Tag Archive | Arizona

The Rough and Rugged Honeymoon Trail…

There’s a rough and rugged trail that meanders from Snowflake Arizona to St. George Utah. Well, the rough and rugged trail used to be the only way to get from Snowflake to St. George, now it only takes about six hours to traverse the distance, back in the 1800’s it took 4-6 weeks. There’s a nice smooth highway for most to the distance now that allows you to take in the majestic scenes along the way with ease. The original rough and rugged trail is still mostly intact, though you’d need a four-wheel drive vehicle of some kind to travel on it, (I’m sure they would’ve loved to have a four-wheel drive back in the day as well.) That rough and rugged trail was dubbed the Honeymoon Trail back in the 1800’s, and is now a part of the western history I love to visit and write about.

A sign along the Honeymoon Trail.

There’s over four hundred miles of the rough and rugged trail that holds not only beauty but many dangers for those brave enough to take on the challenge. The settlers in the 1800’s would take on that extreme challenge because they wanted to get married (plurally or monogamously, I’m not prejudice either way) in the St. George Temple, thus the naming of the trail, The Honeymoon Trail.

The Pipe Springs Monument, that I wrote about last week, is one of the stops along the Honeymoon Trail. I’ve visited several points of historic interest, to me, along this trail. Hopefully I’ll visit a few more soonish. The Vermillion Cliffs was one place I was particularly entranced with. I wrote about an experience I had there in my book New Parish:

“… They spent a few moments enjoying the rare scenes of what was like a bygone era, then the plane flew past, and Brother Michael said, “There they are, the Vermillion Cliffs.”

            He was pointing to a range of mountains that were almost completely barren of vegetation. The cliffs had a rich purple hue with some of the coral earth tones of the New Parish mesas. They were much larger and longer in range, “Wow…” thought Sarah. The plane flew closer and closer and went along the whole of the cliffs giving the passengers an incredible view of the beauty that was there.

            Sarah jumped as her dad suddenly shouted, “Oh, oh! Look! There’s one!”

            Everyone looked to see the giant bird he was so excited about. It was circling just above the top of one of the cliffs. It flew slowly around and around spiraling higher and higher. They all watched as the condor ascended into the sky, at times looking like a kite hanging on the wind, frozen in time. The condor gradually soared out of sight… Sarah had been so wrapped up in the experience that she’d almost forgotten to breathe. She thought to herself, “Wow, they’re amazing…””

Seeing that condor soaring above the Vermillion Cliffs was truly an experience I’ll never forget.

 

Below is an article from True West Magazine about the Honeymoon Trail if want to know a bit more:

http://www.truewestmagazine.com/honeymoon-trail/

Gene Autry and Ann Rutherford Singing the Honeymoon Trail… I love old westerns!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKhAtgk5Ax4

There is Beauty All Around – Pipe Spring National Monument

Plural Wives Row House

One of the wonderful things about living in the “West” is the absolutely beautiful vistas. I’ve been awe struck almost on a daily basis at the grandorous, breathtaking murals of prairies, mesas, and mountains that are ever present. I can only guess what the early cowboys and pioneers experienced out here in this place that has retained most of its allurements.

A while back I visited an amazing place, not too far from where I live, called Pipe Springs National Monument. That place is almost like an oasis in the middle of a desert. It has tall trees and lots of green around, it kind of reminded me of back home. The reason for the green is that it has a natural spring that has been used by the Native Americans, pioneers, and many weary a traveler for as long recorded or verbal history can tell. There’s a large house/fort that covers the spring, which was built in the 1800’s, they used the spring to keep things cool out here in the middle of the desert. There are also some outbuildings and rustic corrals along with covered wagons. They keep a few animals, a couple of horses, a donkey, and a long-horned bull with horns longer than I am tall.

