I spent a happy New Year surrounded by the setting for my books.
My family and I rented a house near Mono Lake.
About an hour drive north of the house is the town of Bridgeport, which is the inspiration for my fictional town of Benson, California.
I loved stopping by the old county courthouse. I borrowed it for Benson. In Convincing the Rancher, my heroine meets the hero for the first time within its old stone walls. In Return to Marker Ranch, my hero and heroine have a rather disastrous date that ends on the sidewalk in front of it.
We made a quick and chilly stop by the barn that I photographed a few years ago for my publicity materials. It looks a little different in winter!
And we spent some time in the area south of Bridgeport that I always picture when I imagine the ranches in my stories.
I was thrilled to be in the area. It was amazing to walk the lonely desert roads in winter.
And to look out from the patio at the Sierra Nevada rising right out of the Mono Basin.
It was profound to share with my family all of the beauty that I visit in my imagination every day. We followed a boardwalk to the shores of Mono Lake to see the tufas.
We climbed one of the Mono craters and marveled at the tough trees and plants growing right out of the volcanic rock.
We headed up June Mountain for some snowboarding. It was chilly – temperatures in the low teens – but my son and I got some practice on the bunny slopes before we fled inside for some cocoa. I have a snowboarding scene in the third book of my Sierra Legacy series, so it was fun and research at the same time! And yes, that’s me in the photo, upright on a snowboard!
And not so upright…
We loved all the small details of the region. A cow skull on a weathered wood fence.
Sierra views over a stacked stone wall.
Sagebrush under snow.
And me wandering blissfully through it, pondering story ideas, with a wee nip of fine scotch in hand. It was New Years, after all!