If Not Now, Then When?

The if not now, then when question has been on my mind as I grow older and played into why I’m writing this while waiting for the remaining passengers to load on my flight to Los Angeles. More about how this unexpected trip came about later. Great teaser, huh? ?

I think I’ve mentioned I’m not big on change. I’m a routine gal. It’s called a comfort zone for a reason, after all. When plans get thrown off, I get stressed. I’m not the most spontaneous person either. As Alison in one of my favorite movies, The Sure Thing says, “Spontaneity has its time and place.” Yup, that’s me.

When I travel, I start thinking about what to take weeks in advance. I consult the weather repeatedly, pull outfits with coordinated jewelry, and plan for contingencies. Because I hate waking up and having to wear something, I take more clothes than necessary. I worry I’ll forget something or have the wrong clothes. I love traveling once I get on the plane, but everything before stresses me out.

For 2023, I’m working on these issues. I want to be more spontaneous and live without regrets. I refuse to let fear or stress hold me back. I’m also tired of putting things off, of saying someday I’ll do _____. Fill in the blank. Visit dear friends who’ve moved away. Travel to Hawaii. Whatever. I’m saying no to things I don’t want to do. That gives me more time for what I love and what brings me joy. Too often we forget how limited and precious time is. We say if only the timing were better. If only I had the money. If only ___. Again, fill in the blank.

Which brings me back to flying to LA. My youngest received a week’s notice he’d been selected as a contestant for a game show taping in LA. Even before we learned neither his boyfriend or best friend could attend, my hubby and I wanted to go. But it wasn’t a good time. Flights would be expensive. My bff, Lori, was to arrive two days before we’d leave for LA. After a long phone conversation, she decided not to go with us to LA, but insisted I go. Her exact words were, “This is a once in a lifetime thing. You are going.” (Thankfully, Southwest would issue a voucher to reschedule if she cancelled her flight.)

So here I am, flying to LA. This trip helped me work on the issues I mentioned earlier. I had to pack with little notice. (I’m impressed how efficiently I did considering if Nathan gets to the final round we will be seen on TV.) Leaving Tuesday and returning Friday threw my work and life routines out the window. The cost was more than we should’ve spent, but hubby and I don’t care. We would have no regrets the way we did when we missed Nathan’s first once in a lifetime experience. Yup, that’s right. Nathan, at 25, has had two once in a lifetime experiences.

While Nathan was in college, Tony award winning actress Kristin Chenoweth sang at Rowan University and needed backup singers. When no baritone students auditioned, the professor charged of selecting the singers contacted Nathan . Between the super short notice—maybe two days—and it being December, tickets prices were insane. (More than double the LA tickets.) We didn’t go, and I’ve always regretted not being there.

I’m trying to ask myself “If not now, then when,” when I have decisions to make. If I may never get this opportunity again or I’ll have regrets, I’m saying yes.

I’m writing this last bit on the plane home. While I can’t share how the game went for Nathan until after his episode airs, I can say hubby and I were incredibly blessed to have shared this experience with him because if not now, then when would we ever have a chance like this again?

Giveaway: To be entered in my giveaway for the Valentine’s Day heart shirt and a signed copy of Family Ties, tell me what’s one spur of the moment decision you’re glad you made. 

The Dreaded Vacation Pictures


Well, I’m usually much more organized and on top of my game than I currently am. Comes from being on deadline (new book and edits on another one are due within days of each other) and squeezing in a four-day vacation to visit my daughter in Seattle. As a result, I didn’t think much about my blog this month. Sorry. So, as a result, you get to look at pictures and hear about my trip. It really was a lot of fun 🙂

On my first full day, we went to the county fair. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve been to a county fair. Yes, the rides were as rickety as I remember. I thought I’d be okay going on the ferris wheel, but I admit I was kind of scared. We were up pretty high, and the ride didn’t look all that secure. The haunted house was lame, which was great for a laugh. The fun house was my favorite next to the livestock barns. I loved seeing the draft horses (some of you may remember my recent post about the different kinds of draft horses). And the little guy on the lower right is a miniature mule. We had lots of the big ones. This fellow was about a fourth of the size.