This place also holds a special bit of western history, it was a hideout for some unique outlaws, these outlaws weren’t bank robbers, murderers, nor did they ride with the “James” gang. They were plural wives who needed a place to go so their husbands (or themselves) wouldn’t get put in jail for polygamy. Many of them came there while pregnant, and had small children with them. One of the out buildings was a sort of plural wife row house. I could just imagine how they lived next to each other with their own little one room, dirt floor, apartment. This must have been a very difficult time for them, one can only imagine…

In my books the women have it so much better, and also have the freedom to live their lives the way they choose… in loving, safe, encouraging, environments.

I’m providing links so that if you’re curious you can see what it’s like there and read some of the history for yourself. There’s even a quote from one of the lady’s journal that I thought showed a since of humor and an incredible snapshot of what things were like in that time period. “One plural wife said of her move to Pipe Spring, “So about the year 1886, I moved to Pipe Spring. In other words, I went to prison to keep my husband out.””

Pipe Spring National Monument link:

https://www.nps.gov/pisp/index.htm

The virtual tour is really good, they provide loads of information and pictures.

Virtual Tour of Pipe Spring National Monument:

https://www.nps.gov/pisp/learn/photosmultimedia/virtualtour.htm

YouTube also has some pretty good videos of Pipe Spring:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Pipe+Spring+National+Monument+

This is a link to some pictures that were taken back in the 1940’s.

Link to old pictures of Pipe Springs:

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=Photograph:%20az0047&fi=number&op=PHRASE&va=exact&co%20=hh&st=gallery&sg%20=%20true

Long Horn Bull at Pipe Spring

Honeysuckle and Sagebrush… again…

This week I’ve been thinking about the culture and traditions of my youth, in the “South”. Back in those days families stayed close, not just in the heart, but in proximity. The only time my grandmother ever left the state of Georgia was when I took her to Florida to see the ocean one year, other than that she never did. It was a culture of, you were born here, so you live here, and stay close to your family. It was like the “place” was not just a town, city, or a state, it was part of who you were. There were rich traditions of cooking, hunting, and manners that were carried out and respected. Everyone knew what to expect from everyone else, what was accepted and what wasn’t. I have one brother who still lives in my old hometown, the rest of us have ventured out to other places, I’m the only one who’s moved to another state. We still keep in touch, but probably not as much as we should. Our grandparents would be appalled at our distance. Things have changed…

Out here in “cowboy land” where I live now things have changed too. There are still wide open incredibly amazing scenes of prairies, mesas, and the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see, but… there are towns and cities, along with all sorts of development that has changed the way things are. The lonesome cowboy days, where you could ride a horse for days and not see anyone are just about gone. That culture is still celebrated, there are activities and celebrations of what things were like… but it’s not like that anymore.

It’s good to remember the good about the past, there are very rich cultures out here and back home… I love to remember mine and learn about these. It helps me infuse that rich culture into my stories and characters. It also helps me stay true to who I am, and where I’m from.

Honeysuckle and Sagebrush Continued…

I’ve been pondering Spring time this week. Spring in the South and Spring in the Western desert have their differences and similarities. Spring time in the south always seemed to be very sudden, things could change literally overnight from cold and blustery to warm and green. I’ve known years when Spring got skipped altogether, the seasons would just go from winter to hot sticky summer in just a few days.

Out here in the desert Spring happens slowly, you get little subtle signs that things are changing. I think the doves are one of the first signs I’ve noticed out here, of spring. They get an early start on their work. Each year I’ve lived here, there have been a pair of doves that try to build their nest between a drainpipe and the house. Each year they fail, there’s nothing there to actually hold the sticks they bring to build with, so they leave a pile of sticks on the deck to be swept off for a few weeks, till they finally, once again, figure out that it won’t work.

It’s funny to me that they try so hard, for so long to accomplish something that just isn’t possible. And, that they repeat the same error in judgement in the same place every year. I suppose it’s the proving of the old saying, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.”

