The Heart’s Charge – My Favorite Scene

Want a pair of ruggedly handsome Horsemen to charge into your life for a few hours and get your heart pumping with adventure and swoon-worthy romance? Let me introduce you to Mark Wallace and Jonah Brooks – the heroes of The Heart’s Charge, my latest release. These men are seasoned ex-cavalry officers with a calling to help those in need. Even if those who need them are homeless children society deems beneath their notice. And when they team up with a pair of passionate women who run the local foundling home, more than one heart will be charging into the fray.

When I first starting researching this story, I knew I wanted it to be set in a small town that was relatively secluded. Enter Kingsland, TX – a town surrounded on three sides by water. Kingsland was founded at the place where the Colorado and Llano Rivers meet, and during the time period for my story, the only way to get into town from the east was to cross a bridge built for the railroad.

I love to study old town maps when I am setting a story in a real place, but Kingsland, TX was never incorporated, so I had a difficult time finding any historic maps of the area. I reached out to the Chamber of Commerce, and they were kind enough to point me in the direction of local historical John Hallowell. Mr. Hallowell generously shared his research with me, including some photographs and personal recollections of that railroad bridge being used for pedestrian traffic. School children crossed it to get to school. People traveling from Burnet County would leave their horses or wagons on the Burnet side then cross the bridge to conduct their business in Kingsland. All of these facts fueled my imagination as I plotted.

However, the most colorful piece of history I uncovered was the fact that people vividly remembered mistiming their crossing on this bridge, and having to make dramatic climbs onto the support piers in order to avoid being hit by a train. I knew I had to use this tidbit at some point in my novel.

Railroad Bridge from the Kingsland Side. The stone pillars are from the original bridge that was built in 1892.

I visited Kingsland during the course of writing the book, and I saw the bridge in question. It still stands today, though a few additional concrete pillars have been added over the years for extra support. Note how there is no railing or trestles or anything to add stability for the people who crossed this bridge. And the Colorado River is no trickling stream. Falling in would spell disaster. Yet school children crossed it every day! I was brave enough to walk out on the bridge to the edge of of the shore, but that was as far as I dared. I had no desire to act out the scene I was plotting in my head, especially since I had no idea if the tracks were still in use.

Bridge from the Burnet Side. I walked a few feet out on the bridge from this side.

Here is the start of the scene that was inspired by this bridge research, a scene that would become one of my favorites in the entire novel.

Katherine clutched Mark’s arm. It didn’t matter if Alice could recognize the man or not. She was putting herself in his path, and if he spotted her, she could be taken, just like the others.

“We’ve got to get to her. Now!”

Mark nodded but took the time to shake the porter’s hand in thanks. Katherine didn’t. Leaving the men behind, she hoisted her skirt above her ankles and sprinted across the platform and down into the street. People turned to stare as she raced past, but she paid them no mind. Her only thought was to follow the railroad tracks and get to the bridge.

Mark called out to her, but she didn’t look back. He’d catch up soon enough. Nor did she hesitate to mount the tracks and start across the bridge. People crossed this bridge on foot every day. Heavens, children from Hoover’s Valley walked across it every morning to come to school in Kingsland.

Once on the bridge, she hiked her skirt up a bit more and watched the placement of each hurried step. There were no railings and no trestles to protect her from falling into the Colorado River below should she lose her balance.

“Kate!” Mark called, much nearer now. “Stop!”

She lifted her head to judge how far she’d come. Almost halfway. And there, across the river, she spied a pair of horses at the end of the bridge. A small child in boy’s clothing moved between them. Alice! Katherine’s heart soared.

“I see her!” She halted momentarily and glanced over her shoulder, her excitement building.

Mark stood on the tracks at the edge of the bridge, waving her toward him. “Come back!” he yelled.

Go back? No. They had to go forward. Get to Alice before she was lost to them again. She shook her head and resumed picking her way across the bridge. Faster now. Nearly at a run. Alice was on the other side. In danger. Nothing else mattered.

But two-thirds of the way across, she realized she was wrong. Something else did matter. Something barreling toward her with such speed that the tracks convulsed beneath her feet. The deep, haunting moan of a train whistle pierced her ears and her heart.

The 6:50 from Burnet. Heading straight for her.

Giveaway!

I’ll be giving away 2 copies of The Heart’s Charge today.

For a chance to win, leave a comment about a favorite bridge-related memory
or about a bridge you would love to visit one day.

 

 

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For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com.

