Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Summertime sightseeing! Sunday afternoon drives! Weekend jaunts! It’s the perfect time of the year for combining a little R&R with your research if you’re within driving distance of your current or future books’ setting.
After an intense and exhausting winter of non-stop writing, day job deadlines, and snow shoveling---and having shipped off my second book to my editor before launching immediately into building the foundation for book #3---I knew I needed a break. What better way than to enjoy a 36-hour mini-vacation doing in-depth research? So I recruited my sister and off we went to the Eastern Mogollon Rim-White Mountain area of northern Arizona for a refresher on the setting of my fictional Canyon Springs stories.
I’d been to this area before, so already had maps. I really like the “Benchmark” brand as it splits states into regions so you get great detail (Arizona is divided into 4 individual maps—so the whole state costs you $7 X 4 if you want them all). It not only shows towns and highways, but is also a topical map visually illustrating geographic details as well as marking elevations, lakes, creeks, washes, unpaved roads, etc. Check out Barnes & Noble’s map section for Benchmark maps of your own setting’s area.
So maps in hand, I was off to the internet to do some exploring!
- – fabulous place to start for census demographics
- Local Chambers of Commerce
- Tourism & recreation, historical societies & museum sites
- Local on-line newspapers
- State & federal parks & Forest Service
- White Mountain Apache tribe
- NOAA (national weather service with great historic data)
From these sites I branched out to local businesses, real estate, etc. There’s an incredible amount of information to be found on the web—but remember they’re most often showing you the very best they have to offer. All polished and pretty. Not necessarily “real life,” which is why in-person research can add those flavorful details and personalities you want for your story. .

