Erica Vetsch: If I could travel back in time, would I?

Thank you, Mary, and the P&P team, for having me here today. It surely is my pleasure. 

If I could travel back in time, would I?

You bet! I’d make a terrible pioneer, I know, since my idea of roughing it is to play all day at the lake, then head to the Holiday Inn for the night. I barely cook with the convenience of a microwave. I know buffalo chips and an open flame would be a disaster.

And yet, part of me longs to travel back in time to get a feel for what pioneers felt, see what they saw, wear the clothes of the time and really immerse myself in the time period, so I can accurately portray those times in my novels. All while being back at the Holiday Inn by supper time, of course!

Since I can’t go back in time for real, I do the next best thing. Museums!

row-of-rooms1 

In September, I began the research for a new historical series set at a US Cavalry Fort. I had the germ of an idea, loved the setting, and was eager to see what I could find by way of information.

Over a two week span while on family vacation, we visited the following forts:

Ft. Riley, Kansas (home of the US Cavalry Museum.) A house once thought to be General Custer’s has been preserved and is open for viewing, though they’ve later discovered that he actually lived up the street a bit on Officer’s Row.

Fort Harker in Kanopolis, Kansas. Only a few buildings survive, but the tour guide made our stop worth while. I love the copper-colored sandstone buildings and the amazing green lichen that grows on it.

Fort Larned, near Larned, Kansas. Oh, my, what a treat. The picture above is of two of the barracks at Ft. Larned, which is a National Historic Site and beautifully preserved and run. The buildings are in excellent shape, and the Santa Fe Trail runs only about thirty yards behind the commissary building. Also, as a bonus, just up the road from the Fort is the Santa Fe Trail Museum and Library where we also stopped. I got to go inside a real soddy. Ugh. I am so not pioneer material.

Fort Hays, Kansas. Not many of the buildings survive, but the blockhouse is unusual, and the place has a lively history.

Fort Laramie, Wyoming. A terrific tour with enthusiastic tour-guides. One of the great frontier forts with a rich history and interesting inhabitants.

 books

My second favorite way of researching is reading books. While on this “Fort Loop” vacation, (No, not fruit loop!) I bought lots of books about the US Cavalry and each fort’s history. By the time I got home, I had twenty-one different books about forts and fort life in my possession. Of course, one of the books I was looking for eluded me on the trip, so I had to go on eBay when I got home and bid on a copy. J

 As you can see, I have an amazing and generous husband who pretty much lets me get what I think I need to do research (and a lot of just what I flat out want) and I kept my receipts so I could hand them over to my accountant at the end of the year.

I also got the name and address of the Fort Historian at Fort Laramie, and was encouraged to call any time with questions that cropped up during the writing. Very excited about this prospect. I love talking American West history with someone as passionate about it as I am.

Another way I researched—and  I do realize I should take this one with a big, old bucket of salt—is  I watched John Wayne in his Cavalry pictures, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Rio Grande, The Horse Soldiers, and Fort Apache. I realize the US Cavalry story is ‘Hollywood-ed Up’ for the big screen, but I love the movies, and they are inspirational. Since my Cavalry novels deal with honor, duty, and sacrifice, (and love J) I thought it fitting to revisit The Duke in all his blue and gold glory.

Of course, US Forts weren’t the only research topic on my agenda. I also visited a Colorado Gold Mine, a Pioneer History Museum, the Wyoming State Historical Society, and 1880’s Town of Murdo, SD. And I bought lots of books from those places, too.

I have found there’s nothing like actually seeing and experiencing the places you want to write about. Especially since the Holiday Inn isn’t too far away. J

Thank you, Mary, for inviting me to visit Petticoats & Pistols.

thebarteredbrideErica’s debut novel, The Bartered Bride, is now available. Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a free copy.

You can order a copy by clicking HERE. Or by phoning (740) 922-7280.

 Jonathan Kennebrae is furious when his grandfather informs him that his future has been decided. He will marry Melissa Brooke or be disinherited. Jonathan has invested years of his life in Kennabrae Shipping, but heaven help him if Grandfather decides to take it all away for this.

