This will be my last blog for Petticoats and Pistols but instead of goodbye, I’ll say “see you down the road!”
I want to thank all of you for taking the time to read and comment on the travel adventures I’ve shared with you over the past year. It’s been a lot of fun getting to know you and learning about your travels, too!
I’ve recently begun working as a caregiver for the elderly and have taken on more responsibility for my eighty-one-year-old father—the handsome high school jock in the plaid shorts!
These new obligations require that I scale back my writing commitments, but I still plan to carve out time in the coming months to work on a story that I plotted this past spring. Once a writer—always a writer!
I’d love to stay in touch with you and continue to share my travels, news about my books and future giveaways.
If you haven’t already done so, I invite you to subscribe to my Newsletter.
Visiting the Wigwam Motel in Holbrookthis past summer was another item on my bucket list that I was able to cross off during our Route 66 travels along northern Arizona. I was really surprised the teepees looked exactly like what I’d seen in photographs.
There were once seven Wigwam Villages in the United States but today only three are open to the public—Cave Creek, Kentucky, Holbrook, Arizona, which is listed on the National Register of Historical Places, and Rialto, California.
The “village” concept for the motel was designed by Frank A. Redford and the first motel was opened in 1937. Chester Lewis, an Arizona motel owner, bought the rights to the wigwam design from Redford and built four more “villages”, including the one in Holbrook. Each teepee is 25 feet wide at the base and 28 feet high. Vintage automobiles decorate the parking lot and you won’t find an ice machine on the property or a telephone inside a teepee, but the rooms all have air conditioners and cable TV.
The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook closed in 1982, and shortly after in 1986 Chester Lewis died. After restoring the Holbrook Motel, Chester’s widow and children reopened the rooms in 1988. The 15 teepees are spread out in a semi-circle around the main office, which operates a museum open to the public and includes Mr. Lewis’s Indian artifacts and Civil War memorabilia along with his petrified wood collection.
While my husband browsed through the museum I struck up a conversation with another tourist and the lady had asked me if I had seen the remains of the Bucket of Blood saloon across town. I hadn’t, and as luck would have it, my husband and I were on a tight schedule and didn’t have time that day to see the remains of the saloon. But I did wonder if any historical western romance authors had ever referenced the saloon or Holbrook, Arizona, in their stories.
I found the following images and history of Holbrook and the Bucket of Blood Saloon HERE.
In the mid-1880s, Holbrook was known as a place “too tough for women and churches.” At the time there was little law enforcement when several cow punchers from the Aztec Cattle Company moved into the area. They called themselves the Hashknife Outfit, and they rustled livestock from other cattle companies. They also played a major role in the Pleasant Valley Feud, one of the longest and bloodiest land and cattle feuds in the history of the United States.
In 1886 there were 26 shooting deaths in Holbrook, which at the time only had a population of around 250. Many of the shootings were attributed directly or indirectly to the Hashknife Outfit. The Bucket of Blood Saloon got its nickname after a gunfight between the Hashknife Outfit and a group of cowboys who accused them of stealing cattle. The gun battle ended in so much death that the floors were said to be slick with a “bucket of blood.”
Years later the street that runs in front of the old saloon in Holbrook was renamed from “Central” to “Bucket of Blood St”. The new name landed on several top ten lists citing the most unusual street names.
For fun…have you ever lived on a street with an unusual name?
Arizona’s historic Salt River Canyon is also called the Mini Grand Canyon. Last year in August on this blog I mentioned visiting Globe, Arizona, where I was lucky enough to take a tour of the haunted Drift Inn Saloon. When we left Globe that afternoon to return to Phoenix we took the scenic route through the canyon.
The drive offers breathtaking views from your car window. The route has several pull-offs along the way and I recommend stopping at every one. The drive is full of hairpin turns that take you down one wall of the canyon to the valley floor before crossing a scenic bridge and then climbing up the other side of the canyon. The area contains prehistoric petroglyphs and the Salt River is one of few rivers that flow through the saguaro cactus forests of the Sonoran Desert and offers over 200 species of wildlife.
There are no maintained trails in the canyon and about half of the outdoor enthusiasts who visit the area each year are skilled white-water navigators and ride the turbulent waters from March to May.
