Friday, April 28, 2023

Forty Mile Desert by Zina Abbott

The Forty Mile Desert was the most dreaded part of the California Trail—and for good reason. Based on reports of those who blazed the first trails to California, it became part of the established routes to northern and central California. Whether travelers intended to take the Truckee river route over Donner Pass, or the Mormon-Carson Emigrant route along the Carson River, they were required to go through this desert wasteland devoid of drinkable water.


This desert began as the water of the Humboldt River—brackish at best—dried up in the Humboldt Sink. For the next forty miles there was a lack of drinkable water. It was necessary to keep livestock away from the few sources of available water, like Soda Lake. The water was so alkaline, it killed any who drank from it. Also, the soil of much of that desert was sandy in nature, making it extremely difficult for both people and animals to walk through it.

Here is an excerpt from Mark Twain he write in Chapter XX of Roughing it. He crossed the Forty Mile Desert in the summer of 1861 by stagecoach:

On the nineteenth day we crossed the Great American Desert—forty memorable miles of bottomless sand, into which the coach wheels sunk from six inches to a foot. We worked our passage most of the way across. That is to say, we got out and walked. It was a dreary pull and a long and thirsty one, for we had no water. From one extremity of this desert to the other, the road was white with the bones of oxen and horses. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that we could have walked the forty miles and set our feet on a bone at every step! The desert was one prodigious graveyard. And the log-chains, wagon tyres, and rotting wrecks of vehicles were almost as thick as the bones. I think we saw log-chains enough rusting there in the desert, to reach across any State in the Union. Do not these relics suggest something of an idea of the fearful suffering and privation the early emigrants to California endured?

Based in today’s Churchill County, Nevada, the Forty Mile Desert is a California Gold Rush name for Nevada's Lahontan Valley and the adjoining area to the northwest. The Lahontan Valley is a landform of the central portion of prehistoric Lake Lahontan’s lake bed from 20,000 to 9,000 years ago. That valley and the adjacent Carson Sink are only a small portion of the lake bed. The Humboldt Lake is to the valley’s northeast. Pyramid Lake is west, and Walker Lake is south. It is all part of the larger Great Basin Desert.


Because of the extreme daytime temperatures and lack of water, if possible, this desert was crossed at night.

Many lives were lost while traveling this desert—both human and livestock. Starvation and thirst preyed upon people and animals every mile.  A survey made in 1850 resulted in a listing of 1,061 dead mules, almost 5,000 horses, 3,750 cattle, and 953 graves.  The value of personal property loss was set at the time at $1,000,000.

The heaviest traffic through the Forty Mile Desert occurred between 1849 and 1869, when the Transcontinental Railroad was completed.

I did not find many public domain pictures of the Forty Mile Desert. If you would enjoy seeing some contemporary photographs of the region, for the Carson Trail, please CLICK HERE.

For the Truckee Trail, please CLICK HERE.

I devoted a chapter in my recent novel, Clara, to the experience of the characters crossing the Forty Mile Desert. The chapter that followed included their relief at finally making it through and reaching the Carson River. To find the book description purchase options for Clara, please CLICK HERE.



Also, although each book can be read as a standalone, my first book I wrote for the Prairie Roses Collection, Pearl, has many of the same characters as Clara. It is on a Kindle Countdown sale for 99¢ (ebook) through April 29, 2023. To find the book description and purchase options, please CLICK HERE.









Thursday, April 20, 2023

Horse Facts


Greetings, Western Readers and Writers AND those have kindly just dropped in. 

Did you know 

The average life span of a horse is twenty-five. A horse called Old Billy beat the record by living to sixty-two.

Even though horses normally sleep on their feet, they sometimes sleep lying down.

The fastest horse ever recorded ran fifty-five miles an hour. To put it in perspective, twenty-seven miles an hour is considered fast.

Horses have exceptional memories.

Horses express their moods by their facial expression.


Out of a group of horses one will stand watch while the others sleep.

There are over three hundred breeds of horses in existence today.

The Arabian has a different skeletal structure from other horses.

Horses literally do have big hearts. They’re approximately the size of a basketball.

The first horse cloned was in 2003.

 The first polo pony cloned was in 2008.

In 2018 Argentine polo player Cambiaso had already won two Argentine Opens with clone ponies.

Rhinos are horses closest relatives.

On average, horses consume between five and ten gallons of water a day. It’s very important to keep them hydrated.

Built for endurance, some Arabians can run a hundred miles without rest.


Fishing from horseback is illegal in more than one state.

In 1959, a horse cleared a jump over eight feet tall.

Horses can see in two different directions at the same time.

Their ears are the weathervane which tell which direction a horse is looking.