For instance, although I learned on-line that one area of 5,000 souls swells to a population of 30,000 in the summer, the web didn’t tell me that many streets branching off the main ones are dirt or that seasonal residents and locals give names to their individual campsites or property even if no bigger than a lawnmower shed: Wulfe’s Lair, Gaither’s Getaway, Reinhart’s Retreat. No web site shared with me the undercurrent of excitement as seasonal businesses reopen to cater to the summer crowd---or the relief everyone feels when the visitors go home in September! And only an in-person visit could clearly illustrate the extreme contrast in natural beauty and economic poverty on the Apache reservation.
While cruising these web sites, I jotted down opening and closing times—although be forewarned that small towns don’t always adhere strictly to posted schedules! Web sites can also open up a world of questions both from the info they provide and from what is absent. So I wrote up my questions in a handy 5x7-inch notebook. Things like:
- What’s the terrain like?
- what's it smell like? what specific trees? bushes? flowers?
- is there still snow on the ground? what color is the soil?
- what birds and wildlife do I see/hear? what is the architecture like?
- what businesses line the streets? how do people earn a living?
- what endangers the area besides snowstorms and fire?
- what’s on people's porches & decks? In yards?
- what are people wearing? drive? can you easily tell locals apart from out-of-towners?
- is there an ethnic/racial mix? are there any accents?
- what are the “issues” this region faces? What conflicts are common?
- what is the “feel” of the area? The “energy” ?
- what am I seeing/feeling in person that I DIDN'T expect to see/feel?
- what am I NOT seeing/feeling in person that I DID expect to see/feel?
Since my Steeple Hill Love Inspired’s Canyon Springs community is fictional and not based on any single real town, I was looking for “flavor” rather than specifics such as “Restaurant X is on Pinetree Road” or “it takes fifteen minutes to walk from Point A to Point B.” If you’re using an existing town in your story and intend to call it by its real name, you must be careful to get the details right or you’ll hear from readers when you make a boo-boo! Picking up a city map and documenting research on it will be critical.
I was on a mini-vacation to soak up the region, the flavor of the communities in this mountainous, off-the-beaten-path area of the state. But regardless of fictional or non-fictional setting, however, consider doing a few of these on your research road trip:
- Tour museums and historical homes.
- Tour businesses (furniture making? chainsaw wood carving? food specialties?)
- Attend fairs and festivals (sheep shearing anyone?)
- Get out of that car and walk. Unless it’s not safe, include side streets and residential neighborhoods, not just main thoroughfares. Details you’d have otherwise missed jump out during a stroll.
- Periodically jot down 1-word/1-line impressions since the colorful details can be too easily forgotten by day's end. Write down specifics, not just generalities.
- Stop by the Chamber of Commerce for maps, guide books, real estate guides.
- Chat with waitresses and cashiers--learn where the tourist hot spots are -- and where locals prefer to hang out and what they do for fun.
- Keep your eyes open for flyers regarding special events.
- Turn on the radio and TV to find out what locals are hearing & watching.
- Open up the yellow pages in your hotel room; use your camera’s macro lens to take close-ups of particularly interesting ads.
- Pick up illustrated flora & fauna guide books of the area.
- For the most part keep away from "generic" eateries that you find on every street corner across America. (We've become WAY too homogenized in this country.) Try local specialties so you can describe them for your readers. Pick up those mini-menus at restaurant cashier counters or photograph menus posted outside. Yellow pages often feature menus, too.
- Check out the local paper. Small towns have the most interesting news. The week I picked up a White Mountain Independent, the front page featured articles on a city council debating special event permits, a farmer’s market opening, and the local trails association doing clean-up. And how could any writer not be intrigued by “Belly Button residents raise roof over Catholic noisiness” ?
Take extra batteries and SD cards for your digital camera and plan to take a lot of photos to jog your memory when you return home---down-the-street shots and landscapes or close-ups of unfamiliar flowers. I've found (if someone else is driving, of course!) that a digital camera set on "infinity" focus is fast enough that you can get amazing shots out the front and side windows. Maybe not framing-worthy, but seldom blurred. And don’t forget to pick up postcards of landscapes and exteriors/interiors that are difficult to photograph.
If you’re writing historicals, keep in mind that much can happen over a 100 year period. The land that’s pasture now may have been heavily timbered until a fire forty years ago. The lake you see may have been manmade in the 1950’s. That big Victorian hotel that looks like it’s been there forever may have been built only ten years ago. So a stop at the library, newspaper or historical society to check out their archives might be a smart move.
I had a delightfully renewing weekend and returned home with an armload of literature, a camera full of photos, and a notebook stuffed with “local color.” More than enough ideas to make my fictional community come alive for many books to come!
Today please share with us what YOU do to make the most of a research road trip! Have you already been on one or are you planning a summer excursion to flesh out your current or future WIP? If you leave your e-mail addy, you’ll be eligible to be entered in a drawing for a $10 gift card from Barnes & Noble so you can buy one of those Benchmark maps of your own story’s area!
An ACFW "Genesis" and RWA Faith, Hope & Love "Touched by Love" award winner, GLYNNA KAYE'S 2009 Steeple Hill Love Inspired DREAMING OF HOME will be followed by another story set in the same Arizona mountain community of Canyon Springs. SECOND CHANCE COURTSHIP releases February 2011!


  1. Oh my, this summer we started off Memorial Weekend by going to Abilene, KS. Mom went for the Alpaca Fiber Fest, I went for the steam train! There were many other things too. Some of the original buildings from the days of Wild Bill Hickok and before. There were reenactments, all kinds of things. I took pictures and video. I was in Wild West heaven.

    Then a few weeks ago, A Walk Through Jerusalem came to town. It's not a huge deal, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity it provided.

    Several towns will be holding celebrations for the 150th Pony Express' anniversary. I hope to make to several. And there is a huge PowWow every year, as well as Railroad Days.

    I try to capture the sights, the sounds, the smells as much as I can and write them down before I forget. And of course I blog about them.

    Researching is my favorite thing about writing. Well, mostly.

  2. Umm, Renee?


    I don't see any, darlin'. I'm just sayin'...


