Dottie Petrini may live in the middle of rural Colorado, but the 74-year-old Maybell globetrotter carries with her a little taste of everywhere.
An avid deep-sea fisher, big game hunter and insatiable sightseer, Petrini isn't one to sit still for long. It's the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mazatlan, the wildlife on the African Savannah and the solitude of the Grand Canyon that beckon to her.
"I'd like to jump on a freight ship and see where that takes me," Petrini mused, dressed in a denim shirt emblazoned with the Grand Canyon, suggestive of her yearly treks. Over the shirt, Petrini wears a necklace decked with a rhino, reminiscent of her time in Africa.
"The problem is, it's hard to find people my age to travel with," she said.
Petrini grew up in San Francisco but moved to Northwest Colorado in 1959 with her husband, Edward "Sonny" Cossar, after developing a fascination with what she calls "the last frontier."
The couple owned and ran the Signal Hill restaurant until selling it in 1980, after Sonny died. Petrini also has a daughter, Linda. During those years Craig's population was about 2,500, she said, but the establishment was a popular dinner and dancing club.
"It was a fun place," she reminisced. "There were dances Friday and Saturday nights."
With her teaching license in hand, Petrini soon moved to Aurora after her husband died, and taught in the school district for the next 13 years. Deciding to get her master's degree in Human Services she's proud to report making the dean's list at Colorado State University and recognition for doing it at age 60.
It was then that Petrini decided she wanted to take time to travel with her mother and friends.
In a whirlwind of journeys with friends and family, Petrini has traveled to Italy twice, taken a one-month safari to Africa, stomped across the South Pacific, Australia, the Caribbean and Alaska. Some of Petrini's travels include big-game hunting, such as her safari in Africa, or deep-sea fishing when she heads to Mexico. Petrini has rafted the lengths of the Colorado and Yampa rivers and makes a point of heading to the Grand Canyon each year. One of her prized memories is riding the first 10 miles with an Iditarod sled dog racing team in Alaska.
She earned the privilege in 1989 by sponsoring a team whose musher hailed from Meeker.
"It was just a wonderful adventure," she said.
The trouble she invariably runs into is seeking traveling companions, yet she seems to be turning on more people each year to Grand Canyon trips. Petrini rides mules to the canyon floor.
"Every year, more friends want to go," she said. "I just keep going."
During her time away from traveling, Petrini volunteers at the Museum of Northwest Colorado.
She is in charge of transferring obituaries to the museum's computer database.
But it's reading historical accounts of the area's "juicy" stuff that really sparks her interest.
"I like reading about all the court trials and the murders," she said.
"The more you read, the more you want to get into."
Janet Gerber, assistant director of the museum, said Dottie's help was appreciated.
"The most important part is, if Dottie wasn't doing it, it wouldn't get done," Gerber said.
"The work is good for her, and it's good for us, too."
Petrini said she loves to hand stitch quilts and hanging out with her Maltese, a dog named Phoebe.
The two take walks by the river near her home outside of Maybell.
Petrini is a member of the Browns Park Homemakers Club and the quilter often raffles off her work for fund-raisers for the group.
The money goes toward maintenance of Lodore Hall, which is one the group's projects.
Harboring a love of theater and music that was instilled in her as a child, Petrini has been known to jet off to San Francisco or New York City for weekends of opera, Broadway and ballet.
"There's so much in this world to see and do," she said. "I just want to keep going."
Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or email@example.com.