Weston Ochse is the author of twenty books, most recently SEAL Team 666 and its sequel Age of Blood, which the New York Post called 'required reading' and USA Today placed on their 'New and Notable Lists.' His first novel, Scarecrow Gods, won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel and his short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in comic books, and magazines such as Cemetery Dance and Soldier of Fortune. He lives in the Arizona desert within rock throwing distance of Mexico. He is a military veteran with 29 years of military service and currently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan. Please contact him through this site.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Eye Level with a Vulture - 10.5K Montezuma Pass

Joe's Canyon Trail
Distance: 3.1 miles (5.285 KM)*
Montezuma Pass (with thumb)
Trailhead Elevation: 5,300 feet
Top Elevation: 6,864 feet
Time to summit: 1:41
Time to base: 1:11

Total Time: 2:52.10
Total Distance: 10.57 KM

Total Calories Burned 1108

My GPS watch is set to kilometers. This is actual distance from my watch and is probably where I took a wrong turn. (Device-Suunto Ambit 2S GPS Watch)

CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE THEM

I've been street level with a thug before, but never eye level with a vulture. When I began hiking up Joe's Canyon Trail this morning, that all changed. I'm not sure if it was tracking me and hopefully waiting for me to die, or if it was tracking something else, but it spent a good deal of time with me as I ascended 1500 feet on the thin winding trail up Smuggler's Ridge to Yaqui Ridge, then to Montezuma Pass. At times it was below me, coming within a few arm's lengths. I tried to snap a photo with my cell phone, but the phone isn't a camera but rather my social media communication device. If I'd only had my wife's Nikon.  Maybe next time.

I was eager to make the hike because I had brand new Altra Superior 1.5s. I felt a little achy this morning and had already made excuses not to go. But then my desire to get out of the house and embrace nature kicked in. And did I get nature. It was beautiful. From the views of Montezuma and San Rafael Valleys to the bubbling spring fed streams, to the rocks, to the wide sweeping expanses of desert that WASN'T Afghanistan, this was just what I needed.

 I had trouble finding the lower trail head. I knew it was supposed to be at a Ranger Station, so I drove all the way up to the pass looking for it. I saw the upper trail head. I could have taken that, but with just me and only one car that meant I would have had to run down and walk up, instead of walking up and running down. So once I got back down the mountain I saw a side road to a picnic area and asked a border patrol agent who was fitted out in tactical field gear.

He knew and I was on the trail within moments after that.

The first mile is steep but on a well-maintained path with enough switchbacks to help you rise 1000 feet in that first mile. About half a mile in I heard water and soon was greeted with a microclimate of evergreens and a bubbling brook with waterfalls. How awesome!

About a mile and a half in I saw the saddle for Smuggler's Ridge covered in golden wheat against a blue sky. Extraordinary. I took a wrong turn near the top. The trail splits and it's not marked. Had I continued on what must have been the Yaqui trail for a mile, I would have been in Mexico. But I backtracked and soon found myself at Montezuma Pass.

Wow. To think that Francisco Vasquez de Coronado brought conquistadors through this very spot in 1540 looking for the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola. That's some history for you.

I spent ten minutes on the top, adjusting my shoes and getting a lot of water. I'd brought a pack with a camelbak, but I saved that for on the move drinking and drank out of the other water bottle I packed. I was wearing brand new Altra Superior 1.5s. They're fairly minimal with zero drop and made for trails so I was eager to break them in. I was going to wear ankle socks, but these shoes eat them. I've had shoes like them before and they cause the sock to come off the heel. So I did it barefoot and cleaned out some sand that had gotten into the shoes. High on the heel of my left foot I had loose skin which was preparing to become a serious blister, so I made sure to tighten both shoes. The right foot was just fine. The shoes were terrific. Lots of stability. Although minimal, the stoneguard rock protection was just awesome. 

After ten minutes, I was back on the trail, this time running when I could. Some of the path was too rocky and I just didn't want to run. But where it was a dirt path I was hauling and cut thirty minutes off the descent.

This was a great hike. 

I'm definitely going to do it again.

