by Ally Broadfield
We recently embarked on our annual family camping trip, which included two adults, three teens, and two of our four dogs (our one hundred and ten pound Great Pyrenees, and our twenty pound poodle/something cross). We chose to go during the Thanksgiving break because it’s too hot to camp in Texas during the summer, and the kids get the entire week off from school. This year we went to Caprocks Canyon State Park, which has beautiful scenery and is also home to the Texas State Bison Herd.
On our third day in the park, we decided to go on a long hike, which, much like when an author gets a new idea for a story, sounded brilliant. After a bit of discussion, we chose the Upper Canyon Trail, which is four-and-a-half miles long, and labeled as “challenging” because you have to climb to the top of the canyon, where the views are fantastic.
Just like plotting out a story before sitting down to write, we planned our hike. Instead of my laptop, for this adventure, I needed only comfortable hiking shoes and lots of water and snacks for me and the dogs. We drove to the parking lot at the end of the trial, then hiked over to where the trail began. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, and we were excited to get started. At first it was easy going and we covered a lot of ground. The temperature was a lovely sixty degrees and we made good time completing the first leg of the hike. Then we got the part where there is a steep climb up to the top. It wasn’t easy, but we were up for the challenge.
This part was a lot more difficult than the beginning, but we pushed through until it got easier again. Rocks slid under our feet, and there were several overhangs where I had to steady our big dog to make sure she didn’t get too close to the edge. One of the boys pulled while I pushed and gasped for air on the steep incline, wondering the entire time if we would make it. Then we found our way and finally reached the top and the beautiful view that was our reward for all of the hard work.
After a quick stop for water and some snacks, we pushed on, enjoying the gorgeous views and relative ease of walking along the mostly flat ridge. But then we noticed that the sun was lowering in the sky, and we still had nearly three miles of hiking left to go to reach the car. Picking up the pace, we made our way to the other end of the ridge and began our descent. It wasn’t easy, but we made good time moving down the canyon – until we hit an area with lots of loose rocks and we began slipping and sliding and had to slow down and focus on each step. Doubt that we would make it to the car before it got dark weighed heavily on us, but we managed to make it down to the valley where we were able to move more quickly, racing against the setting sun. We made it, with a bit of time to spare. And just like writing a book, the journey was worth it in the end.
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How to Bewitch an Earl
He never expected the clues to lead to her…
Edward Adair, heir to the Duke of Boulstridge, is more interested in finding a missing family heirloom than a wife. But when his parents issue an ultimatum – marry or lose your allowance – he reluctantly agrees to attend a house party to find a bride. Instead, he discovers attractive but infuriating Miss Isabella Winthrop in his library, reading the private family journal that holds clues to the location of the heirloom.
Though Isabella finds Edward haughty and arrogant, she offers to take him to the next clue mentioned in the journal if he will pay her, which will enable her to help her brother restore his estate. Edward counters with an offer of an even larger payment…if she agrees to masquerade as his betrothed to deter the other ladies until the house party ends.
As they work together to solve the mystery their mutual attraction grows, but just when they begin to think they should make their engagement real, a secret is revealed that could destroy everything.