Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - December 26, 2018

Christmas tree cavalry barracks Fort Laramie
Although many of us have elaborate Christmas decorations in our home, this picture reminds me that life was quite different for soldiers in the nineteenth century. This very simple -- some would say sparse -- tree is inside the cavalry barracks at Fort Laramie.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - December 19, 2018

creche from Wyoming Governors' Mansion
Although there are many symbols of the Christmas season, none captures the true reason for the season better than the nativity scene. I saw this one in the current governors' mansion in Cheyenne soon after we moved to Wyoming and thought it was particularly beautiful.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - December 12, 2018

One time when I was at Walt Disney World, I overheard a young boy horrify his younger sister by whispering rather loudly, "There's more than one Mickey."

There may indeed be more than one Mickey at Disney World, but they're careful that you can see only one at a time. Not so at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens' Children's Village. They're proud to present the Thousand Faces of Santa.

Are there really a thousand? I don't know, but as you can see, there are quite a few.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - December 5, 2018

Historic Governors' Mansion Tree
For many of us, a decorated tree is one of the most enduring symbols of the Christmas season. Fortunately, those of us who live in or near Cheyenne can enjoy many beautifully decorated trees as part of the Historic Governors' Mansion's Tinsel Through Time exhibit.

I particularly like this one, since (1)it has plenty of tinsel and (2) I didn't have to decorate it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - November 28, 2018

In contrast to the rather simple buildings that we saw in the Carter compound last week, this one shows its Victorian origins. What is it? The commanding officer's home at Fort Bridger.

Can't you picture women with parasols strolling the walks and then sitting on the porch to sip lemonade? I can.

There are still many more things to share about Fort Bridger, but we'll take a break for a month or so. What's coming for December? How about Christmas decorations?

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Few of my Favorite Recipes

Almost Healthy Brownies
If you've read my Texas Crossroads books, you know that I enjoy sharing recipes with readers. Over the years, I've also shared recipes on other authors' blogs.  Kathy F suggested that I assemble all of those links in one place, so here they are.

Are you a chocoholic? I certainly am, which is why I love the Almost Healthy Brownies that you see pictured above.
Almost Healthy Brownies

Here's another chocolate favorite. (If you're not fond of mocha, simply eliminate the coffee.) This easy-to-make and refreshing dessert is one that I recommend for those hot days of summer, but if you live in a hot climate, you might enjoy it now.
Frosty Mocha Freeze

We've reached the time of the year where cranberries are easy to find. If you'd like a dessert that's remarkably easy to make as well as being delicious, I recommend Cranberry Torte.

I buy several bags of cranberries each year and freeze them so I can make this dessert year-round.  Oh, all right, I'll admit that I've been known to have a dozen bags of those tart but healthy fruits in the freezer. That's how much I like this and several other dishes that feature fresh cranberries.
Cranberry Torte

Who doesn't like cheesecake, especially when it's a single-serving size? I've been making these mini-cheesecakes for more years than I'm going to admit, but they've never lost their appeal.
Mini Cheesecakes

And, lest you think I eat only dessert, here's a main course recipe to round out today's post.

If you're looking for a cold main dish, you might enjoy my Summer Pasta Salad. I find the pinkish color as refreshing as the salad itself and have been known to take it to potluck meals even in the midst of winter.
Summer Pasta Salad

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - November 21, 2018

One of the most influential men at Fort Bridger during the period the Army occupied it was Judge William Carter. Not only did he serve as the fort's sutler, but in 1860 he was responsible for the establishment of Wyoming's first school.

The teachers he hired from the East were so competent and the education they provided to Carter's children and others from the fort so good that the graduates of the Carter school were allowed to enter eastern colleges without any additional education. Now, that's a good school.

As you can see, there was no consistent architectural style at the Carter compound. The school house is the white building with vertical siding. The stone building attached to it is the milk house. The large dark brown building in the background is the ice house.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - November 14, 2018

Last week I told you that Fort Bridger began its life as a trading post, designed to provide supplies to the emigrants traveling the Oregon Trail. Though Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez established it together in 1843, it bore Bridger's name, undoubtedly because he was the more famous of the two. Some refer to Bridger as the Daniel Boone of the Rockies.

