In yesterday’s comments, Ashley mentioned pretending to be a horse when she was little. It is amazing how kids use their imaginations. My older brother had an imaginary friend. My little brother had a whole imaginary football team – Mom had a heck of a time feeding them all and getting them into the car to run errands. It was Ashley’s horse comment that reminded me of The Island where we kids in RR use to play.
The Island was not really an island, but close. You may remember that our first cabin was up Bitter Creek Canyon. The mountains of the canyon were pretty steep – our cabin set on the side of the mountain near the mouth of the canyon. The floor of the canyon was very wooded, but had a creek running through it – nasty sulfur water. At one time there had been lots of mining operations further up the canyon, which lead to the Midnight and La Belle (try reading about Black Jack Ketchum who frequented the mining towns) area. You can even go over the mountain into the Valle Vidal where we used to take some amazing horse back trips. Anyway, as the creek emptied into the Red River, the area widened into a very rocky dried up creek bed. I often wondered if at one time Bitter Creek was much larger or if the miners used the creek for some hydraulic mining since. Today the area is much like a gravel/rock pit for the Town of RR. The way the river eroded the land over time caused a "tongue" of forested land to stick out into the gravel pit. Looking at the "tongue" from the pit or from town, it looked like an island with cliffs rising out of the gravel pit. It was far enough up the canyon to not be noticeable to the public - it was well off the beaten path. It was perfect place to play for us kids – we called it The Island.
The Island itself, was forest and a small meadow. As kids, it was our imaginary kingdom. We had various forts and houses in the trees. I can remember tying a string to a limb and calling it our doorbell. We girls insisted that the boys pull the string (ring the doorbell) before they entered our "house." For years that string stayed on the limb even after we grew up and quit playing there. We had mock battles in the meadow with the evil knight. We all had our own stick horse complete with string bridles. Those same stick horses stayed there for years. We made mud-pies using the creek. We even dammed up the creek to make a wading area. It was a wonderful place to play. Our friend, Terry, had a cabin nearby. His mom had an old bell that she would ring when we were expected home. We could hear that bell all up and down the canyon and would come running when it rang.
In our teen-age years The Island became a good place for, well, parking. It was very isolated. When our old dog, Pumpkin, died, Dad buried him on The Island. Years later, when a mean Husky killed my little Randy dog, Dad carried him out to be buried there, too. There are lots of memories on The Island. The river has eroded more of it and the town continues to use the creek bed for rock and gravel. Someday, The Island will be gone, but we sure had fun there.