We have a Winner! Thanks to Everyone Who Played “Where’s Mary?”

What's missing from this old picture of Barton Springs that is there today?

What’s missing from this old picture of Barton Springs that is there today? Guess and win a free, autographed book.

 

Rachel is our winner for August!  She correctly identified  ‘sky scrappers’ as  missing from this photo of Barton Springs taken several years ago.  Yes, progress marches on, but at least we still have our sacred swimming hole. Stay tuned for another picture in “Where’s Mary?” and play again in September.

###

No one responded correctly for the last photo posted in “Where’s Mary?”, but here’s another one to try.  This photo was taken a few years ago in Austin. The question is “What’s Missing?” The first person to give the correct answer in the comments section below wins a free, autographed copy of Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyons.  

You’ll find the location of the mural below in my new travel guide From the Frio to Del Rio: Travel Guide to Southwest Texas, which comes out in April, 2017, from Texas A&M Press.  I got samples of the pages last week, and they are beautiful, thanks to the designer at A&M, and my great photographers.   I hope to get the proofs in mid-September.

Find out where this is in my new book!

Find out where this is in my new travel guide!

It’s August. Where’s Mary?

Where's Mary? Identify the location of this photo and win!

Where’s Mary? Identify the location of this photo and win!

Recognize this mural?  If so, reply in the comments section below and tell us where this is.  The first person with the correct answer (city and state) wins an autographed copy of my novel Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyon. Contest will run for the next several months as design continues for my new travel guideFrom the Frio to Del Rio: Travel Guide to the Western Hill Country and Lower Pecos Canyonlands, which will be published by Texas A&M Press hopefully in April 2017.  So take a good look at the picture above and give me your comments. We’ve had three winners in previous months, and this could be your turn to win!

The Nueces River: Rio Escondido– New from Margie Crisp

Camp Wood Crossing on the Nueces River

Camp Wood Crossing on the Nueces River–painting by William Montgomery

 

I’m happy to have Margie Crisp as my guest today. Margie has a new book coming out in Spring 2017 called The Nueces

Margie Crisp with a 7 foot Texas Indigo snake

Margie Crisp with a 7 foot Texas Indigo snake.

River: Rio Escondido.  She is also the author and illustrator of the award-winning book River of Contrasts: The Texas Colorado, published by Texas A&M Press. River of Contrasts won the Texas State Historical Association Award for the best illustrated book on Texas History and Culture in 2012, and the Best Book of Non-Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters, also in 2012. You can learn more about her at www.margiecrisp.com, or www.coloradorivertx.com.

Welcome, Margie. I know you traveled over 800 miles along the Colorado River to write River of Contrasts. How did you do that? Mary, first of all thanks for this interview. I’m a big fan of yours so this is a thrill. To be

honest, when I started my research for River of Contrasts: The Texas Colorado, I didn’t have a clue what I was getting

River of Contrasts--Available now at book stores and Amazon

River of Contrasts–Available now at book stores and Amazon

myself into. I didn’t have any training as a writer (though I had taken a few courses from the Texas Writers’ League) and ended up just following the issues and subjects that interested me. Luckily the river’s geography determined the structure of the book. I chose to start at the headwaters so I pointed my car northwest and started driving. In the upper basin the river is nothing but a trickle so I asked ranchers for permission to walk along the river. When I started exploring the river’s middle reaches I began hauling my kayak along but only the reservoirs held enough water for boating. The best paddling was without a doubt in San Saba County and down to the head of Lake Buchanan where the river runs through limestone canyons and pecan bottoms. From the Highland Lakes to the coast I paddled numerous day trips and a few overnight trips. I wish I could say I’d run the river in one trip from the headwaters to the Gulf but by taking many shorter trips I got to experience the river through flood, drought, and different seasons.

Did you do something similar for your new book on the Nueces River? I started the project the same way—looking on maps and then taking off in my car with camera, coffee and sleeping gear. I’d spent time along the Nueces but I’d never followed the river. Because my husband, artist William (Bill) Montgomery agreed to create the art for the book, we took trips to the river together as well as separately. We started the project in the midst of a record drought and it wasn’t until the fall of 2015 that there was sufficient water for paddling the upper sections. So most of our paddling and boating trips were in the lower part of the river.

What made you want to take on such a project? I am passionate about Texas rivers. Historically people relied upon

My photo of Camp Wood Crossing

Photo of Camp Wood Crossing by Mary S. Black

our rivers for food, water and transportation. A look at settlement patterns shows camps, farms and towns clustered around waterways and moving from the coast inland along the rivers. Nowadays, the people of Texas seem to have forgotten just how essential rivers are to our communities. There has been a shift towards viewing rivers as the private domains of the wealthy instead of as the great common resources that they are. I try to entertain and engage readers long enough to slip in a little education but ultimately I hope to help people feel a connection and appreciation for our amazing Texas rivers.