I suspect the pioneers traveling the Oregon Trail didn't care about the name. What mattered to them was that the trading post sold vital goods and had a blacksmith shop. At this point in their journey, they needed both.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - November 7, 2018

This month we're going to travel to Fort Bridger, which is currently one of the Wyoming Parks. I say "currently," because the site has a number of different identities in its past.

It was founded as a trading post by Mountain Man Jim Bridger, then became part of the Mormon Fort Supply. A few years later, the US Army took control of the site and remained there until 1890. But the story didn't end with the Army's departure. In the 1930s when automobile travel became popular, Fort Bridger was the site of some unique cabins. And now it's a state park. See what I mean about a varied past?

I hope you'll enjoy this month's posts. And, if you were wondering, this picture, showing Fort Bridger as the "historical hub of trade and travel," can be found in the museum.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Wednesday Near Wyoming - October 31, 2018

Some of you know that I caught an incurable case of Carousel Fever in January 2000, the International Year of the Carousel, and have been visiting antique carousels ever since.

For me, there's nothing quite like an historic merry-go-round unless it's a particularly creative modern one. That's what this one is.  Named the Carousel of Happiness, it's a thoroughly modern carousel with such imaginative animals that I doubt anyone can look at it without smiling or even laughing out loud.

And, as you can see, the animals are dressed for Halloween, making this the perfect picture to share today.

Where do you find this gem? In the small Colorado mountain town of Nederland, just north of Boulder.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Wednesday Near Wyoming - October 24, 2018

I'm sure you have no trouble guessing where this picture was taken.

Although I've been to Mount Rushmore several times, the sight of those four massive heads carved in the mountain never fails to impress me. And the avenue of flags leading to the monument itself is a wonderful introduction to South Dakota's most iconic spot.

Did you know that Rapid City, the city closest to Rushmore, calls itself the City of Presidents and has statues of all former presidents? I may share pictures of some of them with you next spring, so be sure to come back and see who's featured then.

Meanwhile, do you have a favorite among the four who are immortalized on Rushmore? I do.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wednesday Near Wyoming - October 17, 2018

Have you ever been to Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area?

Based on the name, you won't be surprised that this area is famous for its trout fishing, boating, hiking, bird watching, and other outdoor activities. What might surprise you is that it spans two states -- Wyoming and Utah.

Since this month I'm focusing on spots near Wyoming, you'd be correct in guessing that this picture was taken in Utah.

Isn't the combination of red and white rocks with green brush beautiful?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wednesday Near Wyoming - October 10, 2018

When is a bale of hay more than a bale of hay? When it's turned into an Easter bunny.

I spotted these special bales in Nebraska on the drive to Carhenge. (Remember that from the spring Wednesday Near Wyoming posts?)

Did the bunnies make you smile? I certainly smiled when I saw them.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Wednesday Near Wyoming - October 3, 2018

Last spring's Wednesday Near Wyoming posts were so popular that I decided to give you an encore this month.

Can you guess where this was taken? If you said, "Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park," you were right. The park, which I've heard described as the "crown jewel of the national park system," is only a couple hours from Cheyenne -- the perfect distance for a day trip.

This is one of my favorite spots in Rocky, as the locals refer to it, just past the summit of Trail Ridge Road on the western side of the park. We're above the tree line here, and on this particular day, the tundra was turning its fall colors. Simply beautiful!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 26, 2018

You may not know it, but Wyoming is the least densely populated of the fifty states. It's not hard to believe that when you see this road, is it?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 19, 2018

A teepee in the middle of Cheyenne? Although it's not a permanent part of the State Museum's front yard, this one was erected for Frontier Days to give visitors something interesting to see when they drove by and to encourage them to visit the museum.

I know I probably sound as if I work for the tourism bureau. I don't, but the State Museum is on the "must see" list for my out-of-town guests. From dinosaurs to sheep wagons to intriguing rotating exhibits, it's well worth a visit. And, if you come at the right time, you might even be able to go inside the teepee.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 12, 2018

Blame it on my eighth grade Earth Science class, but I've always been fascinated by rock formations.

