Thursday, January 31, 2013

SO YOU WANNA BE A COWGIRL? ~ Tanya Hanson


Uh, so why did I decide on western romance when I reckoned it was time to sit down and write? Well, cowboys are hotties, for one thing. Next up, the western T.V. shows of my childhood wouldn’t stay still in my imagination. Last, college days in Nebraska and student teaching in Colorado sorta iced the western cake.

But I’m a California beach girl raised in a suburb. Whatever to do to live the life of the West and feel the love? The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West could only do so much. I did call up horseback riding in Girl Scout camp eons ago and Audra Barkley in The Big Valley. But I just needed some first-hand help


And I found it in a city slicker wagon train adventure where I trekked by horse and civilized Conestogas around the Tetons! Wow, do Jess Warburton and his family at Teton Wagon Train and Horse Adventure make it real. (http://www.tetonwagontrain.com/tetonhistory.htm)

First off, upon discovering this treasure, I had to convince hubby to ride along. I thought I’d be in for a lot of whining and cajoling, but he was on board right away. Second to hook were our favorite travel-buddies, his sis and her man.

On a hot August day, we left Jackson Hole for the trip of a lifetime. Four days in Paradise. Our group of city slickers included us four Californians as well as faux cowpokes from Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, Illinois as well as Bermuda, Japan, and Brighton, England.

We set off both riding the wagon and going horseback. The tourist-friendly trail horses were friendly, accommodating and extremely patient. But unspeakably grand were the draft horses who pulled the wagons, the Percherons and Belgians. They were named in teams, such as Lady and Tramp, Gun and Smoke, Sandy and Sage, Jack and Jill. The first name is always the horse on the left. These glorious beasts are capable of pulling up to 4,000 as a team, and they love to work. (In winter, to stave off boredom, they lead sleigh rides to the elk refuge outside Jackson.)


Ah, there was nothing like Dutch oven meals prepared for us over an open fire. “Cowboy potatoes” are good enough for any city restaurant. Waking up to the scent of piles of bacon simmering was, well, enough to make my mouth water still!

After suppers, we huddled around the campfires to hear guitar strumming, legends and lore of the Old West, cowboy poetry, and home--on-the-range music. Our last night--not to reveal company secrets-involved gunfire and mountain men!

Our tents were rustic, but comfy. And the “facilities”, well, suffice it that often there was “girl meadow” to the left, “boy meadow” to the right.

Although I admit the wagons had rubber tires and padded seats, the rocky trail is laughingly and rightfully called “cowboy rollercoaster.” Our driver Marisa told us she’s paid extra to hit every pot hole and rock in the road for “authenticity.” I’m not sure she was joking!



Our last day, a “Pony Express” rider burst into camp bearing letters from home.



As for Wyoming, ah, the trees and wildflowers and the endless starshine at night will live inside my head until my last moment.

As for this wannabe-cowgirl, I even managed to rope the pretend cow, Corndog, after my lariat lesson in “spoke” and “honda”. It took me three tries, but I nailed it!


www.tanyahanson.com
www.petticoatsandpistols.com

29 comments:

ChuckTyrell said...

Now you know. Nothing like a trail ride. Never forget the time I rode to the top of Old Baldy in the White Mountains of Arizona. Took my dad's horse, Big Red, and he never came off a trot. Even when other horses were slogging, Big Red trotted, kinda like running in place. He was a hell of a horse. Uncle Howard Whipple was the best dutch over cook in the county, too. And Aunt Hat made the best chili. Thanks for bringing all those memories back.

Cheryl Pierson said...

Tanya, that sounds like soooo much fun. I don't know if I'd ever be able to convince Gary to go, but it sounds like a great time was had by all. What a wonderful experience! Thanks so much for sharing it with me, and I'm sorry I couldn't get all your pictures in.
Cheryl

Anonymous said...

I went horseback riding in the Tetons years ago. Spectacular. Ridden all over the country, but hard to match. You had a wonderful adventure. Thanks for sharing.

Jim Griffin

Troy D. Smith said...

Plus, I would think a western writer should be able to count at least part of that vacation off on their taxes...

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Chuck, oh yeah, those trail rides are something, especially for us city-slickers. So glad my post today led you back down memory lane. Got my brother in law (he was with us) a real Dutch oven for his next birthday and he's tried out some recipes.

Thanks so much for commenting here today!

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Cheryl, my writer-pal, thanks so much for inviting me here. I won't be a stranger, I promise. We had an 81-year old lady on the trip (her secont time!) as well as a four-year old, so anybody can do it. Hope you get to go, my friend. xoxox

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Jim, it was almost surreal in its perfection, that trip. You know how you look so forward to something and when it happens, you're kinda disappointed? Well, not this trip. Every moment was something special.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Troy, I do have a competent CPA, that's for sure. So glad you stopped by and read my post.