The Salt River Canyon is full of history and was used by Apache Warriors during the 1800s to hide from the U.S, Calvary troops. Today the river provides the border between the San Carlos Apache Reservation to the south and the White Mountain Apaches to the north.
The famous Battle of Salt River Canyon took place in in 1872 and was part of the Tonto Basin Campaign and Yavapai War from 1871-1875. Thirty Apache scouts led the 5th Cavalry Regiment to a Yavapai stronghold in a canyon cave.
The warriors refused to surrender and in the end seventy-six Yavapai were dead, including Chief Nanni-chaddi and several women and children. The bodies of the dead were left in the cave, which today is also known as Skeleton or Skull Cave and is believed to be haunted.
As much as I love nature and love seeing our beautiful country, I confess I’m not much of an outdoor enthusiast. I don’t mind taking a nature hike but you won’t catch me pitching a tent in a forest, riding white water rapids or climbing rocks. What about you?
The Yuma Territorial Prison was known as the Country Club on the Colorado. I’ve wanted to visit this prison ever since I wrote A Cowboy’s Redemption (2015, Cowboys of the Rio Grande series).I wasn’t sure how readers would react to a “contemporary” western with an ex-con hero but I soon learned romance fans love a good redemption story. A Cowboy‘s Redemption won the 2015 RT Book Reviewers’ Choice Award for best Harlequin American Romance.
Cruz Rivera is on his last second chance. He can’t afford to blow it by falling for the beautiful blonde widow who just hired him to fix up her family’s New Mexico property. If he’s going to get back on the rodeo circuit, Cruz needs to focus. Besides, a sweet single mom like Sara Mendez can do better than someone with Cruz’s troubled history.
Sara isn’t making it easy for Cruz to keep his distance. He’s a man of many secrets, but Sarah sees only good in his warm brown eyes. Though Cruz knows he should move on before Sara discovers the truth about his past, he can’t leave the closest thing to a home he’s ever known. Cruz is the only man Sara wants—can he become the one she deserves?
The Yuma Territorial Prison is located along the Colorado River on the way from Phoenix to San Diego. Last summer my husband and I toured the historical site. You’ve probably heard of the prison—it’s been the focus of several western movies—maybe the most famous being the original “3:10 to Yuma”, starring Glenn Ford and the 2007 remake, starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Below is a photo of the “country club” from yumaprison.org
A total of 3069 prisoners called the Yuma territorial Prison home, including 29 women during the 33 years of operation. $25,000 was budgeted for the construction in 1876 and the first handful of inmates moved in on July 1, 1876.
In its hay day the Territorial Yuma Prison had more modern amenities than most homes in town: electricity, forced ventilation, sanitation—two bathtubs and three showers, a library with 2,000 books, the most in the Territory at the time, and an “enlightened, progressive” administration and a Prison Band.
Prisoners feared and loathed the Yuma Territorial Prison….because of its “Insufferable heat… that made the place an “inferno,” surrounded by rivers, quick sand and desert in all directions, an inhuman “Snake Den” and Ball and Chain as standard punishment, Tuberculosis was #1 Killer. But of the 112 prisoners who died while at the Yuma Territorial Prison, very few died violently.
Eight were shot while trying to escape. Six commited suicide. Five died in work accidents, only 2 were killed by another prisoner and one was executed by Yuma County.
Yuma Territorial Prison opened in 1876. The guard tower and water reservoir were built in 1882 and electricity hooked up in 1884.
Women’s cells built 1891
The women didn’t have to sleep in steel bunkbeds like the men. The steel bunkbeds were used to cut down on infestations and there were 6 steel bunkbeds to each cell.
1899 legendary stagecoach robber Pearl Hart, known as the bandit queen, was sentence to 5 years for robbing the Globe to Florence stagecoach. She became a media sensation and flirted with both prisoners and guards, leading to her early departure when pardoned after 2 years.
Library 1893 South Wall
This was the location of the library–the image on the wall is what it looked like back in the day.
Dark Cell 1894 South Wall
1909 due to overcrowding the prison closes and prisoners are moved to Florence.
Yuma Union High School occupied the buildings from 1910 to 1914.When the school’s football team played against Phoenix and unexpectedly won, the Phoenix team called the Yuma team “criminals”. Yuma High adopted the nickname with pride, sometimes shortened to the “Crims”. The school’s symbol is the face of a hardened criminal, and the student merchandise shop is called the Cell Block.