And as a reward I grabbed two Adobada Tacos and ate them in the park.


Water and my new kicks!

Babbling Brook

Looking back as I ascend

Babbling Brook

San Rafael Valley

San Rafael Valley

Lichen on th erocks.

The Saddle on Smuggler's Ridge - Looks so far away

Looking down

From the saddle on Smuggler's Ridge

A rare flat point

For Mom

Looking back as I climb

Spring Water Cave

Reward Tacos!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sometimes You Just Want Some Pasta - Squid Ink with Basil and Meyer Lemon Olive Oil

I decided to start a series called Sometimes You Just Want Pasta, because...well... sometimes you just want pasta. Like tonight. I've been eating really healthy the last six nights, laying off any crazy meat or starches. Plus, my neck-shoulder is aching and I'm not feeling so hot. I thought of just making leftovers, but that's not reaching the comfort zone. I want to feel good when I eat tonight. I want to fold myself into whatever it is I'm going to have and then bask in it for awhile. What better dish to do this with than pasta.


I decided right away I wanted something light and bright. So to me that meant no tomato sauce and no meat. I hear all of you meat lovers and traditionalists out there groaning. Well fegettaboutit! Meat and tomatoes have their place in the great shrine of pasta, but they also tend to drown out the flavors. Same thing with fish. Now chicken is pretty balancing, but I don't feel like that either. Nor tofu or torfurky. In fact, as I write this I've decided that Torfurky Pasta is an affront against all Pastafarians (All Hail the Noodly Appendage of the Flying Spaghetti Monster).

So I checked my pantry. When we shop, we tend to stock up. Preppers and certain religions centered around a certain salt lake that shall remain anonymous have a belief that they should be ready for the end times. This is a great belief. Ite's an awesome belief. My wife and I have a similar belief. We believe that we should be ready for the good times so you'll find our pantry stocked with squid ink pasta, Spanish chorizo, lemon flavored penne pasta, sweet pea rissotto base, and a hundred other foo foo items that are a delight to cook. So I noticed the squid ink pasta right away. I think we got a couple of packages at world market. I cooked one and I think my wife didn't like it. Because she's away rwight now and I'm cooking for one, I'm going to absolutely believe that, so that if I'm wrong I won't get into any trouble.

We're also growing herbs in our screenhouse, including a lot of basil. And nothing packs a bright punch to the eye like a whole mess of basil. I always use garlic and diced onion. Always. So while I make my pasta, I fry up the garlic and diced red onion in a little meyer lemon olive oil. After about three minutes on medium heat, I add a quarter cup of good white wine and capers (if it's my house this normally means a Chardonnay). I let this simmer for about seven minutes.


Meanwhile, the pasta is cooked al dente. (there's areason for this). Then I drain it reserving a quarter cup of water. Remember, if you leave the pasta in the water it's going to continue to cook. If you drain it and leave it over the steaming water in the sink it's going to continue to cook too. There's little worse that limp, flacid pasta. Okay. There are a lot of things worse that limp, flacid pasta, but you gotta admit, lim, flacid pasta is pretty bad.

With about three minutes to go on the white wine reduction, I add in the basil whole. This will serve to infuse everything with a nice bright double eye gouge of basil.

After then after the whole seven minutes, I add in the reserved water and the pasta and stir. for two minutes. (See, I told you there was a reason. The pasta is still cooking) Finally I add in the scallions and tarragon. Stir once more, then plate it. The last step is to top the pasta with a little lemon olive oil and shaved parmesan cheese.

Then eat.

     Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
1 Package Squid Ink Pasta
1 cup finely diced red oinion
4 tsp dized garlic
4 handful (big hands) of fresh basil
3 tsp capers with juice
grated parmesan cheese

4 - 5 scallions
2 tsp tarrogon
.5 cup good white wine
.5 cup meyer lemon olive oil (and more if needed)

Wait? What was that you said? Did you say that pasta can't be black?

Of course it can, silly. Anything can be black. Black is beautiful.

I can't think of any color I wouldn't want to see pasta... well... pink. I don't think i'd like to see pink pasta. It seems so unappetizing. And maybe not orange. Definitely not orange. And blue would be wierd. Kind of like eating Smurf noodles. Definitely not pink or orange or blue. But black is okay. Black is great.

