Our destination on this leg of the Tour was the Boulder, Colorado area. We knew the next few days would give us some thrilling scenery to experience in the Rockies, and cool small towns to explore in the region. But, we “discovered” that there are really interesting places along the way there (As poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson said, sometimes “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey”). As road trippers, we often research places of interest on the routes we’re taking to make sure to target them on our map, and get the background information we need to “tell their stories”. But, sometimes the places we randomly decide to take a detour to provide our biggest, cool surprises. Wilson, KA (with the largest Czech population in the state) is a great example. This post is a special “shout out” to our dear friend Melina!
Even though Wilson has a tiny old downtown, you can tell this community has a lot of heart.
Hollywood came knocking in 1973 to film the movie Paper Moon. Eight locations in Wilson were used, including the Midland Railroad Hotel.
“Main Street” and rural economic development advisors counsel leaders of off-the-beaten-path, small communities to do things to create a buzz for their towns. As the lyrics in the Bonnie Raitt tune say, “Let’s give ‘em something to talk about”. In this case, the City of Wilson nailed it. It commissioned artist Christine Slechta to design and paint the world’s largest egg, done in a traditional Czech design. It is stunning.
Leaving Wilson, we headed north to the town of Abilene, KA. (NOTE: Thanks to all of you who reached out to us about the tornado alerts being broadcast for the areas we were going to be in. Luckily, none of the bad weather materialized). Apparently tornadoes are so common that they even name bowling alleys in their “honor”.
Abilene has a really neat downtown, and folks are obviously proud of its recent selection as the #1 Best Small Town to Visit in the U.S. by Travel Awaits. Take a look at this list of very impressive honorees. https://www.travelawaits.com/2885978/best-us-small-towns-to-visit/.
Abilene is most famous for the fact that it was the boyhood home of President Dwight Eisenhower.
It was early, so unfortunately we couldn’t tour inside the home, which recently underwent preservation improvements. But, stealth-like, Bart wandered around the property to get a better close up view of the building.
President Eisenhower has been called the Father of the U.S. Interstate Highway System. In 1956 he signed into law the Federal Aid Highway Act. One of his key motivations behind the legislation was civilian defense: He wanted to create a way for people living in large cities to be able to evacuate in case the U.S. was attacked by an atomic bomb.
We use highways to “make tracks” from one leg of the Tour to another. But we love to hop off the interstates to explore places on the backroads and byways. Check out the cool looking lenticular (flying saucer looking) cloud we spotted on the horizon.
A bright silver “object” caught our attention as we approached Flagler, Colorado. That object was an old-fashioned looking diner.
Unfortunately, it was “temporarily closed”. The previous owners seemed to do all the right things to get attention – and business - from I-70 travelers. You couldn’t miss this pink Cadillac perched high on a pole.
And for folks who like travel information, they had you covered.
This electric car charging station in the diner’s parking lot was a big surprise to us out here in the country where trucks and tractors seemed to be the vehicles of choice. Go figure.
We left Flagler, sad to see that this great looking diner (which had excellent online reviews) wasn’t able to make it. One of the constant themes we’ve heard from small business owners along the way is that they can’t get adequate staffing. In a rural town this small (population 561), we wondered if that’s what caused the diner’s demise. We had 200 miles left to today’s destination. Stay tuned for the next report from Colorado, AKA the Centennial State.