I LOVE MOUNTAINS (and banana cream pie)

More than that, I revere mountains. I grew up near them and have always had a great awe and respect for them – they’re so huge and beautiful, possessed of an ancient power that is usually benevolent but sometimes dangerous and terrible. I live in a hilly area, but it’s just not the same, and I miss mountains—so when recently I visited New Mexico and had a chance to go up Mount Taylor, I couldn’t resist. (This is a view from high on Mount Taylor.)


Also known as Turquoise Mountain, it’s one of the four sacred peaks of the Navajos—so this was a special mountain among mountains. I had driven up Mount Taylor once years before, in the summertime, and I longed to go there again, particularly since I had recently published a book, Heart of Constantine, with a half-Navajo hero. Years ago, when the seeds for that novel were germinating in my mind, I wondered about putting a scene on Mount Taylor, but in the end the entire story took place in Louisiana like the rest of the Bayou Gavotte series, so that didn’t work out. Still, I wanted to visit Turquoise Mountain again—there are always more stories to come.

Officially, it was a spring day, but the weather was windy and cold—and colder and windier the higher we drove. There were plenty of snowy patches on the way up, and the road got rougher and more slippery. My heartbeat ramped up at the steep drops beside the road. I pondered the dangerous aspects of mountains and wondered guiltily if I’d been crazy, not to mention inconsiderate, to ask my host to drive us up there. But it was too late to do anything about that.

Aspens Mt Taylor

Oh, but it was beautiful. I love mountain trees. There were pines and other evergreens, and groves of still-naked aspens. We drove and drove, surrounded by glorious nature, and finally parked near the top. Admittedly, the concrete building and various metal towers at the summit aren’t beautiful at all, but I managed to ignore them last time and did so again. We got out of the truck and began to walk.

Me struggling up Mt TaylorOh, my God, the wind! This picture doesn’t do it justice, but you can see how tightly I’m hugging myself against the wind. It felt as if the elements were trying to throw us off their sacred space. We toiled upwards (well, I toiled; my host, as you can see in the picture, was way ahead and entirely at ease with the wind), first on a rocky path and then, at the end, steps to the top. I had to crouch, legs apart, buffeted by the freezing gusts, bracing myself the whole way up the stone stairway, almost at a crawl—perhaps an appropriate way to navigate a sacred space!

View from Mt. Taylor 2What can I say? It was awesome in too many ways, and I almost enjoyed nursing my frozen ears on the way down. Mountains fill my heart and make me want to cry, and I was thankful to this one (and grateful to my kindhearted, undaunted host).

Now, about banana cream pie.

I’ll be blogging here again in a few days, this time to announce the release of my new novella, Back to Bite You, a prequel to the Bayou Gavotte series (of which Heart of Constantine is Book 3). It’s a little murder story with a vampire heroine, some Mardi Gras history, and a food fight club.

A food fight club, you ask? Yes, with banana cream pies!

Back to Bite You proof 2

Follow Barbara Monajem:

Barbara Monajem started writing at eight years old. She has wandered from children’s fantasy through mystery to paranormal and historical romance. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

27 Responses

  1. Sandra Owens

    I love the mountains too, Barbara. I grew up in Florida so living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina still awes me every time I look out my windows. Love your Back To Bite You cover!

    • Barbara Monajem

      Years ago on a trip in the Blue Ridge area, we hiked up a mountain, and by the time we approached the top, the vegetation had changed and reminded me of my childhood mountains much farther north. Ahh, nostalgia. 🙂

      Glad you like the cover!

  2. Hanny

    Thank you for this beautiful adventure and wonderful pictures!

    • Barbara Monajem

      It was awesome, Harliqueen, in every sense of the word. 🙂

  3. allybroadfield

    Gorgeous pictures, Barbara! I miss the mountains in Virginia. Texas is very flat. Looking forward to your release day!

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Ally. My mother had the opposite problem — she grew up in the prairies and found the mountains quite claustrophobic.

      Congrats on your release day — I have your story on my Kindle! 🙂

  4. Collette Cameron

    As a native Oregonian, I’m a mountain and beach lover. I chuckle sometimes at what other states call mountains. Around here they are called hills. Wishing you tons of sales.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Collette. Yep — those little bumps aren’t mountains!! I love the ocean, too — I grew up next to both mountains and ocean. And speaking of Oregon, I visited Cannon Beach a little while ago. I’d been there once as a child, but thought I’d only remembered the waves — until I got there and saw those fabulous rocks again.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Seems like there are a lot of us mountain lovers out there. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Sharla Rae

    Love the pictures and I’m a mountain lover too. When I lived in AZ what surprised me most was the way the mountains changed colors during the day. I’ll never forget it.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Oh, yeah. Color changes both during the day and with the seasons.

  6. Beppie Harrison

    My mother grew up in the Rockies, surrounded by mountains. I grew up in Hawaii, where the mountains were an orderly line, separating sections of the island. I always felt the Rockies were circling and capturing me (living as I did in the valley), unlike Hawaii where you always had the ocean on the other side! But your pictures are so gorgeous they make me think maybe I’d better give mainland mountains another try. I currently live in Michigan, where, except for the north, the land is pancake flat!

  7. Barbara Monajem

    I understand feeling like that in a mountain valley, Beppie. if the mountains are high, not enough sun seems to get in. I grew up with both mountains and ocean, which is the perfect combination.

  8. Victoria Vane

    While I enjoy the beach now and then, I’m a mountain lover as well. Hubby and I are leaving this week to spend out 32nd anniversary in Jackson Hole WY. Here is a view from the place where we are staying:

    • Barbara Monajem

      Oh, how gorgeous, Vicki! Have a fabulous time. 🙂

  9. ginaconkle2013

    Hi Barbara,

    I love mountains too. I enjoy the beach (even have a wetsuit for the occasional ocean water swim), but I must prefer the ruggedness of mountains with rivers and lakes. Thanks for the beautiful pictures. I can see why you wanted to put a Mount Taylor scene with your half-Navajo hero in a story. See you soon at RT!

  10. dholcomb1

    I love the mountains of TN…banana cream pie and banana pudding remind me of visiting my parents who lived in the mountains of TN

  11. B.J. Scott

    great pictures but could do without the snow. We saw more than our share this past winter. Thanks for sharing

    • Barbara Monajem

      Living in Georgia, I never get enough snow!

  12. Lana Williams

    Love the mountains as well! We live in the Rockies, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Great pics!

    • Barbara Monajem

      Ah, the Rockies. My family camped there during my childhood. Sigh. Lucky you. 🙂

  13. sjmn60

    Great cover, Barbara! I like mountains, but not driving in them (scary). But I’ve been over the Great Divide and survived! Oh, and I read the title of this blog and the words mountain juxtaposed beside banana cream pie threw this instant mental image into my mind of skiing down the former to land smack in the middle of a giant pie plate of the latter. Silly, but it made me grin.
    Gorgeous photos – and I shiver just looking at the one in the wind.