Kaitlene Dee Tells About Traveling Food, Covered Wagons, and Romance!

Get ready for a fun time. This week, the Fillies are entertaining Kaitlene Dee aka Tina Dee and she’ll talk about covered wagons, the food they prepared on the trail, and some romance. She mentions a giveaway so don’t miss that.

In my new story, Grace, which is part of the Prairie Roses Collection, nineteen-year-old Grace loses her best friend and inherits her three-year-old daughter, Emma. It was her friend’s dying wish that Grace would raise Emma because the little girl is without any other family.

Adam begrudgingly comes to the rescue of Grace and Emma with a marriage of convenience proposal—and together, they set out to help an elderly couple of sisters move their tea shop business from one town to another in a covered wagon to carry the sisters’ precious bone china and heirloom cabinet. They head from northern California to southern California. What should only take two to three weeks travel time turns out to be a much longer trip, ripe with danger and disaster. In all this, Grace and Adam find out how much they must trust in God as He guides them into discovering that they truly need one another.

Personally, I love outdoor cooking, and writing this story was fun with all the cooking that goes on in it. I enjoyed researching foods pioneers packed and ate for their journeys. Guidebooks made suggestions to hopeful travelers on things to pack in their provisions.

But most interesting to me, was the spices. Some were used for medicinal purposes, as well as for flavoring. Some curatives that were packed were: Cinnamon bark for the relief of diarrhea and nausea and to aid against digestive issues, cloves for its antiseptic and anti-parasitic properties, and nutmeg or mace, which were used for tonics. (FoodTimeline.org –an awesome and fun resource! They refer to Randolph B. Marcy’s A Handbook for Overland Expeditions, a valuable resource manual for those traveling west).

Some folks also packed potable meat (cooked meat packed tightly into a jar, then covered with some sort of fat such as butter, lard, or maybe tallow and then sealed), and portable soups, desiccated dried or canned vegetables, powdered pumpkin, and dried fruits. These were a surprise to me since, prior to research, I pretty much thought their only options were beans, cornmeal mush, biscuits, bacon, flour, milk if they had a cow, and eggs.

On their journey, Adam used oxen to pull the covered wagon because they were strong, dependable, and able to do well on less abundant food sources. It was fun researching about wagons as well. I didn’t know the wagons carried a pail of pitch under the wagon bed. But discussing covered wagons is for a future post.

The story of Grace is a Christian marriage of convenience, pioneer romance set in the western frontier and is part of the multi-author Prairie Roses Collection. All books in the series are stand-alone stories and can be read in any order. Not all of the stories are set on the Oregon Trail, some travel across state or from one state to another, but all of the stories are romances that occur while on their covered wagon journeys. They are in Kindle Unlimited and are also available for ebook purchase on Amazon.

Next spring, I’ll be contributing two more stories to the Prairie Rose Collection. The stories will be ripe with adventure, romance, and food and I’ll make sure they satisfy your Old West reading cravings.

What kind of food would you pack to bring on a journey like this? Anything special?

Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for an ebook copy of GRACE

Kaitlene Dee lives on the west coast, enjoys outings along the coast and in the nearby mountains, hiking, supporting dog rescues and outdoor cooking and camping. She also writes contemporary western Christian romances as Tina Dee. Kaitlene and Tina’s books can be found on Amazon.

Please feel invited to join my newsletter at and receive a free story: Kaitlene & Tina Dee’s Newsletter

Please follow me on Bookbub at Kaitlene Dee: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kaitlene-dee

Pioneer Courage Park–and a giveaway!!!

We are always talking about history and the frontier and courage here on this blog.

So I went to a park in Omaha, that’s one of my favorite places ever, called Pioneer Courage Park.

I take people who visit Omaha to this place and once or twice I have just gone to downtown Omaha and walked around. I’m just in love with this wagon train sulpture.

If you look carefully at the bottom of this picture below it says Pioneer Courage.

There are four wagons. One each pulled by a different team. (well, one is drawn by hand)

One drawn by a team of Oxen. (hint, below, I’m the one on the right)

and mules.

There’s also a hand drawn cart which is mostly how the Mormon pioneers crossed the country. It boggles the mind that they had such small carts. what in the world did they eat?

Amazing desire for religious freedom.