    Maybe two sighs..... ;)

    Okay, coffee's on, we'll cut Renee some slack because she's so stinkin' cute, and Glynna, this is my kind of road-trippin'!

    I've never done those maps so I'm hopping to B&N and finding them, but the rest is textbook Ruthy, ergo: Good Job!!!!

    I don't write about a place I haven't seen for just that reason. The flavor falls flat. Now not everyone will see that, but enough will that it might impugn your credibility and that's never good.

    I love going to the local places and chatting. And I tell everyone I'm a writer and that I'm setting books in their town/village/county, whatever.

    Most of them open up like a tulip on a bright May morn, but I get the occasional weird reaction to and that's STELLAR because they'll probably become a bit character in a book.

    But like you said, the dirt roads, the flavor, the feel, the tone of the people, the businesses....

    While that might get hinted at on the web, it's amazing what you find on the road, in person.


    It is well documented that I have a love affair with food.

    I love finding great food and giving them a nod in my books. Especially in areas that are hard hit economically. Who knows what pebble cast begins the ripple that grows to the wave of prosperity?

    (Oh, that was a great sentence. If you get it. If not, just trust me, it was really, really good, very symbolic and just a little self-serving.)

    I brought donuts. Busy writing and getting ready for Mandy's shower today, and working with leastuns and choir.

    No cooking time.

    Dave has learned to respect leftovers and sandwiches, if not downright love 'em.

    My word verification is "priest"...

    Obviously God is reminding me to find out what the Belly Button Catholics were making noise about?

    Tell me, Glynna. Inquiring minds want to know.

  3. Good morning, Renee! Sounds as if you're going to pack a year's worth of research into into a compact time period! Your area is really rich in opportunities to soak up local color and authentic info!

  4. Hi, Ruthy! Apparently residents in a section of town known as "Belly Button" are expressing concerns about the new church community center where the music is still going at two or three in the morning--even (allegedly) shaking the walls of neighboring homes. Are requesting that things pipe down by 10 p.m. Church is investigating installing noise-proof tiles on the walls. :)

  5. Glynna, honey, those are my kind of Catholics!!!!


    Whoa, baby, puts a new spin on make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

  6. Glynna, Thanks for the tip on the maps. I’ll have to check out B&N. I’m planning a trip to New Orleans for some heavy duty research. I have two WIPs set down there and you can’t catch the flavor of New Orleans on the web. Of course I’ll have to force myself to partake of some of the local delicacies. It’s a tough job but I’ll just have to cowboy up and do it.

  7. Kirsten -- you poor thing, having to endure New Orleans cuisine! As they say, it's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. :) Let us know how the trip goes!

  8. I'll bring back beignets for everyone!

  9. Sounds like a fun way to research a book, Glynna! And sounds like a great way to make your setting truly authentic.

  10. I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't know about those maps! You learn something new everyday and I plan to check them out the next time I'm in B&N.

    Thanks for the great research ideas.

  11. Glynna, SOOOO glad Ruthy asked about the “Belly Button residents raising roof over Catholic noisiness” because I could barely concentrate till I found out!!

    What a great road trip!!! I am SO impressed with you and Ruthy and writers who go to such lengths to infuse their stories with authenticity in setting, speech, idiosyncrasies, etc. I am loathe to admit that I have never been on a road trip except for those in my mind, and let me tell you, there have been some doozies!!

    A friend invited me to Boston this summer to stay with her, but she smokes and has a cat, two no-no's for my husband, so looks like we'll be staying home ... again!

    But ... you have motivated me to get my sorry butt out of this chair and hit the road for my next series ...

    Until then, all I can say is ... thank God for fertile imaginations and the Internet!!!


  12. Melanie -- it WAS a lot of fun and I fell in love with that area of the state all over again!

  13. I may not have done research for a book but I did have the wonderful coincidence of reading the Civil War novel, My Name is Mary Sutter, while I was visiting my sister in Maryland. The novel takes place primarily in Washington DC but also throughout Maryland all the way to the Eastern Shore. Many of the places we visited, or passed through, were mentioned in the novel. Just made the book AND the trip even more enjoyable.

