Kristy McCaffrey writes contemporary and award-winning historical western romances. She likes the peculiar, the fascinating, and the scientific; animals and the outdoors; her husband and children; history, symbols, and mythology. Grab a cup of tea and hang out by the fireside. Let's travel together.
Situated near the Four Corners region of the U.S., the town of Durango sits on the Animas River in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. In the 1870’s it was called Animas City, but when the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad arrived in 1881 the town was renamed by ex-Colorado Governor Alexander C. Hunt after Durango, Mexico. The name originated from the Basque word Urango, which means “water town.”
Durango, Colorado, 1883
The San Juans are part of the Rocky Mountains, and with high quantities of minerals present, gold and silver mining camps soon popped up during the 19th century. Those camps are now major towns such as Telluride, Ouray, Silverton, Lake City, Creede, and Durango.
The San Juan Mountains
In 1882, a narrow-gauge steam railroad was constructed to connect the mining town of Silverton with the coal and smelting operations of Durango. Today, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad makes daily trips between the two towns for anyone who wishes to see the grandeur of the San Juans. Additionally, visitors can enjoy wilderness trekking, mountain climbing, and camping. In the winter, skiing is a favorite pastime at the well-known Durango Mountain Resort, known locally as Purgatory.
It’s Christmas in July!! Digital copies of my contemporary western novella, THE PEPPERMINT TREE, are on sale for 99 cents. The story is set in and around the Durango area.
When an unexpected inheritance draws lawyer Skye Mallory home for the Christmas holidays, she’s surprised by a longing to set down roots in her Colorado hometown. Only one thing stands in her way—a cowboy who broke her heart in high school. Joe Carrigan has returned to the community he left years ago, ready to face his one regret in life—Skye Mallory. But this time, he won’t be so chivalrous.
Read an excerpt
Joe Carrigan watched as the red taillights in the distance slid from left to right and then right even more, finally stopping. He’d been following the Prius for a while, and the driver had been conservative, but their luck had just run out. He was in his Bronco—the same one he’d driven in high school on these very roads—and it could still be trusted in bad weather. He’d been able to afford better cars over the years, but he still had a habit of jumping in this one, especially on a night like this.
He checked his rearview mirror. Thankfully, no cars behind him. He slowed the Bronco and guided it as far to the right as he could without getting stuck.
Stepping out of his vehicle, a blast of cold air hit him as heavy snowflakes engulfed him. He really shouldn’t be out in this, but he’d agreed to meet Oliver and Celeste and a friend of Celeste’s, a blind date he’d been badgered into. His life had been too busy of late for a woman, but it didn’t mean he actually needed or wanted one in his life.
He reached inside the Bronco and grabbed his heavy canvas coat, quickly pulling it on and zipping it to his neck. The snow crunched beneath his boots and his breath came out in white puffs as he crossed the beam of his headlights and approached the Prius. He tapped on the driver’s window, the shadowy figure of a woman on the other side. She hesitated a moment then rolled the window down.
“Are you all right, miss?”
As the woman’s face became fully visible, he did a double-take. “Skylar?”
Her forehead pinched into hard ridges, and her eyes registered a flash of outrage. “Carrigan?”
As if a freight train had hit him, he uttered, “It’s been a long time.”
The Incredible True Story of a Child Raised by Monkeys
Review by Kristy McCaffrey
This story of survival and endurance is all the more amazing
because Ms. Chapman was five years old when she was abandoned in the jungle following
a terrifying abduction from her home in Colombia. After wandering for several
days, alone, bereft, and confused, she collapsed and a family of capuchin
monkeys found her. They didn’t exactly raise her, or even accept her at first,
but their tolerance was key to her survival. By watching and imitating them,
she was able to find food and shelter. Over the course of five years, she even
came to understand their primitive language of screeches, whistles, and calls.
In time, she developed an affectionate bond with several of the members.
Some of her experiences are extraordinary, such as the time
the grandfather monkey saved her life when she ate the wrong plant. He dragged
her to a muddy pool of water and forced her to drink, inducing her to vomit and
eject the poisonous plant. Eventually she was rescued by poachers. The course
of her life following this was almost unimaginable. She was sold to a brothel,
where she was abused until she ran away. Then she lived as a street urchin,
putting the skills she learned from the monkeys—namely theft—to good use. When
she was finally able to get off the street, she ended up in the home of a local
cartel family where she was further abused. When she realized her life was in
danger, she escaped to a convent.
While this story might sound depressing, you can’t help but
admire the sharp resiliency of Marina herself. This was the name she chose at
age fourteen, after years of others calling her what they wanted. This is an extraordinary
journey of survival, written with the help of Marina’s daughter and a
ghostwriter. I couldn’t put it down.