There are also people, women walking, women carrying a baby. They say that everyone who wasn’t driving the wagons walked. It not only took weight off the wagon, and made it easier on the horses/mules/oxen. But it also was more comfortable to walk. the wagons shook and rattled along, no wind could get in past the cover, it was a miserable way to travel. Imagine that. Walking ALL THE WAY ACROSS AMERICA WAS MORE COMFORTABLE THAN RIDING IN A COVERED WAGON!!!

This guy is the wagon master. Think about that job for a minute. Did they pay him? did he go once and stay in the west or did he go back to the beginning and start over every year?

This guy below is leading a horse and there are deer on the pack horse. Sort of blurry, sorry.

 

He’s bringing in food. but one guy I talked to said it was rare for a hunter to find food. The wild animals learned to run far from the trail. Mostly, any food you were going to eat on the Oregon Trail, you had to bring it with you.

Lots of people leading the teams where the going is rough. One wagon was ‘stuck in the mud’. Very cool. Everyone pushing and urging the animals to pull.

Many pioneers brought a milk cow along, this one is tied to the back of the wagon and being led to Oregon. Long way to go home.

There are several buffalo just here and there on the downtown streets, like a block or two away from the Pioneer Courage Park. So cool to walk down a street and meet up with an iron buffalo.

 

As part of the Pioneer Courage there was also a small group of Native Americans. A reminder that some people were heading into a new land. And some people were already there.

So many of my characters are trying to tear a living out of wild lands.

In my current series, Wyoming has a total population of 9000. TOTAL. One out of five are women.

Yet somehow this state was the first to give women the right to vote.

There was Pioneer Courage in the west even after it was beyond the age of the pioneer.

To get your name in a drawing for a signed copy of Laws of Attraction, leave a comment about your favorite park.

Where do you like to go and just hang out.

There are several such beautiful places in Omaha. The Henry Doorley Zoo, the Lauritzen Gardens. Bookstores.

But none better than Pioneer Courage Park.

The Laws of Attraction

Can they risk giving in to the attraction between them while their lives are on the line?

If widowed seamstress Nell Armstrong has to make one more pair of boring chaps for the cowboys in her tiny Wyoming town, she might just quit the business altogether! So meeting Brand Nolte, a widower struggling to raise three girls on his own, seems like her dream come true. Brand has no idea how to dress the girls properly, and Nell finally has a chance to create beautiful outfits while also teaching the girls to sew.

But Nell is much more than a seamstress, and the investigative skills and knowledge she picked up alongside her late lawman husband soon become critical when a wounded stagecoach-robbery survivor is brought to town. As danger closes in from all sides, Nell and Brand must discover who has a target trained on them before it’s too late.

“A richly detailed adventure that captivates till the end.”–Publishers Weekly on Forged in Love

Buy on Amazon

Buy on Bakerbookhouse.com (it’s on a good sale!)

National Frontiers Trail Museum

My Day at the

National Frontier Trails Museum

This picture shows the trains vs the trails in 1880

First let me say that the Santa Fe Trail information was fascinating.

I went to the museum, in Independence, Missouri, to find out about the Oregon Trail.

But the Santa Fe Trail was so unexpected that I could fill a blog post with that.

I’m setting a book, partially, on a wagon train.

Different setting for me, and I’m a little nervous about making it interesting.

But I’ve got to get these folks from Chicago to the wild west somehow, so a wagon train it is.

As I wrote, I would have said I know tons about the Oregon Trail, the American frontier and wagon trains.

Turns out I didn’t.

So a trip to Independence was born.

I ended up talking to a museum guy for a long time and he really knew everything. Very interesting guy, Travis Boley.

Then after I quizzed him for a long time, I wandered for longer still.

The Oregon Trail was first passed by fur traders on foot or horseback as early as 1811. Less than ten years after Lewis and Clark.

The trail became passable by a wagon, such as the one above, in 1836. From the most heavily traveled years, 1846-1869 it’s estimated that 400,,000 people took that trail west, including those who turned onto the California Trail. The trail declined after the Transcontinental Railway opened in 1869. Train travel was faster, cheaper and safer than wagon train travel. But these wagon trains continued in a much reduced number until 1890.

Ignore my smiling face and look in the back of that wagon, Now imagine your home. All the stuff you own. Those wagons are TINY. And you had to fit everything you owned into them.

