"I guess you didn't worry about things as much in those days," Shirley said. "I saw he had kids' toys in the backseat, so I figured he was safe."
At the top of the mountain, she stopped at Thompson's Summit Grove, a service station/snack bar. She asked Wayne Thompson where a motel was and, much to her chagrin, he told her there was none.
"He said that he sometimes rented out a bedroom to people who were staying on the mountain," she said. "So that's where I stayed."
Shirley continued her journey, walking and biking all the way to the telescope -- about 5 miles.
"It was absolutely beautiful," she said. "I was thankful to see the telescope, and it was well worth the trip."
Since Shirley wasn't used to the altitude, she decided to walk her bike down the mountain the next day. When she made it to Escondido, she spent the night in a motel.
"Wayne decided to come into town (from Palomar Mountain) and he took me to a movie. We got along really well, and we started seeing each other whenever we could." Six months later they were married.
"In those days they would discharge you when you got married," Shirley said. "So after I was discharged, I moved to Palomar Mountain."
They made a life running the service station and raising two girls and one boy. Their youngest child, Denise, died of cancer when she was 3.
"I loved living on the mountain and it was a great place to raise a family," she said. "We lived there until 1977, and then we moved near the Oregon border."
Their son, Mark, left the mountain for a short time, moving to Palm Desert and Temecula but returned to work at the Palomar Observatory.
"It was great growing up on Palomar Mountain," he said. "It was rural then and it still is."
Shirley, who has been widowed for two years, recently moved back to the mountain -- living next door to Mark and his wife and daughter.
"I really missed the mountain and it was great coming home again," she said.
"It's been a great life up here and if ours wasn't a marriage made in heaven, then there's no such thing."
Reach reporter Cheryl Walker at (760) 752-6761.