Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.



Like most families, my parents took us on several vacations while we were growing up But for us, vaca didn’t usually mean Disney. Often, it meant visiting relatives. The trips I enjoyed most were usually in Colorado.

Mama had a sister who lived out there, who had only one daughter–a year younger than me. We visited them when I was going into 2nd grade when they lived in Pueblo.

That year we had a red and white Pontiac station wagon. I don’t remember packing in suitcases. It seems as if Mom packed our stuff in a compartment, and they put the backseat down over it. They put in a mattress that filled the back so Deb and I could lay down, play or nap on the way. (Yep, it was before the day of seatbelts.)

I don’t remember much about Pueblo, but the Royal Gorge, Cave of the Winds and Pikes Peak made a big hit with me. In fact, on our way up the Peak, we followed a truck hauling a small jet. I couldn’t figure why anyone would take their jet for a ride to the top of PP, but Dad thought they were going to leave the jet up there and make it look as if it had just landed.

It was several years before we went out to visit my aunt and uncle and cousin again, and by that time they’d moved to Gunnison. That town is near Crested Butte, a ski town in the mountains, and goooorgeous! And even when Okie-land is hot, it’s cool.

One of our visits was the summer after my first year in college. I was still trying to decide whether to be a cheerleader another year in college or do something else, when my cousin greeted us with a wedding ring on her finger. She married straight out of high school, and she got lucky on her first try. He’s one of the nicest men I’ve known in my life.

We went to the Alpine Tunnel on that trip. If you haven’t been there or Pitkin or any of the old gold mining camps in the area, you’ve missed a great trip. On the way to the tunnel, I rode in the back of a truck up the narrow road. When you’re going up and meet a car coming down, you squeeze to the outside as far as possible.

We’d get so far over, we could see nothing but air on the other side of the truck bed. I spent a lot of time with my face on the floor of the truck on that trip. Makes my toes tingle just to think about it.

I like that area so much, G-Man and I went there on our honeymoon. We took his motorcycle along with us on a trailer, and rode it in the mountains. The beautiful scenery was all around us on the back of that bike! But in that part of the world, it still snows in May (our anniversary month) and the rain can be icy, which is painful when it hits you in the face and you’re moving at 4o mph.

We’d packed for Okie-land weather, and nearly froze to death. We quickly learned the merits of layering! When we tried to go up Pikes Peak on his cycle, we found they hadn’t opened the road all the way to the top.

We watched as a tour bus did a three point turn on that two lane road. Most of the people on the inside of that bus were on the outside before the turn was complete. 🙂

I love visiting Colorado, so I”m putting my bid in now to go back one of these days. I’d buy a place and live there in the summer if I could. 😉

Can anyone tell me Colorado’s state song?