I found these particularly interesting because you can see the different layers, some of which are at oblique angles. How were they formed, and why wasn't the rock next to those areas also angled? I wish I could say that I knew the answer, but I don't.

Do you?

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 5, 2018

The last roses of summer? Perhaps, but that doesn't stop them from being beautiful or from perfuming the air with their sweet fragrance.

I've always enjoyed the rose garden at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, and it's even more impressive now that the Grand Conservatory forms the background.

Did you notice that the flag is hanging limp? That's SO unusual for Cheyenne.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 29, 2018

What would you do if you saw this bird watching you wash dishes? My answer was, "Forget the dishes and grab the camera."

It took a few minutes with my Audubon Field Guide, but I learned that the visitor was a chukar.

The chukar is not a native bird but was imported from Europe in the last century. I won't give you all the details here, but if you'd like more information, you might find this article from Cornell interesting.

This chukar stayed for quite a while, posing so I could admire him from different directions. Unfortunately, he hasn't been back.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 22, 2018

One of the most colorful backyard visitors is the goldfinch. I'm always entertained by the contortions the finches go through to harvest seeds from the sunflowers, and the fact that their colors are so similar only adds to the appeal.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 15, 2018

Last week I highlighted the hawk that's been a backyard visitor. Today's post features a much smaller bird -- a rufous hummingbird. Here it is, perched on a piece of lawn art. What surprises me is how long it'll sit there, almost motionless.

The reason for choosing that particular perch is that only a few feet away are one of its favorite foods -- penstemons. Although it seems to me that the birds (there are at least three) visit the same blossom multiple times a day, making me wonder if there's any nectar left, they don't appear discouraged and keep returning.

I always laugh when I see the little hummer with its full beak and part of its head buried in the flower. Must be tasty!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 8, 2018

It's one thing to have robins and sparrows bathing in the birdbath, but a Swainson's Hawk is a different story. Even though this one was a juvenile, he still had trouble fitting in the birdbath, yet he persisted.

A couple weeks later, he returned -- considerably larger than the prior visit -- and decided to do nothing more than drink. As you can imagine, the ground squirrels and bunnies were less excited about the hawk's presence than we humans were.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 1, 2018

Now, this is something you don't see very often in Cheyenne or -- for that matter -- anywhere.

Mr. Peanut and his NUTmobile came to one of the local grocery stores last month. It was a great photo opp, not to mention a chance to talk to the Peanutters, as the staff who tour with Mr. Peanut are called, and learn more about the famous nut.

Here's the NUTmobile in all its glory. If you were wondering, it's not a repurposed RV. The three NUTmobiles (one for each of three different regions of the country) were all custom made specifically for Planters.

Some fun facts about the NUTmobile itself.

In his almost a century of existence, Mr. Peanut himself has undergone some changes.

A fitting ending to the story, and to the NUTmobile itself: a personalized license plate.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - July 25, 2018

It's Frontier Days time in Cheyenne, and today is Cheyenne Day. In addition to the rodeo itself and the famous Frontier Nights entertainment, there's a pancake breakfast and my favorite event: the US Air Force Thunderbirds show.

What a wonderful example of precision flying, excellence, and teamwork.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - July 18, 2018

What would you think if you saw this on a billboard? Would it catch your eye? The Eiffel Tower windmill certainly caught my attention. I was so intrigued by it that when I discovered that the Laramie County Library was offering poster-sized versions, I snapped one up and have it hanging where I see it every day.

The campaign is a few years old, but the message is as true as it was then: libraries bring the world to us.

When was the last time you visited your library?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - July 11, 2018

Have you seen any of these flags? They're part of Travel Wyoming's campaign to show the world the many aspects of the state and to answer the question of "Why are you vacationing in Wyoming?"  As the Travel Wyoming site says, "Wyoming is home to 98,000 square miles of possibility."

Travelers who pick up the flags (free, of course) at visitors' centers and at historic sites throughout the state  are encouraged to post photos of themselves and their flags using the hashtag #FlyYourWY.