1916 famous Yuma flood and prison materials used to rebuild Yuma, destroying remains of prison
1932 depression era victims use prison for shelter.
1939 squatters evicted and 1940 museum built on site with New Deal funds.
1942 guard tower used for WWII spotting.
I hope you enjoyed touring the Yuma Territorial Prison with me and if you get the chance to see it, there’s a wonderful visitor’s center with fabulous historical photos and stories of the old prison. Just a tidbit of advice–don’t visit the prison when it’s 109 degrees out like we did~fall and winter would be the best months to walk around outside.
For a chance to win this coffee mug from the Yuma Territorial Prison gift shop tell me if you’ve ever toured a famous prison before or if there’s one you would like to see some day. I’ll announce the winner in the comment section of this blog post Sunday January 14th!
Do you or don’t you make New Year’s Resolutions? Every year I get caught up in making New Year’s resolutions.
When the month of December rolls around, I think about setting goals. The past few years I’ve shifted away from concrete goals to more general goals which are more difficult to measure but are more meaningful (to me.)
I’ve always set goals to eat better–more salads and less fast food. And I’ve always included a vacation destination on my list–because it’s fun to dream. But I also remind myself not to look too far ahead. As a writer our lives revolve around deadlines. Every day…every week…every month…we’re looking ahead to the next deadline and we forget to enjoy today.
Blame it on the wisdom of growing older but I’m learning to appreciate each day no matter how uneventful it ends up being. It’s taken years for me to learn to stop equating happiness with achieving a goal. Whether we meet our goals or not…we’re still entitled to be happy and enjoy our lives.
All of us need to get better at accepting and loving ourselves, warts and all. There’s beauty in everything and in every person.
No matter what our goals it’s not that difficult to find a reason to be happy every day. Often we get caught up…so focused on a goal, that we forget to recognize and appreciate our blessings in life. Life is short. We only get so many trips around the sun and none of us knows that number.
So this year I will count my blessings each and every day, appreciate the small stuff in my life, be kind to others and of course read more books!
Question: How have your New year’s Resolutions changed as you’ve grown older?
Decorating for the holidays in the desert Southwest can be challenging~no fluffy white stuff covering the ground and the sun shines bright and strong. In the desert when the wind blows it doesn’t whistle through bare tree limbs, it rustles palm fronds. Even though we don’t have weather that makes you want to curl up inside with a good book and cup of hot chocolate we still decorate our native landscape and get into the holiday spirit.
The Ahwatukee Foothills area which is close to my neighborhood does something special every year. For one mile against the backdrop of South Mountain trees and Saguaro cactus are decorated with over a million white lights. It’s a lovely drive and one we take often during the month of December.
As far as Christmas trees go….most people choose artificial trees but some buy real evergreens. Last year I went rogue and bought a seven-foot rusted metal saguaro Christmas tree–something I’ve wanted for a long time. I have it decorated with lights and western ornaments.
All across the country city zoos decorate with lights and Phoenix is no exception. It’s a tradition in our family to visit Phoenix Zoo Lights ever year. There are about 3.8 million lights and nearly 700 light sculptures at ZooLights. My favorite part is to watching the techno-synchronized music & light show that plays every half hour throughout the evening.
NEW RELEASE & GIVEAWAY!
On Tuesday December 12th YEAR’S at the GRAFF releases! This is book #3 in the all-new Holiday at the Graff series from Tule Publishing and Montana Born books.
Back cover blurb:
After being banned from celebrating the holidays with his stepfamily, San Diego businessman Lucas Kendrick arrives in Marietta, Montana, in time to attend the New Year’s Eve celebration at the Graff Hotel. The rodeo-theme party isn’t his style but he’s drawn to the pretty cowgirl running the dice table. When the clock strikes midnight and they ring in the New Year with a kiss, Lucas almost forgets he’s in Marietta on business and not pleasure. He believes he’s found the perfect property for his prized client. There’s just one problem—the pretty cowgirl has her sights set on the same piece of real estate.