 

As a Nebraskan, I particularly enjoyed information that concerned Nebraska.

This is info about Scottsbluff, a town in Nebraska but an actual bluff, too. Huh, never gave that much thought. But duh.

Chimney Rock is also a Nebraska landmark.

For me, when I get out of a museum, I find I’ve taken more pictures of SIGNS than artifacts. I love to read about the objects and find snapping pictures of signs helps me to remember what I saw.

I LOVED this list of all you have to carry on the wagon train.

Some interesting points: Despite what looks like a high cost, many of the things you have to bring, like oxen or mules, the wagon, the supplies, the clothes, the guns, are things you already have. And also, when you get to your destination, those things you only needed for the trip, like a team of oxen, can be sold for a good price. Yes, you need to scrape the money together to go, but once you sell it all in the high frontier market, the trip becomes mostly free.

I liked the idea of ‘jumping off points.’

Travis said the Missouri River kept getting more and more navigable (that’s a word, right?) by steamboats. As the boats kept getting farther and farther upstream, the pioneers could ride the boat farther. The jumping off points went from St. Louis to Independence, Missouri. To St Joseph, Missouri then Omaha.

Wagon train riders had to haul practical things. It was expected that someone on the train, perhaps many people, would haul their own forge. the tools were practical.

There was no room for fussy fabric or glass dishes. They needed axes and pots and wheels and parts for a broken wagon. Many more frivolous things hauled along, ended up being left behind on the trail.

I highly enjoyed my trip to the National Frontiers Trail Museum and be on the lookout for a story in my future with a wagon train. Hopefully written with a lot of good information in it.

http://www.maryconnealy.com

 

 

Westward the Women – a great classic Western romance movie

 

Like a lot of people in my generation, I grew up watching old westerns on TV. That included the classic shows like Bonanza and Big Valley. But I loved movies the best and have seen probably all of them at least once. Some many, many times.

No question, my all-time favorite is Westward the Women. Why? Because at its heart, it’s a romance. Crusty and skeptical wagon master Buck Wyatt is hired to bring a wagon train of respectable women across the country to a small California town populated entirely by men. Fifi Danon and her friend are showgirls trying to escape their current circumstances for a better life. Because “their kind” are being rejected as potential wives, the pair change clothes and masquerade as respectable women in order to join the wagon train.

 

 

From the moment the group starts out, the journey is beset with problems. Some of them are external. There’s a flood, an attack, a treacherous descent through the mountains, and a stampede. Then there are the emotional conflicts. A woman is raped. A young man is accidentally killed. A pregnant woman goes into labor. A group of men and women and abandon the wagon train, leaving the rest short-handed and defenseless. And all through their many trials, the completely inexperienced and struggling to survive women hold onto the hope that there’s a man waiting for them at the end of their destination.

 

Buck and Fifi constantly bicker. Why? Well, they’re fighting their mutual attraction. Buck is moving on to the next wagon train after this. He isn’t about to settle down, much less with a soiled dove. Fifi isn’t interested in a man who can’t see beyond her showgirl past and love her for the good person she is at heart. But, of course, they surprise each other, fall in love, and the journey teaches them both what’s really important in life.

My absolute favorite part of the movie is when the women finally arrive in town. They refuse to go any further until Buck brings them materials so that they can fashion decent clothing. They won’t meet their future husbands in torn, filthy clothes. Turns out, there’s no women’s garments in a town full of men. So, Buck returns with tablecloths and curtains and blankets and whatever else can be found, which the women then make into outfits that manage to be utterly charming.

If you’re a fan of old Western movies and haven’t seen Westward the Women, check out this gem. And then let me know what you think!

Water Dictated Wagon Train Routes …

 

For the brave souls who undertook the arduous, twenty-one-hundred-seventy-mile journey along the Oregon Trail, there
was a constant struggle to provide enough water for themselves and their animals. Their prairie schooner could carry only one-ton of supplies. Typically, a water barrel strapped to the side of the wagon only held fifteen to twenty gallons.

Most wagon masters encouraged their charges to have six or seven pair of oxen, and each animal needed fifteen to twenty gallons of water per day. Each person used a gallon or less for their needs, so no one could carry enough water. Consequently, all the well-traveled trails leading to Oregon or California followed a river. In addition to the water supply, that’s where the grass was the best as well.

