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans – plans like fixing a laptop! And it may need a new hard drive, so even if I get on it, it would then have to wait until I get the cash.

*sigh*

And now for guesses:

Topic: Trevor

Pic: Irene

Secret bonus:

1. Stars in our eyes. 2. Seeing stars

When Joleene and Charles Naylor Came to Visit

And we had a great time also! 😀 And of note: those buckeyes are delicious. He is NOT exaggerating 😉

Rami Ungar The Writer

From left to right: Joleene, Charles and I in my apartment stairwell.

Last night I had two wonderful visitors come to visit me at my apartment: my friend and fellow writer Joleene Naylor, whom you’ve probably seen around the blog quite a bit, especially in the comments, and her husband Charles, who were passing through Central Ohio on a trip to West Virginia, and made a point to stop by.

I’ve been blogging and Facebooking and tweeting for over six years, so I’ve had plenty of time to make friends with numerous other writers, Joleene among them. Unfortunately, the distance between me and all these other writers often means we’re confined to online interaction. So when an opportunity to visit comes up, I get really excited (and a little nervous) and look forward to meeting them. And last night, I finally got to meet Joleene in person.

Joleene and Charles…

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Blogophilia 35:10

It’s time again for blogophilia, the fun blog group where martien gives participants prompts to use in their blog. This week’s are:

Ecrits Blogophilia Week 35.10 Topic – Look at the Magical Colors
**BONUSES:
Hard (2 pts) Use a song title or lyric from Taylor Swift
Easy (1 pt) Mention a blue object
Victoria is helping me with my weekly blog. I am on vacation so no story this week. I have been looking at the magical colors of fall trees in West Virginia visiting friends. It’s been a lot of fun so far. And we haven’t had to listen to any country music, not even Tim McGraw. We did bring a lot of luggage, including my blue suitcase.
No guesses this week coz time is short, but this is eight point so, that’s okay!
Jo 🙂

Trip to WV: Day 1

We’re on the road….

I took lots of pics… apologies but the gallery feature is not working 😦

We stopped in Mt. Pleasant for food

And visited hubby’s step dad for awhile, then stopped at Burlington where a nice guy in the gas station told us they now had Sonic.

Then we made it to Peoria where we got a room

And now back to it!

Have a sonic kinda day!

Jo 🙂

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