Now that single mom Ava Moore has earned a business degree, she wants to help other struggling women get back on their feet by opening a co-op on Main Street. The last thing she expects is competition from the handsome city slicker whose New Year’s kiss she hasn’t been able to forget. Lucas isn’t only stealing Ava’s heart he’s bonding with her daughter. Can Ava convince Lucas that the best business deals are made with the heart and not money?
For a chance to win a digital copy of New Year’s at the Graff share your favorite holiday tradition!
***I’ll announce the winner on Sunday, December 10th in the comment section of this blog post and then send the winner their digital copy when the book releases on Tuesday! Be sure to check back here to see if you won!
Anyone who comes to visit us in Arizona gets to see Tortilla Flat–it’s one of our favorite places to see!
This past spring my daughter and her boyfriend flew to Phoenix for a short visit. The boyfriend grew up in a small town in Illinois (3,000 residents) and had never been to Arizona. We took the kids on a drive through the Tonto National Forest in the Superstition Mountain Range along the historic Apache Trail to a town called Tortilla Flat.
Tortilla Flat got its start as a stagecoach stop in 1904 and is the last surviving stop along the Apache Trail. Past fires and floods destroyed the buildings but residents have rebuilt each time. Tortilla Flat is thought to be Arizona’s smallest official “community” having a U.S. Post Office and voter’s precinct. The town has a population of 6.
There was no road to Tortilla Flat before 1904. The town became a freight camp during the construction of the Roosevelt Dam. Tortilla Flat, as well as the other camps along the road to the dam, sat on U.S. Forest Service land. After construction of the dam, the people who decided to make Tortilla Flat their permanent home had to lease the land from the U.S. government and continue to do so today. Roosevelt Dam has turned Tortilla Flat into a tourist attraction.
The drive to Tortilla Flat is a winding two-lane road of breathtaking scenic views of Canyon Lake and one-car bridges. You probably don’t want to be on this road at night.
When you reach Tortilla Flat you’ll be hungry, so stop in at the Superstition Saloon for good eats and their signature House Beers: Superstition Mule Oil and Snake Venom.
The saloon’s claim-to-fame, besides good food, are the dollars bills tourists stick to walls and the fun cowboy saddle stools at the bar.
While you’re in town you can watch a gunfight or listen to a live band outside on the quaint patio with the backdrop of the mountains. And before you leave be sure to get your picture taken in a toilet seat.
If you’re ever in the Phoenix area I highly recommend taking this day trip!
I’m offering a digital copy of a reader favorite that led to one of my best-selling series, Cowboys of the Rio Grande. The three delinquent teenagers in A Rodeo Man’s Promise eventually got their own books. (A Cowboy’s Redemption, The Surgeon’s Christmas Baby and A Cowboy’s Claim)
For a chance to win tell me where you take friends or family when they come to visit you.
I will announce the winner of this drawing on Sunday November 12th in the comment section of this post!
Two years ago my husband and I traveled to Tombstone, Arizona. I’d been to the town once before but for some reason we never walked through the Bird Cage Saloon. Visiting the infamous building was on the top of my list this last time. I hope you enjoy my photos from this trip!
Tombstone is located in southeastern Arizona and was the site of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral and Boothill Graveyard.
The town suffered two devastating fires: one in 1881 and again in 1882, but the Bird Cage Saloon survived both.The saloon was located in the heart of the red-light district on the corner of Allen Street and 6th Street. The photo below shows what the Bird Cage looked like before the outside was renovated.
The building remained boarded up for the next fifty years before it reopened as a tourist attraction. The outside of the structure was remodeled to protect it from the elements. Inside the Bird Cage you will find the original wood floors that Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Luke Short and the Clanton family all walked across. Even the mirrors behind the bar are original. The only part of the inside that has been renovated is the staircase leading to the basement.
The Bird Cage served many purposes as listed on this sign.
The saloon was considered a “house of negotiable affection” and for $25 a gentleman could buy a bottle of whiskey and time with a lady in one of the 13 “cages” or cribs suspended above the gambling parlor.
Twenty-fours hours a day the vaudeville circuit played on the stage.
The piano in the picture has sat in that same spot since 1881. The piano was the first to arrive in Tombstone and was part of a five-piece band that played in the saloon from 1881-1889.
The saloon also had a barber if any cowboy wanted to “spiff up” before visiting the ladies in the upstairs cribs.
