Combining adventure and mystery, author Donald F. Averill offers two distinctive novellas in one volume—Glacier Fires and Ornaments of Value: A Christmas Story.
In Glacier Fires, University of Washington students Tim Michaels and Art Daniels get more than they bargain for when they travel to Mt. Baker in northwestern Washington State to test out their new telescope. With the sight trained on the glaciers, the two discover a young woman in distress; they rescue Mikka Morgan, a student from the rival Washington State University. But their adventures continue when they, Mikka, and Samantha Ashford embark on another mission to save Sam’s forest ranger father, and Otto, an Austrian mountain climber, from a deep crevasse. Rogue climbers have left Otto and the ranger in the crevasse to die.
A heartwarming Christmas story, Ornaments of Value follows widow Karen Ekstrom as she tries to care for her three small children—Susan, Larry, and John—during difficult economic times. Karen dreams of using her artistic talent for the betterment of her family, and she is hired by Evan Finely, a glass blower, to decorate his store windows. Her good fortune continues as an anonymous benefactor leaves money, concealed in holiday ornaments, at Karen’s apartment door. Karen is stymied as to whom the Good Samaritan might be.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.59(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Glacier Fires and Ornaments of Value
By Donald F. Averill
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Donald F. Averill
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMobile Telescope
Tim Michaels checked for his keys in the right front pocket of his jeans as he backed out the chateau kitchen door into the garage. He felt a little foolish when he saw the keys were already in his left hand. Tim was lost in thought, setting up his telescope and aligning the polar axis had been planned for a year. He tried the door to make sure it was locked, and climbed in the driver's seat of his pickup. Looking in the rearview mirror, Tim could see his college friend, Art Daniels, in the bed of the truck securing the rope that wrapped around an old blue blanket covering his telescope.
"Don't get your panties in a wad, Tim. I'm just making sure this rope won't come off."
"Okay. I just want to get out of here and on the road."
Tim looked at the unpainted wall of the garage noting the regular seams covered with drywall mud. The builders had done a pretty good job, but the garage walls were unfinished. However, the interior of the chateau was first class. He was glad his dad had rented this place in Glacier.
Tim wondered why Art had a smile on his face when he climbed in the cab.
"Oh, nothing. I'm just happy we're finally headed into the wilderness to check out the mount."
"Come on, the wilderness?"
"Yeah. The great outdoors. Back this thing out into the sunshine. Let's hit the road."
Tim stepped on the gas, a little too hard, squealed the wheels and hit the breaks as soon as the pickup cleared the garage door. He pressed the button on the remote and watched the garage door descend and bang on the concrete.
Tim looked at Art. "Got the map?"
"I've got the map. Let's go!" Tim watched Art waving the Washington State map.
Tim took the only streets he knew to the highway, Route 542, which extends from Bellingham to Mt. Baker. As soon as Tim and Art were on the road moving east, cars began passing them, usually honking as they drove by. Tim didn't want to drive too fast for fear the telescope mount might come loose. He couldn't afford to lose his costly telescope and the mount they had built. Two weeks of labor had been invested, working six to eight hours a day.
"Hey Tim, did you think we were going to attract this much attention?"
Laughing, Tim answered, "Nope, but I knew there'd be some rubberneckers, just didn't expect so many. Seems like everybody's giving us the eye. Next time we should take the tube off the mounting so just the pedestal will stick up. Maybe that won't draw so much interest?"
"Yeah, the kids looking at us are pretty funny. Some of them make faces, so I make faces back."
"That's all right, you're just a kid yourself ... still a teenager until last month. Don't stick out your tongue; you'll get spit on the window. And remember, no obscene gestures."
"You sound like my dad. You're only a couple of months older than I am."
"Art, are you enjoying this vast wilderness?" Tim smiled as he poked fun at Art's earlier choice of words.
"My mom has pictures from National Parks that look like this," Art replied.
"Did you notice? We're almost in a National Park," informed Tim.
"No kidding?" he laughed. Seriously, he asked, "Have you seen any chicks?"
"Nope, but lots of kids and older people sight seeing. Maybe we'll luck out and meet somebody our age when we set up the telescope." Tim laughed, "Yeah. The scope should draw women from miles around."
"Let's pull over at one of the observation areas or a campsite, set up the scope and take a close up look at Mt. Baker. We can align the axes when it gets dark."
"Good idea Art. We don't have to go very far to test the mount. I've been looking at the river. I'll bet the water is ice cold from melting snow and ice."
