After we reluctantly departed the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, Day Six continued east on U.S. Route 50 from Cañon City to Pueblo. The distance was a relatively short hop of thirty-five miles, but we paused for one unplanned attraction in our path, the Colonel Leo Sidney Boston War Memorial Park. The park was established in 1997 as a tribute to veterans alive and dead. I’d pegged its location as Florence in my original notes, but online sources say the official address is in Penrose. Its namesake was a Cañon City native who fought in Vietnam, was declared MIA circa 1971, and presumed officially dead in 1997. In April 2011, his family was notified of a positive DNA match for him contained in a set of recovered remains. I wouldn’t presume to imagine the toll of such an experience.
At the time, when we pulled over to the roadside for a gander, we knew nothing about the eponymous hometown hero. All I knew was that we were standing before a military hardware collection stationed in an unusual spot.
The Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopter was one of five military vehicles donated to the park by Fort Carson in nearby Colorado Springs. Because the vehicles were unlabeled and my knowledge in this field has faded in the years since the last war story I read, all names have been researched and provided as best I could. Corrections and anecdotes are most welcome.
This Armored Personnel Carrier might be the heaviest of the lot. Unfortunately, all doors and hatches were sealed off to visitors.
If you preferred a less intimidating chopper, the slightly more benign Huey Medivac might be your go-to whirlybird.
For those with a need for speed, behold the F-4C Phantom II Jet, which reminded me of the decommissioned F-14 Tomcat we encountered in WaKeeney on Day Three.
If you prefer artillery over vehicles, the 105mm Howitzer is the park’s weapon of choice.
The requisite flagpoles, flowers, and memorial wall.
The effect in general of this roadside exhibit was incongruous to our Royal Gorge Park romp — quite the jarring, sobering juxtaposition. As we took our leave of the memorial and headed further still from the greatest mountain range we’d ever seen, we gazed upon the vanishing silhouette of the Rockies as much as possible until the atmosphere and the horizon collaborated to obscure them evermore from view.
To be continued.
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading.]