Most wagon trains averaged covering fifteen to twenty miles in a day—that’s going approximately a ten-hour day with a noon hour dinner break. Of the remaining fourteen hours, a considerable portion was devoted to water needs—either taking the oxen to water, the easiest, or hauling water to the animals at ten gallons a trip.
With water weighing eight-point-three pounds per gallon. That’s about all any grown man would want to carry in two five-gallon water buckets per trip. It didn’t leave a whole lot of time for doing much else, other than trying to sleep a bit.
The emigrants first crossed the Missouri River then went northwest to pick up the Platte River which would provide all the wagon trains water for about half of their journey. It took them west through what is today Nebraska then more north and still west across Wyoming. They traveled beside the Sweetwater River and Green River before picking up the Snake River in what is Idaho today. Those going on to Oregon kept with it.

Settlers headed to California broke off the Oregon Trail at Fort Hall then started south along the Humboldt and later the Truckee River. For those sojourners, water became an even greater consideration. The closer the train got to the Forty Mile Desert, located in Nevada. It ran from the end of the Humboldt River to either the Carson River or the Truckee River.
This was the most dreaded section of their travels. The closer the trains got to it, the more alkaline the water became. Experienced wagon train masters encouraged their people to bring vinegar to neutralize some of the alkaline and make it more drinkable.

The reason crossing the Forty Mile Desert was the most difficult challenge of course was the lack of water, but also the extreme temperatures.

Most trains hit the desert in August, trying to get over the Sierra Nevada mountain range before the first snow. Being the hottest part of summer, they traveled only at night. Before 1850 almost a thousand people died there and ten thousand animals.

Mark Twain went across it and said of his journey, “It was a dreary pull and a long and thirsty one, for we had no water. From one extremity of this desert to the other, the road was white with the bones of oxen and horses. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that we could have walked the forty miles and set our feet on a bone at every step!”

Would you have undertaken such a perilous journey?

My newest novel LILAH released on May 3rd, my seventieth birthday! It is book five in the Prairie Roses Collection for Mother’s Day each year, offering strong-hearted heroines who traveled in the 1800s by covered wagon. It’d be a blessing to me for you to try this story, especially if I’m a new author to you! LILAH at AMAZON
((TO LINK:  https://amzn.to/2xBFhxs

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY
Wanting to BE a blessing, I’ve arranged a gift for all the Petticoats & Pistols’ readers today. JEWEL’S GOLD will be FREE at AMAZON ((TO LINK: https://amzn.to/2YIYvMT from Friday, May 8th through Tuesday, May 12th! Y’all enjoy! (UPDATE: There was a snafu with Amazon. Caryl has reset the book to be free, but it won’t start until tomorrow Saturday, May 9. The freebie will extend through Wednesday, May 13. She apologizes profusely!)

 

 

 

 

 

Bio : Award-winning, hybrid author Caryl McAdoo prays her story gives God glory. Her best-selling novels have garnered over 1000 5-Star reviews, attesting to the Father’s love and favor. Readers love her historical Christian romance family sagas best, but she also writes Christian contemporary romance, Biblical fiction, and for young adults and mid-grade booklovers. They count Caryl’s characters as family or close friends. The prolific writer loves singing the new songs God gives her almost as much as penning tales—hear a few at YouTube! Married to Ron over fifty years, she shares four children and nineteen grandsugars. The McAdoos live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County in far Northeast Texas, waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.

Links :
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Caryl-McAdoo/e/B00E963CFG?tag=pettpist-20

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/caryl-mcadoo?follow=true

Website: http://www.CarylMcAdoo.com

Newsletter: http://carylmcadoo.com/sign-up-to-the-caryler/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_1hQx6UZbWi3OYwmKKxh6Q
(Hear Caryl sing her New Songs!)

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CarylMcAdoo.author

Secrets of My Heart and Book Giveaway

Secrets of My Heart comes out March first and is part of the Willamette Brides series (a sequel to the Heart of the Frontier series which came out several years ago).  The story deals with three women who are caught up in the racial conflicts of 1879 Oregon. As I researched for this story, I kept finding a lot of issues that reminded me of problems we’re continuing to deal with today.

