The past couple of months I have been traveling the West. I've been to Montana where I visited the most moving western site I've seen to date: the Battle of the Little Bighorn battlefield. Then I traveled with the Most Intrepid Western Author Posse to Virginia City and Carson City, Nevada. Then we headed to the most riveting ghost town I've every been to: Bodie, California. Its residents just left after the depression and the photos speak for themselves. Most recently I've returned from Arizona. We started in Carefree, went up to the Grand Canyon and then headed back down to Tombstone. We passed Williams, Sedona, Laveen and spent the last night in Tucson. I ate in the magical historic setting at El Tovar's dining room and spent the night in the secret hideaway known as the Lodge in the Desert in Tucson. Those two meals were the highlight of the trip!
The past month has found me traveling and talking about my fav subjects! History, food, spirits, and places. I was invited to speak at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis. When I was first asked, I thought, yippee, Indy. Never been there and had to clue what to expect. Boy was I pleasantly surprised! Nice people, great city, and cool history. The JW Marriott was outstanding. Every hotel should be run like this one. Everyone was pleasant and customer-oriented from the moment I checked in to the moment I checked out. Behind the hotel I found walkways, canals, and a beautiful river to stroll around. Then I dined at St. Elmo's, which is a historical landmark. I had and old-fashioned in their 1933 lounge. St. Elmo's serves a legendary shrimp cocktail and original 1905 Navy bean soup. The service was outstanding and dining in this historical restaurant was pretty cool. Their steak was delicious, but this is a special occasion [...]
I finally finished the first pass at Love, Lies, and Loss Across Two Continents. Ethel is dead since that pretty much ends her story. Yes I know it happened in 1938, but I've taken her from birth to death, so it kind of feels new to me. It's a weird author thing... This is a photo of Ethel and her second husband Claude Barry. Now I'm going back to work on the narrative and add some fun contextual information. This weekend I head to wild, wonderful West Virginia for their annual writers conference. I'm doing a panel of food and beverages and another on research. Since I've been knee-deep in that for Ethel I should sail through that one. I also give the keynote speech on Saturday morning.
I have to say that I worked pretty hard before we left for the Turks and Caicos, but once we landed I could feel the island vibes. Gorgeous turquoise waters, white sands, warm breezes, and rum punches were waiting! It was wonderful being back at Grace Bay on Providenciales (everyone calls it Provo for short). I learned some fun island lingo from Turks Head Brewery and my fav is "I Ain Ga Lie." At first I didn't get it, "Iangalie? A person's name?" Nope--think island life, "I Ain't Gonna Lie!" Needless to say that became one of the theme slogans for the week. I even titled my Trip Advisor review that. So, the picture here is of the lager beer and grouper fish and chips and Mudjin Harbor on Middle Caicos. On a side note, I need to write a few best-sellers so I can buy Prince's villa on Provo. It went up for sale while we were there... [...]
It seems that no matter how hard I try to get back to writing I get interrupted. First, the battle of the flu. I seem to get better then I go back--mostly just tire easily. This week is better, but am still sluggish. Next up came the travel plans. I'm a pretty savvy travel planner--almost became a travel agent. However, I spent a week trying to book our trip to the Turks. After a lot of aggravation and searching, it's finally done. We're staying at the Sands at Grace Bay, where we stayed last time. It's not ultra luxurious, but it is great and has an amazing beach. Can't wait to go back. Now, I can focus on my True West magazine column, which is due, oh now. This story is about Hell on Wheels town meals, which is the photo in this blog.
I'm feeling so much better today after my battle with the flu. With everything that's happened in my life in the last two years--it's time for a much needed vacation with my husband. Let's just say that health issues, work, budget, and deadlines have prevented us from taking a proper leisure vacation. So, now it's time! We spent a fabulous week in the Turks and Caicos two years ago for our anniversary and we want to go back. We stayed on the most beautiful beach at the Sands at Grace Bay. It was amazing. It was so good that we recommended this place to several of our friends who have enjoyed it too. You know those Corona commercials with that white sand and turquoise water that looks fake? Guess what, they could have filmed those there. We met a fun couple from Canada in the water and we've stayed friends ever since. So this would be a reunion and [...]
I've been battling a relapse of the flu, but feel better today. I've been working on Ethel, but not pushing to hard. Every morning I hear her say, "I'm waiting..." One highlight of this week was a new necklace. Not just any necklace, but a close match to one that was stolen or lost ten years ago! My neighbor makes one of a kind custom jewelry and agreed to try it. Today, I got the finished project. The photo on the top here is the one she made and the one below is the original I had. The cool story about the necklace I had ten years ago is that it was an exact replica of one that was found in a purser's bag in the Titanic wreckage. My husband bought it for me when the exhibit came through. I tried various time to contact the exhibition people, but no one bothered to contact me back. So, after [...]
In honor of St. Valentine's Day I thought I would share some fun history on how it was celebrated on the frontier. Today Valentine’s Day is primarily considered a romantic couples holiday, but in the 1800s both private and public celebrations were held. Churches, lodges, hotels, and private individuals held St. Valentine’s Day parties. Hostesses decorated with red and pink cupids and hearts with arrows gracing the walls and windows. Whether together or apart, pioneers on the Western frontier carried on the tradition of celebrating St. Valentine’s Day in ways not dissimilar to today’s celebrations. To honor St. Valentine’s Day, the young and old alike sent cards to family members, secret loves, sweethearts, and even teachers. This day of love was also a day when people would take time to send letters to friends letting them know they were thinking of them. Men worried about sending the proper card or gift and girls dreamed of receiving a [...]
The commitment I made to myself of trying to blog at least once a week, has been really hard since I have tonsillitis and the flu! While in Denver, despite being sick, my friend Mary and I visited the historic mining town of Georgetown. We also stopped at Buffalo Bill's grave site along they way. Ever since coming back on Feb 3, I've been sick. My brain is mush and I can't think straight. You know that filter that prevents you from saying things you shouldn't? Well, my is malfunctioning. So, I've been taking it easy and playing with family genealogy. I learned that I have way more Dutch in me that I knew. Several of my ancestors on my mom's side were from the Netherlands. I'm mostly descended from English immigrants, but there's also German, French, and Irish. Yep, a true American mutt who likes to write about her country's Western history.
I got back from a trip to Denver on Saturday and ended up with tonsillitis and likely the flu. Despite that, I am still working on Ethel. She really wants her story told! I've been enjoying reading through and looking at all the documents I've collected. My cousin and I took a trip to England and few years ago to research Ethel. I met her great granddaughter, Elizabeth. She was a caterer and treated us to some amazing food and gin and tonics. I told her what I learned about her family and she shared some fun and interesting tidbits. Her photos were awesome. I reached out to her today and now I really am inspired, despite being sick. This is an illustration of Ethel from 1898.