My Colorado: Live and die in the West

By Carol Anderson

My Colorado
Images of bronco busters, like the one
in this 19th century engraving,
still inspire would-be Westerners.

When I was in high school my parents took a trip to Colorado. Upon their return, my father was telling me about the trip. He said, “I probably will never live in Colorado, but if I’m lucky maybe I’ll die there. It’s beautiful.” Needless to say, that made an impression on me. We lived in Illinois and I had never crossed the Mississippi River to see the “West.”

Time came for me to go to college. Mom said Colorado was too far, in case I got homesick, but Dad was all in favor of it. I was accepted and got a job in the bookstore to help defray the out-of-state tuition expense.

In the fall of 1951, we got on a two-lane Route 40 and drove (in four days) to Denver. I still remember when we crossed the Colorado state line. We all began watching the western horizon waiting to see the Rocky Mountains. It seemed to take forever before their distant silhouette appeared. I was in awe. The farther we went, the bigger they became.

We stayed in a motel on Colfax. Dad went someplace that had a stuffed bucking bronco. The proprietor dressed him in a leather vest and cowboy hat; he stood in the stirrups to have his picture taken. This made him a “real cowboy”! He gave me the photo for my desk at college. Dad and I loved the picture, but I think Mom thought it was extravagant.

I married a Colorado man and after a stint in the service in California, we returned to Colorado to make our home in Denver. My parents visited almost every other year until my father became too ill to travel. The last trip he made was to Colorado, but he returned to his “roots” to die.

Sometimes I wonder where my path might have led—had my father not been so enamored with Colorado and the West. I’ve always been happy living in the Rocky Mountain West and in all probability I’ll fulfill my father’s fantasy and die in Colorado.

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