Welcome historical author Becky Lower
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Being Part Of A Wagon Train
I’ve always harbored the notion I was born in the wrong century. The Little House On The Prairie books were a big part of my childhood and I fancied myself in Laura’s boots. As an adult, I purchased land in the West Virginia mountains and built a log cabin. Many a weekend was spent in the wild with no running water or toilet until the house got put together. I read the journals of the women who traveled west by wagon trains and pondered what it would be like to be a part of that trek. I thought the only way I’d ever experience that era was to write about it.
That is, until a friend brought to my attention the National Road Festival, held every year on the third weekend in May.
The Historic National Road was the first federally-funded highway in America and stretches 600 miles through six states from Maryland to Illinois. At the height of its popularity, the Historic National Road handled more than 200,000 people each year, heading west to join up with the wagon trains, or heading east to sell their livestock and goods. By having the government designate the entire road as a National Scenic Byway—All American Road, its significance to the settlement of the western United States has been preserved for all to enjoy.
Every spring the residents of the communities along the Historic National Road help preserve the legacy of this highway to the west by holding a festival. The towns along the road hold various activities during the festival, from reenactments of life in the early days of our country to quilt exhibits and more. A leisurely weekend along the route will give you time to discover antiques, ethnic foods, local artists, music, and an assortment of other events any time of the year, but the third weekend in May is truly a special time.
Part of the festivities involves a reenactment of the major method of transportation for the early users of the National Road. A wagon train caravan, where participants dress up in costume and drive wagons from Grantsville, Maryland to Uniontown, Pennsylvania, is the most amazing part of this festival and is eagerly anticipated in each town it rolls through. Reservations to be part of this wagon train are available to the public and you can either do the route from east to west or vice versa. The actual miles covered by wagon are only a small portion of the trek made by our forefathers, and lasts for five days, but it’s long enough to give everyone a taste of what it was like to be part of a wagon train, and makes us grateful to hop in our cars for the remainder of the journey at the end of our trek.
I’d love to sign up to be part of the wagon train next spring. Do you think I could write it off as a business expense? More information on the National Road Festival can be found here.
A Note from the Book Boost: This sounds very interesting and I hope you get a chance to experience it, Becky. I love history but just enough to know that I'm glad I don't live in the past. I need my modern conveniences. :-) Best of luck with the release and thanks for joining us.
Basil Fitzpatrick was born into a life of privilege. In 1856, at 23 years of age, he is the owner of the St. Louis branch of the family banking business. He has his pick of the ladies and life by the horns. Temperance Jones and her family are far from privileged. Her father is a circuit-riding preacher from Pennsylvania. But the rumblings of a war between the North and the South force the preacher to move his family to Oregon rather than to take up arms against his fellow man. However, hardship and sickness have slowed their pace, and they are forced to spend the winter in St. Louis, waiting for the next wagon trains to leave in the spring.
Basil is drawn to the large family the moment they roll into town, partly because they remind him of his own big family in New York. But also because of the eldest daughter, Temperance. She is a tiny, no-nonsense spitfire who is bent on fulfilling her father’s wish to get the family safely to Oregon. Basil is only interested in finding a mistress, not a wife. He knows if he allows Temperance into his heart, he is accepting the obligation of her entire family and their quest to settle in Oregon. He wants Temperance like he has wanted no other, but the burden of her family may be too much for him. And he can’t have one without the other.
Temperance sputtered and fumed, breathing fire as the door to Basil’s apartment staircase closed behind him. That no-good, self-centered ass! How dare he say their friendship had been destroyed by her ambition! If they’d truly been friends, he would have stood by her and championed her clever attempts to get her family moved westward. But once he introduced her to Jake, it was as if he’d turned his back on her. She could take him turning his back on her as a woman, but not as a friend. She yanked open the door and ran up the stairs.
“How dare you!” She didn’t bother to knock at the top of the steps, she was so angry.
He turned to face her, but didn’t reply.
“Well? How dare you say that I’m the one who turned away from your friendship? You’ve become my best friend here in town, Basil, and I miss our good times. You never come to the restaurant anymore, and you barely talk to me at all here. Do you want me to quit? To leave?”
“If you know what’s best for you, leave, right this minute.”
“Why? Because you’ll tell me something I don’t want to hear?”
Basil crossed the room to her in two strides. He placed his hands on either side of her face and growled, “Not because of what I’ll tell you, but because of what I’ll do.” He lowered his mouth to hers, crushing her tender lips beneath his own.
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