Hello, dear readers and welcome aboard my whirlwind world tour. I’ve been blessed enough to visit a few exotic destinations in my lifetime. From the samurai palaces of Japan to the wild plains of Africa, I have been inspired by history and scenery to write stories. Exotic islands aside, there is no destination more exciting or glittery than Las Vegas, right? But more on that later.
In December 2018, I returned to the USA to celebrate Christmas and a ten-year reunion with family. Our first stop was, of course, Disneyland, California. I got to be a kid again. Yes! I spent five days grinning like a fool every time I saw a Disney princess or Mickey or Minnie. Disneyland truly is a happy place and it was a great start to our four week-long vacation. And no visit to Los Angeles is complete without a stop at Universal Studios. What an experience. I got chased by Zombies, watched a variety show, ate freshly made donuts from a 50’s-style diner and took a tour of the backlot. And with book 1 of Calhoun Customs Garage, Overdrive, in my hand and book 2, Fast Lane in my head, I headed right for….Yep, Radiator Springs and the racetrack.
Next stop: Vegas. From the 52nd floor of the Vdara Apartment Hotel, we had a fabulous view of the strip. So much had changed in the ten years since we’d been there last. This time we actually made it down to Fremont Street to discover the old Vegas. If you want to be transported back in time, Fremont Street is the place to be. Aside from the usual activities on the strip, I got to fly in a helicopter across the Grand Canyon, met Cory from Pawn Stars, visited Rick’s Restorations and got ‘Tanked’! And how could I pass up on a visit to the M&M’s shop when Car 18 is still on the floor? Trinity Calhoun would be proud. Probably the most exciting part of our stay in Vegas was the visit to the Mob Museum in the old courthouse. Wow, what an experience that was! I came home with so many stories in my head after that tour.
Our next destination on the way to Canada was New York. Finally, after years of dreaming about it, there I was in midtown Manhattan with a view of the Empire State building from my window. All the places I’d seen on television came to life.
Rockefeller Centre, Times Square, Ellis Island, the statue of Liberty…I was left breathless at the beauty of a cold and wintery city. The most memorable of all our stops in New York has to be the 9/11 Memorial. Hauntingly beautiful in its simplicity, the vibe of loss and sadness still hung heavily in the air, the impact of how many names are inscribed on that wall around the cascading water hitting hard.
Then came Canada. Our stay here was short, our intent to spend Christmas with family before flying to San Francisco. We packed as much as we could into four short days. A visit to Ripley’s Aquarium blew me away. What an amazing place and not at all what we expected. I finally got to visit the Mennonite Amish community in St Jacobs and bought a beautifully crafted quilt. I loved this little town so much where simplicity is the key to life and the smell of freshly baked bread teased my senses.
All too soon it was time to say goodbye to the family and hello San Francisco. Of all the cities in the USA, San Francisco is the one that makes my heart sing. From Pier 39 all the way across the Bay to Alcatraz, I love this place with all my soul. The most exotic place we visited here was Muir Wood where an early episode of Star Wars was filmed. I could imagine the ewoks popping up out of the woods and fighting off the storm troopers. Chinatown never fails to amaze me with the architecture and street art. Every alleyway told us a different story and the myriad of shops full of gadgets and souvenirs kept us entertained for hours. And perhaps one day, I’ll be able to buy that dream home in Sausalito. Unfortunately, NASCAR season was over and I didn’t get to visit any racetracks on our journey, but that gives me a good reason to go back again.
Thank you for travelling with me today and I hope you’ll enjoy Trinity and Reece’s race to a happy ever after in Fast Lane.
Juanita escapes the real world by reading and writing Australian Rural Romance novels with elements of suspense, Australian Fantasy Paranormal and Small-Town USA stories. Her romance novels star spirited heroines who give the hero a run for his money before giving in. She creates emotionally engaging worlds steeped in romance, suspense, mystery and intrigue, set in dusty, rural outback Australia and on the NASCAR racetracks of America. When she’s not writing, Juanita is mother to three boys and has a passion for fast cars and country living.
Juanita Kees on the web:
Fast Lane (Calhoun Customs Garage Book 2)
Trinity Calhoun is a name everyone knows on the race circuit, but her days in the hot seat are numbered. She’s tired of the limelight, meaningless relationships and long hours behind the wheel. When her father calls her and her sister home, she’s ready. She slips right back into the family business, finishing off the custom car projects her father has lined up. But racing is in her blood and she’s lured back to risking her life on the hot rod drag strips outside of town. It’s there she meets paramedic and volunteer firefighter, Reece Balmain, who has her re-thinking the road her life is taking.
Reece Balmain arrives in Big Fork a broken man. He’s lived and breathed through horror accidents, haunted by the faces of the people he’s cut from vehicles. He knows one thing–speed kills. He’s hoping not to see too much of it in small town Montana, until he hears about the drag races taking place outside of town. He knows Trinity Calhoun. He’s watched her race, seen her win, held his breath when her car somersaulted into barriers in Daytona Beach. He doesn’t like what she does, but he can’t stay away from the woman who’s claiming his heart.
OVERDRIVE (Calhoun Customs Garage Book 1)
Chase Calhoun has worked hard at making Calhoun Customs a world-wide sensation and keeping his father’s dream alive. He hasn’t had time to think about settling down, so he’s not expecting to find love or new life hiding in the attic of their garage among the ghosts of his family’s past.
Charlotte Jackson is on the run from a rebellious past, determined to prove she can be a good mom to three-month-old baby, Zoe. Tired of being delegated to the back office of the racing team her famous NASCAR family owns, she sets out to establish herself as a custom design artist. But she’s out of money, luck and time, and she can’t hide in the attic at Calhoun Customs forever.
While Chase slowly loses his heart to his refrigerator thief and the baby bundle asleep in his laundry basket, Charlotte learns that sometimes family is more than just blood and DNA.