Here's the mini trailer for the first book in my new Western Mysteries series, The Case of the Deadly Desperados! Yee-haw!
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
|Big beer delivery to Nevada's oldest saloon in Genoa|
Genoa Cowboy Poetry Festival schedule, I see they have a stellar lineup of musicians, including my personal fave Dave Stamey. They also have re-enactors: Don Thompson as Snowshoe Thompson, Dick Clark as Kit Carson, Mike Curcio as Wyatt Earp, etc. They offer fun activities like a Carson River Bird Walk, a saddle making seminar and lots on poetry and writing. Then I see that Mark Twain will be there on the very morning we are due to head back to the San Francisco Bay Area. If we go via the old stagecoach route we will pass through Genoa. That settles it! We're going.
On Friday 6 May we take our leave of our wonderful innkeepers and bid farewell to Virginia City. On the way out of town we take the alternate Truck Road down to Carson City. It's beautiful and deserted. We've had superb weather for our sojourn and timed it just right. (Within days it will be snowing again.)
Genoa is a beautiful little town snuggled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We arrive to see lots of cowboy types, Civil War soldiers and women in hoop skirts. And MARK TWAIN! "Stop the Jeep! I have to get out!" I run up to him and tell him I've come all the way from England to see him. And I have. One of the organizers snaps a picture of us. Then I run to buy the three of us a day pass. $50! Just to hear Mark Twain?
|Mary & her derringer|
But our $50 family day pass has bought us more than McAvoy Layne as Mark Twain. It gets us two free carriage rides with Buddy from Happy Hoofers in Washoe Valley, who tells me he knows exactly where Steamboat Springs is. It gets us an audience with Wrangler Rich who has a ranch near Carson and promises he'll take us on horseback up into the mountains. We make notes to see Steamboat Springs with Buddy and go riding with Wrangler Rich on our next trip. Maybe the Nevada Gunfighters, too!
The family day pass gets us into the delightful little Genoa museum with it's mock-up of a jail and also of a recorder's office.
|Santa Clarita didn't allow guns|
I will definitely be back for the Genoa Cowboy Poetry Festival next year. Hopefully with the first Western Mystery, The Case of the Deadly Desperados.
|some great living history re-enactors at Genoa|
|Nevada gunmen enjoy a beverage|
|Wrangler Rich and his quarterhorse|
|Buddy gave us rides in his "vis-a-vis" buggy|
|"Goes the Wrong Way" & "Hawkeye"|
|Main Street Genoa Cowboy Poetry Festival May 2011|
|Buddy drops us at the fab Cowboy Fast Draw|
|My mentor is "Chisum"|
|At first "Hawkeye" is unsure...|
|...but then she finds the fun in Cowboy Fast Draw. Yee-haw!|
|Nevada champ "Short Keg" Gentry shows "Goes" the ropes|
|I meet "John Wayne". My joy is complete.|
Sunday, May 8, 2011
During the years my books are set, the presence of soldiers at Fort Churchill was an important aspect of Virginia City life. The fort was abandoned in 1870, only ten years after it was established, and is now a ghost town. Or perhaps we should call it a "Ghost Fort". I wanted to see it because I like to stand in the places my books are set to get a feel for the terrain and atmosphere.
So on Thursday 5 May 2011, my sister "Hawkeye" and my husband "Goes the Wrong Way" and I set off from Virginia City just after 9.00am. Our silver Jeep takes us down Six Mile Canyon. Instead of turning north on highway 50 we carry straight on over, as our innkeepers have advised us, staying on Fort Churchill Road. At first it's paved but soon turns to gravelly dirt. As our innkeepers promised, the road is deserted and beautiful, following the course of the Carson River. Large cottonwoods line the banks and grouse run among the sage brush. We can see the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains away to the west.
At one point we stop and get out to look around. The sun is warm, the breeze is soft, the world is silent. We see grouse and squirrels, ducks and geese. There aren't many bugs up in Virginia City but there are plenty down here by the river. I have to shake them out of my hair before I get back in our Jeep.
Fort Churchill National Park is marked by a flagpole and a gem of a visitors' center. The adobe ruins of barracks, storehouses and other fort buildings blend perfectly into the landscape. We are surrounded by mountains on every side and I understand why they offer star gazing evenings here on special occasions. There would be virtually no light pollution. A small but clear exhibit in the museum shows the layout of the camp and even tells us something about the plants of the region. After the fort was decommissioned, a local resident called Buckland bought it for only $750. He used timber, staircases, etc to build Buckland's Station. He and his wife had five children, all of whom died in infancy or childhood. Their gravestones can still be seen at the cemetery at Fort Churchill.