Another highlight of the trip was a visit to Easton’s Books. If you’re a book lover, which I am, this place is a dream. There are all kinds of books, from recent releases to classics. I could spend the entire day there and still not see everything. I was able to purchase four books for my favorite childhood books collections. The Black Stallion Legend was an exciting find for me. It’s one of the less popular Black Stallion books, and there aren’t many copies floating around.  The Year of the Black Pony was an especially wonderful find as it’s signed by the author! How cool is that?

Lastly, there are pictures of our stroll along the walkway outside of a seafood restaurant where we had dinner. My bad, I can’t remember the name of the small town, but the water is a “finger” of the sound. And best of all, besides time spent with my daughter, was getting to see my fur grandbabies. Tsuki the dog and Bandit the cat are both elderly now and having their share of health problems. They both belonged to me when they were babies. Bandit was a rescue saved from a cat hoarding situation. My daughter took both pets with her when she moved out of the house at eighteen to attend college. I’m always amazed that Tsuki remembers me even though I only see him every couple of years. Or, maybe he doesn’t and just likes me!

Thanks for letting me share my trip with you. I promise that next month I’ll be more prepared.

Stories from My Winery Visit

Photo: Kiepersol

My husband and I recently visited Kiepersol Winery and Bed and Breakfast in Tyler. Our room at the Bed and Breakfast was in the building with the restaurant. Not only were the surroundings quiet, calm, and serene, the wine was wonderful, our room beautiful, and the restaurant defied description. They feature great steaks and seafood, with incredible sides. My favorites were the sauteed mushrooms and garlic potatoes. And the desserts…I had cherries jubilee, and I swear I gain a pound thinking about it, but it was worth every calorie.

But the stories of the winery’s history our wine tour guide, Ron shared captured my writer’s sentimental heart. Founder Pierre de Wet’s story would do any hero proud. Born in South Africa, in 1984 after the death of his wife from skin cancer, he and his young daughters, age two and four, moved to America. Pierre worked as a farm laborer until he could buy acres in Tyler, Texas. Though in 1996 there were no wineries from Austin to Florida, Pierre was sure he could make a winery work.

The winery’s name comes from the Kiepersol farm where Pierre grew up. Legend has it soldiers running from a lion toward a lone tree, shouted, “Kiepersol! Kiepersol” as they sought safety in the tree. (Later it was learned the soldiers yelled, “We hope this tree will keep us all!” Pierre named his winery after that Kiepersol tree, hoping everyone who visited the winery would find that same comfort.

Pierre’s determination and frugality when he started his winery served him well. To lower startup costs, he purchased used equipment. In tough times he sold residential lots, eventually creating one of two wine estates in the U.S. In 2000, he harvested his first grapes. To sell his wine, he hired teenagers with signs and obtained retired Clydesdales for carriages rides that ended at the winery.

Photo: Kiepersol

I can’t share all the winery’s stories today, but I want to share one behind Flight sparkling wine. Guinea fowl have roamed the area for over 20 years as vineyard stewards. Their chatter safekeeps the grapes from deer and birds. They eat bugs serving as nature’s pesticide. Guinea fowl spotted feathers are believed to be good luck charms. Now to the name. The winery says, “We believe each spotted feather found represents a releasing of the past. Flight is grown in a place where one can feel soulfully grounded while also letting dreams soar. So. Take Flight my friends.” That sentiment makes me shiver.

I love visiting Texas wineries and hearing their stories. The minute I heard Pierre de Wet’s, I thought how I would’ve loved to create such a hero. The courage, strength, and determination he possessed to come to America with two young daughters when the only person he knew was a Texas A&M professor, astounds me. He created a winery, a bed and breakfast with fifteen rooms, an incredible restaurant, a distillery, and an RV park! But most importantly, he raised two strong women who carry on his legacy.

