A few weeks ago, my husband and I were returning from a family wedding in Indiana, when we decided to take a slight detour and visit the George Rogers Clark Historical Park in Vincennes, Indiana. Clark led frontier settlers against the British and helped to win the American Revolutionary War and open westward expansion.
I had visited this memorial site as a fourth grader, and since I am writing an historical novel set in Indiana, I jumped at the chance.
After our visit, I made a list of how to make the best of an impromptu research stop:
1. Gather or participate in any freebies. Upon our arrival, we viewed a short film about the life of George Rogers Clark. This gave us the background to more enjoy our stay. Also look for any phamplets or brochures.
2. Talk to the Park Rangers. I have found the Park Rangers who work at historical sites are very knowledgeable and they love to talk to visitors. They will share historical background, other sites in the area you might visit and unique facts that wows you. Although, they are sometimes difficult to get away from because they so enjoy talking about their subject.
3. Unique printed resources. There will probably be a gift shop and you may find some books or pamphlets unique to the area that may not be found online, etc. It may be worth checking these out. I picked up a large set of early maps of the area for $10.
What began as a family wedding outing also became an impromptu research trip. Whenever you are out and about you never know when something will happen to help you along the path to your next story.
Have you been on an impromptu research trip that led to a story or novel?