The rapidly flowing water was reflecting sunlight from a myriad of spots, reminding Tim of flickering starlight on a warm moonless summer night. Eventually, the two college boys hoped to get above the warm layers of air to do some astrophotography. Tim wanted to take a logging road to a hill or butte that had been logged so they would have clear vision nearly to the horizon. They would have to do some studying of their maps to find a higher elevation devoid of trees. But this outing was just a short trip to test the functioning of the telescope and mount, gaining information for necessary alterations, if any, to their current design.
"Hey, Tim, take the next right. There's a campground on the other side of the road."
"Yeah, I saw the sign," Tim replied.
Tim slowed the pickup, exited the freeway and drove through a tunnel to a relatively large camping area beyond the opposite lanes of the road. It took Art and Tim about ten minutes to find a spot that afforded a good view of glacier covered Mt. Baker standing out against the clear blue sky. Although it was a warm day, looking at the glaciers on the mountain gave Tim a little chill. After backing through some trees, they found a fairly flat location to park the truck, a good distance away from most other campers.
There was a load squeal when Tim pressed hard on the brake pedal. Tim watched as Art hunched up his shoulders and made a face. "We might need a brake job before long, Tim."
"I think we have a rock stuck in the brakes. I didn't hear that back at the chateau," Tim replied. "I think we picked up a rock from that gravel road."
"Get the cover off the scope. I'll extend the stabilizing legs from the bed to the ground."
"You got it," answered Art.
Two carpenter's levels had been incorporated into the bed of the pickup so the telescope mount could be nearly leveled. Further leveling could be done on the pedestal of the telescope mount. The pedestal could be rotated and locked into place.
As they oriented the telescope, two boys about twelve years old, approached the pickup from a campsite about eighty feet away. The boys wore jeans and sweatshirts with large white numbers on the front.
"Whatcha doin?" asked one of the boys.
Tim looked at the two boys very seriously and said, "Who's asking?" He realized the boys were twins after taking a closer look.
They answered in unison. "We're the Ashford boys."
The boy in the red shirt said, "I'm Jim." He had 99 on the front of his shirt and Ashford on the back.
"And I'm Tom," added the boy in a similar blue shirt. "We're camping over there." He pointed to a large RV with a trailer containing an SUV. Their campsite was south of the pickup in a grassy area away from the trees.
"Well, Tom and Jim, I'm Tim and my buddy here is Art. Glad to meet you. We're setting up our telescope to take a look at Mt. Baker."
"Heavenly body approaching on the right, three o'clock" warned Art.
Tim looked away from the boys to see a brunette striding through the foot high grass. As she came closer, she kicked a large pinecone out of her way.
"Boys, don't bother these gentlemen. Come back to camp."
"It's okay, they're not bothering us," commented Tim. "You can't be their mom so you must be their sister," Tim grinned.
"I'm Samantha," stated the shorthaired pretty brunette.
"Sam, we're just watching them set up their telescope," Jim informed his sister.
"Hi Samantha. I'm Tim Michaels and my ugly buddy here is Art Daniels."
"Thanks Tim, you rat. Pleased to meet you, Sam," stated Art.
Tim said, "Okay, I've got the top of the mountain in the field of view."
"Let me take a look." Tim watched Art grab the edge of the truck and jump onto the tailgate. Tim jumped down from the truck and stood beside Sam. Tim was nearly a foot taller than the young lady. The top of her head came to the bottom of his chin. Tim was six-two and he estimated Sam was at most five-four. Tim noticed, out of the corner of his eye, Sam rising up on her toes.
Tim looked down at the girl and asked, "Want to take a look?"
"Sure." She stepped back from the truck, took two quick steps and effortlessly jumped onto the tailgate.
"Wow. And I was going to help you up," Tim commented.
"You must be a jock," joked Art.
"Yep. I'm on the varsity gymnastics team. I'm a WSU Cougar. I just finished my sophomore year. I'm majoring in Veterinary Medicine."
"We're both UW Huskies, physics and engineering," stated Art.
"I knew there must be something wrong with you guys," smiled Sam. She was joking but the guys took it more seriously.
Tim felt like saying smart ass but decided to let it go. Besides, she was awfully cute. He knew he wasn't the handsomest guy around and didn't want to squelch his chances. Tim weighed about 175, had brown hair and eyes and broad shoulders. He had never pumped iron. Pencils were the only things he had pumped in the last few years, but he had been a good athlete in high school. He had almost perfect grades in university physics.
Tim watched as Art stepped away from the telescope and motioned for Sam to take a look. She looked into the eyepiece then lifted her head to locate the focusing knob. Sam rotated the knob in and out until the image was clear. It was obvious to Tim that Sam knew how to focus optical equipment, probably from using a microscope.
