November 20, 2009

The Thrill of Ghost Ranch

by DiAnn Mills

            Can you think of a better setting for a historical writer to spend four days than at Ghost Ranch, Albiquiu, New Mexico? Especially a historical writer who prefers edgy fiction? That’s me, and this remote “high desert” ranch and conference center in the mountains fueled my vivid imagination during the recent Class Christian Writers Conference.
            My time at the ranch was a fabulous experience for anyone who has ever embarked upon a journey to stir up the creative muse at an elevation of 6500 feet.
            The conference facilities are spread out, and I was in a casa 2 ½ miles from the conference center with other women faculty members. We arrived after sunset, and after the first session, a driver took us back down a narrow dirt road and through a cattle guard. Imagine stepping out at night … no lights … no sounds … and a million stars twinkling overhead. Then a coyote howled. I jumped.
            DiAnn, you are not in Houston anymore.

 The Casa.

            This area is where Georgia O’Keeffe lived and painted for half a century. And this is where “City Slickers” was filmed. I never got on a horse . . .
            I found the staff eager to talk about the ranch’s rich history, which is quite colorful. The extensive library caught my attention, and the longer I rummaged through the titles, the longer my list grew of books I planned to purchase about the ranch and the area. Gift and coffee shops are available for those moments when a visitor needs a shot of espresso to help pick out the perfect T-shirt, book, or jewelry.
            On a mesa behind the conference center, a visitor can see for miles. Undeniable beauty draws you into the earth colors of the southwest. Many hiking trails and horseback riding is available. Ah … if only I’d had more time.
            The ranch’s origin goes back to 1766 when the king of Spain granted 21,000 acres to Pedro Martin Serrano. Oh, the stories of ghosts and witches appealed to my sense of storytelling. And what a thrill to learn women played an important and vital role in the history of the ranch and Albiquiu. Their website tells more
            And, yes, I have two stories brewing about Ghost Ranch: a historical and a contemporary suspense. Now which one to start first?
            I invite you to dig deep into your closet and tug on your cowboy boots, dust off your hat, drape your camera around your neck, and pack a notepad and pen in your saddle bag. Remember, if you travel to Ghost Ranch in the cold months, you don’t have to worry about snakes.



Vickie McDonough said...

Too funny about the coyote, DiAnn. And I vote for the historical first. The Ghost Ranch looks like a great place to visit.

Debra E Marvin said...

Oh my yes, that's an amazing looking place. I also vote historical. Of course. Is there a choice?
Thanks for taking us to Ghost Ranch!

Tina Dee Books said...

What a gorgeous place! I cast a vote for historical!

Stephen & Janet Bly said...

DiAnn: The place and event sound ready-made for creativity. Fascinating!