Pierre de Wet and his daughters
Photo: Kiepersol

I may have found a retirement-keep-busy-and-involved career. What could be better than telling a winery’s stories, meeting fabulous people, especially if I could be paid with an occasional bottle of wine and dinner?

Today I’m giving away this horseshoe decoration and a signed copy of To Tame a Texas Cowboy. To be entered in my random drawing, leave a comment to this question. What is the best story you’ve heard or best/most interesting fact you’ve learned on a trip? Or, if you don’t have a story to share, just stop by to say hello or tell me about a real life hero in your life.


The Wiggins Ferry – A Connecting Point Between Eastern and Western Railroads by Jo-Ann Roberts

When I was plotting out the details of Ainsley, Book 8 in the Love Train series, I knew Ainsley MacKenzie was from Boston, and would travel as far as the Mississippi River on regional train lines until she got to East St. Louis, Illinois. In 1872, there were no railroad bridges that spanned the river in that area, so how would she get across to the Union Pacific 1216?

My research discovered the Wiggins Ferry Company. In 1797, Captain James S. Piggott was granted the right to operate a ferry between St. Louis and the opposite shore of the Mississippi River. Passengers loaded into small hollowed-out tree trunks at Piggott’s ferry house just below Market Street and were shuffled across the river by poles or paddles with long sweeps. After a couple changes of hands in the coming years, Piggott’s ferry ended up in the ownership of Samuel Wiggins, whose name would be tied to it for more than a century to come.

The Wiggins ferries, like the one in this painting, had one platform on each side of the pilothouse. Typically, new passengers and cargo loaded onto one side, and outgoing passengers and cargo disembarked on the other. Missouri Historical Society Collections.

In the earliest years of the Wiggins Ferry, crossing the river was a gargantuan task. John Darby, who became mayor of St. Louis in 1835, moved his family and their belongings across to St. Louis in 1818 over a three-day period and for the fee of $50—no small sum of money at the time.

“The ferry consisted of a small keel-boat, which was managed entirely by Frenchmen. Every portion of the body—every muscle, in fact—was brought into play…the vessel rocked so that the trace-chains at the end of the tongue often dipped into the river…meanwhile, the Frenchmen swore in French, ‘prenegard.’ ‘sacre!’—so that the enterprise seemed a dangerous and hazardous undertaking.”

Mr. Wiggins subsequently acquired some 900 acres of land along the Illinois banks of the Mississippi directly across from present day St. Louis, Missouri. The Wiggins Ferry Company not only operated a ferry business for individuals wanting to cross the Mississippi, but it also developed extensive yards, depots, warehouses, railroad tracks and elevators. Eventually, the Wiggins Ferry Company became a major connecting point for the many railroads terminating at East St. Louis, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri.

Through the haze of early 1900s St. Louis, the Eads Bridge looms large over the icy Mississippi River. Murphy Library Special Collections, University of Wisconsin–La Crosse.

From those small beginnings and makeshift rafts, the Wiggins Ferry Company built an empire transporting people to and from St. Louis. By the 1820s, Wiggins had a fleet of ferryboats with names fit for battleships, such as Sea Serpent, Rhinoceros, and Antelope. He even experimented with ferries powered by horses on treadmills. In 1830 Wiggins upgraded to steam power, with the St. Clair and Ibez ferries making two regular daily river crossings. By the early 1870s the company was averaging river crossings of 1,500 people, 10,000 bushels of coal, and 750 wagons each day.

Winter river crossings were hazardous to say the least. But in 1839, these crossings became easier thanks to the Icelander and its pointed, ice-smashing iron hull. There were some setbacks, however. In 1851 there was a ferry explosion, and in 1864, four boats were lost to an ice floe (a floating piece of ice causing jams on freshwater rivers) that damaged the hulls.

