By Cait Collins
Sometimes the best research is a road trip. Seeing, holding, smelling, and maybe tasting the past or the present makes the setting real. You see the ghosts, hear their laughter, and shed tears with them. Imagine walking the wards of an Army hospital built in the 1860’s. What was innovative then seems primitive now.
Out on the lawn a baseball game is in progress. The Kids’ team is up at bat against a youth team from a nearby town. The uniforms are heavy cotton and yellowed with age. The gloves look different, but not being a baseball fan, I couldn’t put my finger on what was off.
A trip to the site of the Sand Creek Massacre taught me to view Native Americans differently. I could sympathize with the men and women who had traveled the area for centuries in search of game to feed their families.
My most recent road trip took the Wordsmith Six group to Shamrock, Texas and the U Drop Inn. We roamed the small café, showroom/gift shop, and the walkways surrounding the place. It brought back memories of the small Texas towns where my grandmothers lived. And the environment sparked creative juices. I now have a short story to write.
Day or weekend trips provide endless opportunities to learn and examine the past, present and future. They provide inspiration, and help build friendships. I recommend taking trips with your writer friends. It’s great fun.