We had some other pix but they didn't load well. Sheesh.

Penny Rader said...

Great post, Tanya! I'm not a camping out kinda girl, so I would've probably made a really poor pioneer or cowgirl, but I like the sense of community and values I get when I read a western romance.

I also loved Audra on The Big Valley . I've been watching the show on the INSP network over the past few months. I do keep wondering if Heath ever received a last name in the opening credits. :D

Penny Rader said...

Forgot to add, I get a kick out of seeing Nick all riled up on the show. LOL. Small pleasures and all that.

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Penny, oh, the Big Valley is one of my all-time favorites. I thought all the brothers were so attractive in their own way. Whenever we go to Tahoe, there's a road sign for Strawberry, and I think of and always mention Heath to whoever's in the car.

I don't know about Heath's official last name, but I always loved Victoria's forgiveness and her always referring to him as "my son." Good stuff.

Thanks so much for coming by today!

Keith Souter said...

Thanks for sharing your adventure with us, Tanya. That looks to be the sort of trip that would get the creative juices going, along with the gastric juices as the bacon sizzles.

Dora Hiers said...

Oh, Tanya, what fun!! Sounds like an amazing, adventurous trip. I'm quite sure I could never convince my man to do that (since he refuses to get on the back of a horse), but my granddaughter might be game. Hmmm...

Loved hearing how you got your start, Tanya. Congrats on your success! :-)

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Keith, oh yeah, I can still smell that bacon. So sorry for the vegetarians on the trip LOL...there were a couple, a very eclectic group.

I still relive the adventure, especially nights when I can't sleep. Thanks for posting today!

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Dora, well, the wagons have padded seats for those nnt-horsey people LOL. But funny thing, my brother in law decided he wasn't gonna ride a horse either...that lasted about an hour. Couldn't' get him off after that. There's something, as Chuck above says, about a trail ride.

Thanks so much, my friend, for paying the fictioneers a visit today.

Winnie Griggs said...

What a memorable adventure for you Tanya - it was great fun reading about it. I'm afraid I'm not much of a 'rough it' kinda gal - too fond of the amenities like indoor plumbing and A/C for that, but hearing of trips like this could almost make me want to try it - ALMOST!

Renaissance Women said...

Used to camp out here in the Colorado Rockies before the bones got to creakin'. Also did the horse back riding. But a trip in the wagons, sounds so wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us.

Jacquie Rogers said...

I've been on lots of trail rides but have never ridden on a wagon. It's one thing I always wanted to do. Camp cooking tastes wonderful--must be the mountain air that makes everything level up on the delicious scale.

Of course, on a wagon train, potatoes would've been a real treat since they weigh too much to carry. More likely, you'd be eating beans or rice. But being an Idaho girl, I have a special appreciation for potatoes. :)

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Winnie, I'm pretty much a Marriott sort of girl myself LOL but I couldn't resist this one. Yet... the facilities were very primitive, I gotta admit.

Thanks for the comment, my friend! xo

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Renaissance Woman...now that sounds like a song title! Yes, it was a fabulous time. I am so glad I had the chance to go before my own bones start creakin.' Thanks for coming by today!

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Jacquie, well, I gotta admit, our meals and all the fixin's came along in the chuck wagon and (dare I admit it...a pick up truck upon occasion)...we sure didn't have to find our own game or grab up roots to boil LOL. The food was fantastic. All in all, such wonderful memories today!

Jerry Guin said...

Tanya,
I enjoyed reading your post and that cowboy kitchen looks mighty inviting. Hope you will come back again - real soon.
Jerry Guin

Tanya Hanson said...

Thanks, Jerry. I had a great time and I promise not to be a stranger....!

Neil Waring’s –Western Ramblings said...

Never really wanted to be a cowgirl but I read your post anyway. Good stuff. I am a good ol' Wyoming boy who writes about a lot of cowboys - and every so often I throw in a little romance.

Tanya Hanson said...

Howdy, Neil, sounds like you were all ciwboy to begin with. Hope to catch up on your books. thanks for posting.

Tanya Hanson said...

Howdy, Neil, sounds like you were all ciwboy to begin with. Hope to catch up on your books. thanks for posting.

Meg said...

My daughter would love this!! not for me, though. I'm a couch cowgirl. ;-)

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Meg, the "couch cowgirl" term got me laughing. I sense a book title somehow. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Kirk Mack said...

Horseback trail riding is definitely fun. The sense of excitement was really there! And that comes from the joy of riding and the idea of discovering the fun of being outdoors. This activity somewhat allows you to connect with nature. You have discovered something about yourself after this activity for sure. Perhaps you're up for another exciting adventure? :)

Kirk Mack @ Flying Pig Adventure Company