By 1870, The company’s stock reached $1 million just as the Eads Bridge, St. Louis’s first bridge across the Mississippi, was rising in the middle of the river. As the bridge would not be completed until 1874, I had my answer!

If you’d like to read an excerpt CLICK HERE

I’ll be giving away TWO ebook editions of Ainsley – Love Train Series Book 8 – to two winners!

For a chance to win, answer the question below:


As an unmarried woman, would you have dismissed the conventions of the 1870s and traveled alone out West by rail or stagecoach? Why or why not?


Jo-Ann Roberts was born and raised in western Massachusetts. Fascinated by America’s Old West, she always felt she was destined to travel on a wagon train following the Oregon Trail. She enjoys writing sweet historical romances which take readers back to a simpler time when families and friends help one another find love and happiness.

Website: https://www.jo-annrobertsauthor.com/

The Hardships of Traveling to the West (And a Giveaway!)

By Jody Hedlund

Howdy, everyone! Thank you for having me back here on Petticoat and Pistols! I’m thrilled to have another chance to hang out with you all!

I recently had another cowboy book release, The Heart of a Cowboy (and I’m giving away a copy today here!). This one has to do with the very fun and interesting topic of traveling west by covered wagons.

Almost everyone has heard of the Oregon Trail and the many people who traveled to the west in covered wagons (and by stagecoach) over the well-worn route.

The Santa Fe Trail was another such trail to the west. It ran parallel to the Oregon Trail (mostly) but was a more southerly route through Kansas that eventually led to New Mexico (and was also used to reach southern Colorado).

Whether the Oregon or Santa Fe trails, the months-long journey to the west was marked by incredible difficulties. In researching for my book, I read countless diaries and journal entries by many of the brave people who ventured across the country. One classic I read was The Prairie Traveler which was actually a book written in 1859 by an army captain by the name of Randolph B. Marcy. The U.S. War Department asked him to publish a guide for settlers traveling across the American frontier based on his extensive experiences. His little book soon became an essential handbook for those pioneers. They used his advice on how to prepare for the trip as well as what to expect in the open country.

Even with sufficient preparation, good equipment, and an experienced guide, the travelers still faced incredible challenges. The npshistory.com site (National Park Service) indicates that nearly one in ten travelers on the Oregon Trail died on route to the west.

The Heart of the Cowboy tackles many of the hardships travelers had to endure including a near-river drowning, lost livestock, lost people, vicious storms, threats from Confederate Irregulars, danger from rattlesnakes, hot and dry weather, lack of water for both people and livestock, and much more.

One really dangerous aspect of traveling the Santa Fe Trail was the possibility of running out of water. I read an account of this very thing happening to travelers and how they dug down into the dry riverbed, placed their wagon box into the hole, and finally were able to tap into water buried a little deeper in the ground. So, of course, I had to include such an incident in my story too! (Along with many other dangers that really did happen to real-life travelers!)

Such stories of bravery make me appreciate those early pioneers all the more! (And make me grateful for our easy, fast, and comfy modern cars and airplanes!)

Leave a comment on this post if you’d like the chance to win a signed copy of the book! (Sorry, U.S. mailing addresses only.) I will choose a random winner on November 7, this Sunday. To find out more information about the book visit: http://jodyhedlund.com/books/the-heart-of-a-cowboy/

If you had to travel in a covered wagon to the west, what would you like most? Like least?


Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over thirty historicals for both adults and teens.

She is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy teens, and five spoiled cats.

Visit her at jodyhedlund.com



The Transcontinental Railroad

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. According to my This Day In History Calendar, today is the 152nd anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad (May 10, 1869), an event that had a profound effect on everything from commerce to the environment of this country.

So today I thought I’d share a bit of history and trivia around this event.

