Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘cowboys

During my recent trip to New Mexico, my travelling companion and I visited the St. James Hotel in Cimarron on the Santa Fe Trail. The hotel was built in 1872 by a trained French chef, Henri Lambert. Many famous guests stayed in this elegant but often violent hotel. Cimarron is Spanish for wild or unruly, which was a fitting name for this lawless town in the nineteenth century when arguments were often settled with bullets. Twenty-six people lost their lives at the St. James Hotel.



The lobby of the St. James Hotel

The lobby of the St. James Hotel

We had a delicious burrito lunch in the restaurant sitting under a huge Texas longhorn. We then wandered into the bar where bullet holes from days gone by, pepper the ceiling.




Famous lawmen, outlaws and wild west characters  stayed in this hotel. Colourful individuals such as Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Doc Holliday, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill Cody, the author Zane Grey and Annie Oakley.We wanted to look inside the rooms that are still decorated in the manner Mr. Lambert had established. With luck a friendly maintenance man agreed to show us around. The St. James is still an operating hotel but since many of the rooms were vacant we could check them out.



The Annie Oakley Room

The Annie Oakley Room

The very room Wyatt Earp slept in

The very room Wyatt Earp slept in

We had heard the hotel was haunted and were eager to learn more. Our guide told us that many guests have felt the presence of the spirits of those who have met their demise in this hotel. The staff tell stories of cutlery being moved around, a cowboy suddenly appearing and then disappearing and the sudden scent of rose perfume. Room #18 is never rented out as the ghost of a cowboy,  T.J. Wright, killed during a game of cards, resides there. The St. James Hotel has been featured on a number of television shows.

The card room where the guest of #18 was shot

The card room where the guest of #18 was shot

A peaceful sitting area outside with murals, a waterfall and a bear about to steal a freshly baked pie is a good place to escape from the eerie feeling inside.

Peaceful outdoor seating

Peaceful outdoor seating








This was a great place to visit, full of wild west history and ambiance. I’m sure there are many stories contained in those walls. But I’m not sure I would want to spend a night.

More great pictures of the hotel and the rooms here


I spent a day with a good friend at the Bar U Ranch outside of Calgary during my recent visit to Alberta. This now National Historic site was one of the first large corporate ranches  in Canada and has been well-preserved.  Nestled in the foothills with Pekisko Creek running through  it and the Rocky Mountains in the background; time stands still here.


The Bar U brand


The Bar U Ranch is home to the famous Percheron draft horse. We were lucky to go for a horse drawn wagon ride with Smudge & Licorice and driver Ross, who shared interesting stories about the ranch.


A visit to the Post Office was well worth it.  There we met Post Mistress Sherrine who provided us with much information. Apparently some interesting individuals have visited the ranch over the years including Edward, Prince of Wales and The Sundance Kid!




Next stop was the Cookhouse which doubled as a bunkhouse upstairs. The cook was busy making cookies, which she offered to us as they came fresh out of the oven. Yummy.




The pantry was well stocked including fresh produce from the well kept garden.

Coming out the back door of the cookhouse

Coming out the back door of the cookhouse



The dining room with two large lazy susans to feed the hungry ranch hands


The ranch hand’s sleeping quarters.


The cowboys read books to entertain themselves. No TV at that time.



We stopped at the Roundup Camp chuckwagon where we were served a cup of tea made over the campfire, by Shane, a friendly ranch hand. We enjoyed our tea and had a great chat around the fire just like they did in the old days of the cattle drives.

Ranch hand Shane

Friendly ranch hand Shane

Cowgirl Francis

Friendly cowgirl Francis

We were also shown around the barns by Cowgirl Francis who tried to teach us how to rope a calf. I failed miserably.

Everyone we met at the ranch was incredibly friendly. From the moment we entered we were greeted warmly at reception,  by the girls at the lunch counter and by  the gift store manager. I learned something from everyone we met.  It was well worth the time spent and I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area. It is a realistic look into ranch life 100 years ago.


 The log cabin, built in 1919, housed the foreman and his family

There is always something happening at the ranch.  Cook-offs, rodeos, trail rides, and chore horse competitions. You can watch a saddle maker at his craft or a blacksmith at work, sit around the campfire by Pekisko Creek and learn about the people, cattle and horses that occupied the ranch over the years or pretend to be a cowboy or cowgirl for a day.

Learn more by visiting The Friends of the Bar U Ranch or visit on  Facebook 

I do believe Amanda Ross will be visiting this ranch in her next adventure, Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone.

I haven’t participated in a blog hop before but was  honoured to be chosen to be part of this one. I’d like to thank Sharon from Sharon’s Sunlit Memories  for tagging me to participate. This gives us all a chance to view releases from authors we admire, as well as introduce us to some works in progress. Check out Sharon’s wonderful blog that brings back memories of a 60’s childhood. She posts cut-out dolls, picture books and paintings from way back then.  She also sprinkles her blog with pictures of her magical property in Ireland. (a place I wish to visit one day)

The ten questions required to answer for the “Next Big Thing” are:

1.What is the working title of your work in progress?

Amanda in Alberta-The Writing on the Stone

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I like to write about Amanda travelling to unique places but when I was doing a reading at my grandson’s school in Alberta, one of the students said, “Why don’t you write about Amanda in Alberta?”  I grew up there so I didn’t think it would be that unique. But then I thought, for children who are not familiar with the area, they might find it fascinating.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Middle reader chapter books, ages 8 – 12 approximately. (although many adults seem to enjoy my books as well!)

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I am not familiar with current child actors. I always imagine my books as animations when I think of them on-screen.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Leah comes to Alberta to visit Amanda where they attend the Calgary Stampede, visit a cattle ranch, spend time at a  dinosaur museum and meet a sad rodeo clown, while they try to decipher prehistoric writing found on a stone.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My books are published by Central Avenue Publishing

7.  How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I have written four chapters of Amanda in Alberta. I hope to have the first draft completed by June of next year.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I haven’t really compared this story to other books. I enjoyed reading about the Bobbsey Twins and their travels when I was growing up.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

This book was inspired by the children who read my books. They always ask me, “Where is Amanda going to next?”  My family has lived in Alberta for five generations, and my grandchildren live there now so I have tons of inspiration and ideas.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Alberta is rich with history dating back to the age of dinosaurs so there will be something for everyone;  dinosaurs,  First  Nations people, buffalo, cowboys,and a Blue Heeler dog named Bart. There is actually a place called “Writing on The Stone Park”.

The five authors that I am tagging for this blog hop are:

Cassandra Giovanni  http://cgiovanniwrites.wordpress.com/about/

Lada Ray http://ladaray.wordpress.com/about/

Diane Tibert http://dianetibert.com/home/

Michelle Isenhoff  http://michelleisenhoff.wordpress.com/book-trailers/

Pat Wood  http://patwoodblogging.wordpress.com/

You can answer the questions about a work in progress or a recently published book if you wish. All you have to do is link your post back to my blog.

Check out these great authors (who happen to be very nice people to get to know as well) 

I honour of Father’s Day, Karen Elliott is featuring stories about Dads on her blog.  Check out these heart warming posts. The story of my Dad was posted today.

Cowboy Wisdom, by Darlene Foster

My Dad was a cowboy. Not the Hollywood type, but a real cowboy – a man who tended cattle. A hardworking man of integrity, loyalty and determination; he would always be seen in his signature cowboy hat and boots, jeans and western shirt.  Read more:



Do you have happy memories of your Dad? I would love to hear about them.


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