This week I’m honored to host indie author Lora Young as she shares the inspiration behind her debut historical novel, Malicious Mischief. Her love for Missouri’s Katy Trail led Lora to write a suspensful mystery with a dash of romance centered around the old MKT railway. Lora and her husband Bill love to ride their bikes and have traversed every part of the Katy Trail. Here’s your chance to explore with them.
“Look, another turtle.” Bill slowed his recumbent and moved the turtle off the trail. Sunlight filtered through the canopy as the sound of bicycle tires on chat thrummed in their ears.
“It must be The Day of the Turtle.” Lora laughed at their recurring joke. Every time they rode the Katy Trail in central Missouri, a different species of wildlife came out to welcome them.
“Ready for a break?”
“Sounds good to me. Let’s ride to the next bench.”
They stopped by the bench, Lora reading the marker about the Native American petroglyphs on the bluff behind her. Part of her brain absorbed the information, while another part listened to the “heebie-jeebie” of the tufted titmouse in the tree above, the hum of insect noise, and the rustle of a rabbit as it scurried into the bushes.
Bill seemed fascinated by the fast-moving Missouri River as it rushed past the trail near Rocheport. Two people in a canoe waved as they floated downstream. Wildflowers bloomed purple and yellow between the former rail bed and the river. They reveled in the sights and sounds of summer in Missouri.
The Katy Trail State Park made the list of Best of Rural Missouri’s category for best trail in four out of five regions of rural Missouri. Named after the M-K-T Railway, the Katy Trail is one of 51 state parks in Missouri.
Part of the Rails to Trails Conservancy project, it once bore the weight of many of tons of steel as the trains flew past the bluffs and fields. After the last train finished its run on the Katy in 1986 the work began to join this rail bed to the growing number that were being transformed into hiking and biking trails.
Officially dedicated in 1996, the Katy has seen thousands of visitors of all ages and from all over the country and the world. The flat, wide surface makes it easy for young and old alike to negotiate the trail with few problems.
Like any state park, there are plenty of areas for picnicking, getting some exercise and just enjoying nature. The eastern half of the trail follows state highway 94, making the trailheads especially convenient. Most have running water, places to purchase food and drink and rest areas. All the trailheads have historic information as well as pictures of flora and fauna to watch for along the way.
One of the most common ways to travel the Katy Trail is by bicycle. A few avid cyclists make the 237.6 mile journey, from Clinton to St. Charles, in a single day. Most do not. Others take 6-8 days to ride end-to-end at a more leisurely pace. They either camp along the way or stay in the many wonderful and hospitable bed and breakfasts.
A popular way to accomplish the end-to-end run is to take day-trip-sized bites out of the trail. With the Katy’s flat trail it isn’t difficult to chew through 10-30 miles a day. Several stops on the Not-To-Be-Missed list include:
- Schoolhouse Bed & Breakfast in Rocheport – a schoolhouse turned B&B that retains its charm and grade-school décor. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, the garden area relaxing, and the breakfast is amazing.
- Iron Horse Hotel and Restaurant in Blackwater – This hotel is not on the Katy Trail, but close enough and fun enough to warrant a place on the list. This is a hotel turned doctor’s office turned hotel. It has a number of comfortable rooms named after rail lines of the past. The restaurant on the lower level of the hotel serves, among other delightful items, the most incredible sweet potato chips.
- Trailside Café and Bike Shop in Rocheport –Located at the trailhead, they serve burgers and fries as well as other items including an extensive breakfast menu. Right next door bicycles of all kinds are available for rent, from recumbents to tandems.
- Katfish Katy’s in Huntsdale – Katfish Katy’s is a campground with a camp store that is right on the trail. Be sure to stop here for a cold soda or ice cream.
- Central Dairy in Jefferson City – Ice cream is always a favorite on a hot summer day, especially after a long ride on the Katy Trail. The prices at the Central Dairy shop can’t be beat; neither can the smooth, rich coolness of their delicious ice cream.
- Katy Bike Rental in Defiance – Bike repair and accessories as well as rentals are available here. They also have a selection of ice cream and other treats.
The Katy Trail offers a destination that encompasses everything a good vacation needs: outdoor activities, shopping, good food, and relaxation. As an added bonus, it displays Missouri in all her glory.
Read more about the historical MKT Railway in Lora Young’s novel, Malicious Mischief.
Delia Eastman returns home from teachers’ college with two goals: find a teaching position and sidestep her mother’s insistence on finding her a husband. But employers don’t care for women who are smarter than they. Neither do suitors. As she struggles to find her place, she discovers her sleepy riverboat town has turned into a powder-keg of rivalry between the steamships and the railroads.
Increasingly violent vandalism on the railroad brings her face-to-face with Endy Webster, a handsome trainmaster whose investigation into the crimes leads him to the door of a prominent steamship owner—Delia’s father.
As Delia tries to clear her father’s name, she keeps tangling with Endy. He’s intelligent. He’s charming. And he’s guarding secrets. Thinking he might know more than he’s telling, Delia reluctantly agrees to collaborate with him to solve the crimes. With the vandalism becoming deadly, they’ll need every scrap of intelligence and logic to stay alive. Working together may not be their first choice, but it might be their last.
What started out as a secret pastime morphed into a desire to see her creations published. So she studied the writing craft, joined American Chrisitan Fiction Writers (ACFW), went to conferences, entered contests, and sent proposals. And got rejections.The reasons for those rejections were encouraging though. Every one of them said the editor liked the story and liked her writing, but the book market was tight and the publishing house was re-structuring or cutting their fiction line entirely.
So Lora decided to publish independently. Scared but determined, she produced her first indie pubbed book—a devotional entitled. Abiding: 30 Steps Closer. When she’s not writing, Lora enjoys reading, hiking, and ballroom dancing. Most of all she delights in drinking chai tea lattes, and spending time with friends and family.
For more on Lora Young, her books, and her blog visit LoraYoung.com.