Melissa, too, is devastated when her parents make their announcement. As little more than a bargaining chip in her father’s business maneuvers, she feels her secure world slipping away. Engaged to marry a man she has never met—someone “considerably older” than herself? What have her parents done?

Can Jonathan and Melissa find a way out of this loveless marriage, or must they find a way forward together?

ERICA VETSCH is married to Peter and keeps the company books for the family lumber business. A home-school mom to Heather and James, Erica loves history, romance, and storytelling. Her ideal vacation is taking her family to out-of-the-way history museums and chatting to curators about local history. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Calvary Bible College in Secondary Education: Social Studies. You can find her on the web at www.onthewritepath.blogspot.com  

 

 

 

To the left a picture of officer’s and enlisted barracks at Fort Larned, Kansas.

Guest Blogger
Updated: November 5, 2009 — 4:36 pm

30 Comments

  1. Fascinating!

    However, I only want to travel back in time through the books that I read. I can only tolerate camping out for about 3 nights before I need all of my creature comforts!

  2. Hi Erica! What a fabulous trip! Seeing all those forts must have given you a ton of ideas. I bet you took a lot of pictures 🙂

    I’d love to travel back in time for a day or two, kind of a cosmic research trip, but I’m heavily into modern conveniences. I like microwaves, radios, dishwashers, computers, forced air heat, A/C, telephones, cars, etc.. Glad to see you here at Wildflower Junction!

  3. I’d love to travel back in time, but like Erica I’d be horrible. I’d whine that the corset, stays, petticoats were too hot and uncomfortable. I also love the convenience of modern plumbing.

  4. I think the past is easier in a book than in reality, I’m sure.

  5. I agree with the rest – the past would be a fun place to visit, but I’m not sure I’d want to stay there.

    I enjoyed watching part of the Pioneer House series on PBS several years back where they took modern families and immersed them in the pioneer life with no modern conveniences of any kind for weeks at a time. It was a stuggle, but the families adjusted – even the whiny teenagers. (grin)

    While I’m not volunteering to give up my refrigerator, stove, washing machine, or AC just yet, I think we might be surprised at how well we could adjust if the necessity arose.

    I can remember heating pots of water on the stove for baths when our water heater went out one time. It wasn’t very convenient, but I felt so pioneer-ish, I actually enjoyed the novelty of it. I didn’t complain when the new water heater was installed, though. LOL

  6. I enjoyed your fascinating post today. It looked so interesting and wonderful. It would be great to travel back in time but only briefly so that I can see what happened. Otherwise I am used to our modern lifestyle which I appreciate.

  7. Good morning!

    Laurie, 3 days camping! That’s over my limit. I am all about the mod cons.

    Victoria, I think, all told, we ended up as a family with somewhere around 2000 pictures? After sorting and exchanging and deleting the fuzzy-I-wish-you-hadn’t-bumped-my-elbow-right-then shots, we had about 1800. (There was a lot of bumping going on. 🙂 )

  8. Great post. Very intersting. I think the past is great but was a very hard life. Love to read about it. Your book sounds great. Please enter me.
    Blessings.

  9. CJ, I’m with you, indoor plumbing is a must!

    Anon1001, Thanks for stopping by! I write historical fiction so readers can escape, so I tend to leave out the grittier bits like outdoor plumbing situations and a lack of Right Guard.

    Karen, I liked Pioneer House too! I’m afraid the novelty of roughing it would wear off pretty quickly for me though.

    Ellie, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! 🙂

  10. Thanks for the great post. I would love to travel back in time to see what it was like. I don’t think I would last very long though. We seem to have forgotten alot of the surival techniques now that we don’t have to use them. I also loved visiting Fort Laramie, it really is a neat place to see.

  11. Erica,

    I would definitely go back in time but I would want to live with the Lakota at Wounded Knee

    Thanks for sharing such an interesting blog

    Melinda

  12. Enjoyed reading the comments. For me, it would have to be back in time of the Louisiana Purchase. I would have really liked to go with Lewis and Clark on their expedition. To travel the then unknown area would have been soooo exciting. To see new rivers,mountains and animals. It couldn’t be any more interesting than if I had visited the moon.