If you're curious, you can find more information at their web site or by searching with the hashtag.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - July 4, 2018

While we celebrate Independence Day across the country, I thought I'd share a few facts that you may or may not know about Wyoming.

It was the 44th state, admitted to the union in 1890.

Part of the reason Wyoming was granted statehood was that it was the first territory to grant women the right to vote. That happened in 1869, so you can see that it still took a while to become a state.

Wyoming has two nicknames: the Equality State and the Cowboy State. I'm sure you can guess why each one of those was chosen.

Wyoming is proud of its firsts. In addition to women's suffrage, it's the site of the first national park (Yellowstone in 1872) and the first national monument (Devils Tower in 1906). And in 1925 Nellie Tayloe Ross became Wyoming's -- and the nation's -- first woman governor.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - June 27, 2018

While the capitol is the largest construction project in Cheyenne, it's not the only one. The famous Big Boy 4004 steam engine, which was retired from service sixty years ago and is currently located in Holliday Park, is also undergoing restoration.

Unlike the capitol project, which requires multiple years of effort, this restoration will be completed later this summer.

Here's some more information about the Big Boy as well as a close-up view of the shrouding.

And, if you wondered what it looks like without all that plastic around it, here's the answer.
Cheyenne owes its existence to the railroad, so it's no surprise that the city treasures its historic trains and wants to preserve them for future generations.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - June 20, 2018

Not everything on the capitol complex is being changed as a result of the Capitol Square Project.

The statue of Chief Washakie, which stands on the opposite side of the main entrance sidewalk from one of Esther Morris, already had its change. It used to be on display inside the capitol itself, but a few years ago it was moved outdoors.

Who was Chief Washakie? Here's an interesting article that I found.

Unfortunately for first-time visitors to Cheyenne, the statue is currently hidden by the fence that surrounds the capitol during construction.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Cover Reveal - A Tender Hope

For me, one of the major milestones between the time I turn in a manuscript and the day the book is actually available for purchase is when I can share cover art with you. After all, even though we're told not to judge a book by the cover, we do ... or at least I do.

A great deal of planning and effort goes into the development of a cover. I'll blog about costume choice, how the background was developed, and the other details that you've told me you enjoy learning as we get closer to the release date, but today I wanted to share the finished product with you.

So, without further fanfare, here it is: the cover for A Tender Hope, the third of the Cimarron Creek books.
What do you think?

I hope you're as pleased with it as I am. I loved the historic costume (notice that it buttons what we would consider the wrong way) and the medical bag that's so essential for Thea's profession as a midwife. As for the house, wouldn't it be fun to live in one like that as long as you didn't have to clean it?

If the name "Thea" sounds familiar to you, it's because you met her in Paper Roses. So many of you asked for her story that I couldn't wait any longer to tell you what happened to her when she grew up.

A Tender Hope will be available on March 5 next year. I know it's a long wait, but while you're waiting, here's a glimpse into the story.

The Really, Really Short Version
An abandoned baby and a young woman warm the heart of a Texas Ranger seeking justice for his brother.

The Longer Version
As far as Thea Michener is concerned, it's time for a change. Her husband murdered and her much-anticipated baby stillborn, there's nothing left for her in Ladreville. Having accepted a position as Cimarron Creek's midwife, she has no intention of remarrying and trying for another child. So when a handsome Texas Ranger appears on her doorstep with an abandoned baby, Thea isn't sure her heart can take it.

Ranger Jackson Guthrie isn't concerned only with the baby's welfare. He's been looking for Thea, convinced that her late husband was part of the gang that killed his brother. But it soon becomes clear that the situation is far more complicated than he'd anticipated and that he'll need Thea's help if he's ever to find the justice he seeks.

A Tender Hope is available for preorder at Amazon now and will be available at the other retailers soon.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - June 13, 2018

Last week I featured the repairs to the capitol dome, but that's only a small portion of the work being done as part of the Wyoming Capitol Square Project. A major office building, the Herschler building, is being remodeled and expanded. As you can see, it's located adjacent to the capitol itself, and like the dome, is having its exterior renovated.

