Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Redeeming the Days

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:
“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

I read this section of Ephesians 5 over a week ago, for the umpteenth time. Before, it was those first verses I quote that always struck me. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light...

Walk as children of light. What a command! I love the constant imagery in the New Testament of light versus darkness, of being the light, reflecting the light, living the light. (Y'all might remember my post on how we should shine...). It's something I've thought about and talked about a lot because, well, it's just so powerful. So deep. So thought-provoking. It's always struck a chord.

But this last time when I read this chapter, it was verses 15 and 16 that slammed me. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Did you catch that? That bit about redeeming the time? I never had. When I pondered redemption before, it was always as something we received, that beautiful gift of Christ. He redeemed us. That means he saved us from death. Literally purchased our life with his own. According to, this is the technical definition of "redeem":
1. to buy or pay off; clear by payment: to redeem a mortgage.
2. to buy back, as after a tax sale or a mortgage foreclosure.
3. to recover (something pledged or mortgaged) by payment or other satisfaction: to redeem a pawned watch.
4. to exchange (bonds, trading stamps, etc.) for money or goods.
5. to convert (paper money) into specie.
Understanding how that applies to our souls is big. Huge. But it's used differently here. Here we are not the redeemed...we are the redeemer.

Yikes. I don't think I ever paused to realize before the sheer responsibility Paul is showing us here. That we are the redemption of our time, of our age. Though surrounded by evil, we are to buy our neighbors more time to learn the Good News. We're to be those ten righteous men in Sodom that would have stayed judgment. We're to be the David for the sake of whom the nation isn't forsaken.

We're to be the light that staves off the darkness.

Of course it comes back to that. ;-) That is, after all, the instruction on how to redeem the times. On what it looks like when we walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise. But I'll no longer read that as a simple command to do--now I also see the inherent why.

Because we don't shine into the darkness to light our own way. We shine in the darkness to draw others to Him. We shine to show the Truth to those trapped in the dim, dim cave (thank you, Plato). We shine because without us the days would be night, and there would be no reason for God to withhold His judgment from the world.

But the world isn't ready to be destroyed. And it's up to us to buy it a little more time. To pay with ourselves, just as Jesus did for us. To give our lives to this walk, this Way, this fight, so that just one more souls can see the path. Can be bought and forgiven. Can be redeemed.

Can then join the ranks of those redeeming. It's a call to action, that charge. A purpose. One that changes the way I see that dark, evil world around me. Not just as something deserving destruction--but as something that needs to be saved from it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Remember When . . . The Culper Ring Lived On?

Yesterday I had the joy of chatting with my editor at Harvest House. I'd asked her a few questions about my plans for Whispers from the Shadows, to make sure my intent of throwing the romance formula out the window would go over okay. ;-) And while we were talking, she shared a bit of fun that I have to pass on.

Anybody watch USA's show White Collar? It's one of those I've always thought looked really good, but we just didn't have time for another show to get addicted to, LOL. Well, apparently a couple Harvest House folks watch it, my editor included, and they got very excited when last week's episode (from August 21, 2012) dealt with nothing other than the Culper Ring!

I've yet to track down the episode online so I can watch it (though that is on my to-do list this week for sure! Finally, an excuse to watch the show!! LOL), but I'm told the premise was that a professor lost his tenure at a college when he was laughed out of academia for stating outright that the Culper Ring is still operating today.


Anyone want to take a guess on the premise of my entire series? That (that's right) the Culper Ring didn't end with the Revolution like history books say it did. That the members took up the mantle again when the need again arose. Ring of Secrets is based on the documented escapades of this most-trusted spy ring of George Washington, but its sequels will delve into the what-ifs. What if the War of 1812 came to an end because of intelligence the Culpers gathered? What if they found themselves pitted against the Knights of the Golden Circle during the Civil War?

What if these untrained intelligencers perfected their craft over the years, perfected their codes and their inks and their methods until they could operate indefinitely without detection?

Ooo, fun, fun, fun. Especially when it shows up in other popular outlets, like White Collar and Brad Meltzer's Decoded. Or ever when the places I wrote about suddenly appear on the news, like several recent stories about Oyster Bay on the Long Island Sound.

White Collar viewers got a sneak peek at my world last week as the characters talked about my characters--Robert Townsend, known as Samuel Culper Jr., and George Washington, a.k.a. 711. They got to see the places the Culpers operated and speculate on whether they're still around.