First a timeline of key events:

  • 1832 – Dr. Hartwell Carver made his first push for construction of a railroad to connect the east coast to the west coast. That proposal didn’t make it through, but Dr. Carver didn’t give up and over the next several years continued to write articles supporting his proposal.
  • 1853 – Congress commissions a survey of 5 possible routes. These were completed by 1855
  • 1862 – The Pacific Railroad Bill signed by Abraham Lincoln. The act offered government incentives to assist “men of talent, men of character, men who are willing to invest” in developing the nation’s first transcontinental rail line.
  • 1863 (Jan) – The Central Pacific Railroad breaks ground in Sacramento. They lay the first rail in October of that same year.
  • 1863 (Dec) – The Union Pacific Railroad breaks ground in Omaha. But because of the Civil War it isn’t until July of 1865 that the first rail on the eastern end is laid.
  • 1869 – Transcontinental Railroad completed

Now on to some other Interesting facts and trivia:

  • The railroad line followed a route similar to that used as the central route of the Pony Express primarily because this route had been proven navigable in winter.
  • There were two main railroad companies involved in constructing the historic line. The Central Pacific Railroad received the contract to construct the line from Sacramento to points east. The Union Pacific Railroad was awarded the contract  to forge the path from Council Bluffs, Iowa west. As noted above, construction began in 1862 and in the early days the place where the two legs would meet up and become one was not decided.
  • As the project neared completion, President Ulysses Grant set Promontory Point Utah as the place where the two rails would meet. On May 10, 1869, the final spike was driven and the Transcontinental Railroad was deemed complete.
  • The final spike driven is often called the Golden Spike. However the spike was actually gold plated, a solid gold spike would have been much too soft to drive into the rail.
  • The total length of the rail line was 1,776 miles. 1086 miles was laid by the Union Pacific crew and 690 miles by Central Pacific. At the time of its completion it was one of the longest contiguous railroad in the world
  • The chosen route required 19 tunnels to be drilled through the mountains. This was no easy task during this time period and it managed to push forward barely a foot per day. Even when  nitroglycerin was introduced to blast through the rock it only increased their progress to 2 feet per day.
  • When completed, the Transcontinental Railroad allowed passengers to cross the country in just one week as opposed to the four to six months it had taken before.
  • The fare to travel from Omaha to San Francisco was $65 for a third class bench seat, $110 for a second class seat and $136 if you wanted to ride first class in a Pullman sleeping car.

And there you have it, a short and sweet lesson on the Transcontinental Railway. So what about you, do you have any experience with trains and railways you’d like to share? If not, would you like to ride a train someday?

My only personal experience was on a vacation to the Grand Canyon – we road the train from Williams AZ to the south rim, a trip of about 2 hours. It was a really fun addition to our vacation experience.

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a choice of any book from my backlist.


Boot Scootin’ Favorite Book

“Yesterday’s gone on down the river and you can’t get it back.” -Lonesome Dove

One of my favorite books is Lonesome Dove, which was made into a TV mini-series.  Written by Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove is about two retired Texas Rangers, “Gus” McCrae and “Woodrow” Call who drive a herd of cattle from Texas to Montana.  

 The Pulitzer Prize-winning story is loosely based on the true story of Charles Goodnight’s and Oliver Loving’s cattle drive from Texas to Montana. Goodnight and Loving were close friends. Before Loving died, he asked that his body be returned to Texas.  He did not want to be buried in a “foreign land.”  Charles Goodnight and Loving’s son, Joseph, carried the metal casket 600 miles back to Texas.

In Lonesome Dove, Gus dies and Call (played by Tommy Lee Jones) hauls his friend back to Texas as promised.  If this doesn’t make you cry, I don’t know what will.  

“I guess this’ll teach me to be careful about what I promise in the future.”

McMurtry originally wrote the story as a short screenplay named the Streets of Laredo.  It was supposed to star John Wayne as Call.  But Wayne dropped out and the project was abandoned. 15 years later McMurtry saw an old bus with the phrase “Lonesome Dove Baptist Church” on it.  He rushed home to revise the book into a novel and changed the name.  (Ah, inspiration.)

