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Road Trip Monarch Pass

Truthfully, there are gaps in my childhood memories. Unlike most of you who remember many things, there is much that I have forgotten probably due to some trauma or drama. But there are some memories that survived.

Buck could tell you every automobile his dad ever owned. But I only remember one from my childhood. It was a Buick and my dad called it, “the bucket of bolts”.

We were relocating again. This particular trip was to find jobs for my dad who worked construction. The route my mother, father and I took was over a Colorado mountain pass named Monarch. Monarch Pass stands at approximately 11,300 feet. Now travelers take different routes because this two-lane pass is not for the faint of heart, especially during the winter when heavy snow can cause a dangerous avalanche…and, just to clarify, this was 1949.

We were in the “bucket of bolts” and everything we owned was in the back seat, which included me and my dog Mickey (a cocker spaniel), the ironing board and a floor lamp. I can recall plainly the night we were traveling. Unfortunately, today with the light pollution we have, it is difficult to imagine the sky that was as deep a black as we saw that night. The moon was full and so bright that one could read by it. The stars were so very clear that I was certain I could reach out and touch them. There was silence; not a sound. There was no traffic, just us.

I have looked at an atlas to make sure exactly where we were. Now I’m not certain if we were going to Montrose or to Leadville, because we were at both places and I didn’t attend school in Leadville. I do remember going to the Baby Doe Tabor museum in Leadville and learning her rags to riches to rags story. I also recall visiting the Silver Dollar Saloon that had Silver dollars imbedded in the bar and on the floor, and going to the annual dusty, noisy, smelly burro races. I do know for sure that I was in the third grade in Montrose and not Leadville.

So, I’m thinking that we were coming from Leadville towards Montrose over Monarch Pass. It really doesn’t matter because what happened was pretty dramatic. The car stalled and then frustrated, my dad pulled on the steering wheel and lifted it right off the column. It was a moment before he realized that he was holding it in the air, and it took a moment for us to realize just how traumatic our situation had become.

Unfortunately, this is where my memory lapse kicks in. I’m pretty sure my dad refastened the steering wheel because we coasted down the mountain. Somewhere along the way I fell asleep. The next thing I recall is waking up to a brilliant shining sun. Sleep still in my eyes, I looked around. We were parked in the yard of a disgruntled farmer whose chickens were scurrying everywhere and Mickey chasing them for his breakfast. Again, after that I don’t recall. I’m pretty sure the chickens got away and Mickey was caught.

I’m guessing that we made it the rest of the way to Montrose without more trouble. Somehow, we found a place to live and my dad got a job, I liked Montrose I think. I don’t remember the details; I’ll save more memories for another day.

Take good care of your memories….Betty

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