"What's that shiny object?"
"What shiny object?" Art inquired.
"It's at the lower left," Sam indicated.
Sam leaned out of the way and Art looked through the lens.
"Tim! She's right, there's something reflecting the sun. It looks like it's maybe 800 to 1000 feet below the summit ... just guessing."
Tim jumped onto the tailgate and the pickup bed shifted.
"Oops. We lost the mountain," Art commented.
Tim adjusted the telescope and watched Art jump down from the truck and hold out his hand offering to assist Sam. She didn't need his help but took his hand and hopped off the truck bed. She thanked Art.
Tim re-acquired the previous view of the mountain, but couldn't see anything that might be reflecting sunlight.
Tim glanced at Art. "What time is it?"
"2:21" answered Art after looking at his wristwatch.
"Write it down so we don't forget," instructed Tim.
Jim and Tom had run out of patience and climbed onto the truck bed.
Tom asked, "Can Jim and I take a look?"
Tim said, "Sure." He backed away from the telescope so the younger boys could look into the eyepiece to see the mountain.
Art explained to Sam, "We'll look again tomorrow when the sun is in the right position to reflect off the object. I hope it doesn't snow up there tonight."
"Thanks. That's what I was thinking. I'll ask my dad if snow is in the forecast."
"Is your dad a weatherman or something?" asked Art.
"Something. My dad's a park ranger. He instructs climbers that want to ascend Mt. Baker. He knows that mountain like the back of his hand. Would you like to meet him?"
Tim gave Art a thumbs-up and said, "Sure. That would be great. We've got some questions for him."
Chapter TwoDinner with Ashfords
"How long will you guys be here?" Sam inquired.
"We plan on staying until about 10 p.m. but it might be later. We want to check out the telescope when we can look at some stars," Tim replied.
"Okay. See you later. Come on boys. Mom wants you back at camp."
Tim watched Sam ushering Jim and Tom toward their camp. After moving about ten yards, she looked back over her shoulder and said, "Nice meeting you guys."
Art yelled back, "Nice meeting you too. See you later."
Tim was changing eyepieces and added, "Yeah. See you later Sam."
"Hmm ... Very interesting. There's something else up there. It looks brown or black and I'm guessing it's about six feet long. I think it's a cylinder. Take a look, Art."
"I think you're right. Let's try a little more magnification, the upper end of the object looks bigger and has an irregular shape, kind of like a blob."
Tim handed Art another eyepiece with a shorter focal length. Art inserted the lens in the rack and pinion mount and focused on the object. "Would you hand me that clipboard and a pencil?"
Tim complied and watched Art sketch what he could see at the higher power.
"Damn. The image keeps going in and out of focus."
"Not surprised. We're looking horizontally across warm and cold layers of the atmosphere. Wait for a clear view and then quickly draw it, then wait for another clear view. You should be able to accumulate enough information to draw the entire object."
"Jeez, Tim, you should be doing this. You have more experience than I do."
"You have to get some experience sometime, Art. It might as well be now."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. It's a bit frustrating though," Art replied.
As the afternoon wore on, Tim and Art observed the entire western side of the mountain under low power but didn't see anything else out of the ordinary. They could see some dark patches randomly distributed but thought them to be cavities, rocks or shadows on the surface of the glaciers. They made a note to bring up the topic when they talked with Mr. Ashford. Art began to feel some hunger pangs around 5:30 and heard Tim's stomach growling.
"Hey, let's eat," suggested Art.
"Good idea. I'm getting tired of looking at the mountain anyway. I'll get the cooler out of the cab." Tim dropped down from the back of the pickup and opened the driver's door.
He reached into the cab and grabbed a small cooler. He shut the door and started to open the cooler but stopped when he heard someone nearing the truck. Tim glanced toward the noise and saw one of the twins approaching.
As blue shirt number 99 approached the truck, the boy said, "Hey you guys, want to join us for dinner? We're going to eat in a few minutes."
Tim put the cooler back in the truck cab, shut the door and looked up at Art in the back of the truck. Tim watched as Art turned his palms up. Art said, "Why not?"
Tim said, "Sounds good to us Tom. Thanks for the invitation."
Tim and Art joined Tom and they began walking toward Ashford's RV.
"Did you guys see anything exciting on the mountain after we left?" Tom asked.
Art answered, "I don't know if you'd call it exciting, but we saw something that looks a little strange on the surface of a glacier. We'll ask your dad about it."