  13. Great post, very interesting! I would love to go back in time myself just to see what it was like. I wouldn’t want to stay there because I love the modern things we have today. To go back in time just for a visit would be awesome. When I was a child we didn’t have a bathroom inside the house and we had to heat our water on the stove to take baths in a round wash tub. So I like our things of today! To go way back in time for a visit I would love.

  14. Hi Erica,

    Welcome to P&P! We’re so happy to have you here. And what an interesting subject. I love visiting old forts or what is left of them. In some cases it’s only a little pile of rocks. I’m glad that some have been reconstructed, their history kept alive. Here in Texas we have a lot of historical forts. It helps that the state gave them historical monument designation which paved the way for them to be reconstructed. I’d hate to lose all that history.

    Your book looks wonderful. Love the graphics and the colors! I hope you have much success.

  15. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post with us… I probably would find it fascinating to go back, but I would not want to stay! 😀 Congrats on your debut!!!

  16. Your book sounds great. Love to see how it all ends. I don’t know that I would like to travel back in time. I like my modern conveniences too much. Frankly I don’t know how the women managed back then. If I had to cook everything over an open fire I’d burn everything.

  17. hi Erica, welcome to the Junction today. Congrats on your debut novel! How exciting.

    I love this post. I think I am too much a spoiled baby to live in the past for any length of time. But I would like to spend one day in the Old West and in England about 1212. That’s all. Me, I need indoor plumbing, antiobiotics and (blush) tampons.

    In August, we’re taking a city-clicker wagon train trip in the Tetons. But…the wagons do have rubber tires and upholstered seats LOL.

    Loved the post. Thanks.

  18. Your research is impressive, Erica. Loved the photo of the officers’ quarters. I can just imagine the procession of riders trotting up that road.
    Would I live in the past? You bet. But I would want to be RICH!.
    🙂

  19. I’d like to visit the Victorian, Edwardian, Tudor, the Civil War eras, but only for a couple of days…
    I like modern plumbing and electricity too much!

  20. I’m so glad I’m not alone in loving my modern conveniences. Last month our power was out for about 15 hrs, and I thought I’d go crazy! I’d love to travel to the past, but as Elizabeth said, I’d want to be RICH! Then I could be pampered.

    🙂

  21. Great post – loved hearing about your research trip. As for travelling back in time, I’ll reserve that for my reading experiences – I’m much too fond of modern conveniences to ever wish to do that in real life 🙂

  22. Very good post! Enjoyed it. Please enter me for the book. Thanks.
    jackie.smith(at)dishmail(dot)net

  23. Great Post. I love the way you research. I don’t think I would want to go back in time now. It is getting too difficult to walk any distance. but when I was younger I would have loved it. I love to go camping though have not been able to as often. Will be watching for this book.

  24. Ach! I’m late checking in. It was UNAVOIDABLE. But Erica! Hi! Thanks for being on P & P. I love museums, too. I do so much of my research online but I love getting to look at three dimensional stuff. I need to remind myself to do it.

  25. I wouldn’t last two weeks in 1880. The mind boggles.

  26. Wow! I love this blog. Great research. Actually I think it wasn’t so bad long ago. Yes, we’re so used to all that we do and the machine age and such, but they had shortcuts back then and MORE time for family and friends than we have today. I think it would be wonderful to have lived back then,myself. 🙂

  27. Avatar

    Erica,
    We vacation the same way. My souvenirs are books wherever we travel. Actually have some of the books you show above. We visit forts, museums, historical houses, pow-wows and rendezvous. We also throw in celtic festivals, highland games, and reenactments – medieval, revolutionary war and civil war. If you haven’t been to the Ft. Bridger Rendezvous in Wyoming, you really should. Just wish I could deduct mine on our taxes.
    I like the sound of your story. Look forward to reading it. Good luck with the release. I hope you do really well.

  28. I only want to travel back in time through the books I read.

  29. I would find it fascinating to go back. But I would not want to stay. The Bartered Bride sounds wonderful.Please enter me in the giveaway.Thank you.

  30. Please enter me in your giveaway if it is still open. Thanks!

Comments are closed.