A warm welcome to author Pat Henshaw joining us to talk about her new Dreamspinner press release “Relative Best”, part 5 in her populair Foothills Pride series.
Welcome Pat 🙂
The Great Stagecoach Robbery
Long before I even thought of writing Relative Best or any of the other Foothills Pride series, my husband and I had a lot of fun riding around the small nearby foothills Gold Rush towns on a Sunday afternoon.
Coming from the wide-open plains states where pioneers rode and walked on their way from the cities in the East to a better life in the West, I’d been to my fair share of historic sites. I never liked reading about history, but always loved visiting where it occurred.
When I heard about Columbia State Park in the Sierra Nevada foothills, I was intrigued. After I read this description of the gold mining town, I had to visit it:
The town’s old Gold Rush-era business district has been preserved with shops, restaurants and two hotels. Visitors have the chance to time-travel to the 1850s, imagining life when gold miners rubbed shoulders with businessmen and the other residents in Columbia. Visitors can experience a bygone era watching proprietors in period clothing conduct business in the style of yesterday. There are opportunities to ride a 100 year-old stagecoach, pan for gold, and explore the real working businesses of Columbia.
What?! I could ride in a stagecoach! I’d ridden in a Conestoga wagon in Nebraska, on a C & O canal barge in the D. C. area, and on an elephant in Thailand, but to be able to ride in a real live stagecoach would be a dream come true.
My husband, the good sport and history buff that he is, agreed that spending the night in Columbia and then taking a ride in 1850-style would be the perfect weekend getaway.
We didn’t count on the robbery, however.
Getting on the stagecoach for almost everyone but the kids is an exercise in gymnastics. It’s a huge step up and over, using the folding steps and the carriage sides to swing up into the compartment with bench seats and rolled up leather curtains over the open windows.
It’s difficult enough to do in jeans, so I had trouble imagining a woman in a long skirt being able to do it gracefully. None of the Hollywood Westerns show a woman falling and dissolving into a heap of fabric trying to get onto any wagon seat.
My brave husband opted to sit shotgun next to the driver, a climb that looked nearly impossible since it included stepping on wheel rungs and axle to get there.
Once we were all packed in, the four horses pulled out and we were away, down the dirt street of Columbia and out into the wilds of the park. The ride was just as dusty and bumpy as can be imagined. Since I had a window seat and over one wheel, I caught the brunt of the dust and every uneven spot in the road. But, hey, we were riding in a stagecoach.
The ride was going well until we turned near an outcropping of large boulders. The driver warned us that there might be trouble ahead and to watch out. And he was right!
The robber, looking small and defenseless except for his guns, stopped the horses and proceeded to shake us down, demanding our gold and jewelry.
It was then I noticed he was eyeing my bracelet.
He waved his gun toward me and shouted, “Gimme the jewelry.”
Okay, I’m sitting in a stagecoach that I paid to be in. I’m taking a ride on California state park land. I’m surprised by the robber, but I want to play along. Still, we’re talking about a piece of jewelry I’ve worn for years, 24/7. Do I really want to give it over to this stranger and never see it again?
I decide that this ride must have some sort of safeguard. You get off without your wallet or jewelry, go to the stagecoach office, and retrieve your things, right? Or when you get back to town, maybe the sheriff will be there with a story about how they caught the guy and you need to go to his office to get your stuff back?
I’m leaning toward taking off my precious bracelet and giving it to him, when he looks me in the eye and yells, “Keep it, lady! It’s too gaudy for me.”
Danger averted! Instead, he stole the sack of gold from the driver, which my husband handed down without getting shot. And we were on our way.
If you’re ever a few miles East of San Francisco and have the urge to ride on a stagecoach, give Columbia State Park and the stagecoach a try. You’ll be glad you did!
Also, if you’re at GRL in Kansas City in October, stop by my table and have a look at my bracelet. I don’t think it’s all that gaudy, but I sure am glad the stagecoach robber did.
Now it’s your turn to tell me one of your adventures. Where have you been and what have you done as exciting as being held up in the Old West?
Title: Relative Best
Author: Pat Henshaw
Series: Foothills Pride #5 (can be read as standalone)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication date: August 17, 2016
Cover Artist: AngstyG
Sometimes love sneaks up when you’re least looking for it….
Zeke Bandy, owner of Bandy’s Finest Hotel in Old Town Stone Acres, California, is too busy for love. Not only does he oversee the operations of the historic hotel and uphold his family’s tradition of offering refuge to strays and runaways, Zeke also sings and plays down-home music two nights a week at the Stonewall Saloon and for occasional celebrations. Then Zeke meets Victor Longbow, the man of his dreams.
Vic isn’t looking for love either. In fact, because of his upbringing in a strict, white foster family, Vic’s not sure he believes in love. He’s in Stone Acres to open a branch office of a national brokerage firm. He’s also hoping to find a vintage photo of what might be his Native American ancestor.
After their paths cross, they become friends, then more. Connected by their experiences as orphans raised by flawed fathers, Zeke and Vic realize that some men must find love, hone it, and create families for themselves.
Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, was born and raised in Nebraska where she promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California. Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube.
Now retired, Pat has spent her life surrounded by words: Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.
Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion. Fortunately, her incredibly supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.
Author media links:
Facebook Foothills Pride group: https://www.facebook.com/foothillspride/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel