Friday, February 10, 2012

GHOSTS OF PALO DURO CANYON

By Award-winning author, Terry Spear


www.facebook.com/terry.spear
Night Sky
 Imagine camping out in the dark of night with the cold autumn air surrounding you as you attempt to doze off in an Army sleeping bag, where the night goes on forever, the black sky covered in sparkling stars as far as the eye can see.  There are no artificial lights, no city, or campfires, or lights from campers, only what God created. And it’s vast and beautiful and awe-inspiring.

But the ground is covered in rocks. Every inch.  And I was thinking rattlesnakes and scorpions seek warmth when it’s that cold out.  A body in a sleeping bag seemed a nice place for the poisonous critters to curl up.

I’m cold natured and I am a light sleeper, so while all the other cadets in our West Texas A&M AROTC program were sleeping to be ready for a day of orienteering (finding points on a map using a compass) before we had to go to camp the next summer, I was awake. Pushing rocks out from under my sleeping bag, trying to get comfortable. Trying to get warm. Annoyed everyone else could sleep like a bunch of logs. I knew the next day I’d have a devil of a time orienteering if I didn’t get any sleep that night.

Some hours passed and I finally closed my eyes, attempting to force sleep. And then I heard them. Wild mustangs headed straight for us. They snorted, whinnying and neighing and stampeded, pounding the ground, headed in our direction.
I was terrified.



I knew that herd animals would run straight through something like our camp without diverting out of our way. When I was a kid, we slept on a boat while our friends slept on an island at a California lake and deer ran through their big tent. Screams and shouting and then laughter resounded. The deer had not run around the tent, but straight through it, collapsing it on top of our friends. 

No one was injured then, but I figured horses were heavier, they sounded like tons of them, and so I tried to wake my sister sleeping next to me. She grumbled at me to go to sleep.

So I lay back down, buried in my blanket, listening to the horses growing nearer. But one thing that seemed in our favor, I didn’t FEEL the ground shake. So I assumed they had to be some distance off, even though they sounded so close. And then they veered off and faded into the distance. I still didn’t sleep, afraid they’d return, but they didn’t.

The next morning, I asked my cadre and fellow cadets if anyone heard the horses. Did they have wild mustangs in the area? One of the cadre said it was very likely, but no one had heard a thing. Not surprising since everyone was asleep.



Palo Duro Canyon
near Amarillo, Texas
 Years later, I wanted to write an article about the wild mustangs of Palo Duro Canyon, and discovered there were no articles about them, but several accounts of people having heard the horses—they were ghosts of the past.

When the US Cavalry was trying to stop the Indians from fighting, several tribes had gathered in the Palo Duro Canyon to make a last stand. The only way the Army could stop them was to destroy the horses. An unmounted pony soldier couldn’t flee to fight another day. And so the Cavalry drove the horses off the cliffs. That’s what I heard that night. The horses, a whisper of the past.

Stagecoach Inn at Salado, Texas
I live in the heart of Texas now, though I lived in Amarillo back then, and I love the history of the west. I’m originally from California, so I also loved the stories of the Gold Rush and the settling of the west. But here, I’d visit a town called Salado. It’s a quaint town where they once had a stagecoach run. And every time I’d visit there with my mother, I would wonder what it would have been like in the 1870s.

Some of the buildings are haunted. What if the Stagecoach Inn had been? What if the heroine had a connection there? And she stayed in the same room after a harrowing divorce from her husband? And what if she woke up to a man in her bed, not her husband, and she’s not even in her own time?

Yep. That’s what happened in A GHOST OF A CHANCE AT LOVE. How can something so simple as taking a breather from the place she lives to a place she loves become so…complicated? But not only complicated. Dangerous.


My question to you is if you were stuck back in time, and the man was handsome, chivalrous, and was falling in love with you, would you choose to stay back in his time? What if you had no choice? But staying there wasn’t an option either? Poor Lisa, she’s in one pickle of a mess.

Thanks so much to Sweethearts of the West for having me here today!

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality."



Award-winning author Terry Spear is the author of urban fantasy romances, medieval Highland romances, and a western historical time travel romance. She received Publishers Weekly's Best Book of the Year in 2008 for HEART OF THE WOLF. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry is a librarian by day. She lives in Crawford, Texas.



www.terryspear.com
www.myspace.com/terryspear
http://terry-spear.blogspot.com/
http://twitter.com/#!/TerrySpear

Buy link for A GHOST OF A CHANCE AT LOVE is http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Chance-Love-ebook/dp/B005LHO9U4

9 comments:

  1. Terry, I enjoyed A GHOST OF A CHANCE AT LOVE and hope you write more westerns. Learning about the ghost horses of Palo Duro Canyon was also interesting. Thanks for sharing with us today.

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  2. Terry,
    Interesting story about the noise you heard while camping in Palo Duro Canyon.

    From the time I was 12 my family spent summer and fall vacations in the mountains near Taos at our cabin. We used kerosene lamps for light to read by at night, and cooked on a beautiful old Majestic wood stove that my parents bought at a second hand store. We heated water for washing dishes and clothes, our hair and baths. We carried wood for the stove, and carried water from a spring about two football fields away from the cabin near the stream. So yes, I could live back in that time, but not sure I would want to really. I kind of like modern conveniences. Even so, I love to read historical romance. Great to have you here today!

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  3. Hi Terry. So glad you could come visit us today. I loved the herd of horses coming your way and wonder how close they really come to you. With the imagination of a writer, you definitely could use something like that in a story. When we were camping at Yosemite we had a bear circling our tent. I guess when we venture into their world they might come close.

    Thanks for sharing your story and best of luck with lots of sales. I love your book cover!

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  4. Terry, I know that is an experience you will never forget. Very interesting and of course, I would have been scared to death. LOL If I was in the past with a handsome chivalrous man who was falling in love with me, I just might stay there! LOL Although I know it would be hard to give up Coke and pizza and all the wonderful conveniences we have today. So very sad about the horses. I can't imagine how awful that must have been--just sickening. Your book looks awesome--I love stories like this one!
    Cheryl

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  5. Hi, Terry! Wonderful to see you here at SOTW!!! Come visit me sometime at "Red Room" : )

    Those wild mustangs are such a powerfully beautiful image--awesome!

    You know that I am a long time fan of yours--you are a great story teller and creator of characters! "A GHOST OF A CHANCE AT LOVE" is sure to be a fabulous tale ; )

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  6. Wow, what a story! I live in San Marcos and used to go to Salado to the Stagecoach Inn Dining Room with my girlfriends. We'd shop, then couldn't wait to eat in that special place.
    I've never heard about the ghost mustangs in Palo Duro Canyon, but I do know about the Comanche and Kiowa and their last stand down in the canyon. I wrote a story about a Comanche warrior--young--who escaped, along with his grandparents and cousin who had a baby boy she named Quanah--after their great leader.Col.MacKenzie did wipe all them out because they'd killed all the horses.
    So, the story of the mustangs add even more interesting bits to the tale.
    Thank you for this entertaing post--tell your friends to come on over and join us, and Follow our blog, too!

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  7. Terry--I Network this blog on my FB page, and one of my "regulars" said that based on your post here, she had purchased the novel. So...good for you!

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  8. Welcome, Terry.Haunting post indeed. I read that the horses, some 1200, were shot and it took mover than 8 hours for this horrific crime to be completed. Most of the Cavalry were sick at heart, destroying the horses they do admired. These were such horrific times in our country's history, and so shameful even. Thanks for posting today.

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  9. Terry,

    Oh, I love your "ghost" story, Terry. Ironically, my heroine in my WIP is wrestling with the very question you posed here. Will she choose the 19th century or the 21st? And does she have a choice? I've never written a time travel before, so this one is fun and a challenge. Best wishes to you for a ton of sales! :)

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