I do laugh at their futile efforts, but I also ponder the meanings for us “other birds” who have learned or are learning the next part of the lesson. The doves eventually go off and build a nest somewhere else and raise their family. Us “other birds” need to remember to try something different when what we’ve been doing isn’t working.

That’s what the characters in my books do… they try something very different when what they’d been doing didn’t work…

More Honeysuckle and Sagebrush

One thing I’ve found to be a certainty, is that things always change. The honeysuckle of my youth has become the sagebrush of my now… but in my mind, they both have a special place. I look at them a bit metaphorically, the sweet smell of the honeysuckle has become the useful wisdom of the sagebrush.

In quiet moments of pondering and staring off into the distance, memories of growing up in the “South” invade my mind. I remember my grandmother teaching me how to make biscuits, and teaching me to never devalue myself. She would tell me, “You’re just as good as anyone else, not better than them, but just as good.” We’ve all had someone in our lives who’s built us up and encouraged us. You know that voice that stays with us, the voice we hear repeating what was said, long after it’s said…

I’m drawn to that sage wisdom that sticks with you, and have found it in different places and people throughout my life. This is something I try to infuse into my characters as I write. Everything from “Don’t sit on your spurs,” to, “Don’t let a bad situation define who you are,” are included. With loads of humor of course!

We all have a journey to take, mine has been full of challenges that have helped me to become the person I am now. There have always been ways for me to find happiness on this journey, even if it was to stop and smell the honeysuckle or ponder the uses of sagebrush.

Honeysuckle and Sagebrush

Growing up in Georgia was full of lush green trees, honeysuckle and kudzu everywhere, and full of warm humid days and nights. Living in Arizona has some stark contrasts to my place of origin. Not many trees, there is a bit of honeysuckle growing in the back garden, (it has to be watered a lot), there is heat out here too, but, it’s not the humid sticky heat I grew up with. I’ve often pondered the commonalities and the differences between here and there when I’m writing my books. There are quite a few of both.

The south I grew up in was full of life, manners, and vivid culture. I try to infuse that into my southern ladies as they come to life in my stories. The ladies are spunky, feisty, and usually well mannered, most of the time. They do show the southern temper flare on occasion, but always seem to rein it in before things get too far out of control… well, except for Hannah, sometimes she seriously wants to punch someone.

When a southern lady meets a cowboy gentleman many odd things can happen…. And in my stories the odd things do happen. If that were the only differences between the girls and the boys it would still present loads of fun and lots of stories… but, that’s not the only difference. The girls grew up on a totally monogamous lifestyle and move to Arizona to meet the cowboy gentlemen and live in a polygamous lifestyle. This provides so much more opportunity for humor, culture shock, and exploration.

As I have asked before… have you ever wondered what polygamy would be like without the villains or media hype? In my books I explore what it’s like when normal people are simply living their lives in a normal way, polygamously.

New Parish

I’ve finished my newest book! The name of my latest adventure is “New Parish”!

Now I’mCanyon 2 waiting on a smart, energetic, and resourceful agent to take on the challenge and walk through the rest of this adventure with me. So while I’m waiting, I’m of course, writing…

The “New Parish” story goes like this: Sarah, (main character) has had one too many bad dates, she has dreams of being a mom but she’s had all she can take with dating losers and jerks.

Sarah meets a new friend, Mary, at a children’s center where she volunteers, this new friend comes from a community where they use a very unique dating and marriage system. Sarah’s intrigued with Mary’s lifestyle and begins an extensive investigation trying to decide if this is a viable option for her.

Sarah gets the low down on how they live when she visits New Parish and asks some of the women there to tell her about the process “warts and all”.

Sarah meets two men in New Parish, one is very handsome, well mannered, well dressed and almost perfect. The other is a rough edged cowboy who completely blows her away at first sight, she never seems to be able to stay up right when he’s around. Sarah had never been a clumsy person until she met him, this annoys her to the enth degree!

This is not a mushy romance… it’s a romantic comedy adventure and I can’t wait till everyone gets to read it!