A mare’s gestation period is eleven to twelve months.


Got any horse facts you’d like to share?


Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Types of cowboys by Rhonda Lee Carver

 Just like flowers, there are different types of cowboys. 

The Weekend Cowboy

The man who stores his Stetson and Wranglers in the closet until Friday and then he cowboys up. He might work a day job that requires a suit and polished shoes, but on the weekend he likes to get his hands dirty.

How can you spot a Weekend Cowboy? He says things like "There's no making a living in ranching." 

The Honky Tonk Cowboy

You've read about 'em, probably even met a few of 'em. They own the hat, boots, and frayed jeans but they spend a lot more time on a bar stool than in the saddle. They can be handsome, charming, and possibly can handle a rope, but you'll not find them on the ranch rounding up cattle or mending fences. They sure can ride that mechanical bull though and dance like a boot scootin' Fred Astaire. 

The Athlete Cowboy

He can hold on for eight seconds and has buns of steel. He's a rodeo cowboy who steals the show with his skills, and about as close to the real thing as city folks will ever get to a "cowboy". Whether you love the rodeo or hate it, if you watch these warriors riding you'll likely fall in lust.

The Country Cowboy

Yeah, he's a cowboy, kind of-sort of. He might not own a ranch, but he has a farm. His hat's frayed and his boots are dusty, and he usually sports whiskers and tattoos. He has a big truck, a girl who likes trucks, and appreciates a little music, and drinking a beer at the fire pit to unwind. 

The Real Cowboy

He's all the above and then some. He's rough, tough, and walks with swagger. He doesn't have to tell you he's the real thing because it's written in every masculine curve and angle, every move, everything he does. He doesn't need anything but his land and his reputation. 

Here's what Rhonda Lee Carver has going on...

The Ryders and Thorns have been enemies for as long as she can remember. When she finds herself in the middle of a tug-of-war, she'll have to pick sides. Her choice might tear her family apart...

Circumstances bring her back into the path of a cowboy she fell for once upon a time. To keep her heart safe, she must abide by some rules...

1. No lusting after LB Ryder. He’s hotter than ever, but that ship has sailed.
2. Ignore how the cocky cowboy makes her want to bite nails...and do unbelievably bad things.
3. No kissing, touching, or believing in an enemies-to-lovers fairytale. She won't take a stroll down memory lane, especially with a man who is T-R-O-U-B-L-E.
4. Break rules 1-3 and repeat. Rules were meant to be broken anyway.

Haisley has always gravitated toward LB. Handsome, smart, cocky, and determined, he's just the type of guy she finds challenging. And he's about the only one who isn't afraid to put her in her place.

LB has avoided the Thorns for years, but when the oldest brother steals a prized horse, LB's ready to seek revenge. Then Haisley pops back into his life, stirring up the past and making demands. The chemistry is still scorching and the only thing sweeter than revenge is a stroll down memory lane.

As things heat up, LB and Haisley stop fighting each other and are forced to make tough choices…and find a way to navigate a secret that can either start a civil war between the Ryders and Thorns or end a four-decade old feud.

Readers who love enemies to lovers, second chances, and happily ever after won't be able to put this book down. Craving a Second Chance is packed with emotion, grit, conflict, and a splash of suspense.

Book 1- Whiskey Ryder’s Second Chance
Book 2-Protecting His Second Chance
Book 3-Craving a Second Chance


Still breaking hearts and bulls, huh, cowboy?”

LB Ryder flicked his eyes open and stared at the tent wall. He’d fallen asleep on the bed in the sickbay at the arena after a game of Cowboy Poker. The aches and pains, and the tweaking of an old back injury, were worth being the last cowboy sitting at the table. He took home the gold, and honor, of winning the final event at the annual Wildflower Rodeo Olympics.

Hell, the ass whoopin’ he got from the bull was worth watching Cruise Thorn lose. The son-of-a-gun had taken home the win three years in a row and thought the bull would be a Duck Spinner. Bad mistake. The meanest bull in the lot was drawn.

“Lookin’ good,” came the soft female voice again as the sheet over his backside lifted.

“Hey? Do I know you?” He was slowly coming more awake and aware that something wasn’t right. “I’m waiting for sports med.” The lady working the desk at the front of the tent told him a fellow would be examining him when the other cowboys, who got it worse, were finished.

Holding onto the ice bag against his temple, he lifted his head to get a look at who was in the room and caught a glimpse of dark hair.

“I am sports med. I’m helping Drew because it looks like the bull was the only thing that walked away from that event with his pride intact.” He caught the sarcasm in her tone.