And I get to sit back and grin and thank the fine folks at USA for priming the audience for me. Coming soon, folks! Coming soon!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Word of the Week - Wow

This is a short one, but surprising. I always thought of wow as a modern word. So when I looked it up, I was shocked to see that it's from 1510!

Wow is a Scottish interjection, one of those that arise from a natural sound we make when surprised by something. Much like whoa, ow, ouch, huh, and the like.

It became a verb in more modern days, though--we only started wowing people in the 1920s, originating in America. ;-)

But in my defense, it's a word that waxed and waned in popularity. It apparently took on new life in the early 1900s after being not so in use prior, and then had another surge in the 1960s. Which has carried through to now.

And of course, had led to one of my four-year-old's favorite sayings: Wowwy-zowwy-coppa-bowwy! (Or however one would spell that...)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Back to School!

I had a nice, insightful post planned for today. Filled with brilliance (ahem) and thought and pondering a scripture that jumped out at me. I was just beginning to delve into the contemplation required for it when an adorable little face appeared beside mine. Grinning. And chanting, "School, school, school."

Yeah, see, we decided we'd start the same day my niece did--today. But I kinda forgot to take into account that on the first day of school, I don't have to lasso my darling girl to her chair at 9 like I do later in the year--she's begging to begin at 6:30.

So . . . yeah. That's what my morning has been. =) Getting Xoe back into math and handwriting, introducing her new spelling book. And going over letters and numbers with Rowyn. Pulling out her reader and trying to figure out what in the world this diamond-diagram thing is they have in the copywork section of my curriculum. Convincing Rowyn that his reading lesson can wait just a minute while I read Xoe her spelling words. Needless to say, blogging has slipped just a bit this morning, LOL.

I promise you that wonderfully insightful post on next Thursday. And tell you it has to do with redemption, but an application of it I'd never considered until I read it earlier this week. And for now, back to school I go!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Word of the Week - Mean

Mean is one of those words that I knew well would have been around forever, but I looked it up to see about some of the particular uses. And as usual, found a few surprises. =)

As a verb, mean has meant "intend, have in mind" even back in the days of Old English. No surprise there. It shares a root with similar words in Dutch and German and various other languages, perhaps from men, which means "think." But the unexpected part--the question "Know what I mean?" is only from 1834! Of course, that's as a conversational question, a saying. I daresay the words were uttered as a particular question before that. Know what I mean? ;-)

As an adjective, it began life as "low-quality." Like "a mean hovel" that the poor dude lived in. But it also carried a meaning, rather related, actually, of "shared by all, common, public." And presumably if something were shared by all, it wasn't really high in quality, eh? So "inferior, second-rate" was also a natural progression for the word, and came about in the 14th century.

I knew this definition would be the oldest but, when I looked it up, was more interested in when the most common meaning if mean (meaning of mean--ha . . . ha . . . ha . . .) came into play. It acquired the "stingy, nasty" implication in the 1660s, and was then pretty strong. We Americans had to come along to give it a softer side of "disobliging, pettily offensive," so that didn't come about until 1839--again, there's the surprise!

And an interesting note on it too. The inverted sense of "remarkably good," (think "wow, he plays a mean piano!") is from 1900, most likely from a simple dropping of a negative, like "he is no mean piano player," (mean here being either "inferior" or its other meaning of "average.")

Have no mean Monday, all! ;-)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Books and Smiles

First off, I'm guest-blogging today with Laurie Alice Eakes, talking a bit about the fun history of historic Annapolis, and giving away a copy of Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland. Hop on over and leave a comment for a chance to win!

And I've had a pretty fun week. My birthday on Tuesday was a lot of fun, filled with discounted food. ;-) My mom took me out to lunch and my hubby/kids to dinner, and both times, part of the meal was discounted (or free) because of a delay. Which suited me just fine and made it more fun. For dinner, we drove down to Hagerstown, MD, about an hour away, to go to Outback and use my free birthday coffee coupon at Starbucks. (Yes, the nearest Starbucks is an hour away. Gotta love Western Maryland...)

On the drive down, we were going through rain, with the sun behind us, and it resulted in a perpetual rainbow, low-slung and sparkling, right in front of us on the road. It traveled with us about five miles, to the delight of us all. I claimed it was my personal birthday rainbow. ;-) On the way home, the clouds were starting to lift from the mountains and valleys back into the sky, resulting in these gorgeous pillars of mist . . . quite a sight. God spared no imagination painting the landscape for me that evening. =) (Thanks, Lord!)

