Traveling the California Trail

I don’t remember when I first became fascinated with the Oregon/California trail, but it has been an ingrained interest for possibly decades. One of the very first full book ideas that I came up with after I decided I wanted to be a writer (around 8-years-old) was that of a rich, entitled girl whose family lost their fortune and took the trail out to California. It took years before I actually started the book, and then about ten more years to finish the book.

Do any of you other writers have those books–the ones you build up so much in your mind that you either can’t start or can’t finish it for fear that it won’t live up to your mental image?

After I finished the book, I let it sit there for a few more years, sure that I still didn’t know enough to make it realistic or write well enough to make it shine. But I’ve finally decided the time has come to pick it up again. Not because I feel good enough for it (no, Chadwick is very adamant about the fact I’ll probably mess it up), but because an opportunity has arisen that might not come up again for a number of years.

As you all know , I am taking a break from my career right now. In addition, thanks to COVID, my husband is able to work remotely from almost any location.

So…IF we are able to pull together the finances, and IF Daniel gets permission from his job, and IF I don’t have a job, and IF God allows it all to work out, I might finally get to fulfill one of my biggest dreams and travel across the country following the Oregon/California trail in June.

Using the book Traveling the Oregon Trail by Julie Fanselow, I planned out the first half of the trip, and using a map of the California trail, I planned out the rest, because apparently most of the research conducted about the trails out west focus on the Oregon trail rather than the California trail, which means there were few resources out there specifically about following that portion of the trail.

So, in hopes that this will actually take place, my current plan is to finally finish editing the book, and then travel the trail and take pictures of the actual places my fictional family stopped at, adding in any details to the book I might learn along the way to add authenticity, as well as answer any questions I might come up with while editing.

I’m a mix of delighted enthusiasm and desperate attempts to keep my hopes down in case any of those “IFs” go haywire. But for now, I’ll proceed as though it is going to work, and keep you all updated along the way!

Courtesy of @write_or_left on instagram

2 thoughts on “Traveling the California Trail

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