For instance, did you know that early in Oregon’s history, exclusion laws went into place that made it illegal for African Americans to even take up residency in Oregon Country.  Wagon train masters signed agreements to not allow blacks in their trains. In one of the museums I visited they had a display that told the story of former slave Rose Jackson who was forced to hide in a specially made wagon box all day, every day, as the wagon train came west. She was only able to come out at night after everyone had gone to bed.

Freed slave in Oregon.

There were three exclusion acts – Peter Burnett’s Lash Law was one of these that called for African Americans to be expelled from Oregon, and if they refused to go, they were to be lashed. The law was rescinded in 1845 when it was determined lashing too harsh. The next exclusion law was made in 1849 and stated, it was unlawful for any “negro or mulatto” to enter or reside in Oregon Territory.  It was rescinded in 1854.  The third and final exclusion act was passed in 1857 and actually written into Oregon’s Bill of Rights. The clause prohibited African American from being in the state, owning property, and making contracts. Oregon became the only free state admitted to the Union with an exclusion clause in its constitution. It wasn’t repealed by voters until 1926, with final racist language not removed until 2002.

While the exclusion laws were generally not enforced, they hung as a threat over the heads of African Americans who feared that at any given moment new laws might be passed to strip away their possessions and force them from the state.  This was especially driven home when the Fourteenth Amendment issue came up.

The Fourteenth Amendment which grants citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States, including former slaves, was ratified by a very narrow margin in 1866.  Oregon then rescinded that ratification in 1868.  The Fourteenth Amendment in Oregon was not re-ratified until 1973. They also refused to ratify the 15th Amendment which allows African American men the right to vote. That law wasn’t ratified in Oregon until 1959.  For more information go to:

https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/exclusion_laws/#.XRf4A-tTmpo

https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/14th_amendment/#.XRfyZetTmpo

https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/15th_amendment/#.XRfxxutTmpo

Of course, along with these laws, were laws against the Native Americans. Including making it illegal for whites to marry a person who was at least half Native American or even a quarter black, Chinese or Pacific Islander. This law wasn’t rescinded until 1951.

Learning about these laws and the problems they caused was quite fascinating and reminded me that as Solomon said in the Bible there truly is nothing new under the sun.  It also reminded me that as Christians we should love others as Jesus loved us and when we do that, it allows for no prejudice or negativity based on the color of our skin. 

I hope you’ll enjoy the series.

Soli Deo Gloria

 

What do you think would be the hardest part of traveling the Oregon trail in a covered wagon?

Tracie is giving away a print copy of Secrets of My Heart to one person who comments today.

Amazon

Tracie had an unexpected travel engagement arise today and will not be available to respond to comments here today, but she welcomes readers to contacted her directly at tjpbooks@aol.com or through her website http://www.traciepeterson.com.

The Oregon Trail Trading Post with Jennifer Uhlarik!

Hi everyone. Jennifer Uhlarik here. Have you ever thought of what traveling along the Oregon Trail is like? While I am fascinated with the idea of our forefathers traveling months along the path to make a life in the wilds of Oregon or other western places, the thought of being that far from civilization—particularly someplace to replenish supplies—is a frightening one. Keeping it real here: I live 2 miles from the grocery store, and it’s waaaaayyyyyy too easy for me to wait until 5 pm some nights to decide what I’m making for dinner, then rush off to the store for supplies. Our ancestors on the Oregon Trail didn’t have such luxuries! They had to pack enough stores to do life until they reached a trading post or fort to buy more.

So how did these trading posts get their start and what were they like?

As early as the 1500’s, French and English fishermen were sailing to the coast of Newfoundland to fish for cod. It was here that they encountered some local Indian tribes who were anxious to trade for metal goods. In order to obtain the iron pots, pans, knives and tools they coveted, the Indians offered beaver pelts, which they could provide in great quantities. It took the fishermen little time to sell the pelts once they returned home, and people quickly realized that the soft underfur of a beaver pelt made a wonderful felt for hat-making. With a growing demand for beaver pelts, both France and England began to explore North America with the intent to colonize it. Not long after, France began setting up trading posts in Quebec. Of course, England’s Hudson Bay Company moved into the area as well, sending traders and trappers across parts of Canada and the American frontier. Wherever they went, Hudson Bay Company set up trading posts to barter with the native population.

