The foothills north of Fort Collins, Colorado
Written by my sister Ginger.
A fellow rancher of Dad’s, Pat Ferree, had his ranch in the foothills just north of Fort Collins. On the ranch was a secluded small lake that was full of native cutthroat trout. The only way to get to the lake was on horseback and even then it was not easy as part of the terrain was very steep. The trail went through fields of huge cactus plants and sagebrush, but Dad loved to fish, especially for trout, couldn’t refuse the invitation to join Pat on a fishing trip back to the lake.
Pat supplied the horses and they had an uneventful trip to the lake. They spent the day fishing for the beautiful trout. The fish were good fighters and before long both men had caught their limit and it was time to leave. Part of the trail out of the valley was extremely steep and while dad had managed to not tumble forward over the horse’s head on the trip into the lake he did manage to slip off the back end of the horse going out.
He landed on his butt exactly in the middle of a huge patch of prickly pear cactus. The kind with 3 or 4 inch thorns! He had dozens of these sticking into his buttocks and even after he and Pat had tried remove them, it was too painful to even think about getting back in the saddle. He walked out leading his horse. No doubt a painful trip. They didn’t get back to the ranch until after dark.
I guess the reason Dad never kept his promise to us kids to take us to the best fishing spot in the state was because it was just too painful to think about. He just plain didn’t want to talk about it, EVER!
Fort Collins, Colorado
A warm Sunday morning, a huge clan of McClures and various relatives had staked out a camp ground by the side of the road in Poudre Canyon. We were fishing for brookies in several small streams that fed into the Poudre River. The best eating in the world were these little trout that Dad cleaned and Mom dredged in cornmeal and fried in bacon grease in an old cast iron skillet, over in the open campfire. Mom always made sure that each one of us had a big thick slice of homemade bread with butter to ensure against any bones getting stuck in our throats. We were having a wonderful time.
We must have made quite an unusual sight, as a lady driving her car up the canyon couldn’t quite resist staring at us. The campground was at a bend in the road but she was so intent on seeing what we were doing, she drove her car straight off the road and up the mountainside where it became high centered! She was looking to her left and turned the steering wheel to the right, never once, taking her eyes off of us.
Dad muttered several descriptive, condemning words, like busybody, lookie loo, woman driver, flatlander etc. etc., as he sauntered across the road to where the car was stuck with its nose looking upward and one tire over a large boulder. He asked her very seriously, “Just what in the Sam Hill (the only “cuss” word he ever use!) did she think she was doing?” With the help of the other guys at our picnic, they managed to dislodge the car and get it back onto the highway. She drove off, with a wave and a thank you.
It was not until they walked back to the camp ground, did the hilarity and the retelling of the story begin around the campfire. It always involved Dad’s visual demonstration, with the head staring intently to the left while his arms turned the imaginary steering wheel to the right! He retold this many times through the years, with just as much fun and laughter as the first time he told it!
Thank you Ginger for such pleasant memories.