101 thoughts on “The Heart’s Charge – My Favorite Scene”

  1. I did an impromptu photo shoot with two of my siblings on a bridge in a Japanese garden while my mom was at a hospital. We went back and showed her the pictures.

    Reply
    • I love Japanese gardens, Kristen! They are so beautiful. Last fall my husband and I visited the botanical gardens in Fort Worth, and the Japanese garden are was my favorite. Everything was red and gold and gorgeous!

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  2. The railroad followed the back boundary of our small farm when I was growing up. On special days, Mama would take me for a walk, and if she had enough time, we would walk the rails for a while. Sometimes, like many kids, I would leave a penny on t he rail for the train to flatten. Good memories. And the fact that toads would hop over a rail and then get stuck there because the insides of the tracks were lower, fascinated me. It brought home the saying, “Look before you leap.”

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  3. I grew up near 3 covered bridges in Charlotte Vt. One was just down the road from where we lived. I remember swimming in the creek on a hot day. The only bad thing was that we had to walk up the hill to get back home. Thank you for sharing.

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  4. When traveling as a teen, my family stopped at one of those historical markers that was near a bridge. My dad, one brother, and a sister were brave enough to venture across and back. Between my fear of heights and the fact that it looked pretty unstable, I stayed firmly on the side we were at. Thankfully nothing happened to them, but I remember feeling quite nervous as they walked.

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    • I love hiking and finding rope and wooden bridges to cross. As long as they are kept maintained so I don’t have to worry about them breaking. When the wind gusts and they move, it definitely gets the heart pumping, though.

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  5. Growing up in the Midwest, I remember seeing the covered bridges while driving through Indiana. I always imagined courting couples of yesteryear inside the bridge, stealing a kiss before continuing on to their destination.

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  6. I grew up in High Bridge which is a small community in KY. It was the highest railroad bride that crosses the KY river. When we were young we use to walk across that bridge and didn’t think anything about it. If a train was coming across the bridge would shake so you would just hold on until the train past. There is no way I would go up on that bridge today.

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  7. We have bridges here to cross over the Indian River to get to our beach communities. When I was little, it was a drawbridge, so sometimes you had to wait while they opened the bridge for boats to go through. Now, they’ve built two taller concrete bridges and gotten rid of the old drawbridges. When we have a hurricane, one of the first things they do is evacuate beachside and close the bridges.

    Reply
    • I understand the need for progress and practicality, but my sentimental side mourns the loss of that little drawbridge. So much more character that its concrete replacements. Then again, concrete is probably much safer, so there’s that. 🙂

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  8. When I was a little girl there was a metal framed covered bridge going into a nearby town. It was slightly wider than 2 cars width. Usually only 1 car at a time would cross the bridge while someone else would wait. I remember being scared thinking about what would happen if 2 cars were on it at the same time. I was scared to drive on it in driver’s ed. Years later when traveling back through the town, the bridge is gone.

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    • I’ve seen some of those narrow bridges, Karen, and had much the same thoughts as you did. They seem so dangerous, but when they were built, they probably served more horse and wagon traffic and had no idea of the cars that would follow in future years. Makes me wish we could see it in its prime. 🙂

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  9. One favorite bridge memory is seeing the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence, Italy. It is a medieval stone bridge that has all kinds of shops on it. It’s really pretty.

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    • That sounds glorious, Cheryl. I love old stone bridges. So much character and history built into them. And of course, if they are in Europe, there’s even more history there. 🙂

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  10. There was one we saw in Oregon last week while on vacation. It was so beautiful and had amazing structure.

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  11. I live in the same area I grew up in. Years ago there was a wooden bridge built in a channel between two lakes, Middle and Upper Cullen, near Nisswa, Minnesota. On that wooden bridge were initials carved of sweethearts who ventured there to observe loons, ducks, watch fishermen catch crappies, bass, and walleyes, and to enjoy lake life from this old wooden bridge. Oh, and maybe they stole a kiss or two. Now a great big culvert has replaced that old bridge. There is nothing to lean on anymore. But the nostalgia of that old wooden bridge remains in my heart.

    I absolutely loved the first book in this series Karen. And, I look forward to reading this new book.