Traveling down these rivers requires significant time and energy. What advice would you give someone about a long river trip? Honestly there are so many variables with weather and river conditions that it is impossible to plan for every contingency, but sunscreen, a good hat, and a set of dry clothes are my essentials. Plus, lots of water and snacks!

Tell us about your other art. What media do you work in? What subjects intrigue you? I’ve worked in a variety of media over the years. Currently I’ve been working on a number of large watercolor and pencil drawings for a January 2017 show at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor in Belton. My art is based upon my personal experiences in the natural world so local flora and fauna are my mainstays.

Fish Camp by

Fish Camp by William Montgomery

You’ve exhibited many, many places and have work in the Austin Museum of Art. Do you have any exhibits coming up next spring so people can get a taste of the new book? When I considered the Nueces River project, I realized that I wanted to research and write but creating the art was daunting (the Colorado River book took over five years). Luckily my husband was interested in the project and he created a body of artwork (oils, watercolors, pen & ink) for the book. It was great to work together but we describe our journey as being parallel tracks: my writing and his art are our individual responses to joint experiences. I don’t describe his art and he doesn’t illustrate my words. Obviously I’m biased but I think the art is magnificent! We both contributed photographs for the book.

What’s next on your agenda? I’m in an art period. One of my quirks is that I have to either make art or write. After I finish up the art work for the next show, I’ll go back to writing again. I’ve got a couple of ideas for novels and there are lots of wonderful rivers to explore!

Many thanks for joining us today. I’m looking forward to tracing the Nueces with your new book. 

Catherine Wins a Free Book from “Where’s Mary?” Play and Win!

Where's Mary? Rocksprings, Texas, the Angora goat capital of the world.

Where’s Mary? Rocksprings, Texas, the Angora goat capital of the world.

We have a winner!  Catherine was the first to correctly identify the location of the little goat in the picture as Rocksprings, Texas.  Her winning answer came at 8:11 pm on July 2.  She wins a free autographed copy of my novel about the shaman who lived along the Rio Grande over 4000 years ago,   Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyons. Thanks to everybody who entered through the website and Facebook.

The little goat sits on the corner of the courthouse square in Rocksprings, the self-proclaimed “Angora goat capital of the world.”  With a population of about 1200, Rocksprings is the county seat of Edwards County, on the edge of the Hill Country.  It’s also the location of the Devil’s Sinkhole Visitors’ Center, right on the square.  Sign up there for an evening bat tour at Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area, a few miles out-of-town.  Millions of bats fly out of their daytime home in the sinkhole about sunset every evening from March through October.

Watch for the next “Where’s Mary?” and enter your guess for the location of the photo.  Remember, you gotta play to win!

Where’s Mary? Part Three Guess Right and Win a Free Book!

Where's Mary?

Where’s Mary?  Guess right and win a free book signed by the author.

 

This week in part three of “Where’s Mary?”, this cute little statue is the clue. Guess the right town in Texas and win yourself a free, autographed copy of my novel Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyons.  Just post your guess in the comments below. Contest will run for the next several months as design continues for my new travel guide, From the Frio to Del Rio: Travel Guide to the Western Hill Country and Lower Pecos Canyonlands, which will be published by Texas A&M Press hopefully in April 2017.  So take a good look at the picture above and give me your comments!

Where’s Mary Today? Win a Book!

I could see this smoking dragon. Where am I?

Where could I see this smoking dragon?

Week Two of the Contest!  Guess where Mary is from the photograph above.  Answer must be the correct town, state, and exact place (business, park, museum, etc)  Enter your guess in the comments below.  If you are correct, I’ll send you a free copy of my novel, Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyons!

Contest will run for the next six months as design continues for my new travel guide, From the Frio to Del Rio: Travel Guide to the Western Hill Country and Lower Pecos Canyonlands, which will be published by Texas A&M Press hopefully in April 2017.  So take a good look at the picture above and give me your comments!

From the Frio to Del Rio! The Travel Guide Gets a New Name

Commissary Building at Fort Clark in Brackettville

Commissary Building at Fort Clark in Brackettville

 

The editors at Texas A&M Press have brainstormed a catchy new name for my new travel guide to Southwest Texas.  How do you like From the Frio to Del Rio: Travel Guide to the Southwestern Hill Country and Lower Pecos ? I really had not put much thought into the title, even though that’s pretty important, so I was counting on the editors to come up with something more compelling.  I think they’ve done that very well!  What to name the area from Utopia to Barksdale was also a quandary for me.  I’ve gone back and forth between “Southwestern Hill Country” and “Western Hill Country” several times–having to change the text each time, of course!  I’m glad the title specifically designates the Lower Pecos  because the area is so  special in so many ways, yet a lot of people don’t know much about it.

Where’s Mary? Win a Book

Darla's
Photo by Thomas C. Self

 

New Contest!  Guess where Mary is from the photograph above.  Answer must be the correct town, state, and exact place (business, park, museum, etc)  Enter your guess in the comments below.  If you are correct, I’ll send you a free copy of my novel, Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyons!