    I have also had the blessing of being able to stay in Bed and Breakfasts when I travel. It is as important as staying away from chain hotels for me. Not only do I get the local scoop from the innkeepers but I meet all sorts of fascinating people at breakfast!

    Looking forward to your next book, Glynna Kaye!

  14. Rose -- I just found that brand of map last year. I've always loved maps ever since I was a kid, so pounced on those. I have a 6-inch thick hanging file folder full of maps from my travels--from national forest service backroads to the streets of London!

  15. Julie -- don't feel TOO bad. Award-winning writer Diana Gabaldon wrote her first "Outlander" book having never set foot in Scotland! But she did a lot of research and talked to those who'd lived or visited there to get those authentic details. Even Scots praised her for her accuracy!

  16. Julie S -- I bet that book really did make the area come alive. And great idea to go the bed & breakfast route. The b&b owners in my community know the area thoroughly and love to share what they know.

  17. Don't forget to leave your e-mail addy if you want to be eligible to enter a drawing for a $10 Barnes & Noble gift certificate so you can buy your own "Benchmark" map for an area of your choice!

  18. Glynna, research trips are the best, aren't they? Not only do you get a bit of down time and learn something of the flavor of a place, you can write it off on taxes!

    I'm a hands-on researcher--so if my characters are experiencing something, I try my best to get as close to the experience as possible. In my last manuscript, a B-17 bomber pilot taught me how to take off and land a plane; took pictures of the boarding house where most of the action took place(with the owners consent, of course!) and 'flew' several different planes in a flight simulator.

    Now that I'm working on another manuscript, I spent last Saturday in a gold mine up the road in Dahlongea, asking the guide questions about pan-mining in the early 1800's. Then (you guessed it!) I panned for gold! Never knew it was so hard on the upper arm and back muscles but it's an experience that will add flavor to the story.

    Because I write historicals, I have to rely on books for little tidbits of information--like the fact that Dahlongea was almost like a wild west town in 1830 with all the dance halls and gambling saloons. What fun that's going to be throwing that information into the story!

    Please enter me in the drawing--pattywrites(at)hotmail(dot)com

    Blessing for your writing day!

  19. Great post, Glynna! You covered everything in wonderful detail for those of us planning to make a research road trip. Even better, you and your sister had a great time! I'm going to check out the Benchmark maps.

    I set my first two historicals in a real town that's close enough to visit with a historical museum in what had been the jail/sheriff's home. The county historian shared a wealth of information too. Now I set books in fictional towns but as you say, we still have to get the details of the area right.

    I've been told Nora Roberts never visits her settings though that could be outdated information.

    I brought blueberry pancakes this morning with maple syrup. Dig in!


  20. Patty -- Just have to ask before Ruthy does . . . you write historicals and you needed to learn how to land a B-17 bomber? Time traveling, perhaps? :)

    The hands-on training is a great idea. Adds so much enrichment to mere observation when you FEEL what it's like and can convey that to a reader.

  21. Good morning, Janet! I love historical museums, too. In fact, if I wrote historicals I'd probably never get any of the story written because I love history and researching so much. Anyone who doesn't know the delights of reading 100-150 year-old-newspapers just doesn't know what they're missing! :)

    As fast as Nora writes, she probably wouldn't have time to work in personal research excursion! I wonder if she has a personal researcher? I know some authors do.

  22. Ruthy, I'm probably the only person that can't stand the taste of coffee. That is one research you won't be finding me doing. BLECH!

    Now, Pepsi . . . that is a different story.

    'Belly Button' that's interesting. The only time our Catholics get loud is when they pull out the bag pipes. My favorite time of the year!