As life on the frontier changed from a focus on the fur trade to a focus on Westward Expansion, many of the old trading posts lived on. The owners of the posts continued to trade with the Indian tribes, but they also became outposts where white travels and settlers could get supplies. These small outposts provided staples like coffee, tea, rice, tins of hardtack biscuits, dried fruit, or canned goods. They also offered tools and utensils, such as cast iron pots, kettles, knives, and axes, saddles, and flint and steel for starting fires. Customers could trade for textiles, such as beaver-felt hats, blankets, bandanas, ribbon, thread, needles, and fabric. Ornamental or decorative supplies were commonly found, anything from silver to beads and beyond. And of course, guns, ammunition, and other shooting supplies were a common item found in these trading posts.

I’m sure you can imagine, life on the frontier could be lonely and supplies might be hard to come by. You had to learn to live with what you had…and make do until you could restock. Often, these trading posts were lifesavers, keeping people from starving or doing without until they reached the next major stop on their journey west. Or they might have prevented settlers from having to make a long trek to the nearest town or city, which might be days or weeks away. They certainly weren’t as convenient as today’s 7-Eleven, but I’m betting they were welcome stopovers to more than a few of our ancestors.

 

It’s your turn: If you had lived in times past, would you have liked to live on the frontier where a trading post might be your nearest source of supplies, or would you have preferred to live in a town or city? I’ll be giving away one paperback copy of The Oregon Trail Romance Collection to one reader who leaves a comment.

 

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list several times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children. Follow Jennifer at bit.ly.UhlarikNews

 

The Oregon Trail Romance Collection

Nine romantic adventures take readers along for a ride on the Oregon Trail where daily challenges force travelers to evaluate the things that are most precious to them—including love. Enjoy the trip through a fascinating part of history through the eyes of remarkably strong characters who stop at famous landmarks along the way. Watch as their faith is strengthened and as love is born despite unique circumstances. Discover where the journey ends for each of nine couples.

 

Click HERE to buy

 

Santa Fe, Where History Collides With the Present!

After writing two books without much of a break, I decided it was time to get away. Actually, a good friend of mine twisted my arm. She kept talking about making adobe bricks in Santa Fe, NM and before I knew it, I told her I’d go along…just to keep her out of trouble. *wink*  But it didn’t take much persuasion. Despite being born in New Mexico and living there the early part of my life, I’d never been to Santa Fe or made real adobe bricks. And I wanted to go. Darn it, I earned the trip! 

So, on a recent Friday morning, we left Raton, NM and started down. These are buffalo we saw just outside of Cimarron.

                      

Then we meandered our way, enjoying the fresh air of the mountains. We met her parents for lunch in Española. I thought that would be a sleepy little town but it was pretty big. Lunch was excellent by the way. From there we wound around through several small communities to Chimaýo where there’s an amazing story. Sometime about 1810, a friar was performing penance when he saw a light bursting from a hill. He went up and found a crucifix. Three times a priest tried to take it to another place but it always disappeared and reappeared in Chimaýo so they built an adobe mission in 1816 and it quickly became known as a curative place. The sick and infirm came by the droves and claimed to be cured. They still do. The crucifix still resides on the chapel altar. The chapel is on the left and a children’s chapel on the right.

                                                 

Here’s camel rock, an usual rock formation outside of Santa Fe that we had to stop and take a picture of. 

We arrived in Santa Fe mid-afternoon and our first stop was the Loretto Chapel and it’s miraculous staircase that was built without nails (only wooden pegs) and has perplexed experts. The entire weight of the staircase rests on the bottom step. It has two 360° turns with no visible sign of support and the rare wood is not native to the American Southwest. Legend has it that a poor peasant appeared with a donkey and he only worked at night. When it was completed, he vanished without being paid.

In the center of Santa Fe is a beautiful park with the Hall of Governors building sitting across the street that was built in 1610 out of adobe. It looks exactly the same as it did when it was first built. Each Saturday, the Native Americans come with their jewelry and a large variety of other things they make by hand, spread a blanket and sell to the tourists. I loved this and bought several items.