Contest will run for the next six months as design continues for the Visitors’ Guide to Southwest Texas, which will be published by Texas A&M Press sometime in 2017.  So take a good look at the picture above and give me your comments!

 

Visitors’ Guide to Southwest Texas…..Coming 2017!

 

On the road...traveling though Southwest Texas will get easier in 2017 with my new travel guide!             Photo courtesy of Jack Johnson

On the road…traveling though Southwest Texas will get easier in 2017 with my new travel guide!
Photo courtesy of Jack Johnson

I’ve almost got everything submitted to Texas A&M Press for my new travel guide to Southwest Texas. The editor and I have shortened the title a bit, but it’s the same book as I wrote about in the last post. Southwest Texas includes places west of San Antonio, south of I-10, north of the Rio Grande, and east of Big Bend.  The new book will include the Lower Pecos Canyonlands as well as parts of the Western Hill Country, such as Garner State Park and Lost Maples State Natural Area. I’ll point you to good places to eat and sleep, and fun things to do. Plus give you some local history and color along the way. And there’s lots of color.

Southwest Texas has been home to some real characters in the past 150 years or so. You’ve probably heard of Judge Roy Bean. But what about Dr. Brinkley, the goat-gland doctor and radio baron?  How about Cal Rodgers and the first transcontinental flight in 1911?  Or Jerusha Sanchez, the first civilian settler near Barksdale?

The manuscript for this endeavor is in editing now, and hopefully all the illustrations will be in the hands of the publisher next week. So stay tuned; I’ll let you know when we’ve got a final product.  This is kinda fun!

 

 

Iceland, Part 2: Vikings

Typical Stone and Sod Viking House.

Typical Stone and Sod Viking House. Photo by Miles Sapp.

A few weeks ago, I told you a little about my recent trip to Iceland.  That trip fulfilled a childhood dream to visit a place where ancient Norsemen settled around geysers and hot steam rising from the ground, a place where glaciers, icebergs, and volcanos dominate the landscape.  But settle the did. When the Vikings began to settle Iceland around 874 A.D., there were only stunted birch trees around the edge of the island. No forests like in other parts of Scandinavia or Europe, or Britain, where Vikings also settled.  The Vikings used the small birch trees as supports for the roofs of their stone and turf houses, which had a typical “long fire” built down the middle.

Livestock was also kept inside the houses during the long, cold, and dark winters.  The Vikings

Statue of Ingolfur Arnarson, often credited with being the first settler in what is today Reykjavik.

Statue of Ingolfur Arnarson, often credited with being the first settler in what is today Reykjavik.

brought cattle, horses and sheep with them on the boats to Iceland. Their main objective in immigrating was to find new land for raising animals. The climate was too cold to raise grains or vegetables, so animal husbandry, hunting and fishing became the main occupations.

My son Miles at Thingvellir. Notice the tall lava wall.

My son Miles at Thingvellir. Notice the tall lava wall.

 

The pioneers established farmsteads often supporting 50-100 people, but no real towns.  The people were loosely governed by 39 chieftains who settled disputes.  By 930 A.D., a gathering of all the chieftains began to settle serious crimes and blood feuds, if possible, at a place known as Thingvellir. Thingvellir is sometimes called the first parliament in Europe. The place is located at the rift between the American and Eurasian continents. The rift grows wider a few centimeters each year as tectonic plates shift.  You can actually snorkel in the clear ice water of the rift, but I was cold enough as it was. As you can see below, the day was rainy and gray.

Continental Rift at Thingvellir. House Is Summer Home of Iceland's Prime Minister.

Continental Rift at Thingvellir. House is Summer Home of Iceland’s Prime Minister.

 

The Mountains of Europe as Seen from America. All in Iceland, of course.

The Mountains of Europe as Seen from America. All in Iceland, of course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Archaeologists have discovered several Viking farmsteads, right where the sagas and oral histories said they would be, in recent years.  This summer archaeologists were working on a site in downtown Reykjavik, next to a tavern that proclaimed it had been there since 1889.

Archaeology in August 2015 in Reykjavik

Archaeology in August 2015 in Reykjavik

Remains of farmstead of Snorri Sturluson, author of many Icelandic sagas.

Remains of farmstead of Snorri Sturluson, author of many Icelandic sagas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also visited the place where the 13th century chronicler of the Icelandic sagas, Snorri Sturluson, lived.   Most of what we know today about Norse gods comes from Snorri’s writing.  The 800-year-old manuscripts are displayed at a museum in Reykjavik, and the stone-lined hot pool at Snorri’s farmstead is still maintained.  Just like many people today, Snorri probably enjoyed a good soak at the end of the day.

Entrance to the Snorri museum

Entrance to the Snorri museum

Snorri's hot tub dating back about 800 years.

Snorri’s hot tub dating back about 800 years.