  23. Renee -- I don't like coffee either. Love to smell it, but plese don't expect me to drink it!

  24. A research road trip sounds like a wonderful idea. Not sure where I'd go though since I write science fiction. Maybe I could befriend an astronaut and tag along on a trip to the moon. :)


  25. The Mogollen Rim???? That's a SACKETT word. My fav Louis L'Amour of all time. Tell Sackett, chased by forty hardened gunmen, one of whom had killed his wife.

    All the Sacketts came a'runnin'.


  26. Love the list of questions, Glynna. What does it SMELL like. Hours they're open.
    Love the signs too. When I'm in a museum I take pictures of SIGNS almost as much as artifacts. Then I get home and blow the picture up large and read.

    I'm SUCH a nerd.

  27. We went on a 2 week trip out West about three years ago. My plan was to soak up Montana and Wyoming the entire trip.

    Dh's was to see how many miles we could drive in 11 days.

    He won.

    6,600 miles.

    However, we saw every major landmark and went through about 8-9 states (if not more).

    I waved at Mary when I went through Omaha, and I'm almost certain I saw Glynna's house as we came down the mountain in AZ.

    Wall's Drugstore, Seattle, WA, Yellowstone, Redwoods, Pacific Ocean, Napa Valley, Vegas, Grand Canyon, and more.

    My tip: Make notes about your pictures as soon as you can. Describe everything.

    And for place-holders in your digital slideshow, take a picture of the State sign as you go from state to state, or street signs if you're trying to get a feel for a town.

    If not possible, (like the state whose welcome sign was on a BUSY bridge), write the state on a big piece of paper and take a picture of it.

    Hmmm, makes me to go look at pictures of our trip!

  28. Glynna, I can't even stand the smell of it. But we live close to some sort of coffee warehouse (it's about two miles). Imagine the smell of burnt coffee grounds--all the time, especially in this heat and humidity (for some reason that makes it worse). Very nauseating.

  29. Glynna, what a marvelous checklist for on-site research!!! I will have to copy this and keep it handy!

    I much prefer to write about settings I'm familiar with. One of my favorites is Hot Springs, Arkansas. We've been visiting there almost every year for about 25 years, so I've collected tons of tourist brochures, maps, historical info, and photos.

    And of course since I'm a native Texan, I love to set stories in places I've lived in that great state.

  30. Yeah, who knew knowing how to land a B-17 bomber would be useful? But I wanted to know what my character would see out her window, what angle she would come in at if I needed to describe it.

    And wouldn't you know! The heroine in my next book has to do just that as she's about to crash land!

  31. Oh, and I can't handle the taste of coffee either! Love the smell, just not the taste.

    Give me a Coke over ice any day for my morning fix!

  32. I was in a museum recently with a Winchester 73. The gun that won the west.

    I took pictures and stared and questions the museum guide and stared and salivated. I HINTED that I'd like to touch it.

    c'mon SOMEBODY has the keys to that case.

    But they could not hear my hint apparently. Or they went politely DEAF rather than let some stranger have their valuable and--I suppose since it's a gun--potentially deadly artifact.

    But then stealing and using a Winchester 73...well, honestly folks, I'd think any observant person could take ONE look at me and knew I wasn't gonna steal their stupid rifle.

    But still, they have their rules. I get that.

    Still, I wanted to lift it, aim it, how much does it weight. AH, the historical romance writer's style of lust.



  33. Mary wanted to lift the winchester, aim it, and that's it????

    I don't believe it for a minute!

  34. I love combining vacation with research. I'm fixin' to do just that this next week as we head into the great northwoods!

  35. I'm all for letting people touch the artifacts (unless it's paper and will disintegrate). When I was a tour guide at a historical house in Montana I let a friend sit on the bed, because she wanted to sit where Rick Schroder sat in an episode of Lonesome Dove. I'm still her hero. :o)

  36. Glynna,
    Great post! Oh what fun!

    I learned the hard way that I didn't take as many photos as I needed when I started my first BIG research for a different place. I thought I took a lot of photos, gained alot of info, but when I got back home, the truth hit me.