The book went on to win a Pulitzer Prize. The mini-series also won many awards, including a Golden Globe.  It was cheated out of the Emmy for best mini-series by War and Remembrance.  Considered the “Gone With the Wind” and “Godfather” of Western movies, Lonesome Dove has sold more DVDs than any other western.

“It’s been quite a party ain’t it?”

It’s hard to imagine anyone but Robert Duvall as Gus, but he was actually offered the role of Woodrow Call, and turned it down.  His wife had read the book and told him, “Whatever you do, don’t let them talk you into playing Woodrow F. Call.  Gus is the part you should play.”

James Garner was also considered for the role, but he had to turn it down because of health problems. 

McMurtry said that he wrote Lonesome Dove to show the real hardships of living a cattleman’s life vs. the romantic life many think they lived. Some think he failed in this regard. Instead, many readers and critics see Lonesome Dove as a celebration of frontier life. 

What is your favorite western book, movie or TV show?

Now on sale for $2.99



Ever Hear of The Travelers Aid Society?


In this pandemic, most travel is prohibited, especially international. But I can’t imagine how frightening it would be to be stuck somewhere and have no resources. And double that fear if I found myself in a strange country and be unable to speak the language.

So organizations founded just to help travelers are a godsend, no matter when or where.

While international travel might be limited, there’s a world of inspiration waiting for us through travel blogging sites. These virtual portals act as our virtual tour guides, offering a treasure trove of wanderlust-inducing destinations that align perfectly with our tastes and preferences.

So, whenever you yearn to set foot on unfamiliar lands or revisit your favorite spots, go here to find a wealth of travel recommendations that spark your wanderlust and keep your adventurous spirit alive. From stunning landscapes to hidden gems, travel bloggers curate captivating stories that take us on a journey, transporting us to places we’ve only dreamed of.

The Travelers Aid movement began in 1851 with Bryan Mullanphy, a former mayor of St. Louis, Missouri, who bequeathed half a million dollars to assist “bona fide travelers heading West.”

This organization furnished provisions and the means with which to make the trip for men and women in good health who showed the stamina required for the journey. I can only imagine how many adventurous settlers they helped.

Until recently, I had never heard of this organization and never knew anything like this existed!

Once the West was settled, the Travelers Aid Society moved into providing protection for women and girls traveling alone. Such a beneficial program that kept them from falling victim to the white slave trade and other criminal enterprises.

By the early twentieth century, they served all people regardless of gender, age, race, class, or religion. It truly became an organization for everyone.

Image by 272447 from Pixabay


It morphed into the National Travelers Aid Association in 1917 under Grace Dodge. They welcomed immigrants to the U.S. and provided assistance and a safe place to stay for anyone needing one. The organization set up offices near all the ports of entry and stood ready to dive in and assist anyone with a problem.

During the 1920s and throughout WWII, they were a prominent fixture at railroad stations, helping soldiers, unaccompanied minors, and assisting stranded travelers.

There are still around 40 Travelers Aid programs in the U.S. with offices at major airports to assist where there’s a need. In 2010, they assisted 7 million people in getting to their destination.

Now there’s an international branch for world travelers. There will always be a need for someone to help the lost, the desperate, the confused.

For an organization that’s 169 years old, that’s pretty darn good.

Have you ever traveled to a strange place and needed help? Would you ever reach out to The National Travelers Aid association if you were in a bind? I’m giving away a signed copy of The Mail Order Bride’s Secret so leave a comment to enter.


How I fell in Love with New Mexico and the Diné People by Laura Drake

My husband and I have crisscrossed New Mexico on a motorcycle several times, and I fell in love with its harsh beauty. But it wasn’t until we did a bicycle tour across the state that I felt New Mexico. A bicycle is much slower, so you have hours and hours alone on the road to notice: the huge expressive sky that can change moods in minutes; the crumbling walls of rock with striations of color from off-white to ochre; the lonely wind, ruffling the grasses. The land spoke to me in ways no other has; it left marks on my soul.