And also making this week fun is that I've bitten the bullet and stopped talking about starting a local book club and actually done it. Yay! The Inspired Book Club will meet at my church library the last Thursday of every month, beginning in September. AND folks were so excited when I started talking about it, that we'll be chatting on Facebook the last week of each month too. So if you're too far away to come snack and chat with us, feel free to join the Facebook group. And if you're near Cumberland, MD and want to join, just shoot me an email at roseanna [at] roseannawhite [dot] com and I'll give you directions! Our book for September is Tamera Alexander's A Lasting Impression. And to make it even more fun, Tammy has agreed to call in during out meeting so we can ask her questions and get the insider scoop on the book.

And even if you can't squeeze one more thing into your schedule, let's just admire my fun little logo. Isn't it cute? LOL. I made that after organizing the Christian Review of Books's shelves in its new location at my church. (Yay, all those books out of my sitting room!) Oh, and the CRoB is also in desperate need of a local-to-Cumberland-area volunteer to donate an hour or two a week to helping me keep the list updated and get books mailed out to reviewers. If you're interested, email me at the address above.

Not exactly a life-altering blog post, I know, but it's been that kind of week more full of news and chocolate cake than epiphanies. ;-) Thanks again, all, for your wonderful birthday wishes!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Remember When . . . The Pilots Didn't Fly?

I was researching for my Civil War era book when I first read about pilots. I'd heard the term in this context, of course, but I still had to pause. Frown. And think, "They obviously don't mean airplane pilots, so..."

Okay, it didn't even require that much of a pause, given that I was reading about boats and ships trying to maneuver through complicated riverways. Pretty obvious that when they say they need to find an able pilot, they're not looking for someone to wing them through the clouds. ;-)

Still, it's come up again, and I've been struck by how important a job these people had. During the War of 1812, for instance, the action in the Chesapeake depended heavily upon how one could navigate the web of estuaries. Those native to the region could find ways around the blockade by following smaller streams and branches around and about until they were past the British ships in the bay. But the British...when they were trying to launch raids with their fleet, they couldn't do a whole lot on their own.

In both the War of 1812 and the Civil War, the visitors to the territories they were trying to invade relied on a particular group of pilots to aid them--the slaves. Both with the same promise--freedom. Though Maryland was technically a Union state in the Civil War, it was one of the two highest traders of slaves in the early 19th century, sending them south and west. Needless to say, there were plenty kept there too. And much as they had done during the Revolution, the British put out the word that any slave to run away from his master and join the British would be granted their freedom.

This is how they got their pilots. They lured local slaves away and then used their intimate knowledge of the land and rivers to lead the invading force away from the coast.

In Whispers from the Shadows, my hero is a a New Englander who moved to Maryland as a teen. Having been raised with the sensibilities of one from a state that had outlawed slavery before he was even born, he sees this practice and shakes his head--knowing that this same weakness that is bringing the British too close for comfort now will continue to divide his nation. Which, naturally, will lead right into the third book in the trilogy, when his granddaughter finds herself caught in a rather precarious position between the southern sympathizers meeting secretly in Baltimore and her Union-sympathizing family...

But I'm getting ahead of myself. ;-)

Oh, and many, many thanks to everyone who took the time to wish me a happy birthday yesterday! I had a lovely day with my family, and it was brightened still more by all the online greetings. =)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thirty Schmirty

It's August 14. That means that at 12:10 p.m., I will officially be a thirty-something instead of a twenty-something. Two years ago I was a bit shocked to realize I was "late twenties" instead of "mid-twenties." So you can imagine my surprise at this one, LOL.

But after considerable consideration, I have decided that I'm not going to stay at 29. Nope. I'm 30, and I'm going to own it. I'm going to make it awesome. 

I mean, 29 was pretty great. LFY Annapolis came out, I got to see Jewel of Persia and A Stray Drop of Blood appear and hold steady on the Amazon genre best-seller list. I sold my first trilogy, the Culper Ring Series, to Harvest House. 

So how much better might 30 be? Ring of Secrets will be out this coming year, and Whispers from the Shadows too! My daughter will be going into second grade, and my little guy will be dipping his toes in the home school pool too. And to top it all off, 30 marks the year when I'll have spent half my life loving my honey, who I started dating at 15.