    I'd suggest taking pictures of as many things as possible, even simple, seemingly insignificant things. I've gotten a few great scene ideas from some of the pictures I'd never frame :-)

    btw, the first time I ever called an airport to ask specific questions about that certain airport, the lady LOVED filling me on the details. I'd flown out of the airport a few times before, but needed more specific details for the story.

    When I asked how someone could sneak behind the desk and use the intercom system, she seemed to get a little nervous. But once I explained the scene I was writing, she laughed and gave me some great ideas to add to the scene.

    Okay - back to work. pepperbasham(at)yahoo(dot)com

  37. Can't you just SEE Mary with that gun so close it could bop her in the head????

    And probably should have.

    Renee, I don't hold the coffee thing against you, darlin', but have a heart and start a pot of a mornin' for the rest of us, 'kay? It's not real, ye know. 'Tis make believe.

    And make believe coffee allus smells good! ;)

    But I'm with you on the soda too. Diet soda here so the Mallo Cups don't do irreversible damage. And Diet Snapple. I am addicted, but safe to drive with.

    And science fiction trips, oh, darling Angela, of course you should go on trips to set up fictional weird places for your science fiction settings.

    The amazing differences in Arizona from the petrified forest to the rounded mountains of Appalachia and Allegheny....

    The flatlands of Kansas where you can see forever but why would you need to?

    The gazillion lakes of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota?

    I love to 'feel' bizarre settings come to life through a writers' take in science fiction.

    Wonderful stuff!!!

    Okay, I have just experienced my first earthquake, it was short, it was sweet, but it happened and I'm totally psyched that I felt it. That my glasses shook.

    hush, Californians! This is HUGE for me, LOL!

    Whereas the dogs could have cared less.

    So much for animals being all that savvy.

  38. Ruth, you must be in or around Michigan--my oldest just called me to tell me about her 'experience' with the earthquake(she slept through it!) We had one there a few years ago--woke up every dog in the neighborhood at 5am.

  39. Well, feeling how much it kicked back would have been instructive I suppose. But I doubt I'd have worked up the nerve to ask for bullets. Even my fantasy didn't go that far.

  40. opps forgot my email


  41. Oh, man, Glynna -- thank you SO much for telling me that about Diana Gabaldon!! She is my favorite living author!!!


  42. i like the work of mouth research...from other travelers.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  43. This post is chock-full of great details! I have yet to go on a road-trip specifically for research but I am always making notes of all these little things everywhere I go! Thanks for sharing these great tips!

  44. Glynna, what wonderful ideas for researching (especially for contemporaries!). Thanks for listing those questions you took along. They would really help me in creating my new fictional town.

    Great stuff!! And also, I'm just glad you took a break to get away for a while. You deserve it!

  45. Glynna! What a wonderful adventure! Isn't it amazing the treasures you find in your own back yard when you research?

    Thanks for including the check list of sights, sounds senses to note as you stroll through your research setting. I'm printing off your list and tucking it into my research notebook now.

    I'm still chuckling over the camper site names : ) This is the stuff that brings a book alive!

    Thanks for sharing and filling my fertile mind with research ideas : ) It's time for a vacation!

  46. Ruthie, you want me to make coffee at 1:00 a.m.? LOL. I'll remember that tonight.

    I am so not looking forward to feeling an earthquake.

  47. Glynna, you are a girl after my own heart! I love, love, love research. Check my blog to hear more about it:

    I just got back from the Davis Mountains of west Texas. My haul includes books, pamphlets, menus, local newspapers and maps from realtors! The town I am looking at is just the cutest Texas spot, where the Lone Ranger would come for lunch if he could!

    Plus I got permissions (or figured out how to get them) from the local Chamber of Commerce, horicultural insititute, and nat'l park. I connected with folks at the Overland Trail Museum and the historical society who promise to answer questions as I go. Too much fun!