For more information about the Herschler project, click here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - June 6, 2018

It's construction season in Cheyenne, and nowhere is that as apparent as at the capitol, which is undergoing a multi-year renovation and restoration project. The latest part of the building to see changes is the dome, which is now surrounded by scaffolding and shrouding. I wouldn't want to be the workers on top of it. Would you?

This isn't the first time the dome has had work done. In 2009, the gilding was replaced, and for a while, the dome itself was covered with wood.

Here's what it looked like between the regilding project and today.
I have to say that it seems strange to drive Interstate 25 north into Cheyenne and not see the golden dome. But in another year or so, it'll be visible again.

If you're interested in more information about the dome repairs, here's a link.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - May 30, 2018

We end this month's tour of Fossil Butte National Monument with the town of Kemmerer's homage to it. I've always been fascinated by murals on the sides of buildings, and this one, with its subtle coloring, is one of the most interesting I've seen.

If you go to Kemmerer to visit the J.C. Penney Mother Store, you can't miss the mural. It's right across the street and yet another reason to visit this small town in southwestern Wyoming.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - May 23, 2018

Sagebrush. At least for me, sagebrush prairies are synonymous with the American West. They were, in fact, one of the reasons I moved to Wyoming, but that's another story.

This prairie, complete with beautiful cumulus clouds, is part of Fossil Butte National Monument, which has been our featured location this month.

Imagine hiking across the prairie, being surrounded by the scent of sage, and wondering what the pioneers were thinking when they reached this part of their journey.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - May 16, 2018

In addition to the possibility of discovering new fossils at Fossil Butte National Monument, the site has numerous opportunities for hiking.

I've included this picture to show you all the green. Depending on where you live, green may be a familiar color to you all year round, but that's not the case in Wyoming. Because it's a semi-arid region, many parts of the state have minimal rainfall and are often golden brown, but for a few glorious weeks, the grass is green. That's definitely cause for celebration.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - May 9, 2018

Fossils, fossils -- they're everywhere at Fossil Butte National Monument, including in this display case just inside the front door of the visitor center.

In addition to exhibits showing the various fossils that were discovered at the site, there are films that explain the process involved in extracting and preserving those fossils and ranger-led walks and talks during the summer.

And, as you'll see from next week's post, there's even more to enjoy at Fossil Butte.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Wednesday in Wyoming - May 2, 2018

Remember Kemmerer, the site of the J.C. Penney Mother Store and the Penney homestead? This small town in southwestern Wyoming has another claim to fame. Just outside the town is Fossil Butte National Monument, also known as America's Aquarium in Stone.

Although most of Wyoming is currently a high desert, it was once covered with water, and water means fish. Lots of fish, not to mention mammals, amphibians, and plants. What makes this site worthy of national monument status is that the fossils of these plants and animals are unusually well preserved. It's a paleontologist's delight.

If you'd like more information, you might want to visit the National Monument's web site.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Getting to Know the Characters

What's a book without characters? If it's a novel, the answer is "nothing at all." It's true that setting is important, and historical facts can enrich a story, but characters are the heart of a novel. That's the reason so many bloggers ask for special insights into a book's characters.

Whether you call them spotlights, interviews, or simply conversations, the goal is always the same: to learn more about the people in a story.

Rel Mollett, who's the person behind the popular site RelzReviews, asked me to create character spotlights for both Catherine and Austin. We talk about  their strengths and vulnerabilities as well as what inspired me to create them.

Heidi Main's Stitches Thru Time blog features a conversation with Catherine, where they discuss everything from dreams to fears to the reason Catherine teaches school. You might discover something new about the heroine of A Borrowed Dream.

Of course we can't neglect Austin. He has his own conversation on the Novel PASTimes site. It's a bit of an uncomfortable time for Austin, but he manages to hold his own, even though he reveals a bit more about himself than he planned.

I hope you enjoyed these insights into Austin and Catherine. Thanks again to Kathy F for suggesting that I summarize my guest blogs so that you don't run the risk of missing them.