So naturally, we must celebrate this tumbling into a new decade with chocolate.

Chocolate Orange Cream Cake - one of my favorite recipes =)

And with these guys...

And with food that I'm not cooking. ;-) Oh! And we're also celebrating a milestone of Facebook followers for WhiteFire, so there'll be a giveaway today! If you haven't entered yet for the winner's choice of WhiteFire e-book, you better hop over there before I do the drawing!

So grab a slice of that delicious cake, a tall glass of iced coffee, and enjoy the day with me! Let's live it up!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Word of the Week - Zone

The other day I was looking up "war zone," and in so doing came across some interesting tidbits on zone. =)

The noun dates to the late fourteenth century, coming directly from the Latin zona, which means "a geographical belt, celestial zone." The Latin in turn comes from the Greek zone, which was the word for "belt." Originally this was used solely to talk of the five great divisions on the surface of the earth--the torrid, temperate, and frigid areas, separated by the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and the Arctic and Antarctic circles.

It wasn't until 1822 that zone was applied to any set region--so I could be pretty sure "war zone" wasn't around yet in 1814, LOL. It was applied to sports in 1927.

Then we have the verb sense coming into play. "Zoning" land for a purpose dates from 1912.

Not to be confused with the oh-so-modern sense of "zone out." This verb is from the 1980s, a back-formation of the adjective "zoned" that's related to drug use, taken from the word ozone. I guess it implies that someone's really high, which I'd never paused to consider. That use is from the 1960s. (Surprise, surprise, LOL.)

So there you go. Some really ancient uses, and some incredibly modern ones. =)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Stalled Dreams

A Favor by Edmund Blair Leighton
I've always liked August. It holds my birthday, after all, and has traditionally had lots of other fun things going on. But on the other hand, it's the end of summer. The start of school. For any household with kids, August signals a change in seasons, even though the heat of summer's still upon us.

This year, when the page in the calendar flipped, it kinda got to me. I looked down at the project that had been my primary goal, and I see that it's not all that far along. And that feeling of failure swamped me. That feeling of What have I been doing? How have I wasted my time?

Then I remember that I haven't been twiddling my thumbs. I've been editing a lot, which is great and necessary. I wrote a novella that I'm excited to get to use for promotion between the first two books of the Culper Ring Series. And I got a good chunk done on another project.

A project that got stalled, perhaps even nixed for good. Which thought still brings me a pang.

I'm a writer--I know rejection well. I've had to put aside countless projects over the years. But for some reason, this one still gets me down now and then. Primarily, I think, because it's intertwined with a couple other projects in my mind, which have also been stalled. Put on hold. Which they've been on so long that they've gone from "paused" to "stop."

I'm not sure I can really explain this echoey sigh that fills me when I think about these things lately. I can see where the way things have fallen out is without doubt for the best. I can see that the Lord has His plan in it and have to nod at the wisdom. 

But still there's just this sense of loss. Lost dreams. Lost time spent on them when I could have been working on the project that's a sure thing.

I have to trust there, though, too, don't I? Trust that that time spent was for a purpose too. That it wasn't wasted.

The funny thing is that I have no problem looking at the years spent on that pile of books in my computer that are unpublished and give them a thumb's up. Because I learned from them, because they made me who I am, because I still hope that some of them will have their day. So why can't I look at the month and a half spent on these projects the same way?

I'm really not sure, but it's something I've been giving to the Lord again and again. And again, and again, I have to remind myself that I haven't failed. That I'm doing just fine, thank you very much, on my primary project.

With mere weeks left in my "free" time this summer--or at least before the home school year starts--I can't help but number my days and try to figure out how to catch up with where I wanted to be. But the real task here isn't to write a chapter a day and edit two books for WhiteFire. The real task is to lay these stalled dreams on the alter and trust. Trust that lost dreams and lost time and lost motivation are all part of God's plan for me to find something better. To find His path for me. To find Him in new ways.

It's hard, when those echoey sighs billow through me. But then . . . trust always is.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Remember When . . . The Traditions Were Medieval?

A friend contacted me yesterday to ask if I would consider digging into the traditions of the garter-toss and bouquet toss at weddings for one of my posts. Well, ask and ye shall receive!

