Category Archives: History

Eastern Colorado Historical Trek

water tower

The snow finally melted in the low lands of Colorado, so 3 friends and I decided to take a weekend ride to the Great Plains of Eastern Colorado from Denver for the weekend.  Our plans were to leave at 5:30 pm on Friday Evening and Camp out two nights with a return trip home on Sunday.  Traveling in early May is a little tricky because the sun sets quicker than expected. After a few hours on the road, we arrived in Wray, Colorado as the sun set and by the time we got to our campground it was already dark. We used our cycle’s headlights for some artificial light and set up camp at a great little place just outside the city limits.  Once our tents were set up, we hit the road in search of dinner and found a great burger place to eat.   When we arrived at the restaurant, a stranger on a cycle followed us into the restaurant’s parking lot.  We chatted for a bit and invited him to eat with us.  We began our first meal of our trip meeting a total stranger and he joined us for a great meal.  He rode a 2015 Kawasaki Verses and open carried a 9mm Berretta on his left hip (“Open Carry” means he carried a gun unconcealed in a holster).  This guy was either going to kill us or be a really nice guy; luckily he ended up being just another motor head who loved talking motorcycles.

Riding through the prairie is not for everyone.  Some folks just don’t understand the wonders of such places.  Adrenaline junkies will miss the excitement of the curvy roads through the mountains and others will just think the Great Plains lacks a diverse scenery.  There is nothing wrong with such opinions; beauty is a matter of perspective.  The prairie provides a place where the simplicity of the environment enhances the micro elements of everyday sights.  The colors of the sky seem more vibrant and enriched.  The contrast between the grass, road and horizon is acute beyond detail.  The way that the grass blows from side to side almost mimics “the wave” one might see at a baseball game.  The visual aspects of the Great Plains lacks the shock and awe value of a colossal mountain landscape or sandy ocean beach but if you open your mind to its mystic charm, you will find a wondrous environment to enjoy.

On Saturday Morning we got up early and broke down camp.  We only had two objectives to achieve.  Our goal was to ride to both the Sand Creak Massacre Monument and the Grenada Japanese Relocation Camp both in South Eastern Colorado.  Riding south from Wray Colorado, we arrived at Sand Creek Massacre Monument around noon.  The road to the monument off the state highway is an 8 mile hard pack dirt road.  If you take it slow, this road is safe enough to travel.  The monument is run by the National Park Service and it worth its weight in historical gold.  We learned the terrible history of this place, where more than 220 Native Americans (mostly women, elderly and children) were slaughtered by members of the US Army.  The mood of the park was eerie and somber as if a cloak of sadness surrounds the hollowed grounds.  As a veteran of the US Army, I listened and learned of this terrible event in deep sadness and wondered how individuals could do such terrible things.

Memorial

The next stop was the Grenada Japanese Relocation Camp where America forcibly relocated more than 7,500 Japanese Americans during World War 2.  This site is surely worth a visit.  The roads throughout the old internment camp are made of loose dirt soil and motorcyclist should consider walking the area and parking their cycles at the entrance.  I am not proud of the history of this place but its story serves to remind us that we can do better as a society to prevent bigotry and racism so this type of behavior will never happens again.  The buildings in the camp were torn down after World War 2 but the foundation still exist.  A recreation of the camp’s water tower, barracks and guard tower have been built so visitors can better understand the life of the Japanese American Citizens in the internment camp.  During our visit at the camp we saw a wild-fire seem to originate out of nowhere.  It was the strangest event.  As we explored the ruins of an old guard tower we noticed a small amount of smoke drifting from the ground about 100 yards outside the boarders of the camp.  Within one minute the trickle of smoke turned to something more daunting and we noticed a small flame in the open field.  We called 911 and reported the situation immediately.  By the time we left the park, there were more than 3 fire trucks working the fire.  I believe the fire ignited in the county landfill that lies adjacent to the Internment Camp. This was just another random odd situation that we witnessed during our trip

Japanese Camp

After learning about such ugly times in my country’s history, my mind really went a drift during our ride to our tent site.  Both parks were thought-provoking entities that every American should visit.  We as a society need to learn of these events and visit these places, in hopes that we as a culture will never be doomed to repeat such actions.  If these ugly events can take place in Eastern Colorado, the same type of situations can play out anywhere in America.  We as a society can and must do better and should be made aware of the evil that lurks in the hearts of men.

