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As time allows, I’ve been doing some exploring around my new home state. Not too long ago I took an afternoon road trip on what I thought was the Natchez Trace. Turns out it was just Old Highway 61, but I didn’t find that out until later.

Anyway, I came upon this cute little old church up amongst the trees and decided to check it out up close and personal.

Rocky Springs Church. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

Rocky Springs Church. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

Rocky Springs church, circa 1700 something. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015

Rocky Springs church, circa 1700 something. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015

Much to my excitement, the door was open. So, of course, I went in.

Inside the church @ Rocky Springs. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

Inside the church at Rocky Springs. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

I imagined what life would be like as a preacher.

View from the pulpit - Rocky Springs Church. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

View from the pulpit – Rocky Springs Church. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

In the yard was this graveyard, just beckoning to be explored.

Graveyard @ Rocky Springs church. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

Graveyard at Rocky Springs church. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

So many babies died.

Headstone at Rocky Springs church. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015

Headstone at Rocky Springs church. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015

Tombstone at Rocky Springs church. Photo y P. Rickrode, August 2015.

Tombstone at Rocky Springs church. Photo y P. Rickrode, August 2015.

After exploring the church and adjoining graveyard, I found this curious path admidst the Spanish Moss:

Path in the woods. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

Path in the woods. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

Spanish moss at Rocky Springs church. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015

Spanish moss at Rocky Springs church. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015

It seems I had stumbled upon what had once been the rip roaring community of Rocky Springs.

Rocky Springs, Mississippi. Photo by P. Rickrode. August 2015

Rocky Springs, Mississippi. Photo by P. Rickrode. August 2015

I continued along the path until I got to this little bridge, which did not look safe to cross.

Bridge at Rocky Creek. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

Bridge at Rocky Springs. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

Yes, I crossed it anyway and found what remains of Rocky Springs.

Old well at Rocky Springs. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

Old well at Rocky Springs. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

Burned out safe at Rocky Springs. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

Burned out safe at Rocky Springs. Photo by P. Rickrode, August 2015.

So there you have it, my afternoon walk in the woods, found by mistake while innocently thinking I was traveling the famous Natchez Trace.

How about you dear readers, what unexpected adventures have you encountered in your leisure time? Any surprises uncovered on an afternoon road trip? Inquiring minds want to know.

Word of the Day: Casuistry

Fun fact about me: I love exploring in the woods.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, September 2015. Original photos by P. Rickrode.

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Photo by P. Rickrode

Photo by P. Rickrode

My local Sacramento chapter of Romance Writers of America hosts a retreat every other year and this year we were so blessed to be able to have our retreat at the Stanford-Sierra Conference Center at Fallen Leaf Lake in Lake Tahoe.

Anniversary & 2013 SVR retreat 138

Photo by P. Rickrode

Crystal clear Fallen Leaf Lake is protected on all sides by the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and sits at 6,300 feet in elevation. It is completely surrounded by two indigenous species of conifers; Jeffrey and White pine. Just a short walk from the lodge, civilization ends and desolation begins. Desolation Wilderness offers nearly endless hiking and breathtaking views throughout its 63,960 acres of federally protected land.

Anniversary & 2013 SVR retreat 125

Fallen Leaf Lake
Photo by P. Rickrode

The lodge and cabins at The Camp date back to the turn of the century with some staff housing still sitting on original foundations constructed in the 1920’s. One of the famous staffers at Stanford-Sierra was John Steinbeck who worked at the camp in 1925 and helped construct many of the staff cabins. He was a popular figure at The Camp and was known to spend his down time hiking, fishing and writing by the light of his lantern at night.

Sacramento Valley Rose was honored to have Margie Lawson as our guest speaker. Margie filled our Friday night with fun and our Saturday with valuable knowledge, tips and other information to make our manuscripts sparkle and shine in a way that would capture the attention of an agent or editor.

Anniversary & 2013 SVR retreat 154

Margie Lawson, SVR Retreat, May 2013
Photo by P. Rickrode

After a long day of learning and a mouth-watering feast Saturday night, it was time to let our hair down and have some fun. We played our own special convoluted version of Wheel of Fortune, minus Vanna White and lovely prizes. Much belly-laughing ensued.

Anna "AJ" Stewart, Janina Henderson and Judy Ashley Photo by P. Rickrode

Anna “AJ” Stewart, Janina Henderson and Judy Ashley
Photo by P. Rickrode

We did what writers do best with limited letters.

Kendra DeSantolo Photo by P. Rickrode

Kendra DeSantolo
Photo by P. Rickrode

Patricia Rickrode aka Jansen Schmidt Photo by Anonymous

Patricia Rickrode aka Jansen Schmidt
Photo by Anonymous

As the night progressed (and more wine was consumed), things got a little more raunchy.

Anna "AJ" Stewart showing us her extensive vocabulary. Photo by P. Rickrode

Anna “AJ” Stewart showing us her extensive vocabulary.
Photo by P. Rickrode

Once the tone had been set, there was no going back and it got easier to guess the words.

Suzanne Pitner aka Suzanne Lilly Photo by P. Rickrode

Suzanne Pitner aka Suzanne Lilly
Photo by P. Rickrode

Or not. Turns out, the laugh was on us. Suzanne’s a cunning fox that way.

Suzanne Pitner aka Suzanne Lilly (aka The Trickster) Photo by P. Rickrode

Suzanne Pitner aka Suzanne Lilly (aka The Trickster)
Photo by P. Rickrode

Despite the building-shaking thunder and brilliant flashes of lightning on Saturday night and the lack of cell phone communications, a good time was had by all. The staff at the Stanford-Sierra Camp were simply the best greeting each request with a smile and offering assistance over and above what we expected. The weekend couldn’t have been more perfect.

So tell me readers, where have you experienced a little bit of writing heaven? Where have you attended a retreat that made a lasting impression on you?

Word of the day: Xebec (have fun with this one Colleen)

Fun fact about me: I used to change my own oil and filter in my car.

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