The garter-toss is a remnant from days of old. Back in the medieval and Elizabethan eras, no one just assumed that the bride and groom would retire to their room and consummate the marriage. No, no, they wanted proof--or at least a semblance of it. Back in those days, the wedding guests would accompany the bridal couple to the bed chamber. Taking the garter was considered "proof." It was also considered luck. So things sometimes got out of hand with guests trying to derobe the bride so they could get at those lucky undergarments . . . 

Yeah, that's when the "toss" came in, LOL. Brides and grooms understandably wanted to distract those over-eager guests, so the groom would remove the garter and toss it to get people away from his poor bride. Kinda like tossing a steak at the snarling guard dogs... ;-)

Over the centuries, that tradition has held on, though it's been moved to the reception when seeing the couple to their bedroom went out of style. Funny the things that stick, isn't it?

The bouquet-toss is rooted in a similar idea. Brides in Merry Old England (by which I mean OLD England), would carry bunches of aromatic herbs (think garlic) to fend off evil spirits (a common thread in many Celtic and Anglo traditions). These were eventually replaced with flowers as a symbol of happiness. And if the bride was so stinkin' happy, well the guests wanted a piece of it too! They would try to snatch a piece of the bride's gown or flowers for luck.

Go figure, the women weren't too crazy about having their wedding dress torn to shreds (I don't understand it...), so the bouquet-toss came about, much like the garter-toss did--to get people away from her, LOL.

So these two tossing traditions are both ways of sharing the good luck of the bridal couple with the guests without offending modesty or ruining the gown, and both have since come to the mean that the lucky recipient would be the next to wed. (Which is, of course, the best fortune anyone could have. *grins*)

And hey, if anyone else has questions about words or history that you'd like me to research for you, it saves me some brainstorming, so I'm all ears!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Word of the Week - Doodle

From time immemorial--or at least since the rise of pencil and pen and paper--people have been scribbling nonsensical pictures onto the page when they're thinking. We call it doodling. But apparently we've only been calling it that since 1935. I had no idea it was that new a word! I figured it wasn't old, but I would have guessed a bit older than that!

There's a fun quote here from a play of the era:

LONGFELLOW: That's a name we made up back home for people who make foolish designs on paper when they're thinking. It's called doodling. Almost everybody's a doodler. Did you ever see a scratch pad in a telephone booth? People draw the most idiotic pictures when they're thinking. Dr. Von Holler, here, could probably think up a long name for it, because he doodles all the time. ["Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," screenplay by Robert Riskin, 1936; based on "Opera Hat," serialized in "American Magazine" beginning May 1935, by Clarence Aldington Kelland] 

And yet we see the word (not with the "draw aimlessly" meaning) way before that, right? It's derived from dawdle, it seems, and has a meaning of "fritter away time." 

But in the 1600s it meant "a simple fellow." It was, in fact, a derogatory term thought to have a, um, rather crude connection. Let's just say it was extracted from "cock-a-doodle-do" as a euphemism for one of the other words in that sound effect... Yeah, see? Crude. So the British really weren't being nice when they came up with "Yankee Doodle."

At any rate, when my 1814 heroine has drawn absentmindedly upon paper, "doodle" is not a word I can use to describe it. ;-)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Lessons

When I came up with the idea of the Culper Ring Series, I didn't have any great themes in mind. I just liked the premise, and soon got hooked on the characters. The plots were dictated largely by history. And I was rather surprised to release the themes ended up coming from history too.

Themes I had the pleasure of hearing echoed to a crowd of 60,000 people over the weekend. =)

Last week we drove to Texas for the Restoring Love rally, bringing the kids with us. Now, to be perfectly honest, I never listen to Glenn Beck, and I haven't much watched him since he left Fox. Now, the reason for these "not"s is that if someone else doesn't turn it on, I don't bother with the TV or radio. And if someone else turns it on, they pick what we watch. So most of my watching/listening ends up being My Little Ponies or Chuck the Truck, LOL. 

So yeah, I'd kinda wondered why my hubby kept saying, "You should send a press release to the Glenn Beck folks. Your new stuff is right up their alley." I believed him, but didn't fully grasp why. Not until I sat in the Cowboys stadium and heard that crowd roaring in response to the speakers giving voice to... to...

My themes! =) Themes that aren't just for the pages of a book, but for my own life too. My family's life. My church's life. Themes about standing up, no matter what, and doing what's right. More, doing what's needed for others.

