Tag Archive | legacy

Arizona Strip

There’s a lot of life that has happened on the Arizona Strip. The Native Americans, the early explorers, and the Mormon pioneers, were all a part of that life. I think they all were looking for a place to live differently, to find new ways of expanding their freedoms, knowledge, and experiences. The Arizona Strip is still full of life with new explorers and pioneers of today. It’s an amazing thing to go explore along the Honeymoon Trial, Pipe Springs, Lees Ferry, Zion’s Park, the Grand Canyon, and countless other places here.  

When I visit these places it’s amazing to see that much of the natural wonders have been wisely preserved. It’s like stepping back in time, you can feel the spirit of the place and the people who walked there long ago. I love history! For me being able to visit history by going to places that haven’t changed in hundreds of years is very inspiring. Studying the history of this area through books, journals, and articles, allows me to gain a deeper understanding of how things have evolved and how the characters in my books would have evolved from the rich heritage that was, to the present day culture that exists, because of their history.

“Sarah woke early the next morning she quickly showered, dressed, and sneaked out of the house. She wanted to spend some quiet time alone this morning, to take in the beauty of the little community that was weaving its way into her heart. There was still snow around but all the walk ways were cleared away, and the snow created accents to the surrounding areas, it really gave contrast to the mountains. The sun was just starting to peek up over the horizon, there were a few clouds in the sky, which looked like it went on forever. This created the most beautiful sunrise she had ever seen. It looked like the sky was lined and smudged with pink and purple cotton candy. Sarah slowed her pace and thought, “This is really an absolutely amazingly beautiful place…””

This place, the Arizona Strip, makes an amazing and incredible setting for my books, and my adventures! I’m very much looking forward to many more adventures…

 

There’s Beauty All Around… If You’re Looking for It

Someone wise once told me that you’ll find the good if you look for it, and you’ll find the bad if you’re looking for that. All the elements and levels of good and bad are all around us all the time. Some are unavoidable and can’t be overlooked, some are very subtle, either way, life has taught me, the most prominent (good or bad) will be what we are looking for…

 I’ve always been a glass half full kind of girl… so I look for the good, the beauty, and the wonders around me. Yeah, that other stuff happens, but I try not to focus on it.

Out here in the western desert there’s what some might say a lot of harsh, dangerous, and foreboding land, and they’d be right. One has to have a deep respect for the land, its climate, and the animal life that’s here, but with that respect one can find the wondrous beauty that’s present here.

In the spring the desert blooms, okay, I think it’s beautiful all year round, but in the spring, it blooms. Some springs there are more blooms than others, but each year you get something. From the prickly pear cacti to the globemallow and even the sage brush, it blooms. This turns the desert into an almost treasure hunt for me. You literally ride along the barren stretches of sand and sagebrush and then a splash of color bursts out at you. Its easily missed, if you’re not looking for it, but if you’re looking for it, it’s an awesome treasure.

Prickly Pear Rose

In my book, New Parish, the main character, Sarah, was riding across a barren stretch in her life till she found something different. At first, she didn’t know if it was something good or something bad. She was willing to do the work to find out, she was looking for the good, so she found it. She finds the beauty, love, and fulfillment she’d been longing for all her life… after several bits of conflict of course.

Excerpt from New Parish:

““I feel like I’ve stepped into a Louis L’Amour novel,” Sarah said looking around at all the cowboys and horses.

            The cowboy band was playing and there was a square dance going, Mary said, “Come on let’s go!”

            Sarah said, “No way, I’ve never dosey doed in my life. I don’t know how,” trying to excuse herself from this activity.

            Mary grabbed her hand and pulled her toward the dance area in front of the wooden stage the band was on, “I’ll show you, it’s fun!” she said laughing.

            Sarah had an inner dread that she was not only going to dosey doe for the first time, but that Mary had much more confidence in her abilities than she did.

            Mary had her twirling around the grassy dance area in no time. They were both laughing at her many mistakes, and having so much fun. Then Sarah saw one of cowboys on the stage…”

Okay, so Sarah falls down and embarrasses herself, but she’s willing to look for the good in life and she finds it.

Hidden treasures are all around us if we are willing to look for the good, take a chance, and cultivate the courage to be brave enough to find them.

Below are pictures of some flowers and scenes I found on a recent adventure to the Honeymoon Trail:

 

Researching the West…

Research is a big part of the writing process, it’s one that I enjoy immensely. I’ve been researching the people who lived out here in this extraordinarily unique area, the Arizona Strip. People like Jim Emett, Jacob Hamblin, and Lot Smith, just to name a few. They were true cowboys, mountain men, and adventurers of the old west. They lived lives like Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett, they were true to life characters that John Wayne would have played in his best movies. All three of these men were marshals, ranchers, farmers, trailblazers, oh yeah, and polygamists. I’ll tell you more about each of them soonish.

The late 1800’s and early 1900’s was a time of rugged survival out here. Many didn’t make it, but those who did left their mark and a few heroic stories behind to let us know how life was in those days. This rich history is both exciting and intriguing to me as I learn more.