As they converged on Ashford's camp, Mr. Ashford, who was cooking at a barbecue, turned toward his guests and extended his hand. He was about six feet tall and looked like an outdoorsman. His shirtsleeves were rolled up exposing body-builder's forearms. He was tanned and hadn't shaved in a couple of days. Tim thought Mr. Ashford could probably rip him in half with his bare hands. Not many people would want to mess with him.
"I'm Glenn Ashford and this is my wife, Donna."
They all shook hands. Tim and Art introduced themselves.
As they were shaking hands, Art smiled and said, "I can see where your daughter gets her looks, Mrs. Ashford."
Donna Ashford smiled and pushed her long dark brown hair away from her face.
"Thank you, young man. I'll have to warn Sam to watch out for you."
Mrs. Ashford looked at the RV and raised her voice, "Sam, your new friends are here."
The RV door opened and Sam stepped to the ground. She had changed her clothes and put on some makeup.
Art elbowed Tim in the ribs and a winked. The college boys had lost all interest in Donna and Glenn Ashford for the moment.
"Hi guys," Sam acknowledged Tim and Art with a little wave of her arm.
In unison, Tim and Art answered back with, "Hi Sam." Donna gave everyone a paper plate and a napkin and told them to get some meat from the barbecue.
The twins each grabbed a couple of grilled wieners and some buns and headed for the condiments on a card table next to the RV.
"Boys ... don't forget the potato salad," reminded Mrs. Ashford. "And keep it covered. We don't need to be eating any flies."
Tim approached the grill but hadn't made up his mind whether he wanted chicken or a couple of wieners.
Sam noticed his hesitation and said, "The meat is grilled porcupine. Dad shot one this morning with his shotgun. Watch out for the lead pellets."
Tim grinned and replied with, "Yeah, and I bet it tastes like chicken."
Everyone laughed. After they had gotten some salad, potato chips and a fork they sat down on fold-up lawn chairs to enjoy their dinner. Sam had told her dad about seeing the shiny object on the mountain. He asked Tim and Art what their thoughts about it were. That's when they told the ranger about the cylindrical object they saw.
"Where was this object with relationship to the position of the shiny object?" asked the ranger."
Art said, "I think the objects were pretty close together, but the darker one might be a little lower on the mountain."
Mr. Ashford looked at Tim.
"I didn't see the shiny object, sir," stated Tim. "Art has a drawing of the dark object. Show him your sketch, Art."
Art pulled a piece of folded paper from his back pocket and handed it to the ranger. The ranger looked at the sketch and said, "That's on the Hadley glacier. It almost looks like an equipment canister for firefighters that was dropped from a plane. The irregular part could be a parachute."
"Do you think we could climb up there and retrieve the object?" asked Tim.
"Well, have either of you young men ever scaled a glacier?"
Tim and Art looked at each other hoping one of them would say "Yes," but there was just silence.
Excerpted from Glacier Fires and Ornaments of Value by Donald F. Averill Copyright © 2012 by Donald F. Averill. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1 Mobile Telescope....................1
Chapter 2 Dinner with Ashfords....................7
Chapter 3 The Chase....................14
Chapter 4 Mikka....................21
Chapter 5 Mothers on the Phone....................27
Chapter 6 Near Canadian Waters....................35
Chapter 7 Pasha Completes His Job....................41
Chapter 8 Better View....................49
Chapter 9 A Call from Smash....................55
Chapter 10 Forecast: Snow and Wind....................61
Chapter 11 Encroachment....................67
Chapter 12 On The Glaciers....................73
Chapter 13 Left to Die....................80
Chapter 14 Rescue Call....................87
Chapter 15 Intervention....................94
Chapter 16 Cunning, Not Stupid....................103
Chapter 17 Pursuit....................111
Chapter 18 Captured!....................116
Chapter 19 Fireworks....................124
Chapter 20 Going Home....................133
Chapter 1 Holiday Preparation....................139
Chapter 2 Artwork and Snacks....................146
Chapter 3 Sketches....................152
Chapter 4 Ostrum Returns....................159
Chapter 5 No Oils....................162
Chapter 6 Message from Estelle....................169
Chapter 7 Communications....................174
Chapter 8 Ostrum's Investigation....................179
Chapter 9 Ostrum's Plan....................185
Chapter 10 Mr Funny....................189
Chapter 11 Finley gets sick....................194
Chapter 12 Ornament Mystery....................204
Chapter 13 Match Makers....................210
Chapter 14 Museum Pictures....................217
Chapter 15 Alterations....................221
Chapter 16 Inconclusive Evidence....................226
Chapter 17 The Party....................231
Chapter 18 Returning Home....................237
Chapter 19 Awesome Results....................246
Chapter 20 Where's Bob?....................253
Chapter 21 Christmas Day....................262