If you asked the audience what Restoring Love was about, you probably would have heard things like "service" and "charity." We took our kids with us for our "day of service," as they called it, a day when 30,000 volunteers flooded Dallas to do everything from fix roofs to cut up downed trees. We ended up in a nursing home, supposedly to plant flowers, but they hadn't been delivered--so we ended up playing Bingo with the residents. =)

And my day was pretty much made when Xoe looked up at me on the bus ride there, after we'd explained what "volunteering" meant, and asked, "Can we volunteer all the time?"

See, that's the lesson we all need to learn, and that I know I need to teach my kids. That they can reach out. That they should reach out. Not necessarily to do big things, but to do whatever needs done. That's the message I got from the event, from the speakers, and that's the message I've been contemplating for a year now as I develop each of my Culper books.

Sometimes the Lord calls us to a hard place. A place where obeying means risking everything we love. So what do we do?

Sometimes the Lord calls us to a dark place. A place where obeying means being kept forever in the shadows, where no one will see us. So what do we do?

Sometimes the Lord calls us to a towering place. A place where millions can see us...but where a single misstep can send us tumbling down. So what do we do?

The answer ought to be obvious--we do what we need to do, what He asks us to do--but is it? It certainly isn't easy to. Which is why it feels like so often these days, things are left undone. Because it's so much easier not to do them.

But history has already shown us these themes. Shown us the stories of people who weren't so extraordinary, until they did what they had to do. Until they fought the hard fight, until they went where no one else dared to go. Until they risked hatred and reviling and even punishment to stand up--just stand up--for a cause.

That made them extraordinary, wrote their names in our history books. Not because of anything they tried to do for themselves, for their own glory--but for the things they did for others. For freedom. For faith.

Maybe I don't see a cause before me quite so clear-cut as fighting for independence or rallying a nation to fend off invaders. But I see one just as daunting--raising my children to have the heart, to have the courage, to serve others above themselves. It's a task that won't be finished any time in the near future, but you know . . . I think I'm doing okay. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Remember When . . . The Road Went On?

This past week my family took a road trip to Texas. And while I've flown to Texas before (and will again for the ACFW conference in September--woot!), I've never before driven through many of the states. From Maryland, the path to Dallas takes us first through the entire diagonal of West Virginia, then through Kentucky, then Tennessee, Arkansas, and finally Texas.

As we drove, I couldn't help but think of the beloved books I've read that take place in these areas. Laura Frantz's amazing colonials, for example, that are set in Kentucky. Many of the books I grew up on that were set in early Texas. I noticed the names that I knew from my own research, like Pulaski, who was apparently well revered by states other than Georgia. ;-)

And as I saw this 1200-mile cross-section of our country, I was hit again and again with how big it is. How diverse. How mysterious those territories must have been for the early settlers. We started our trip in the beautiful rolling mountains of the Appalachians, spending hours and hours driving up and down, around turns, dodging wildlife. When those mountains tapered into hills, we entered the beautiful horse country of Kentucky--where there is, of all things, a castle. Talk about a fun thing for the kids to see! Though the castle was built only 30-40 years ago, renovators today are apparently shocked by the detail given to medieval authenticity. Pretty cool, eh?

From the Lexington area we continued into Cave Country, with beautiful rock ledges and hidden wonders that I obviously couldn't see from the road, but which my imagination knew waited in those caves. Driving through that area we saw all the evidence of the dinosaur discoveries in the area, including Dinosaur World and the life-size model of a T-Rex perched along the interstate, inviting you to come discover something new. Archaeology was a dream of mine before I decided I'd better just focus on writing, so when my hubby said that maybe we should come back to Cave Country sometime to explore, I was pretty excited. =)

The land began to flatten out as we drove through Tennessee, and was particularly lovely around the Mississippi. No wonder, then, that civilization sprang up there! It was quite an experience to drive over that massive river and into Arkansas, where the straight, flat countryside was largely fields with trees along the border. We got to see a crop-duster at work, which was also a new experience.

This mountain-girl started yawning at all the flat, straight lines in Arkansas and Texas (sorry, natives!), but there was definitely something about the sheer vastness that made me able to see the allure. I could just imagine that the first travelers from the east, after navigating those treacherous mountains, finally reaching this and thinking, "Oh my. Just look at all that land!"

We had a great trip, and tomorrow I'll wrap my mind around some of the reflections I had while there. But today seemed like a good time to focus on the trip itself, and this amazing land that drew so many amazing people to it.