After a good look around I convince "Hawkeye" to drive us to Pyramid Lake. My iPhone promises the journey will take less than an hour. (My iPhone turns out to be right) The road north through Silver Springs takes us through barren brown hills with virtually no trees. It is hauntingly beautiful. My great, great, great grandparents came from Battle Mountain. I've never been there but the landscape looks similar from pictures I've seen. About 45 minutes later we pass into the Indian reservation and shortly after that crest a rise to see a turquoise lake with a brown pyramid shaped island in the center. This is Pyramid Lake, bigger than Tahoe, almost more barren than Mono. A thousand pelicans flock at its southern end. It reminds me of scenes from sci-fi films of alien planets.
A strange building that looks like steps rises up from the sagebrush horizon. This is a new visitors' center for the lake, designed to look like the pyramid at the center. Unfortunately it's closed, but a sign outside gives us lots of information. We drive up to a village called Sutcliffe but "Hawkeye" and "Goes" are not as enchanted with the lake as I am, so soon we are on the road back to Reno.
Pictures below of Fort Churchill etc.
|plan of Fort Churchill|
|Visitor's center at Fort Churchill|
|portrait of Gen. Sylvester Churchill|
|Captain Stewart's quarters. See the spittoon?|
|Pyramid Lake visitor center sign|
|Mountains on the road from Pyramid Lake to Reno|
|Back to Virginia City|
Saturday, May 7, 2011
|Me eating breakfast at the B St B&B|
|Nevada State Museum|
|Orion Clemens house in Carson City|
|horsehead hitching post|
Back to Virginia City in time for tea at the B Street B&B. Carolyn gives me an 1974 dissertation on Police, Water and Fire Departments in early Virginia City so I can get to grips with the structure of the town in the early 1860s. There aren't many places in the world where you can eat homemade tropical fruit macaroons and peruse a scholarly article both provided by the same talented lady. The B Street B&B is simply superb.
|P.K. is partial to sasaparilla|
|Badges weren't known in Virginia City until 1874|
|P.K. is obsessed with collecting things... like buttons|
Friday, May 6, 2011
|Bodie, ghost town of the gold fever era|
The firehouse at Bodie was especially gratifying because it still had some hose carriages and jumpers inside, plus a row of hanging coal oil lamps. Here are a few more pictures of this amazing ghost town of the gold-fevered West.
|Bodie's Firehouse on a snowy spring day|
|Coal oil lamps in Bodie's firehouse|
|Bodie's firehouse with Mine Buildings behind|
|On Bodie's boardwalk 3 May 2011|
|Richard & Jennifer enjoying a breather|
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
|Robber's Roost on the 395|
My sidekick is my husband Richard. His Indian name is "Goes the Wrong Way". My Indian name is "Stands in Confusion". So it's just as well that my sister Jennifer is with us. Her Indian name is "Hawkeye". If we were on a wagon train west, "Goes" and I would be the ones travelling in circles and just missing all the waterholes. Hawkeye would be our driver, scout and hunter. She's the one who sees all the little critters on the ground even though she's busy driving.
Every long journey must begin with farewell to family and a fortifying meal. So Hawkeye, Goes and I meet my Santa Clarita family for brunch at the Egg Plantation. What a great place! The English manager gives us our own private area out back and we have a real pioneer meal of three egg omellettes, pancakes and coffee and EVERYBODY IS HAPPY. Bittersweet farewells to those we have to leave behind then off to Adventure in our silver Jeep.
After Acton, Highway 14 turns north and takes you past the towns of Palmdale and Acton. Edwards Airforce base is on your right and Reefer City a blur on the left. After Mojave you start seeing Joshua trees and now you are in the desert proper. At Indian Wells near Inyokern we join up with the 395, which will take us virtually the rest of the way.
Lone Pine is a gem of a town on a flat ribbon of highway with the Sierra Nevadas rearing up on one side and farms and ranches on the other. It is another popular spot for movie makers and every September is host to the Lone Pine Film Festival. You will also find the Beverley & Jim Rogers Museum of Film History. Full of posters, props and other memorabilia of B, C and D Westerns and other films made here. It shouldn't have come as a surprise that part of Iron Man was filmed here. Those mountains aren't Afghanistan. They're the Eastern Sierra Nevadas. Jagged, blue, snow-capped, breathtaking.
|Iron Man was filmed near Lone Pine, not Afghanistan|
After Lone Pine, the 395 chases the exciting West Walker River which jumps and froths and leaps, full of all that icy snowmelt. This is the place to put on your waist high rubber boots and go fishing for trout. We take a quick detour to Mammoth Lakes, which is a big disappointment. It's bristling with hotels and ski lodges... but nary a lake. Quickly back on the 395 to Lee Vining, the town on the shores of America's Dead Sea, Mono Lake. We arrive around 8.00 at dusk. It is cold and crisp up here with snow on the mountains and the scent of pine resin.
There are a handful of motels there but only one place to eat, Nicely's. This will be our stopping place before we press on to Virginia City.