Westward Bound

My wife, Denise, and I like to travel. We don’t often get to travel with our friends and family, but we love to take them with us to share in our adventures. To do that, we write about our adventures and share pictures.

Typically, it is enough to share our Travelpod site and keep that updated as we go along. But in May 2011, as we rolled across the open plains on our way to Moab, Utah, I decided that a standard travel blog was not going to be enough. You see, we really wanted to share the experience with our two nieces, Amelia and Adrianna. They are a bit too young for a cross country road trip (or we’re too old to want to travel that far with a six-year-old and a three-year-old), so I decided to write a story about them. In the story, they would take the road trip with us. In order to add a dash of adventure and daring, I set the story back in the 1870s and put them on the Oregon Trail.

With Denise’s excellent photography and book layout skills and a lot of editing help from my brother-in-law, Patrick, I was able to have it printed and ready for them in time for Christmas.

They liked it.

A lot.

I figured they might. They love books, and what’s better than reading a story about yourself?

And since they liked it, I thought a few other people might enjoy it. A few weeks of Kindle formatting later, and I published it through the Kindle Store!

Click the image to purchase!

I’d love for you to take a read. This is a book for kids, but don’t go in expecting Dr. Seuss. There are lots of words, but we offset that with over forty beautiful photographs that Denise took on our trip West.

Don’t have a Kindle? You don’t need one! Just buy it with your Amazon account, and it will ask you where you want to send it.

You can purchase without owning a Kindle!

Just choose to use the Cloud Reader. It’s actually a great way to read the book, and the photos are in full color and look amazing.

If you do read it, I would really appreciate it if you left a review on Amazon!

And if you do or don’t read it, I’d love it if you shared this article, or a link to the book on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social site.

And now, here’s a quick excerpt from the book.


Chapter 1: Running out of space

PA WAS in the barn. It seemed he was there an awful lot lately. Amelia remembered that last winter, Pa spent most of his time playing with her and building a rocking horse. He had painted the horse black. She and her little sister called it Chocolate and loved to play on it.

Ma was in the kitchen salting beef and putting it in jars and crates. Her shoulder-length, curly, auburn hair kept falling into her eyes as she worked. Usually Ma would sit with Amelia and play school with her. Amelia would answer questions like 19 + 7 or How many apples did Susy have left if she picked 10 and gave 3 away? Ma told her she was really smart. Her little sister, Adriana, would listen for a while, but then she would take Ma and Amelia’s coffee order and bustle off to her imaginary kitchen. She would return quickly to serve it before taking the pretend dishes to pretend wash them.

Even Grandma was busy in the kitchen; she had been working since before the sun was up! Grandma had short, black hair and always had a loving smile for Amelia. It sure seemed odd to Amelia that Grandma and Ma would be working so hard. The food for the winter had already been gathered and stored; Amelia had even helped this year!

Amelia was a tall, thin, red-headed girl that would turn six in the spring. Her big, beautiful, brown eyes did not miss a thing. She was always interested in what the grown-ups were doing, and she was smart enough to understand most of it. Adriana, was a pretty little girl with curly brown hair and an easy laugh. She was too intent on her jigsaw puzzle and cooking imaginary food for her dolls to notice the change in routine the last few weeks. Amelia had done her best to ignore it, but her curiosity was getting the better of her. She stood up from her math flash cards and yelled to her mother in the kitchen.

“Ma-a-a-a!” she cried. “Why aren’t you playing with us?”

Her mother’s reply was lost in the howl of the wind from the suddenly open door. Pa stood in the doorway with an excited look on his face and a letter in his hand. His usually neatly-combed brown hair was mussed from the wind and he must have knocked his small, round spectacles as he hustled inside. They were crookedly hanging to the side of his large nose.

“Carolyn! It finally came!” he yelled.

“Shut the door before we all catch the sickness,” Ma yelled back.

Pa came in with Grandpa right behind. Grandpa’s windblown, white hair was sticking straight up in the air as he ambled over to Adriana. He laughed as he grabbed Adriana under the arm pits and swung her into the air. Adriana squealed with excitement.

Ma came out of the kitchen and Pa swept her up into his arms and twirled her around.

“Aaron and Denise finally wrote from Independence, Missouri. They have purchased wagons and supplies and signed us up with a group of other pioneers heading to Oregon! We are to meet them in early May.”

“That is fine news, David! We have just about finished packing the food for the trip,” Ma said.

Amelia and Adriana both perked up at the sound of their favorite Aunt and Uncle’s names. They did not see them often because they traveled so much, but they were great fun to play with.

Amelia was happy to see her parents smile. She knew they worked very hard to put food on the table and a roof over her head. But she also felt uneasy. She didn’t know what Independence was or what a pie o’ near could be. She sat back down and listened intently to the strange and complex world of the grown-ups.

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