So what do we call this dish?

In italian it would be - linguine nero con basilico e olio d'oliva limone meyer
In Spanish it would be - linguini negro con albahaca y aceite de oliva limón meyer
In Javanese it would be - ireng linguini karo Basil lan Meyer lenga linglang zaitun

I can't even saty that last one. Those are just google translations anyway.

How about calling this Black Summer Basil Pasta?  

I bet you can do better.

Give it a good name and I'll put leftovers in an envelope and mail them to you.


Oh yeah, I almost forgot about dessert. It's simple and amazing. Take slices of pear, in this case a red pear, put them in ramicans and microwave for twenty seconds. This will soften them up and break down some cell walls. We want this. Then drizzle fig balsamic vinegar over them and refridgerate for thirty minutes. Trust me.



Weston Ochse is the author of twenty books, most recently two SEAL Team 666 books, which the New York Post called 'required reading' and USA Today placed on their 'New and Notable List of 2012.' His newest novel is Grunt Life and is already in its second printing. Visit him online at www.westonochse.com

Monday, July 7, 2014

Three Free Book Giveaways by My Publishers

I'm a struggling writer who spends too much money on other people's books and trying to live the good life, I totally know how hard it is to want something and not have the cash for it. So when I the chance comes to offer something free to my fans and friends, I am elated. Three of my books are being given away on Goodreads over the next few weeks. You have a better chance of winning one of these than winning the lottery, not getting hit while dodging traffic, not getting cut when running with scissors, and definitely not being lip-sliced while eating a bowl of granola-flavored razor blades. And you can quote me on that.

HALFWAY HOUSE 

Sprawling Haunted House Novel featuring:

 Elvis, Mexican Mafia, WWII Curses,
Hollywood Porn, L.A. Gangs, and Horror

The Halfway House…a place shrouded in mystery…standing shunned and ignored…yet seeming to devour the souls of everyone who dies in San Pedro.
Bobby Dupree…an epileptic loner from a Memphis orphanage who is on a journey to find out if he truly is…the Halfway House…
son of the King of Rock and Roll. When Bobby’s quest becomes entwined with an old surf bum and his estranged daughter, the 8th Street Angels, and a dicey porn director, he discovers that Los Angeles holds more opportunities and dangers than he could have imagined. Discovering he’s at ground zero to a seventy-year-old spiritual curse, all the chaotic events in Bobby’s life begin to circle back to the inscrutable force of the 

For a chance at winning a free copy go to this LINK. There are ten copies available. This book is also available in a signed and numbered collectors copy directly from the publisher






GHOST HEART - YA Coming of Age Novel


While Matt Cady's parents are contemplating divorce, Regina Running Deer can't grow up fast enough. Together, along with two dead-biker guardian spirits and an immense German Shepherd, they escape to the Black Hills. Steeped in bloody history, the Black Hills is a shadowy world where creatures, real and unreal, would rather see them dead than alive. Finally the cryptic advice of a witch, a fortune teller and a troll, plus the ghosts of Wild Bill Hickok leads them to find the very thing they didn't know they were looking for. And to get it, the must enter the Badlands...and survive. 


For a chance at winning a free copy go to this LINK. There are three copies available. This book will also be available in a highly collectible lettered edition available directly from the publisher.




SNAFU - Military Horror Anthology



A military horror anthology featuring a hot mess of awesome authors.

When the going gets tough, the tough fight to the death in SNAFU.
(SNAFU – military slang for ‘Situation Normal – All F*cked Up)
FIGHT OR DIE!

Some contributors:
- James A Moore (A Jonathan Crowley story)
- Greig Beck (A new novella – see synopsis below)
- Weston Ochse (Author of Seal Team 666)
- Jonathan Maberry (A Joe Ledger tale)
- Joseph Nassise (A Templar novella)

My story is titled Cold War Gothic and takes place in 1960s San Francisco where America and the Soviets are fighting a supernatural battle with Earth at stake.