Something about her voice sounded vaguely familiar. He started to sit up, but her fingers dug into the sore muscles of his back, causing him to grunt in pain. Damn, he didn’t realize how badly he’d hurt himself. He clenched his teeth as the pain radiated down into his legs.

 He was getting too old for the rodeo.

“Does this hurt?” She moved her kneading to another part of his back.

“Not as much as the other side.” He relaxed.

“Congratulations on winning, by the way.” She buried her knuckles into the muscles on either side of his spine and he felt an instant release. He’d expected to get a bandage and a shot of cortisone, not a massage, but he wasn’t complaining.


“This is definitely an event aimed at cowboys who have more brawn than brains.”

LB squinted at the remark. “You don’t like charity events, or just cowboys in general?”

“I wouldn’t call four men sitting around a table, playing poker, in the middle of an arena with an angry bull stalking around them being very smart. I could think of a hundred other ways to contribute.”

He laughed. “And miss the friendly competition? What fun would that be?” The competition was anything but friendly. Cowboys took the annual event seriously.

He’d participated in every event from roping cattle, riding broncos, barrel racing, hot pepper eating contest, even a chili cook off, and a line dance competition. The Wildflower Rodeo was a veritable cowboy triathlon, some events tested a cowboy’s endurance, and some were included to make spectators laugh. All proceeds were donated to the charity of choice. Through most of the events, LB and the eldest Thorn brother had been neck and neck in points, but the Cowboy Poker pushed LB ahead because Thorn was sent packing by the bull.

Her fingers were now on his shoulders. “You’re a bit tense.”

“Yeah, it’s been a bit of a tiring two days.”

“You unfortunate thing. I’m sure it has been. I can give you a shot for inflammation and another for pain. You don’t mind needles, do you?”

He sensed animosity in the woman’s words. Angry women and syringes never mixed well in his experience. “A couple of pain pills, some rest, and I’ll be good as new come tomorrow.”

“Then let me see if I can work the tension out of these muscles. We wouldn’t want our star cowboy hurting, now, would we?”

LB opened his mouth to respond, maybe even suggest he didn’t need her services, but she dug her fingers into his shoulders. Even though her bedside manner left a lot to be desired, he enjoyed the brutal massage. Most therapists were too gentle.

He eased his body into the bed. “You have a magical touch.”

A gasp fell off her lips and her hands paused. “Are you flirting with me?”

What the hell? No, I was only complimenting your skills.” Curiosity rose in him. His instincts were going off like fire-alarms. “Did my brothers put you up to this?”

“Did your brothers also convince that bull to toss you over the rail?” Her voice reeked of cynicism.

LB had patience. Growing up with a house full of brothers, he’d built a wall of strength. Over the years, Bend, Rip, Dean, Raven, and Whiskey had all loved a good joke and any and every opportunity required a prank. LB could see any one of them sending in some random woman to give him a tough time. Hell, he might even have found this funny if he wasn’t banged up by a pissed off bull.

The sheet was pulled away and cooler air swept over his bottom. Now he wished he’d kept his jeans on and dealt with the cut on his butt cheek himself. “Did you say Drew was around?” LB would rather stick with someone he knew.

“He’s somewhere around here, I’m sure.

He started to push up from the bed, but she pressed her fingers into his glutes, pushing him back down onto the hard bed. She did seem deceptively strong.

Now this was something new.

“About flirting, it’s okay if you can’t control yourself. I know how to manage men who get carried away. You wouldn’t be the first I’ve had to teach a lesson,” she said close to his ear.

LB swallowed hard. He’d never, in all his thirty-one years, taken advantage of a woman. His Pa would tar and feather any of his sons that would dare step a toe out of line with a female. They were taught respect and manners. “I’m feeling much better now. Thank you, but I’ll be heading on my way now.”

“Was it something I said?” she said in a sweet, innocent voice.

“Yeah, I believe it was.”

“Well, please accept my apology. I’m a bit new to this. Will you give me one more itty-bitty try?”

Reluctantly, he nodded. “Sure. It would be best if we don’t talk.”

“My lips are sealed,” she said perkily.

He heard the rustling of paper then she practically smacked a bandage on the cut. At least he didn’t need stitches.

Then her fingers were on the backs of his thighs, kneading the tight muscles. God help him, he couldn’t quite remember the last time he’d received a massage that was both blissful and torture all at the same time. He didn’t know whether to relax or anticipate the next time she’d find a pressure point and cause him bittersweet agony. LB decided to lay his head down and close his eyes. She knew better than he did what he needed for his injury.

“So, Cowboy,” she purred. “What made you decide to participate in the Wildflower Rodeo Olympics? I haven’t seen you around in a few years.”