Mountains! Of all the things in life that I dream about, “Mountains” has to be close to the top of the list. Whenever I think of the experiences that I have had in my lifetime it seems like mountains always played a definite role. It brings back memories of places and people and things that wound thru my life as I yearned always to go where the shining mountains were.
My first experience was Colorado. For years my father had wanted to go to the West to visit. He had a dream of how it would be seeing the mountains, he talked about it enough that he made me yearn to see it for myself. And in about 1950 he found a way to make it happen. My grandpa Hillyer, and Aunt Elsie, drove one car, a 1948 or so Studebaker, and my father and mother drove their old car, a 1940 Ford I think. I had a brother and two sisters so each car had 2 children in the back seat. Today I had to call my brother, Larry Strong, to check on what kind of cars. We stayed in little cabins on the way and cooked our meals on picnic tables as much as possible. When we drove thru Skull Creek, Colorado the roads were so steep that our old car had a lot of trouble. The water kept boiling over, and then we would stop and let the car cool off. We carried a jug of water wherever we went. It was a wonderful trip, but on the way home I still remember how tired everyone was. There were no superhighways at that time. The detours were set up so that you had to drive miles and miles out of your way. You couldn’t set up your cabin ahead of time so often you had to drive later at night while trying to find housing for eight people. But we had seen our mountains and for my dad and me it stirred us to continue to dream of them.
Next big deal. My husband Preston Jager, was drafted into the army in 1953 and eventually we ended up based in Colorado Springs at Fort Carson where our first son was born. We roamed the mountains of Colorado and surrounding states for about 15 months before returning to Michigan. My love for the mountains was deep and sure but it was only a dream then.
The next experience was when in 1966 my husband and I took our four boys aged 6 thru 12, in an old car and two tents, and drove across Canada to British Columbia. We camped all the way, cooked on picnic tables, put the tents up every night, took them down every morning for 2 1/2 weeks. It cost $1 a night to camp in Canadian parks at that time, and we were really on a budget. We came back to Yellowstone and the boys went fishing and hiking also. Six people in a car was quite an experience, but I had seen the mountains and now the boys had too.
Next big deal. 1977. Moved to Colorado with my husband, Gary Bosley, and altho originally a mechanic soon he became a logger, and with a camper we started spending our Monday thru Fridays living in the San Juan Mountains. Home to Pagosa Springs on the weekends to get ready to go back to the mountains to cut right of way for Forest Service roads. Now I lived right in the mountains, walked its many paths and climbed ever higher for the next road to be cut. Wildlife abounded wherever we parked, and my camera was busy most of the time.
But time has a way of changing things and the logging was shut off by the government. So we joined three of our sons working in the oil fields at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I was estatic to live in that beautiful place. We spent a lot of our time driving all over the mountains just as we had done in Colorado. Later on we also worked in Oklahoma, meeting new friends there.
Eventually we returned to Colorado. My husband became ill, and now living in Colorado no longer was an option for me. He was buried in Pagosa Springs, a few miles from where he had climbed those shining mountains, and I returned to Michigan where we started from.
But there is a happy ending to all of this. In 1992 I married my farmer, my husband, Bob Rider, and started introducing him to the pleasures of traveling to the West whenever we could. We visited those places I had lived, plus many more, and there were lots of mountains mixed in with them. I made sure of that. And the pictures of them are now enshrined on my screensavers, so that I can remember all of the shining mountains. I can take them with me no matter wherever I go and remember just how much fun it all was. Mountains are for inspiring. I can look up to the sky and know that all is well.