Like I said research is a part of writing that I enjoy, actually I haven’t found any part of writing yet that I don’t enjoy. Learning about these incredible people helps me bring my characters to life, it gives them depth and a fictional history that’s based on the real history of here. I can’t go back in time and experience what they did, but I can study their lives and experience it that way. The books I’m writing now are in present day, but the ones I’m planning on writing next are going to be back in the late 1800’s. I’m sure I’m not the only writer that plans two to three books ahead… it’s just a very normal thing for me now.

Oak Grove…

Not far from the Honeymoon Trail is another wonderful oasis in the middle of the desert, Oak Grove, it’s a part of Dixie National Forest in southern Utah, with an elevation 6800 ft. I’ve been up there a couple of times and each time there was no one else around. Just you and the beauty of the place.

It reminds me of back home with tall pine trees that reach for the sky covering the top of the mountain. It’s almost serene, a place you can go to think, have a picnic, or just write a few scenes in your book. This place has an old rustic rock gazebo, beautiful trails, and a spring that pools up along one trails creating a picturesque place that just one visit gives a person forever memories.

This scene from my book, New Parish, is set in Oak Grove:

“He’d shown her the trail that led to the gazebo he built before he ever built the cabin. He’d used very rustic materials to build it, round creek rock and rough hewn beams and poles for the open walls, with split cedar shingles for the roof. Sarah thought about sitting in there on the benches that he’d made to go around the inside along the creek rock lower walls. Then her mind turned to the other paths they walked, one led to a small waterfall stream that they had splashed each other in, Sarah smiled warmly at that memory. Another path led them through the tall ponderosas that seemed to be reaching for the distant sky, she remembered seeing little snippets of the surrounding mountains through the trees which gave them even more grandeur.”

I always try to make the settings in my books as real as possible, so, I write about places I’ve been… those places range from all over the south east to all over the south west, and a few other places. I do love to travel…

Below are a few pictures from my visit to Oak Grove:

 

Kanab UT – The Cowboy Town

Kanab UT, ever since the first time I visited this awesome place I’ve called it The Cowboy Town. There have been some amazing real and fictional cowboys roaming the streets of Kanab and the surrounding areas throughout its history. They filmed loads of old western movies there, and around there, there’s even a museum with some of the old movie sets out back to show off the history of that era. The local restaurants have signed photos of the actors who frequented their establishments hanging on the walls, well, Nedra’s does anyways. If you go to Kanab you have to go to Nedra’s and the museum, they’ll both give you some necessary history and culture of the Cowboy Town.

Kanab is also another stop along the Honeymoon trail, which I’ve been writing about lately. The fella I mentioned in my last post, Jim Emett, (that was a guide to Zane Grey), was the marshal of Kanab for a while before he went to Lees Ferry to work there. I’m learning more and more about Jim Emett, he was quite an amazing person, the kind of person legends are made of.

Because of my interest in the area, its history and Jim Emett, I’m reading Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey, (I usually stick with Louis L’Amour) I found out that Zane Grey wrote about the areas I’ve been living in and visiting and described them in some detail in this book and a couple of other books. It’s been an interesting read so far, it’s fiction of course, and he doesn’t have too many good things to say about the Mormons and their system of plural marriage but the descriptions of the area are good. He did make at least two visits out to this area, but only met a few Mormons and never lived the religion, or as far as I know experienced it except from an outside looking in with a prejudice perspective, so his point of view on that is spurious. (I think the rest of the story needs to be told on the plural marriage issue, lots has been told on one side, it’s time for the other side to emerge.) I do love his descriptors of Pipe Springs, Lees Ferry, the Grand Canyon, and the surrounding areas, though. He used the experiences he had in this wondrous place to create an amazing setting for his book.

In my books I try to infuse my characters with the real life experiences that have been so inspiring to me, both out here and back home in Georgia and Tennessee. I think a writer should write about what they know or have experienced, it fills the story with life.  It also gives the writer some pretty great adventures…

Every year in Kanab they have what the locals call Cowboy Days. I’ve watched as the wagon train came in from the long ride. It was wonderful to watch and experience, actually going out on the trail and doing that must be so incredible, I can only imagine… The link below will show you what things are like during those Cowboy Days.

https://www.westernlegendsroundup.com/

The trail ride:

https://www.westernlegendsroundup.com/events/wagon-train-2017-4-day-3-night/

A few pictures from my adventures…

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 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…

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.

Freedom of Choice For All

 

Did you ever wonder what it’s like? Without the villains or the media hype? Polygamy? Just regular everyday people, living their normal everyday lives in a plural way? You’ve all heard about the bad that can happen. Just like the spousal and child abuse that happens in regular monogamous societies that can happen in polygamous societies as well.

But… in a community or family that is trying their best to be their best selves, it’s very rare.

It’s wonderful that the Brown’s (Sister Wives), Darger’s (Love Times Three), and the Centennial Park Group (Polygamy USA) have stepped out of the shadows to show how happiness can be had living a polygamous lifestyle.

In my book New Parish, the reader will get to follow 27 year old Sarah, as she investigates living plural marriage and finds her own happiness living her normal life, a bit differently. The story is filled with so many realisms that you just might forget it’s fiction.