    Reply
  12. Oh what a wonderful post. So cant wait to read this. When we went on our honeymoon in Hawaii, we went on a small covered bridge that was by our hotel. We took a picnic lunch and stopped in the bridge to sit and just “be” It was so romantic and memorable. There were birds all around. And in the little river there were some birds. dont know what they were, but they were pretty just swimming along. There were flowers planted all around and it was so peaceful and smelled wonderful. After a while we continued across and had our picnic lunch. We have been married now for 37 years and we both still remember that day quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

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  13. There is a bridge from Somers Point to Ocean city the bridge was straight now they have remade it to go in circles. And the bridge is high. I dont travel on it much now.

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  14. The longest bridge I’ve been on was the Oresund Bridge, across the straight between Malmo, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark. I remember riding the train and seeing a field of wind turbines out in the middle of the water, before the bridge descends to a man-made island and the train completes the last couple miles in a tunnel under the sound. It was a very high, very long bridge, taken at some incredible speeds!

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    • Wow! As much as I love walking over bridges, I actually dislike driving over them. I can’t help worrying about going over the edge. Odd how I feel more in control on my feet than in a car. I think your Oresund Bridge would make me a wreck. Ha!

      Reply
  15. I have never been to the Bixby Creek Bridge in California , but it sure looks beautiful, especially at night, now, I don’t think I would ever want to go on it, but it sure does look pretty. I would be too scared to go on a long bridge like that. Have a great rest of the week and stay safe. your book sound like a great read and I love your book cover. Thank you for the chance.

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  16. I live in Michigan and we have the Mackinaw bridge! I love it but growing up my cousin who was a couple of years older than me hated bridges! We were going to Mackinaw Island and you have to go over the bridge to get there. She closed her eyes and held her breath the whole time. Let me tell you it is a very long bridge, on the way home she did much better knowing that she had already done it! Great childhood memories, love that bridge!

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  17. My family and I visited Kinzu Viaduct while I was growing up. When completed in 1882 it was the highest standing railroad viaduct.

    I was very scared while walking across because of the height and you could see through the boards to the valley below. My dad told me they had the fattest guys jump on it after it was built to make sure it was safe for people to walk on. I did make it to the other side but only slightly less scared and opted to walk the calm valley floor back instead of trekking back across. We did see a lot of beautiful wildlife because of that so I believe my vote to walk back through the valley was worth it.

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  18. No good bridge stories of my own but I remember when you posted about your visit to this bridge. I love reading about your research trips – you find obscure yet interesting stuff!

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  19. When I was a little girl, we went to see see the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. My grandma lived in Chesapeake, and I remember going across the bridge part, which is pretty long. We stopped and got out some kind of spot where you could walk around over the water. I remember lots of different sea birds, but the memories are kind of fuzzy.

    Reply
  20. There is a bridge here in Starkville that basically connects the town to the university (Mississippi State University). It crosses a road and has railings on with side plus a walking path (so to speak). When I was in school there, I would go visit some friends on the town side of the bridge and we’d all walk across to the university side to attend football games. After the game, we’d walk back across and just hang out. Sometimes we’d watch a movie when we’d get back and eat pizza while watching.

    Reply
  21. I just remembered the famous bridge on the Natchez Trace. I visited there once a couple of years ago and took some pictures of my nephew and youngest niece. I had hoped to visit it again when I was in the area back in November of last year. There’s also this bridge across the Tennessee River. I stop at this area nearby every time I travel along the Natchez Trace. These are two of my favorite bridges.

    Reply
  22. My story is about the oldest remaining humpback covered bridge in Virginia. It’s in Covington. I remember going here with my Daddie when I was a little girl while my mom & sister were on a school trip. It was a special memory, & I’d always wanted to go back. Just a few weeks after Daddie passed away in April of ‘17, my mom, sister, & I took a much-needed trip together to DC. Since we were passing right by Covington on our way home, my sis stopped so we could visit the old bridge. I was so wishing Daddie could be there with me that day & when I sat down on a brick bench to have my picture taken, there was a little stone butterfly & heart memorial decoration that said “Dad” on it stuck in the ground at my feet. ? My Daddie WAS there with me that day… in my heart & in my memories… & in a little decoration that God placed there just for me to see when I needed His comfort the most! I was able to find one just like it to put on my dad’s grave after I got home. ?????

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  23. One of my all time favorite scenes in The Heart’s Charge!
    I have 2 “bridge” stories that come to mind. When I was growing up my grandparents (on my mom’s side) picked up biking as a hobby after my grandfather retired. They bought a tandem bike & took me & my older cousins on 30+ mile bike trials throughout Wisconsin.

    The first one was Glacial River Trail & on this bike trail you cross over a covered bridge.

