Living in a pickup top camper parked in a mountain meadow at the elevation of about 9000-9500 feet can be a life changing experience. Especially if you are living there five days a week, with no one around you except a hard working husband who just happens to be a logger in the Colorado Mountains. The air is clear and beautiful, the aspen and pine trees are thick and surround you in every direction. Looking out your window you can see for miles and miles to the New Mexico border. Since there are only a few two track roads leading up through the trees to the top we have been hired to build the start of a road. Clear cut all of the trees and brush in a 12 – 14 foot swath so that a new road may be built by the United States Forest Service. The road will be used for loggers and Fire Prevention people, so you know you are doing an important job.
I say, WE, but the truth is I am the chief cook, bottle washer, housekeeper, and anything else that needs to be done. Gary is the man who cuts down the trees and brush, walks the miles needed, carries the saws, tools, gas, oil, water, lunch and anything else he might need. The main thing you need to remember is that every day he walks a little further away, so it takes a little longer to get back. There are no roads yet, of course, but there sure is a lot of brush and trees to stumble thru. And the rocks, millions of rocks and boulders, are everywhere, and they are tremendous.
Since we are getting paid by the length of the road to be cut, whenever Gary comes to a section where there is a clearing, he is one happy camper to see even a few feet of it. By early afternoon the clouds are beginning to boil up and we can hear the rumble of the daily afternoon thunderstorm. He doesn’t want to stand near the tallest trees that attract the lightning, but there really is no where else to go. There is a short deluge of rain pouring down, and sometimes it is even snow for a few exciting moments. I remember one storm on September 4th where we were snowed in, and there were very narrow tires on the pickup when we had to try to get out.
From late spring when the winter snow had finally evaporated we lived in the mountains. From Sunday night until late on Friday afternoon we stayed in our camper, worked every day, and watched the wildlife that was abundant all around us. Deer being curious often walked up to us checking out what we were doing. We had campfires daily, but it didn’t seem to bother them at all. Gary would walk out to his cutting spot in the morning and when he returned often a bear would have left his calling card right in Gary’s footprints.
When I went walking each day I kept a close eye out for the bears, but altho Gary often saw them I was happy that I didn’t.
On Friday nights we would take the camper and also our car and go home to Pagosa Springs where we had a mobile home. The weekends were spent grocery shopping, saws being repaired, supplies being gathered up, water jugs being filled up, and then late Sunday afternoon off we would go on our journey to the mountains again. We worked at various places usually 50 to 70 miles from home. It was a very different life from what I had known, but a life filled with adventure.
We did this for a few years, and then the government cut back on building roads and the work became difficult to find. So we took the camper home, unpacked it all and then we headed for North Dakota and the oil fields. Three sons were working there, there was a lot of work if you were willing to work hard, and the years flew by. That is another whole story for a different day.
But this camper would have a lot of stories to tell also. Living in the mountains was a new way of looking at life, and a way of being one with nature and knowing what is important. Our children occasionally came to visit us while there and it is fun to see the pictures yet today of them helping with the wood and having fun doing it.
Many years have gone by since we traveled in the camper, working our way thru the years, but the memories are still there and the love that developed in me for the mountains still remains, and I am the better person for it. Thank you, Colorado.