Day Two on the road was a long, but fun one! We’ll start with a few miscellaneous photos from the road. Click on any photo to get a larger version:
Here we are in front of a marker marking part of the Smoky Hill Trail, from central Kansas through the Colorado Rockies. Lots of immigrants followed this trail in the late 19th century, searching for… something. Hopefully they didn’t stop here, they’d be quite disappointed. We’re pointing in the same direction as the horseman on the trail marker, which we assume is the direction of the trail.
An interesting aside: in the late 1880’s, a Denver newspaper called travelers who chose this trail “foolhardy and insane,” due to the hard conditions and Indian wars. I’m pretty sure our parents described this trip using the same words, but for different reasons.
In Eads, the ambulance has a boat trailer! Nick claims they need it to rescue people from reservoirs that are fairly close, but I think the ambulance driver wanted a speedboat and figured he could write it off if he put “AMBULANCE” on the side.
Hugo, CO had a roundhouse! In the curved building, lots of train engines were stored. In the foreground, you can sort of see a circular shape; this used to be a circular hole with a rotating track in the middle. In this way, they could roll an engine into the circle, spin the track (using horses), and roll the engine onto whichever track they liked. Neat!
In Genoa, CO, we visited the “World Famous Wonder Tower,” built in 1879. This is it, in all its 5-story glory. Disappointed? So were we, at first.
The outside of the “Tower Museum” was littered with interesting rocks, bottles, and strange knick-knacks. And inside? Lots more of the same!
Inside, this guy, Jerry, greeted us and told us about the 22-room (!) museum at the base of the tower. Here, he’s holding a geode with water in the middle of it, from Brazil, up to the light.
After paying the one-dollar admission, we played a 15-minute game of “Whaddy’all Think This Thing Is?” led by Jerry. If you’re ever in the area, stop by, and I’ll bet Jerry can find something to stump you with. If not, he’ll probably make something up.
Ryan’s holding a Civil-War-era button polisher, but he doesn’t know it yet.
Nick and Kristina puzzle over this contraption. After this photo was taken, Jerry informed us that it was, in fact, an Instant Chicken Killer. One side of the plier-like device was inserted in the bird’s mouth, and the other side squashed its head.
An awkward silence ensued.
All 22 rooms were covered, floor-to-ceiling, with the weirdest oddities and antiques. Nearly everything is for sale, but this two-headed calf is not. I still think the two-headed calf could just be a prank played by a taxidermist, ala the jackalope.
At the calf’s feet lie semi-sealed bottles containing formaldehyde and another double-head, an albino snake, and a one-eyed pig fetus, respectively.
Of course, no trip to the Genoa Wonder Tower would be complete without making the strenuous climb all the way to the top. Jerry claims you can see six states from the top, but Nick isn’t sure we can see Kansas.
Regardless, the view is quite nice, if a bit windy. Kristina and Dan are enjoying it!
The brochure claims the Tower, at 5,751 feet, is one of the highest points east of the Rocky Mountains. We’re pretty sure that “that silo over there” is taller.
On our way to Kiowa, we hit the 30,000 mile mark! Yay!
Here’s Castle Rock, Castle Rock’s namesake. From far away, it really looks like a Castle!
We also visited 8 county seats today, one of our busiest days on the trip. Here’s the proof:
Burlington, Kit Carson County.
Cheyenne Wells, Cheyenne County
Eads, Kiowa County
Hugo, Lincoln County. Note: we all look very disappointed, because this courthouse is ugly. The original courthouse, which was way cooler, was torn down just a few years ago.
This model of the original Lincoln County Courthouse was inside.
Kiowa, Elbert County
Castle Rock, Douglas County
Colorado Springs, El Paso County
The original El Paso County Courthouse stood just across the street from the current one. If we’d taken the trip 75 years ago, the photo in Colorado Springs might have looked a little something like this.
Cripple Creek, Teller County. We’re all making scary faces: Cripple Creek is, supposedly, the most haunted town in Colorado. Dan’s face doesn’t look scary, but don’t be fooled, his left hand is a scary claw.
Our progress so far:
DAY ONE STATS:
Miles Traveled – 420.3
County Seats Visited – 8
Percent of counties done – 26.6%
Burlington (Kit Carson County) 5/12/06 8:19 AM Cheyenne Wells (Cheyenne County) 5/12/06 9:04 AM Eads (Kiowa County) 5/12/06 10:23 AM Hugo (Lincoln County) 5/12/06 11:46 AM Kiowa (Elbert County) 5/12/06 2:14 PM Castle Rock (Douglas County) 5/12/06 3:23 PM Colorado Springs (El Paso County) 5/12/06 4:38 PM Cripple Creek (Teller County) 5/12/06 5:58 PM
Albums listened to:
- Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans
- Mates of State – Bring it Back
- Os Mutantes – Tecnicolor
- Yes – Fragile
- Kinks – Lola vs. The Powerman and the Money-Go-Round
- Kinks – Reservation Act
- Kenny White – Symphony in 16 Bars
- Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree
- Minus 5 – The Gun Album