Friday, September 16, 2022

Oregon Trail Ruts - Guernsey Wyoming

Last week we took some friends up to show them the famous Trail Ruts south of Guernsey. We have been up there dozens of times over the years, and each time I am struck by how difficult those traveling days along the Oregon Trail must have been.  


The trail itself was remarkable as it tied together the east and the west of the United States. Travel along the trail was mostly peaceful. Most tribes along the way simply allowed people to pass along what they sometimes called the Great Medicine Road. Life for the people of the plains and foothills was difficult enough without starting battles with all the passers-through.



The North Platte River runs a quarter of a mile north of the ruts pictured above. Travel would have been much easier to simply roll along a few yards from the river. The problem was - the river was big, unpredictable, and moody. The ground was likely much too soft for the heavy wagons to travel. So - they ran higher along the ridge overlooking the river. Harder but safer.


Eating on the trail was mostly the three Bs, beans, biscuits, and bacon. Throw in some rice, coffee, and dried fruit, and that was about it. Many think that the travelers dinned on wild game along the way. Some did, others tried, and most realized that would be an iffy proposition at best. 

It would have been tough, but what an adventure.


If you live in or plan to visit Wyoming, make sure you plan a trip to the ruts south of Guernsey.  



Sunday, August 14, 2022

Writing In the Hot Days of Summer

 Writing

I spent a fair amount of time writing this week – pretty good for me. I no longer set daily or weekly word count goals, but 3,000+ words is a decent week. Mostly I am cleaning up two finished yet unpublished books. I also found the time to work on a newer project I started a couple of months ago. That project stands at about 7,000 words, getting close to halfway. All of my Senior books fall between 18,000 and 25,000 words. All my senior books are nonfiction life lessons and lessons learned, filled with humor and ideas to make growing old easier. I like to keep these books short enough to read in a few hours. I keep them shorter because these books have extra room between lines and nice large print. Many of my senior readers prefer books to Ebooks, and I do not want them to be so large as to be unmanageable to older readers. My arthritic hands struggle with books over an inch and a half thick - good thing I like Ebooks.



Westerns

Wendover, the third in my Blade Holmes western mysteries, is almost ready. I finished the book nearly two years ago but never liked the first chapter. At last, I believe I have figured out what it needs. If I like the results – out to my first reader, and we will see.

 


Final Note

We watched the mini-series Dark Winds this week and loved it. (Prime TV) This series is based on the great Tony Hillerman's novels and is well worth watching. Terrific story and acting. I have read all of Hillerman's works, most more than once. If you love westerns, he is a must-read.

Meanwhile, Keep on reading, and for you writers – keep on writing.

 


Photos

Today's photos are from one of my favorite places – the Castle on the North Bluff at Guernsey State Park. 


 

 

Friday, August 5, 2022

Writing and Walking Into August

 I am back to taking my morning walks. They are shorter than last year, but, hey, for an old duffer like me, a couple of miles each morning is pretty good. It is nice to watch nature again as I walk in the country. Also nice to be able to take some photos from places other than through the open window of my Jeep.


My writing is starting to look up. By that, I mean pick up. I am back to working/rewriting mostly two projects I last worked on in February. This blog might start looking like my old writing site again if that happens. Hopefully, I will post more next time with lots of good news on my works-in-progress.



Today's photos – Are from this week's morning walks.


Wyoming History -  Two sites near our little town of Guernsey, Wyoming, are renowned Palio-Indian dig sites. One at Hell Gap has been an ongoing dig for years. The other in the old mining town of Sunrise, is newer but very active and now with a claim to fame as finding the oldest signs of habitation by humans in the Americas. Exciting times for history lovers.


Another Note –  (or as Columbo used to say – "Just one more thing.”)    My typing skills have diminished quite a bit since my bout with covid. The problem is that I have lost much of the feeling in my fingertips. A bit disconcerting unless I look at my fingers and the screen a little more often. Feels like it's 1964, and I am back in typing class. 

Friday, July 22, 2022

I'm Back and Hopeful


It has been four months since I last posted on this site. Long-Covid is not something I want to go through again, and I don’t wish it on anyone else. Actually, I am still suffering from fatigue and tingling numbness in my hands and feet. I started my morning walks again this week – the first since February. The walks feel good but are about half the distance I was accustomed to. I need much more rest afterward than pre-covid and have to take off a day out of every four or five.

 


My writing has been mostly nonexistent. Along with writing, my photography has been put on a hiatus. I do not yet have the energy to get out with any of my cameras. I have managed about 600 words over the past ten days and have taken 150 or so shots with my cameras.

 But, life goes on, and slowly and gradually, my life is starting to feel more normal.



Today’s photos - are from a trip around my backyard yesterday.



Wyoming History -  Thanks once again for Patrick Holscher’s excellent book – On This Day In Wyoming History. I am reminded of this.

On July 21, 1987, the most powerful tornado to ever hit Wyoming struck Yellowstone Park destroying over 15,00 acres of forest.



Wyoming Trivia Question of the day

What U.S President signed the bill establishing Yellowstone National Park  - Answer under the photo.


Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th President




Monday, March 21, 2022

GOAT – Writers & Books

 GOAT – Writers & Books

I often see lists, lots of lists. Most are a top ten or bottom ten of something. America's ten best or ten worst fast food items or places. The best football or basketball player of all time. The greatest writer or book of all time. Fortunately, all of these lists are fantasy. Can we compare Mickey Mantle to Babe Ruth or players in modern-day – different times and circumstances?

