breathtakebyways


About breathtakebyways

Ann Williams’ travel articles have appeared in publications all over the country including The Washington Post, Roads to Adventure, and Jack and Jill. Between researching and writing books, she specializes in creative lectures.

From Hero to Rat-Bit Crack-Up 2

After my Mile High Lab Rat book launch, we wheeled the scientist photo props back toward the van. Unfortunately, one of the cart wheels hung up on a sidewalk crack and upset the load. The crash was gentle, thank goodness. Nothing broke, but one of the live rats in the terrarium bailed. The rats were breeders on loan from a raptor center and highly replaceable—I’d guess, but I didn’t want to find out. Also, the college staff had been so accommodating in hosting my book launch party. Introducing a rat infestation to their campus seemed seriously shabby. I’d tried not […]


How Pueblo Community College Metamorphed a Lab Rat into an Author

Not long after becoming Pueblo Community College’s science lab coordinator, I saw a notice that the Packard Foundation was offering small grants to boost preschool learning programs. I’d just left a preschool teaching job, and I’d been admiring the lab gizmos and thinking how much kids could get out of experiencing them, so I had a brainwave: wouldn’t it be cool if we could check kits out to teachers, so every kid in class could have a set of bottles full of magical but harmless chemicals to explore? I talked to my bosses Regis Opferman, who approved the project, and […]


Great Read Coming Your Way 2

In 2002, I started a mystery novel set in the science lab where I worked. I wrote and rewrote so long and hard, it got stuck in my computer and wouldn’t even try to find its way out. Finally, lockdown gave me time to coax it through the maze, and Mile High Lab Rat will launch on March 31st. After all my efforts to make it thrilling, it needs readers to thrill, so I hope you’ll try it, love it, and spread the word. 


Canyoneering in Iceland Inspires! 2

Our Icelandic self-driving tour book described, “a little water adventure:…by walking carefully on rocks in a stream, you can avoid getting your feet wet and see a waterfall.” Yes! I steadied my rickety knees with a hiking stick and tackled the rocks. Falling into the shallow stream wouldn’t have killed me. I’d likely have been hurt though, so I struggled along testing every step, setting my stick, grappling the canyon wall for grips, stopping to revel in the beauty. The canyon walls soon narrowed to a slot with scenery so gorgeous I groaned. Passing hikers warned that the rocks ahead […]


Mystery in the Mud

Outside Yuma, Arizona—not far from the Mexican border—my husband and I got lucky in finding a dispersed camping spot along the Senator Wash lake front. The reservoir water level had receded, leaving extra beach space, and I spent hours soaking in the view while walking a swath of dried lakebed. Strangely, the mud had dried into zillions of baseball size pockmarks. I wondered if some special property of the soil caused it to dry with depressions. Had some aquatic species somehow excavated indentations? Too small for people tracks…dog, coyote, bobcat, deer? Maybe, but probably too small, and anyway, that many […]


Aud the Deepminded

The Norse had no last names so used nicknames to specify which Harald, Olaf, or Sven.  Some nicknames were graphic, referring to genitals or, say, skull splitting.  Others were funny: Furbreeches, the Amorous, or Lousebeard.  Many were simply descriptive, Forkbeard, Thinhair, Bluetooth.     Women’s nicknames included Horsegelder, Shipbreast, and one of my favorite ancestors, Aud the Deepminded.   Odd that Aud’s nickname is so exalting.  Cnut the Great and Aud are the only very positive ones I’ve come across. Aud’s father was Ketil Flatnose who made himself a king by conquering the Hebrides and Isle of Man.  Her husband was […]


Best Thanksgiving Ever

A few years ago I managed to gather our family in a beach house on North Carolina’s Emerald Isle for Thanksgiving week.  I’m still overjoyed when I think of it.  We walked the beach, played in the waves, collected lost treasures, watched dolphins, danced, cooked, explored the island, and bonded.  Some met our baby granddaughter or new son-in-law for the first time.  Our three-year-old grandson met the ocean.  He ran 50 yards to escape an incoming wave.  How was he to know how far that wave would chase him?  My mother, who was still adjusting to life without her husband […]


Celebrity Vendor

Kevin Costner introduced himself to me as I waited in line for the train to Machu Picchu.  He was amazingly well disguised as a Peruvian jewelry vendor, but he couldn’t resist leaking the plan for his upcoming sequel. He and Julia Roberts were going to start filming Dancing With Llamas the following week.  That was about five years ago, so I expect it will be showing anytime now.