    The 2nd bike trial makes me think of your stories with the railway tracks- it’s called the Elroy Sparta trail. The cool thing about this trial it’s a rail trail conversion bike trail. You go through 3 hand dug railroad tunnels over the 32 mile trial. 2 of the tunnels measure 1,600 feet & the last one is 3,800 feet.

    Thanks for letting me share my “bridge” memories. Remembering them brings a smile to my face! ?

    Reply
      • Tandem bikes are fun! A few times I was able to ride behind my grandpa…I’m not sure I’d ever have the confidence to ride in front though.
        You & your husband would definitely enjoy these bike trials for sure.

        Reply
  24. Honestly I don’t care for bridges. But i would like to cross the bridge to Mackinac Island so i want to see it because it willl get me there…lol

    Reply
    • I actually have a phobia about going over the side of bridge in my car, Sabrina, so I don’t like driving over them very much. However, I love walking over bridges, especially on hiking trails and other nature locations. Maybe it’s because those bridges are much shorter and closer to the ground, or maybe I just feel more in control when I’m not strapped into a car. Who knows? But I have heard that Mackinac Island is wonderful, so I’d love to brave the bridge to get there, too. 🙂

      Reply
  25. We used to vacation when I was young in the country where we rented a cabin. The bridge was extremely old and narrow and we would have to wait for other cars to pass before we could go.

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  26. There is a bridge in my hometown called the “Blue Bridge.” I am sure you can guess its color. Blue. Well, powder blue, to be exact. It crosses over the Columbia River where we grew up boating and fishing as a family. I love crossing that bridge when I go to visit now because it means I am almost home. 🙂

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  27. I enjoy seeing some of the old stone bridges and, also, the old buildings constructed by the CCC during the years of the Great Depression.

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  28. One of the few good memories I have of bridges is of the bridge in my home town. It went over a set of railroad tracks, was short and steep on both sides, almost a perfect arch. Going over it you were going straight up and couldn’t see what was coming up the other side. You reached the top and had a sharp pitch down making your stomach drop. It was a bit like riding a short rollercoaster. The kids loved it and we called it the Whoopi Bridge.

    I really have an issue with big bridges. When I was about 5, there was a big bridge collapse with several cars going into the river killing the occupants. It wasn’t close to us, but there was a little girl my age in one of the cars. From then on I was afraid a bridge I was on would collapse. I have gotten better, but I just have to make sure I don’t look down. With all the traveling we do, there have been many bridges, so it is learn to fly or swim, or dal with the bridges.

    Thanks for the excerpt. Sounds good, as usual.

    Reply
  29. The Ponte Vecchio in Florence is so beautiful, especially at night. It is the only bridge that was not combed during World War 11. What a captivating setting.

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  30. I was on a big bridge crossing from the Lower Peninsula in Michigan to the Upper and they were working on the bridge so it was slow going. It was swaying quite a lot and I realized how very long the bridge was and what a long drop it would be to the water. I was quite happy to get over it and back on land.

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  31. Heart-pounding end to an excerpt…

    We started walking across the old trestle at Harpers Ferry years ago, but my husband wasn’t feeling it, so we went back. I don’t think you can cross it now.

    denise

    Reply
  32. It’s not a favorite memory but it is about a bridge. I’ve always had a fear about having an accident on a bridge and going over the side. When my daughter was 2, I did have an accident on a narrow suspension bridge going over the Mississippi. When I called 911, dispatch wanted to know if I was in Illinois or Iowa. I was a little freaked about the accident on the bridge and, since I was sitting still, I could feel it “bounce” when cars drove by. I told them I was in the middle of the river and had no idea what state I was in because I couldn’t see the state line in the water. Lol, turns out I had left Illinois and was back in Iowa. It was a few years after that before I would dive over that bridge again.

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  33. My favorite bridge is a suspension bridge that stretches in front of a beautiful waterfall at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee. We went during one Spring Break when I was growing up, and it just happened to snow while we were there. The bridge was a little scary covered in ice, but the view was absolutely stunning!

    Reply
    • My husband and I went to Fall Creek Falls a couple years ago. So beautiful! I’m a sucker for a waterfall. Add a hiking bridge, and I’m all over it. Maybe not in ice, though. You’re a brave woman, and I bet the view was totally worth it!

      Reply
  34. I absolutely loved the book! It’s so, so good! I can hardly wait for the next one so I can read Preach’s story. I’m kind of a chicken about bridges. I remember going across the Memphis bridge on I40 from Arkansas to Tennesee when I was a little girl. I was scared to death and it seemed to take forever to drive across that thing. I had nightmares afterward about our car falling in.