One of my favorites (favorites to be irritated by) is the ranking of Presidents of the United States by IQ. These are often drawn up by someone pushing a particular political party. And what IQ test did all of them take?

Lately, we have invented the acronym GOAT, or greatest of all time. Who knows? You get the point: Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, John Lennon, Joan of Arc, Catherine II., Shakespeare, Hemmingway, Twain.



But, what we can do is say who our favorites are, and here are a few of the writers that got me started reading westerns, and to this day, I still love reading and writing them.  

1. Elmer Kelton – I have read almost all of his westerns. Not sure I may have read them all. My two favorites – The Time It Never Rained and The Good Old Boys

2. Louis L'Amour – Some love him, others can't stand him. Some of his books seem a bit formulaic and flat, but others are some of my favorites. The Quick and the Dead, Hondo,  and Silver Canyon are favorites of mine. L'Amour sold over 200 million books, and they are still selling, leading me to believe there must be a lot of good reads among his works.

3. William W Johnstone – Johnstone wrote in many genres, but I have read only his westerns. I enjoyed his early works, with Preacher and Smoke Jensen, two of my all-time favorite fictional characters. The Last Mountain Man is my favorite of all the mountain men books I have read.

4. James Michener – Not everyone considers Michener a western writer, but he is one of the best to me. Centennial might be my favorite piece of fiction, and his novels Alaska and Journey are beautiful reads.  

5. Noel Gerson – This might seem an odd pick as Gerson wrote under nine different pseudonyms, including Donald Clayton Porter (the White Indian Series) and Dana Fuller Ross (The Wagons West series. When I read those two series many years ago, they were most enjoyable. The Wagons West series was continued by another terrific writer James Reasoner.

 


There you have it. A few writers and books to add to your reading list.

Here is a link to my books on Amazon – take a look and enjoy!

Keep on reading and keep on writing.

Photos – From our recent trip to warmer weather. 😊



 

 

Monday, March 14, 2022

A Time to Regroup

 Two weeks of Covid, a week or more of recovery, and then what we felt like was a well-deserved vacation. And that, my friends and readers, is what we have been up to lately.

I didn't get much writing done during the past month. It seems I spent two weeks sleeping or trying to, and then two weeks regaining my strength and enjoying a trip through New Mexico and Arizona. 

The Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico

I did see sites and hear some stories that could find their way into my writing at some time in the future. I wanted to spend time hiking, photographing, and experiencing the desert near Tucson.

Flicker on a Saguaro Cactus

It was all we hoped it would be – loved it. 

We spent several terrific days hiking in Saguaro National Park


Sometimes taking time away is a good thing – I hope that is my case.

 

A man working the river in the Gila Wilderness New Mexico

"It is a good thing for everyone who can possibly do so to get away at least once a year for a change of scene. I do not want to get into the position of not being able to see the forest because of the thickness of the trees."    Franklin Roosevelt

Monday, February 7, 2022

Best Books of 2021

 Confessions of a Writer of Westerns

February 7, 2022

It’s that time of year again. Oh, and what time is that? When politicians, actors, and other famous people list all their favorite books of the year. I often take these lists with a grain of salt, as in, I doubt they read many if any of the books listed. Lucky for all you readers, I am not going to glean from their lists and come up with a must-read list of my own. Today, I will mention a few of my favorite reads from this past year.

Instead of listing everything I read or the number of books I read in 2021 (I have no idea if I could make an accurate list). Here is my favorite, fiction, nonfiction, just for fun, and writing book of the year.

 


My favorite fiction read of the year was C.J. Box’s Dark Sky,

another in his best-selling Joe Pickett series. I have read them all, and if you have not read any, take a look. All of them are terrific reads. These books are modern-day western mysteries all set mainly in Wyoming.

My favorite nonfiction read of the year is now on my list of all-time favorite nonfiction books. This book, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis, written by Timothy Eagan, has been out since 2013. Surprised I had not gotten around to it until last year. This one feeds my love of history and photography and gives readers a look at one man’s passion for a lifelong project. This book is a terrific read that includes many famous Curtis photos.

Each year I read a fair number of, what I call, just for fun books. My favorite in 2021 was Steve Hockensmith’s – Holmes on the Range. This one is just what it sounds like, a lover of Sherlock Holmes solving cases in the old-west like Holme’s did in far-off London.

Lastly, my favorite writing book of the year was – Ta-da! Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print, by Renni Browne and Dave King. This one has been around for almost twenty years. Not sure how much earlier the first edition came out. I see this book as a must-have for all writers, whether traditional or self-published.

There you have it- my list of favorite books I read in 2021.

 


Reading – Still working my way through a couple of books I started two weeks ago. I did read through Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co’s spring 2022 seed catalog. That is a sure sign that I am now officially anxious for spring.

Writing Tip – “The very best thing you can do for good dialogue is never, ever to explain it.” (from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers)  Oddly if I were to edit the above line, I would take out very and ever to. Neither makes the sentence stronger. Now that’s pretty strange. Still a good tip. 😊

Weather – Another great week here in east-central Wyoming. A few days in the 50s are coming soon. I Might get out on the golf course sometime this week. It definitely will be an excellent week to go out with one of my cameras.

Quote of the day It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” Ernest Hemingway

 

Today’s Photos – From my walks over the past few days

 

 Click the link to see all of my books on Amazon

 

Have a great week. Keep on reading, and keep on writing!