Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Westward Ho! Dodge City, Kansas to Salida, Colorado

Day two of the Vintage Roadside journey west begins along Wyatt Earp Avenue in Dodge City, Kansas. The weather has been so perfect the entire trip we had forgotten it was the end of October. Upon mere seconds of stepping outside this morning there was no mistaking the fact Fall had arrived! The car had a layer of frost and we quickly donned several new layers of clothing.

After being briefly stunned by the cold we decided to head west along Highway 50 with the hope of reaching Salida, Colorado (about 370 miles away) at some point tonight. We were looking forward to seeing how the scenery changed as we made our way from the plains of Kansas to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

We did one last wander around Dodge City and were happy to spot this neon sign for the Thunderbird Motel. We've seen "Thunderbird" motels in most of the western states, but this one stood out with its great use of the classic googie font.

The first town we passed through after leaving Dodge City was Cimarron. The town had a small downtown and one of the things that caught our eye was Clark's Drug Store. After seeing so many large, chain drug stores it's always nice to see these small pharmacies still operating. We were sorry to be passing through before they opened for the day as they have one of the few remaining soda fountains in Kansas. We've got them marked down for next time.

We always look for old motor courts and were excited to pass by Miles Court in the stretch between Syracuse and Coolidge. Something about old gas stations and motor courts along a stretch of empty highway really makes it feel like you could be back in 1950 taking a road trip across the country.

It was also somewhere along this stretch that we spotted a large gathering of sorts in the distance. As we got closer it appeared to be a large flock of vultures. They were big, black, and had large red heads. As we got even closer we realized it was a flock of turkeys. We'd always heard they might not be the sharpest bird in the animal kingdom and it was at this point (about 20 yards away) that they decided they'd cross the road - by walking! Luckily we were going slow enough at this point to avoid them as attempts to become airborne weren't being met with overwhelming success.

After our brush with the Wild Kingdom we crossed the Colorado border and found ourselves in Lamar, Colorado. Lamar had plenty of fun roadside things to see including the W. G. Brown service station. Constructed of petrified wood, the building was originally built as a gas station in 1932. The building is now on the grounds of a used car lot.

The Lamar Baptist Church makes quite a mid-century statement.

Being huge fans of fiberglass advertising statues we were pleased to encounter our first Sinclair dinosaur. It's great to see a company still using these fiberglass wonders of the 1960s. We've reached the logical conclusion that we someday will need one of these to keep our A & W Burger Family company! If you know of one needing a new home we'd be happy to work something out.

One of the next towns we spent time in was Rocky Ford. While we usually cringe at the "modernization" of early commercial buildings, there was something about Don's for Lad & Dad Shoes that seemed to work in a way so many others don't. Maybe it's just us but this one really seem to have something going for it. Bonus points for using the term "Lad & Dad" also.

We rolled into Pueblo just in time for rush hour. After driving through small town after small town for hours on end you tend to forget that traffic still exists. Pueblo reminded us that just because you're in no hurry doesn't mean everyone else isn't. We waited out the traffic and enjoyed our time driving around the downtown area. The More-Skinny neon sign was unlike any we'd seen and was a real highlight of Pueblo. We didn't see him after dark but he appears to be animated.

As we headed out of Pueblo we were treated to another fantastic sunset. The Rocky Mountains were visible in the distance and it looked like we'd have no traffic as we made our way up to Salida.

We made one last stop to check our map in Canon City before heading to Salida. The map showed one choice for heading west so off we went. Within minutes of leaving Canon City we were the only car on the road. We went a few more miles and were still the only car on the road. Another 10 miles - still the only car. It was at this point the road began to climb fairly rapidly and the corners were mainly of the 25 mph variety. This was our first trip with a portable GPS and the screen seemed to be displaying the road in the shape of a Krazy Straw (for the next long ways). We tend to drive until quite late most nights and almost always seem to find ourselves on this type of road at 11:30 pm. We've decided that it's a good thing - we can drive really, really slow and we don't have to see over the edge of the road which always seems to be lacking guard rails.

After what seemed like 9 or 10 hours of driving we spotted a neon sign in the distance. The Loma Linda KOA in Cotopaxi looked great. Something about KOA always reminds me of growing up. They seemed to be everywhere for a time in the 1970s and 1980s. Remember those great A-frame office building and those yellow and black signs?

We've finally arrived in Salida and are ready to call it a night. Next up we'll take a look around town and then head west with the goal of ending the day in Utah.


Pfeiffer Photos said...

Like the court signage...nice!

Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Vintage Roadside said...

Thanks Tina!

Vintage Roadside said...

Susan - Thank you for the kind words. We're glad you've been enjoying the trip. Come back anytime!