    Reply
    • I’m glad I’m not the only one with this crazy fear of going over the side of bridges, Christy. They don’t bother me at all when I’m walking, but strapped in a car I feel helpless, I guess. You are not alone!

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  35. I ? bridges! I’ve visited several good ones including the covered bridges of Madison County, IA, Royal Gorge Bridge in CO, Tower Bridge and Westminster Bridge in London, Iron Bridge in Shropshire, England, and several stone packhorse bridges in England (google Ashness Bridge). I’ve walked partway across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in Charleston, SC, and I’m hoping to walk the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in WA someday because I live near it. My favorite bridge memory involves the Old Bridge in Heidelberg, Germamy. My dad was stationed near there before I was born, and my parents bought a large painting of Heidelberg. I grew up with that painting. I got to visit Heidelberg in 2016, and when I stepped onto that bridge, I felt like I’d stepped into my parents’ painting! It was almost surreal.

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  36. I remember biking with friends in a suburb south of Chicago and at one point crossing a railroad bridge with our bikes (we walked them since it was narrow). Don’t worry, no trains came while we were on it!

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  37. I actually lived in Kingsland, TX for a few months, but I never knew about the bridge and it’s history. My favorite bridge is in Vicksburg, MS – over the mighty Mississippi River – toward Louisiana. It’s especially beautiful at night.

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  38. There is a bridge in West Virginia that goes over Red Creek. It leads from the Valley up the mountain to Dolly Sods. There are cabins, camp grounds and trails all over the mountain. Anyway back to the bridge. This bridge has always help so many memories. I would stand on the bridge watching the water come down off the mountain. There was a trail that went down the side of the bridge to the water where there was a large rock we would go to to lay in the sun and watch the water. We would lay on the rock and wave when any cars would go by. I have not been back to West Virginia in many years. Some of my family have been there. They posted pictures of the bridge a few years ago.

    Reply
  39. I love covered bridges! I don’t know why I like them so much but I do 🙂 My husband and I took an anniversary trip somewhere and we were just driving around when we came across a covered bridge. So we parked in the parking lot and walked across the bridge (it wasn’t one that was being used anymore). It was really cool looking inside!

    We also drove over “The Bridge of the gods” part of the Cascade locks in Oregon, but I didn’t like it!! It was very high!

    Great story Karen! Thanks for the giveaway chance too 🙂

    Reply
  40. There is a bridge not too far from where I live that I’ve always wanted to visit! Its called the Clarkson Covered bridge! The pictures of it are so beautiful! It was built in 1904 and the destroyed by a flood in 1921 but rebuilt the following year. As for a favorite bridge memory, there is a bridge in the town i grew up and still live close too today that is known by everyone as the humpty dumpty bridge. It was built in 1915 and is only 17 feet high but if you were to go
    Over it at a good speed it makes your stomach jump lol we did that all the time when I was kid and its probably my favorite bridge memory!

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  41. I forgot to comment yesterday! A memory I have of a bridge that isn’t a very pleasant memory but is funny now… when I was around 18 a group of friends & I decided we were going to go to a cemetery. Well the guys in the group wanted us girls to prove we wouldn’t get scared. We went, didn’t get scared but then the car wouldn’t start so we were going to have to walk back to town. This was before head phone. The guys decided we should walk the train track because it was a huge short cut and that way we would avoid fences & walking thru who knows what. All was good until we ended up on a bridge the train used. I’m deathly afraid of heights and the boards on the track had quick a bit of space between them. I was crazy slow getting across and about 1 half way I froze and couldn’t move. Then low and behold a train was coming. I still couldn’t make myself move. Everyone was yelling at me but still nothing. A couple of friends came back & got me and hoped me get off the bridge in time. So that’s my bridge story.

    Now bridges I’d love to see in my are the bridge in “The Bridge of Madison County”, the Golden Gate Bridge, Chengyang Wind Rain Bridge, Pont du Gard, Ponte Vecchio, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Roebling Suspension Bridge, & the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Just to name a few! ?

    Great blog! Your book sounds awesome! I’d love the opportunity to read any of your books!

    Reply
  42. I love driving over bridges. My mom’s the same way. Apparently, one of my parent’s first dates were driving over a bridge and then stopping right before the tunnel where a seafood restaurant happened to be. So they were eating right over the water!

    Reply

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