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Long way down the holiday road

April in Glenwood
April E. Clark
April Clark
Staff Photo |

Summer is officially here and the best way I can think of celebrating the season is with a road trip. Or, better yet, road trip!

For some reason I can’t say it without exclamation.

I recently hit the road with my friends Ben and Nicole and headed back to Indy for the Memorial Day weekend to be with family. We made the 18-hour trek in good time, missing rush hour and driving through Kansas in the middle of the night. This state is as flat as my stomach in my early 20s, so that section of the drive can seem to go on forever. It helps to count the wind turbines. Or find humor in the billboards. I think they are technically supposed to be serious, some with overtly religious messaging. I apparently missed some of the good ones when I fell asleep sometime around Coloransas.

If that isn’t a great combination of state names, then I don’t know what is.

This state is as flat as my stomach in my early 20s, so that section of the drive can seem to go on forever. It helps to count the wind turbines. Or find humor in the billboards.

Apparently there was some anti-tattoo propaganda I slept through.

“Oh you missed the billboard that read, ‘People change. Tattoos don’t,’” said Ben, a fellow Hoosier.

“Well that advice would have been nice when I decided a tramp stamp would be a good idea at 30,” I said.

We were on a mission to make good time so there was no time to see the world’s largest ball of twine made by a community or the two-headed calf at the Wonder Tower in Genoa, Colo. For whatever reason, I wasn’t exactly familiar with the Wonder Tower until Ben brought it up in conversation.

“We need to get a picture of the lighthouse in Colorado when we drive by it,” he said.

Nicole and I had a hard time buying that there’s a lighthouse in Colorado.

Is that to bring in the ships to harbor?” I asked.

No sarcasm there at all.

I needed proof so Nicole immediately did a search on her phone to find out more about this supposed “lighthouse in Colorado.” It seems this wonder of the West exists after all, and it’s off I-70, exit 371.

Stranger things have happened in Colorado.

According to roadsideamerica.com, the Wonder Tower claims that its visitors can see six states from its six story-high perch. They also warn that the climb to the top isn’t for the faint of heart. All I know is that the last time I climbed to the top of a lighthouse I was in St. Augustine, Fla., on a particularly windy day. Describing me as faint of heart during that experience would be putting it nicely.

Scared out of my mind is a little more like it.

I’m easily creeped out, so the pictures alone of the inside of the Wonder Tower have me wondering if I could swing a visit to this tower of wonder. There’s a shot of that aforementioned two-headed calf and a young boy looking creeped out. There are mannequins dressed up as real people, and not exactly the kind one would see in a fancy department store window.

That wouldn’t freak me out at all.

And roadsideamerica.com reports there are lumps of red sheets wearing sunglasses designed to resemble people from far away. Very far away.

Thank goodness they have proper eyewear for the eastern Colorado sun.

I’m not sure how many people have visited the Wonder Tower over the years, but it has to be in the thousands. I’m eager to find out. This is a lighthouse located nowhere near an ocean for goodness sakes. The structure was built in 1926, and is said to be located at the highest point between New York City and Denver. Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, New Mexico, and South Dakota can all be seen from the tower. That’s one way to see the United States. We just might make a quick stop on the return trip. That would certainly make my summer vacation.

Road trip!

— April E. Clark will always remember the road trip with her family as a kid from New Palestine, Ind., to Key West, Fla. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com.


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