The Palace of the Governors as it appears today. It is the oldest, continually occupied public building in the United States. Courtesy of Patricia Drury, Flickr-Commons

Then, we went down the street where they were making adobe bricks using the same method as their forefathers. Adobe is a mixture of clay, water, and straw. They let us try our hand and I found it a lot of fun. It’s a lot like working with dough. I had to pack it down firm into the form, being sure to get it into each corner. After I did that, they lifted the form and there was a brick. They leave it to dry for a week on each side and it takes about 6 weeks to get all the moisture content out of them. But an adobe building can last for hundreds of years. Each brick we made was four inches thick and weighs approx 25 pounds so a wall would be very solid.

                       

Drying Adobe Bricks

And of course, wagons on the Santa Fe Trail passed through here and provided a welcome stop where settlers could replenish their supplies and rest. They truly must’ve enjoyed it.

Art is everywhere in Santa Fe and it’s all beautiful. We ended our trip with a visit to the New Mexico History Museum and found so many interesting things there.

                                                     

Santa Fe was settled in 1609 by the Spanish and is the oldest capital city in the U.S. History is all around you as you walk through the streets. If you’re looking for an usual place to visit, this will be the one to come to.

Have you ever made adobe bricks or visited a place that seems lost in time? I’m giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card so leave a comment!

 

 

My Last Trip to Hearts Crossing Ranch~Tanya Hanson

 

My eight-novella inspirational series is now compiled in one big anthology, at Pelican Book Group, including the never-published finale, Cross Your Heart. Each of the eight Martin siblings of Hearts Crossing Ranch in Mountain Cove Colorado, has a story of heartbreak and triumph, success or lost faith, sickness or health, and finds a western-style happily-ever after. (Even their widowed matriarch Elaine finds love again!)

My May post showed how a real-life wagon train trip inspired the entire series, but it was my husband’s 2008 cancer battle that led me down the inspirational road. (God be praised, he is now cured.)

Below is a nutshell synopsis about each of the stories.

  1. Hearts Crossing Ranch~ Losing her father to a drunk driver has shattered Christy Forrest’s faith and hope. Going solo on the city slicker wagon trip her dad had planned before his death gets her alongside a handsome wagon master. But the last thing she needs is a faith-filled cowboy…

Kenn Martin, himself jaded by a woman’s betrayal, realizes he could heal his heart with the lovely landscape architect—if Christy gives them the chance.

  1. Redeeming Daisy~ The ranch’s large-animal vet Pike Martin should steer clear from bad-girl Daisy Densmore, the woman who broke his brother Kenn’s heart, but something about her wounded soul can’t be ignored.

Broken and humiliated by bad decisions, Daisy has no choice but to fall back to Mountain Cove…and literally into Pike’s arms when he saves her from herself.

  1. Sanctuary~ Cancer survivor and ranch foreman Hooper Martin doesn’t dare fall in love again. The single dad has been through loss and a horrific physical struggle. But meeting Mallie Cameron at Kenn and Christy’s wedding lets him know love can bloom again

But Mallie is battling an incurable brain tumor and won’t get involved…

(My husband battled the same horrific cancer as Hooper’s, and Mallie is based on my daughter’s beloved sorority sister who left us in 2012 and tore out my heart. Even when you know it’s going to happen, nothing prepares you for when it does.)

  1. Right to Bragg~ Nanny and paralegal Tiffany Vickers has been disowned by her own family, and the guilt wants to drown her. Coming to work for attorney Rachel Martin is starting to give her a sense of family again.

Accountant and cowboy Bragg Martin, himself bearing guilt for faking tests during his star-athlete turn, knows in his heart that he and Tiffany could be a perfect couple in spite of everything. And then Daisy’s ex-husband puts the move on…

It’s Christmas, though, the time of hope and love.

  1. Soul Food~ Kelley Martin has no qualms about being a vegetarian in cattle country, but her failed restaurant brings her back home. She realizes the value of roots and family. Chuck cook on a Hearts Crossing wagon train gets her up close with geneticist Jason Easterday, a self-acclaimed vagabond. How can she get him to stick around?
  1. Angel Child~ Graphic artist and cowboy Scott Martin holds himself back from falling for his high school art teacher. Of course they’re adults now and it’s perfectly acceptable. But Mary Grace holds herself back. Not many men, not even a committed Christian like Scott, will accept her severely disabled little son…
  1. Seeing Daylight~ When her Army husband returns safely from his long deployment in the Middle East, attorney Rachel Martin knows they’ll make it. Until he dies in a foolish mishap. Meeting Brayton Metcalf doesn’t make life any better. He keeps secrets, too, and bears the burden of causing his wife’s death.
  1. The Finale, not available as a singleton: Cross Your Heart~ The youngest Martin, Chelsea has grown up, but nobody takes her seriously despite her college degree and travels abroad. Will her older siblings always consider her a baby? Or will they accept her commitment as an environmental scientist? Saving a wounded horse to prove her maturity is a start. Until she runs into her college love. Once a spoiled surfer with tons of money, Dutton Morse’s new heritage threatens to derail their reunion from the start: he’s an oil man…