Outlaw Curly Bill was recognized getting a haircut in this chair and was later tracked down and killed by Wyatt Earp. The table is the original table in the gaming parlor where Doc Holliday was often seen playing and dealing Fargo.
The Longest Poker Game Ever Played
The basement of the saloon is where the serious gambling took place and was the location of the longest poker game ever played in history. The game lasted eight years, five months and three days. Twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. There was a $1,000 buy-in and a continuous list of gamblers waiting to get into the game. The saloon employed runners to go out on the street and find the next player on the list when someone folded or left the game which averaged every 3 to 4 days.
Below are pictures of the basement gaming area. I was surprised at how small it was. In the photos you’ll see the original service bar that served drinks to the gamblers as well as the men visiting the two bordello rooms in the basement. The mirrors behind the bar have hung in the same place since 1881. The whiskey keg and heating stove are originals and have been in the same place since the Birdcage closed its doors. The gaming tables, chairs, dealers box and money boxes all sit where they were during the “longest game.”
The Infamous Sadie Jo
One of Tombstones most famous soiled doves, Sarah Josephine Marcus, who went by the name of Sadie Jo & Shady Sadie worked at the Bird Cage in the basement. Below is the room where she and Wyatt Earp had their romantic liaisons while she was engaged to the then sheriff of Tombstone, John Harris Behan. At the time Wyatt lived in a covered wagon fifty feet away from the Bird Cage with his common law wife Mattie. Wyatt left Mattie for Josephine and Mattie was forced into prostitution in Prescott, AZ. and later committed suicide by overdosing on laudanum.
Haunted Bird Cage
You know me and my fascination with ghosts…well, it is said that 27 ghosts inhabit the Bird Cage Saloon—the same number of people believed to have been killed in the building.
Employees say they often smell perfume and cigar smoke when working as well as seeing apparitions. Ghost tours are given at night, and one day I’d love to return to Tombstone and take the tour.
Before I sign off, I have to share one more photo of this little cowboy I came across on my trip to Tombstone.
To be entered into a giveaway for a Kindle copy of all three books in my series share this blog post and put the link where you shared it in the comment section! I’ll post the winner’s name on Saturday Oct 14th in the comment section of this blog post.
FALL.... brings back fond memories of my mother and baking. Each year as the season transitioned from summer to fall, so did the smells in my childhood home.
When the days began to grow cooler and the nights colder, my mother started stockpiling baking ingredients. Several times a week the scents of cinnamon, apples and chocolate greeted me when I came home from school. Mom would always invite me to help her make cookies or bake a cake, but I was only interested in licking the beaters and stealing a spoonful of batter before heading outside to play with my friends.
My mother taught herself how to cook and bake. While us kids watched TV at night, she’d browse magazines for recipes and add them to her collection. After my mother passed away, my sister sent me a few of her recipe books. I appreciated the gesture, until I took a closer look and saw that the recipes were all main courses and appetizers. She’d kept the pastry and dessert books for herself. Sneaky sister.
Pioneer Woman to the rescue! A while ago I bookmarked Ree Drummond’s cooking blog on my laptop. I told myself if a Pi Beta Phi sorority girl and graduate of the University of Southern California could teach herself how to cook for the Marlboro man, then I could teach myself to cook for the golfer man.
Ree’s rum cake recipe is one of my favorites. After two trial runs at making this cake, I was confident enough to purchase a fancy Bundt pan and Ree’s vintage-looking cake platter. Each year I stock up on bottles of rum and make several cakes to give away at Christmastime. You can find Ree’s rum cake recipe HERE.
I’ll never be as good in the kitchen as my mother, and I’ll never keep my recipes as organized as she did. But when I do come across a recipe in a magazine or on the Internet that I’d like to try, I print it off and toss it into my vintage recipe tin, which sits on my vintage stool in the corner of my not-so-vintage kitchen.
Answer the following question for a chance to win a signed paperback or digital copy (winner’s choice) of TWINS FOR THE TEXAS RANCHER.(I’ll announce the winners name in the comment section of this post on Sunday October 1st!)
Of all the treats your mother baked when you were growing up, which was your favorite?