    I have a collection of colonial period maps and have been marking a trail for my MC on Google Earth but I have never heard of the "Benchmark" brand. Please count me in!
    kathy5476 at yahoo dot com

    Thank you for the great post.

    Just for you Seekers, I picked up a book on cowfolks and romance. This is as good a time as any to begin my daily posting of wisdom with a western twang, so here goes.

    "When you're pickin' flowers everbody gets along. When it's time to muck the stalls is when you find out how true your love is."

  48. Great post on researching an area, Glynna! Thanks for the tips.

    I'm visual and need to "see" a place before I write about it.

    If I can't travel to a certain spot, I turn to Google and the many good folks who post photos, featuring their local neck of the woods.

  49. Angela -- Your research MIGHT be a little more difficult than mine! I don't think Benchmark makes maps for moon navigtion, but National Geographic might!

  50. Mary -- oooh, yes, those old Sackett movies based on L'Amour's books!! Tom Selleck & Sam Elliott, right? Who was the third guy? I've forgotten.

  51. As you can see, Mary, I'm a sign photographer, too! Some places even have huge maps that are great to take pictures of.

  52. Pam -- I remember your NASCAR race around the West! I was standing out by I-40 waving at you, but your hubby kept his foot to the gas pedal and flew on down the road.

    You're right about labeling your photos as soon as you get back. So many things you THINK you'll remember but the details blur as time goes on.

  53. Erica -- are you camping or just road-tripping?

  54. Myra -- I've always heard Hot Springs is wonderful. Arkansas is so beautiful--so wild and green.

  55. Pepper -- I always think I've taken WAY too many photos while I'm traveling, then get back and wish I'd taken more.

    I wonder if you and Mary are on a special "watch" list -- you for asking too many suspicious questions at an airport and Mary trying to get her hands on firearms?

  56. Karen K & Mary B = thanks for stopping in today. Wish I could have been around to chat. I LOVE talking about research and learning new ways to add authenticity.

  57. Glynna,

    Funny, the first time I share a sentence with Mary and it's about being 'suspicious'.
    Why is that NOT a surprise ;-)

  58. Missy -- Except for ACFW in Denver last year and a 1-day side trip to the Rockies the day after, that 36-hour road trip is all the REAL vacation I got last year. So I really did enjoy it.

    Audra -- I loved those campsite and property names, too. Reminded me of England where they do that a lot. And speaking of the UK, THAT'S one "road trip" I'd like to take again some day!

  59. Kathy -- I checked out your blog. We must be related or something! :) When I went to New England a few years ago, I imagine the airport luggage handlers wondered why my suitcases were so much heavier coming back than going. But doesn't EVERYONE fill half their suitcase with real estate guides from Martha's Vineyard??

    Love that western wisdom -- will be looking forward to more!!

  60. Debby -- the nice thing about having Seekers scattered all over the country is that we can always dig up up local detail for each other!

  61. Pepper -- you need to be more careful about who you're hangin' with -- or you might end up REALLY "hanging" with a desperado like Mary. :)

  62. Glynna,
    I suppose you don't mean 'hanging' on every word, eh?

    You should have seen my mom's face when I asked her what would be the best way to steal blood from a hospital? ;-) (She's a nurse)

  63. WOW this is packed FULL of information!
    Thank you so much!

    I'm doing my WIP based in our state capital, Tallahassee...I need a bit of a getaway :D

    However...(I'm so excited just from this post!!!! I can hardly contain it just thinking of it!)
    We're taking our Youth Class to the Holy Land Experience in Orlando...and I'm gonna have my note book SO ready!
    I was kinda dreading this trip (the house is a mess, I've been busy for months! I just wanna be at home)...TILL NOW!

    I'm jittery! (Stupid Mountain Dew) lol
    Thanks, girl.

    Renewed energy comes to mind.
    I really needed these last few days of posts from my girls :D

  64. Hi Glynna, Two days late, but definitely printing out this list. Great ideas.

  65. Kelly -- have a GREAT trip and soak up that local color!