I enjoyed writing my “ride” through the trails of Hearts Crossing Ranch and hope you do, too.

Wagon-training around the Tetons~Tanya Hanson

 

                                                            

A while back,  I and my hubby T.L., brother-in-law Timmy and sis Roberta (l-r in the pic above) had the experience of a lifetime, taking a wagon train around the Tetons with an amazing group, Teton Wagon Train and Horse Adventures headed by wagonmaster Jeff Warburton out of Jackson, Wyoming. He’s a true cowboy and a gentleman and guested here in Wildflower Junction not long after we got back.

Anyway, this fantastic trip helped inspire my eight-novella series Hearts Crossing Ranch, about the lives and loves of eight siblings of a Colorado working ranch that also runs city slicker wagon trains. The entire series–including the never-before-published finale about the baby sister Chelsea–has been compiled in one big anthology, available next month, and available for pre-order.

 

Anyway….We spent four days circling the Tetons through the Caribou-Targhee National Forest bordering Yellowstone bear country. We didn’t see any bear– likely the thundering horses skeered ’em away.

We got our start in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

First stop on the bus taking us to the wagons were photo-ops of the Grand lady herself..followed by her neighbor Mount Moran reflected perfectly in a oxbow lake.

These scenes were practically perfection in itself..but all breath stopped when we reached The Wagons.

 There was nothing quite like chuck wagon cooking in the open mountain air.

Pulling our wagons were magnificent draft horses, Percherons and Belgians. They are named in teams, such as Lady and Tramp, Gun and Smoke, Sandy and Sage, Jack and Jill. The first name is always the horse on the left. These glorious beasts are capable of pulling up to 4,000 pounds as a team, and they love to work. In winter, they lead sleighs to the elk refuge outside Jackson.                                                              

While the wagons do have rubber tires and padded benches, the gravel roads are nothing like a modern freeway. Most times our route was called the “cowboy rollercoaster.”

Most of our hard-working, helpful cowpokes were college students working for the summer. I promise you they remembered everybody’s name from the get-go. No question was too dumb.

 

 

I think everybody’s favorite “crew member” was Buddy, probably the cutest dog ever. He accompanied every trail ride after following the draft horses from camp to camp…he romped in every stream and lake, caught mice, and totally stole everybody’s heart. Jeff says, Buddy’s pretty disgusted to become a backyard dog after the summertime.

Our tents were comfy—all sleeping essentials are provided–, and there was nothing so fine as a cup of Arbuckle’s to warm us up on a chilly evening.  After supper—cowboy potatoes, Indian frybread, and raspberry butter are among our favorites—we gathered around the campfire for Jeff’s tall tales, historical accounts of the Old West, legends, guitar strumming, cowboy poetry and songs, S’mores, and delicious Dutch oven desserts such as peach cobbler and cherry chocolate cake always served to the ladies first.

One of the nicest parts of the meals was Jeff leading us in a blessing first. Nobody had to join in…but seems like everybody did.

 

Days were full of Wyoming wildflowers, lakes and pine trees reaching for the clouds.   Nights after the camp quieted down were almost beyond description: the stars are endless, multi-layered, sparkling on forever and ever amen. What a sight.                                                   

But the most fun of all was riding horses!  Folks either rode, hiked, or wagonned it to the next camp each day.   My favorite mount was Copper. You can see her ears in the photo below–I’m astride and taking a pic of my hubby, ahead in the red ball cap.

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Our last day, the Pony Express rode through camp and brought us all mail.

Me and mine, well, we had the time of our life.

 

As Jeff said when we left, “There’s always be a campfire burnin’ for ya here in Wyomin.”

 

Yep. I’m feeling the warmth right now.

Sigh.