Dear Readers… Jerome, Arizona earned its reputation as the wickedest town in the west after three catastrophic fires within an eighteen-month period. The pious people of the sinful town attributed the fires to Devine retribution and pushed to incorporate Jerome. Once building codes were passed, a fire department was established and laws were put on the books to rein in Jerome’s wild ways.
Who wouldn’t want to visit the wickedest town in the west after a description like that?
This past summer hubby and I drove Route 89A to Jerome, which lies between the towns of Prescott and Flagstaff. The trip through the Prescott National Forest was breathtaking and well worth the slow climb in elevation to 5,000 feet above sea level.
Jerome was founded in 1876, its population peaking at 15,000 in the 1920’s. I’ve been to this ghost town three times in my life. Once when I was fifteen on a family vacation out west and twice since hubby and I moved back to Arizona. Jerome, a former copper-mining town, sits on Cleopatra Hill overlooking the Verde Valley. Today it’s a tourist stop and a favorite haunt of ghost hunters. All of the various hotels and B&B’s are reportedly haunted.
Famous Bartlett Hotel
The remains of the famous Bartlett Hotel on Main Street brings in as much as $6,500 a year for the Jerome Historical Society. Tourists stop to toss their coins between the bars hoping to hit the old outhouse and pieces of rusted mining artifacts below. My days playing basketball in college did not help me hit the toilet.
The Connor Hotel
I entered the lobby of the Connor Hotel to look around and the desk attendant was happy to tell me about the place, saying several guests had seen the Lady in Red while others reported being touched, feeling a draft of cold air sweep over them, lights and TV’s flickering on and off—the “usual ghostly things” she said. Behind the motel are the remains of the 1918 haunted Liberty Theater, which played silent movies in the 1920’s. It’s the light tan building next to the red hotel in the picture below.
If you’re a paranormal enthusiast, you’ll enjoy the youtube video of photographs taken in the Connor Hotel that show ghostly orbs.
Years ago a department store sat across the street from the Connor Hotel, but now its an empty lot with only department store safe remaining.
The Jerome Historical Society is working on restoring the famous sliding jail, which slipped 200 feet downhill from where it originally stood. The ground shifted in the area after Phelps Dodge purchased the copper claims during WWII and began dynamiting the mountains. The mine, still owned by Phelps Dodge, closed in 1953.
Just for fun!
I get excited when I find something taller than me like this old gas pump.
I don’t write historical romances but if I did, I’d definitely use Jerome, Arizona, as the backdrop for a story. And speaking of books… I have two releases out this month…so here’s my shameless plug!
Sadie McHenry and her twin sons are heading home to Stampede, Texas. Sadie wants a chance to start over after being laid off—and she might have found it with rancher Logan Hardell. Logan instantly bonds with her boys, especially with Tommy, whose ADD makes him a handful. But Logan seems to understand the four-year-old’s needs and seeing them together melts Sadie’s heart.
Logan’s ranch is at risk, so Sadie agrees to help with their books—putting Logan on twin patrol! With his fun-loving approach to the kids and his rugged appeal, Sadie can’t understand why he’s ruled out a family of his own. But she’s not giving up on him just yet. Because Sadie’s convinced Logan is exactly what she and her boys need!
One woman’s journey home gets derailed by her soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law in a novel filled with humor, small-town charm, rekindled love, and the resilient ties of family.
Cast aside by her cheating husband, Katelyn Chandler is ready to pack it all in and drive home to Little Springs, Texas. She wants a chance to regroup, reconnect with her mother, and get back to her art.
But Shirley Pratt—master manipulator, elitist snob, and Katelyn’s terror of a live-in monster-in-law—has other ideas. Shirley insists on joining Katelyn’s trip after her son tries to pack her off to a retirement community. Katelyn has no choice but to play peacekeeper between the ornery old woman and the proud matrons of Little Springs. Yet the small town seems to be changing Shirley. And as Katelyn weighs the wisdom of picking up where she left off with Jackson Mendoza, the town bad boy and her high school sweetheart, she must find a way to believe in the strength of her dreams.
Tell me about a strange place you once visited for a chance to win a signed paperback or digital copy (reader’s choice) of the first book in my Cowboys of Stampede series, The Cowboy’s Accidental Baby. I’ll announce the winner in the comment section of this post sometime on Saturday Sep 9th.