 Along the way, we learned of the rich history of The People—The Navajo. We rode our bicycles 75 to 100 miles a day, visiting ruins, missions and pueblos.

I even got to pet a wolf! 


At night, we met the local tribe. Several shared a meal with us, danced and imparted some of their rich culture and history.


I came away with a deep respect for their wisdom, how they live, and how they view the world.

I wanted to honor them in some small way, and my July release, Home at Chestnut Creek, is my attempt at that.

It features a Navaho hero, Joseph ‘Fishing Eagle’ King, a man driven by his past to preserve his culture—who falls in love with a damaged white woman.

Our ‘Tour of the Nations’ bicycle ride is a memory now, but the land and people? They’re in my heart.


Home at Chestnut Creek is the second in the Chestnut Creek series, set in the fictional town of Unforgiven, New Mexico.

Find Home at Chestnut Creek here: https://books2read.com/u/49Djad

To enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of Home at Chestnut Creek (US only, please), just post a comment answering this question:

Would you take a bike tour? Where would you go? 

Author Bio:

Laura has always been a storyteller.  It began on her front porch, telling ghost stories to the neighborhood kids.  They ran screaming, but kept coming back for more. If she wasn’t telling a story, she had her nose in one, bumping into students in the halls on her way to classes.

Her settings are Western, but Laura grew up in the suburbs outside Detroit.  Always tomboy, she’s always loved the outdoors and adventure. In 1980 she and her sister packed everything they owned into their Pintos and moved to California, sight unseen. There Laura met her husband, a motorcycling, bleed-maroon Texas Aggie, and her love affair with the West began. Discover more about Laura’s books on her website:https://www.lauradrakebooks.com/

Welcome Guest Faith Blum!

Last year, I had the opportunity to go to the location my first series was set in, Castle Town, Montana. It’s a ghost town now, although it is inhabited by cattle rather than ghosts. Even so, it was fun to see it. And now I feel like I need to rewrite my series. But I won’t.

Castle Town was a small mining town back in the late 1800s. There are lots of rocks, pine trees, and hills all around it. The only buildings left standing are the foundation of the general store and another building that is actually mostly standing yet.

I loved going there to see where my characters lived, even if it wasn’t quite the way I had imagined it. It had been a dream of mine for a few years to go to Montana mainly because of my books, and I was blessed to have a husband who willingly let me fulfill that dream.

I’m sharing a few pictures with some explanations from the area around Castle Town as well as Castle Town itself.

This sign guided us to the direction we were headed. But first we went to the right because there was a cute little church over there that we couldn’t resist looking at.
This sign was outside of the town. The bottom half says, “This road was the main street of Castle, Incorporated in 1891 with a population of about 1,500 people. The first mine registered was the North Carolina Mine in 1884. In the next 7 years, 991 claims were located. The rock basement is the remains of Baker’s General Store and Post Office. Berg’s Meat Market and Kidd’s Furniture Store were across the street. On the far hillside was Minnie’s Sporting House. The silver panic of 1893 caused the town to die a rapid death.
A panorama of the town.
A closeup of the foundation.
Obviously, there are some recent updates to the church, but doesn’t this look like something from a western?
This is the road leading to Castle Town. It is a one-lane road and you can only hope no one comes barrelling around the corner toward you. It definitely fit the rustic feel of the area.
These rocks lined the road. I don’t know if they were original to the area or put there from somewhere else.

It was so peaceful out there. The only creatures around were the cattle and the only sounds were of the cattle moving and the wind in the trees. I think I need to stop talking about it before I start wanting to back again.

If you ever find yourself near Bozeman, Montana, it’s only a two-hour drive north and a little east to get there. It’s a slow drive there, but fun.

What was your favorite vacation? Why was it your favorite?

Today, I am giving away one free ebook of my book that spends the most time in Castle Town, Montana,  Lily of the Valley. It is the fourth in the series, but it can be read as a standalone.