For a chance at winning a free copy go to this LINK. There are three copies available. This book will also be available in a highly collectible limited edition available directly from the publisher. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

GRUNT LIFE Video Review

It's not often that one of my books gets a video review. It's pretty cool when it happens. Don't get me wrong, paper reviews are awesome, but as an author, I can't see the emotion on the face of the reviewer. You know how it is when you talk about books you like and you sit straighter, your eyes widen, you smile... all of those visual queues are the sort of thing you can only get face-to-face or in a video review.

And I got all of that in spades.

Mr. Erik Smith is a regular guy who likes to read and who likes to share his video reviews. His review of Grunt Life was so much fun to watch... at times, he wasn't sure what to say, didn't want to give away any spoilers, but still wanted to talk about how much he loved Grunt Life.

"I put off eating, going to sleep, and working
 so I could read this book."



"One of the best books I've read in a long time."
"420 pages but they flew by. I've read books half the size that took twice as long to read."

"All around great storytelling it's such a good book!"

"I haven't had the chance to read SEAL Team 666 but if it's half as good as Grunt Life then it'll be worth reading."


Thanks for the great review, Mr. Smith, and thanks for pronouncing my name correctly.

If you haven't read Grunt Life, please go to this link and order it from your favorite store. Tell them Erik Smith sent you.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My Day at Desolation Lake

I didn't have anything to do to day and I didn't want to do it sitting in a hotel room, so I decided to take a hike. I googled the best day hikes around Salt Lake City and did some research. The words Desolation Lake kept showing up. How could an author of all things dark not take a hike to Desolation Lake. What the perfect name.


So I got up this morning and took a short twenty minute drive from my hotel in the city to the trail head in the Wasatch Mountains. I like that it's so close. After a winding trip through forests and into the mountains, I arrived at the trail head. There was a sign about glacier movements. Desolation Lake was derived from a glacier.


Then I began the trek. The websites said it was a moderate hike and about 8 miles or 12.5 kilometers. It started out uphill. I'm not sure what I was thinking, but it kept being uphill for kilometer after kilometer. Holy damn but my legs and calves were smoking. My average heartbeat was 120 and I was breathing heavy. I tried to take pictures and look around, but for much of the ascent, I was watching the trail in front of me. 

I achieved the summit and the lake in 100 minutes, about twenty minutes ahead of schedule. Must have been my old Army DNA kicking in. I put my head down and my feet in front of me and took the hill.

Desolation Lake was beautiful. It had a glacial blue quality to it, but it also had a green tinge and a rust brown tinge. Not sure if these were from the reflections or what was in the water. I tried to capture it in several pictures. The lake itself is fed from snow melt and has no other source. 


And of course, I took a drink of the water in Desolation Lake. I mean how could I not?


The trip down was much easier, although six kilometers downhill was tough on my joints. I passed several other hikers and dodged some bikers who were descending at insane speeds (but looked like fun). I saw a chipmunk, some long red weasel who was too fast for me to take a picture of, and a dark blue Stellars Jay.

I also met a man from Alabama who'd never seen mountains this big, so he decided to hike them. Turns out that the trail head has an elevation of 7260 feet and the lake lies at 9760 feet. My watch told me that it was an ascent of  602 meters and a total descent of 780 meters. Uphill was murderous so I told him, "It's all uphill from here." He laughed with good humor.

One of the websites said this - "The 1900 ft elevation gain from the trailhead to the lake is not one of the more strenuous grades in the Wasatch, but there are some stretches that are downright nasty. (My hiking buddy commented "This is one steep Mother--I think he was talking about Mother Nature). On the whole, the trail varies between very steep to nice, easy stretches of flatness."

I totally agree about the downright nasty stretches, but as far as the easy stretches of flatness? What trail are they talking about?

I encountered a Van Gogh palette of wildflowers, aspens rising like white sentinels all along the trail, and towering mountains in every direction. I also saw snow. In fact, I stood in some snow. In June!

And add to that I burned 880 calories on the ascent and 1259 total.

So here are some pictures I thought I'd share. Enjoy!











































MISSION COMPLETE!!!
3 hours 20 Minutes