There are times when I wonder where I get my wandering spirit. I believe I can credit that to my Father with reasonable accuracy. After all, he is probably responsible for everything good about me.
When I was just a wee little one, my siblings, two sisters and a brother, and I went everywhere with Dad. Mother had a job at the local hospital, and we couldn’t spend a whole lot of time there. Although there were times we got to terrorize the staff, patients, and residents of the senior living, but that is a story for another day. Dad always seemed to have a jobs he could take us along, I’m sure he planned it that way.
For many years, basically as far back as I can remember, he was a surveyor. There were many old ranches that had sold to land developers. Naturally, They just had to subdivide, lay out roads, and establish property lines. It was his job to go out to these vast rangelands, layout, mark, map roads and establish lot lines. All four of us got to go along, just about everyday, especially in the summer. They were grand adventures for my young mind, and we had a certain level of freedom unlike kids these days. It was a different time, and much smaller communities than today.
Dad always started out early. After packing a large enough lunch for all of us, he would load us up in Shasta and roll out. Now Shasta was an interesting old pick up truck. It certainly wasn’t his first, but she was his first brand new truck. In 1972 the company he worked for bought three new Chevy Blazers, so Dad ordered his truck also, to take advantage of the “Fleet Price”. It was a 1972 Chevy Half Ton, four wheel drive and was the ugliest yellow anyone had ever seen, company colors. He paid a whopping $12,320.00 for her, and let me tell you, Dad made that old girl last. He named her Shasta, because “She has to have gas, she has to have oil, she has to have water”, and a whole plethora of “She has to have’s” us kids came up with. I have some very fond memories of riding in that old truck. The AM radio tuned scratchily, to the only station that was available. Dad’s grin when tunes like “Sneaky Snake”, “Gitarzan”, “The Streak” and so on would come on. Of course all of us would sing along as best we could, adding to Dad’s expanding grin. We always knew it was lunch time when Paul Harvey would come on with “The Rest of The Story”.
We would get out to these far ranging ranches early in the morning. Being as Kel and Chris were the elder children, they got the pleasure of carting Dad’s equipment around. Holding reflecting staffs and such so Dad could shoot his distances and elevations with the transit. While Todd and I explored, ranging far and wide, NEVER out of hearing distance of Dad’s voice. You would be surprised just how far away one can get and still be in hearing distance of Dad’s resounding holler. So while the girls worked, the boys wandered, rambled, built forts, hunt for arrowheads, went fishing with whatever we could find, and basically did nothing. We fancied ourselves explorers of uncharted territory. Fighting off wild Indians, criminals of temperamental ilk, and vicious animals. We always saw new country, and some of the most beautiful mountain lands ever.
When lunch time rolled around, Dad would yell for us boys, and we would amble back to the truck. He’d hand out sandwiches and the ever present fruit cocktail. The ones that came in a little can you had to open with a P-38 or pocket knife. It never seemed to fail, but Dad almost always forgot to pack spoons. Not a problem for a man his his resourcefulness. He simple grabbed a piece of survey lathe and carved five spoons with his trusty, never dull pocket knife. We would sit, eat, and talk about the day. What had to be done in the afternoon, and always what trouble Todd and I had been getting into.
Each subdivision had a unique theme or name like Indian Mountain, The Buffalo, Ranch of The Rockies. Of course all the roads within had to have names that suited the theme. Indian Mountain had roads like Teepee Trail, Arrowhead Lane, Papoose Court, and so on. The surveyors got to name the roads, and quite often we would help. So there are roads up there named Gitchie Goonie Lane, and other completely off the wall titles. I have no idea how they fit into any of the themes. If I remember correctly that was in Valley of The Sun, or South Park Meadows.
Dad told me many years later that he quit surveying, when one day he stopped on top of Wilkerson Pass and looked out over South Park. He saw the myriad of roads cut into the landscape with not a single house built. He said that, that moment for him was the most disappointing realization in his life. He said that he was ashamed of what he had been a part of. He had seen all of the county long before there were any roads, and then felt responsible for destroying that beauty.
I suppose, my wandering nature, my gypsy spirit, is bread of those fun and memorable times. There had certainly been a lot of rambling around, and a little wanderlust, even if on a much smaller scale.