Friends who know me have been prompting me to tell my life story in a novel. I tell them I probably won’t do that for a very long time. Most of my more exciting experiences are slipped into my fantasy stories. Why? Well, because if I told them to you straight up you’d say that was a fantasy.
One time we took what started out to be a three day wagon ride from our hogan in the desert in desolation flats, to a ranch south of the freeway. Not an easy trek because it meant going through a little town called Winslow Arizona. We’d been planning this journey for a few weeks, gathering supplies, raincoats, fixing up the old buckboard, and training a young mule to team with our buckskin. That was an experience in itself.
Want to know how to train a horse to pull a wagon? You team the rookie with a mild mannered horse well versed to the harness. Our mule Blackjack, however was a challenge to our oldest and most experience gelding, and the wagon needed a little repair before we left.
It was fun remembering some of the ride while writing Deception Peak
The wagon tossed Ian’s body around like jelly.
I’m going to die. I’m sure of it. And then the Meneks would all be happy: maybe they’d have a celebration…eat fish, and bread, and goat cheese, and sing and dance in the streets. No more Ian to disrupt their neat little ‘fraidy-cat lives. No more Ian sneaking around in the dark, or dropping their slimy fish, or spilling their precious salt water on their nicely mopped docks. Glad they got rid of that joker. That’s what they’ll think.
Their wagon led six others, each one with a driver and someone riding at his side. Ian rode shotgun with Emil.
Boy, I wish I had a shotgun right now. If only they knew.
The big wooden wheels rolled over rock and rubble. Ian held onto the iron handrail as he bounced on the hard wooden seat. There was a steep cliff on his right, and as they ascended the mountain he could see the fjords stretching far into the distance.
The wagon took a vertical lunge up the mountain. Ian’s fists clung so tightly to the bar that his nails dug into flesh and his knuckles drained white. The steeper the road, the harder the horses were forced to pull. Their sweat bubbled from their mouths onto their bits and foamed like soapsuds on their thighs. He was suddenly sorry he had chosen the dapple and buckskin for this baneful journey.
So once we got to the ranch, about four days later, we unhitched the wagon, leaving it at the ranch house, and took our steeds into the canyon to camp by the creek. Somehow, and for some reason I was left alone down there while the guys hiked up the hill to get rations. Where they went I have no idea because I ended up being pretty hungry after awhile and remember fishing in a pool with naught but a sparkly string I had loosed from my hair. I think Providence was with me when I caught those catfish. I have no idea how they ended up in the shallow pool.
Now you might not know the high desert very well, but there’s a danger in camping out in a canyon. Even if the skies are sunny blue, and nary a cloud in the sky a thunderstorm could be happening upriver from where you’re at and you wouldn’t even know.
Not a problem as far as rain. But if you see a trickle in the creek you had better head for high country because a flash flood is coming. In my book Altered, it’s a dam being blown up, but there isn’t much difference in what happens to the water.
Ivana’s grasp on Nathan’s arm tightened. The final detonation was so loud it shook the earth, and kept shaking. The trees trembled. Boulders rocked. Both Nathan and Ivana stood in awe.
A stream of muddy water trickled into the basin below them. Nathan pulled Ivana further up the hill. The entire landscape burst into spray and dust and smoke. A wall of water shot into the sky, crashing down with such magnitude the trees trembled at the sound.
Another step higher, the two watched the water fill the riverbed almost instantly. Fingers of wet grabbing at every shallow, every ravine that lay waiting for it. Muddy waters thick and foaming spilling over the edges of its channel, racing forward ecstatic over its freedom. The spray reached their faces, the water tasted sweet, the air refreshing.
The site mesmerized them until the river balanced, the main flow still churning into its new home for miles south. The dam had burst.
Come back again and I’ll show you some more places where I put realty into fantasy! Sometimes I wonder which is more real…