Last week I did a research trip to Pendleton, OR and Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. While it meant my needing to do some rewrites on the current work in progress (WIP) it also means it will be a strong story. That’s what I wanted.
While in Pendleton, I did reconnaissance of the Hamley store, restaurant and saloon. I have my characters gong there and wanted to make sure I described it correctly. I’m glad I did. The photos on the website didn’t give me the information I needed. But being there, I came up with a new scenario for my character finding a photo that will ring truer than the one I’d used originally. It also gave me more of a feel for the town as I drove to the library to look at old newspapers on microfiche. And I discovered the river walkway. Which sparked an idea for the next book in my Spotted Pony Casino mystery series.
The next day I went to the reservation to get a better feel for that. I drove roads I’d not been on before and took in the ambiance. After that I went to the Tmastslikt Cultural Institute. It is a museum about the tribes who make up the Umatilla. The Cayuse, Walla Walla, and Umatilla. Every time I go to the reservation I go to the museum. They have revolving exhibits that are always new and interesting. And I enjoy their gift shop. I always walk out with a book or two. This time I had two books, a pair of earrings, barrettes, note cards, and a new mousepad. I found too many things I liked!
But it was the exhibit they had going now through March 18th that I spent the most time looking at. It is the 2023 ArtWORKZ Junior Art Show & Competition. There were paintings, drawings, pottery, beading, metal work, and other mediums of art. I took photos of the pieces that made me feel something.
The artists who wrote explanations, such as this last one, I think nailed what they were trying to show. I was impressed with the work I saw. there were 150 exhibits.
And I liked this signage by in the museum:
The best part about research is always the new things I see and experience.
So far this month I’ve been to the Tamastslikt Museum outside of Pendleton, Oregon at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Then over to Orofino, ID and the Dwarshak Fish Hatchery and Dam. Then I went to the St. Ignasius Mission on the Flathead Indian Reservation. After that, I took photographs of the area around Salmon Lake in Montana, and then I spent several days with my cousin and her husband.
It’s good to be home but most of my travels had to do with making my Spotted Pony Casino mysteries and Gabriel Hawke books better.
I was on a research trip. Though a few of the things I researched aren’t for the book in progress.
At Tamastslikt Museum, I wandered through the exhibits, reading and trying to connect myself to the characters I write who live on this reservation. I enjoyed the videos that played at some of the exhibits. The voices of the people and their thoughts helped me to understand a little more about the Umatilla people. I’m slowly making more and more contacts there and reaching out to be able to portray my characters in a realistic way.
At Orofino, I spent the night with my brother and sister-in-law. My brother works for Dwarshak Fish Hatchery. They were getting ready for a ceremony at the hatchery that Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland attended. While there we took a walk up to the dam. I visited when there had been a lot of rain and the Clearwater River was running over its banks.
My sister-in-law (SIL) and I drove to Missoula, Montana where we had an Airbnb for two nights. The next day we drove north to check out the St. Ignasius Mission and the Flathead Reservation. While investigating the routes we would take, I noticed a gravel road that went from Highway 93 to Highway 83, near Salmon Lake that I also wanted to check out. At the church we asked the volunteer guide if she knew anything about the road. She said it was navigable and it would be a pretty drive.
She was correct! The drive was gorgeous through timber, brush, and many overflowing streams and waterfalls. The best part of the drive was seeing a black bear not thirty feet from the road. My SIL rolled down her window and talked to him while taking pictures.
By the time we reached Salmon Lake we had traveled through rain and snow and it was raining. We circled back on the highways to our Airbnb. The following morning we took the highway back to Salmon Lake and with overcast skies and no rain, I took photos of the Island Resort that will be a setting in my next Gabriel Hawke book. I had wanted to get on the island, but I couldn’t as only guests (and I couldn’t afford the price for a night) were allowed. I tried to talk to one of the staff who arrived at the boat house on the land side of the resort, but he blew me off. I took photos from the boat house and then a road up higher and more north on the highway to get as many angles of the island and the resort as I could. There was a smaller island not far from the resort island that may play into the story as well. I’m hoping the scenario I had in mind for the beginning of the book will work once I do a little more research.
Once I had all the photos I wanted, we continued north and spent two nights with a cousin in Lakeside, MT on the north end of Flathead Lake. Our second day there, our hosts took us to the National Bison Range. There we saw deer, elk, antelope, bison, and grizzly bears. We spent the most time watching a young sow grizzly grubbing. She was up a hill from the road where we had spotted her. She rolled a piece of log to get the bugs underneath and the hunk of wood that appeared to be about two feet around and three feet long tumbled down the hill, jumping and rolling! It was a fun thing to see. Up around a corner of the road we were on, there was an even younger grizzly, also grubbing, in a more hidden spot.
I would say my research trip was very successful. Now I need to get the Spotted Pony Casino book I’m writing finished so I can start on the Hawke book set in Montana!
Stay tuned as I will be going more in depth in several of the places we visited on this trip in future blog posts. I wanted to get something up as I am late this month with this post.