Santa Fe Trail map.

Santa Fe Trail map.
Map of the Santa Fe Trail.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Hermit's Peak

Hermit's Peak near Las Vegas, NM. Once known as Tecalote Peak or Solitario. It is around its foothills that I set the fictional town of Celestial in my book "Into the Shadowlands." I can see this peak clearly from Shadowlands Ranch... it is stunning and very distinctive. Once refuge to an Italian hermit back in the mid-1800s, that is how it became known as Hermit's Peak.

If all goes to plan with my Santa Fe Trail ride this fall I will be visiting key places from my book "Into the Shadowlands" in order to help promote it and bring it to life for any Shadowlands followers. Since most of the wagon ruts of the trail are now on private land, it will be impossible to just follow the ruts and so I will have to make do with mostly riding along highways, zig-zagging my way to places I feature in both Shadowlands and its sequel (which is in the works) "Whispers across the Plane." (Yes, the spelling of plane is deliberate!) 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wagons Ho!

Holly and I, ready for Santa Fe Trail!
(The Goetsch's dog Sophie wants to come too!)

Well Ok, so it isn't a covered wagon, nor is it an authentic to the period buckboard but it is mine! It is roadworthy and very cute with its running lights, signal lights and hazard sign! But if we are going to be traveling along highways for most of the ride those 21st Century gizmos may come in handy.

I found this wee wagon on ebay (somewhere I rarely shop) and I think it was meant to be! The couple who built it (with a giant draft horse for propulsion) loved it and cherished it and, more importantly, used it! They live in Nevada and lucky for me, Bill, the husband, was going to be driving to Chicago and so he dropped it off along his way. Now I have to train myself and at least one of the horses to use it. I have a couple of wonderful books on the subject and Ernie, a local mechanic, is making me the drag-along-tire contraption and a small cart out of scrap for training purposes. My thought is to train Quick Draw for the wagon. Despite his ringbone I think this light wagon would be an easy haul for a horse his size (a 16 hand mustang!)

At this early stage I envision the wagon with Quick Draw and a riding horse, Pistol and a pack horse, Rebate. The wagon can be used to carry supplies and my wee dog Holly. My dad wants to come along and film the adventure and so he could ride in the wagon too. The riding horse and pack horse would be for back up and for the parts of the trail that are not wagon-worthy like the Raton Pass (I don't want to follow the Interstate for that part and would have to go cross country... which is pretty darn rugged.) Lots of training to be done this summer but this wagon is just what I need to get inspired not only to plan the ride but also to promote the book "Into the Shadowlands" (as well as "Brand Name,") and write Shadowlands' sequel "Whispers across the Plane."

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sombra and Ella-Rose

Sombra arrives at Shadowlands Ranch

Despite what I said (repeatedly) about no more horses in my book "Brand Name," Shadowlands Ranch recently took in two more mustangs. This time they are two older girls who came to us by way of the Santa Fe Horse Shelter. Somehow I couldn't resist! They both have a clouded past, some of which I do not know but they are mustangs, one (Sombra, AKA Sasha, AKA Sombra) started out as an El Rito mustang, rounded up by the NM Forest Service and the other (Ella-Rose (Rosie), AKA Ella, AKA Dirty Rosie) is an SMR Spanish mustang of unknown origin. Both were abandoned, (along with other wild/domestic horses) near Tierra Amarilla in northern NM and had spent a few years fending for themselves (very well actually) until being rounded up as estrays by the NM Livestock Board two years ago and taken to the infamous Chavez feedlot. Mercifully the Santa Fe Horse Shelter took them in and gave them refuge. Rosie and Sombra were pregnant at the time and gave birth to gorgeous foals who are now almost two and up for adoption at the shelter. Despite handling and some training though these girls were still wild at heart and when Beth, a friend of mine from the shelter, approached me about a long-term home for them, I couldn't say no. Rosie is elderly, at least 25, and Sombra is around 14 and so both fit easily into the 'nobody younger than Rebate' (who is now 6) rule that I explain in my book.  

If anyone has read "Brand Name" they will know that the name Rosa, Rose or Rosie will instantly draw me to it. My mother's name was Rosemary and so it is sentimental. Although I had already said I would take the girls in I still had nagging doubts until I read a very abbreviated bio of them that was made out on their intake to the shelter. Like all great characters out of a western, these girls both had a string of aliases that they went by. Although the shelter named Rosie 'Ella' when she was admitted, her wild/estray name prior to that was Dirty Rosie and so I knew she was already a 'meant to be.' Sombra's shelter name was Sasha but on her intake it said her wild/estray name was Sombra and that is when I really knew they belonged with us at Shadowlands Ranch. Sombra is the Spanish word  for shadow and me, being me, recognized it as the sign I was looking for! Shadowlands Ranch would not be complete without a wild horse called Shadow!

Rosie taking in her new surroundings.