If you're a regular visitor to this blog, you already know my Guardian Witch series takes place along the Mississippi River basin. Since everyone hasn't been fortunate enough to grow up in the area, I wanted to show you around.
Today we're visiting Olde Town, the main setting for the series and the tourist district of Riverdale, a small Midwestern city of 287,000 inhabitants, sitting on the cliffs of the upper Mississippi River. The original city core has been restored to its glory days when it was a bustling river port.
Shortly after 7:00 a.m. I backed my Rav 4 out the drive and turned east. After steady driving and only one stop for coffee, I arrived at what should have been the edge of Riverdale well before noon. Only it wasn't there. I found places that looked vaguely familiar but no road signs directing me to Riverdale or Olde Town.
I stopped at a gas station, bought a map, and searched for the town listing. Who changed the map? Where was my picturesque city with the 1800s touristy market area? The horse carriages, the vampire bars? They had vanished overnight. Or had they?
I stood on one of the river cliffs and shut my eyes tight. When I opened them again, this time I looked with my imagination. And there it was. The small city that I had come to know so well and grown to love. I'd like to share it with you.
Let's hop on a horse-drawn carriage and take a drive through Goshen Park. Its woods and isolated paths are so much more inviting during the day. (If you doubt that, check out the photo section of my website and see the park in the fog. Spooky.)
The dramatic swan fountain on the west end of Gosh Park is one of the most popular spots in Olde Town. In good weather the benches surrounding the fountain are filled with tourists or townspeople. Just remember to leave before sundown. At night the park is restricted to the Otherworlders.
What gives the area most of its uniqueness is the Mississippi River and its high cliffs riddled with caves. Here is the river at its tamest at a narrow bend . . .
And the river cliffs viewed from another angle.
No tour of Olde Town would be complete without a peek inside the forbidden Vampire Caverns. Visitors are definitely not welcome beyond the entrances, but there is a hiking trail you can follow around the cliff edge. If you look closely, you may see one of the dark openings into the caves. Do not get off the path. Some of those who have wandered into the caverns have never found their way out.
You will find much more in Olde Town than I can possibly show you in this brief visit: the antique shops, craft and herb shops, high-end boutiques. If you're adventurous, you may want to sample the nightlife along the Vampire Strip or relax in the elegant atmosphere of a supper club. I'm told a really sexy vampire owns one of them.
It takes time to get to know this region and its residents. They're unique and elusive. And the only current road into town is through my Guardian Witch series!