I would be amiss if I did not at least mention the phenomenal small towns that dot the landscape of Eastern Colorado.  There is just something eccentric and right about these places.  The people are friendly and polite.  These are the type of places that make one feel welcome as soon as you arrive.  I always thought that small town America always represented what the term home should be.

Random

Our motorcycling trip through Eastern Colorado ended up being a historical trek for knowledge which made the trip even more impressive.   The trip was also organized around a simplistic plan without a ton of complications.   We traveled without a detailed agenda nor plan of route.  Only armed with a sleeping bags, tents and wet weather gear, we hit the road heading east towards the Great Plains.   Our goal was to see a few historical sites and sleep under the stars for a few nights of motorcycling bliss.   Eastern Colorado is part of the Great Plains and is rural beyond measure.  This part of the country has escaped modern inconveniences that tend to overwhelm us.  Traffic is non-existent, life feels slower and the environment is defined by a vast wide open sky that lasts as far as the eye can see.   Riding through the plains is not filled with twisty roads or gnarly sloping cliffs.  One must head 4 hours west towards the mountains for that type of scenery but there is a certain amount of majestic bliss that one feels while riding through the open vast scenic landscape.  The trip is highlighted by never-ending open skies and vast fields.  It’s this environment that provides a mystic key to one’s mind and allows profound freedom of thought.  The panoramic view of never endings prairie grass is a wonder to observe.  Take a chance on places you have never seen, you never know what interesting things you can find.

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Love the Ride for the Pure Joy of Life and the Never Ending Dream

shark

I knew that it would be another tough day at the office filed with turbulence and strife.  My commute is about an hour and felt a profound satisfaction that my hectic work day would start and end on my motorcycle.  During my ride, I dwelled upon the end of winter and the beginning of a new season.

As the sun peaks over the horizon and shares its warm vibrant rays, I realize that winter has retreated north.  The scent of new life has permeated through the plains and mountains and one can almost smell the land coming alive from a winter’s desolate exile.  The rivers are more vibrant, fed by melting snow and the birds chatter among the trees in an epic devotional of the miracles of spring.   For motorcyclist living in a multifaceted climate, this time of year represents an open door to freedom which removes limitations to our ability to ride.   The warm air and gentle breeze call us from afar to find new paths to places rarely visited.

Motorcycling in spring is like waking up to find that one’s awe-inspiring fantasy has indeed become a reality.  Seize the moment and ride.  Find a new adventure, research the wonders of history in your backyard, visit a friend long-lost, and cherish the majestic environment that only spring can display.  We are our own leading restraint in finding happiness in this world; don’t let any obstacle get in your way.   Now is the time to leave the chaos of life behind and chase smiles and grins on black top covered dreams.

We live a life of risk and rewards.  Every day may be the last day but we are always planning for tomorrow.  It’s a life of balance and one must never lose touch with rationale thought but an occasional jaunt living on the edge builds character.  Find time to live and breathe the fresh air of an uncluttered mind.  Focus on the Ride and let the road be your long-lost muse.

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn” –  Hal Borland

happiness


American Travesty Tour, Research before the Ride- Sand Creek Massacre and the Granada War Relocation Center

change behavior

I am in the process of planning a ride through Southeast Colorado which I am calling the American Travesty Tour.  I try to research the historical significance of places that I plan on visiting on my motorcycle.  I find that a bit of inquiry before the trip, makes the sites I see more vibrant and impactful.   Planning this ride really made me reflect upon the concept of the duel Characteristic of Man.  The notion that an individual can be both good and evil is not all that easy to swallow until one really dwells upon the deep unending depth of an individual’s soul.  Were all capable of doing wondrous positive things as well as committing horrific acts of evil.  What is an even more bazaar is that individuals often can do these things in conjunction with one another.  Researching the historical significance of the Sand Creek Massacre and the Granada War Relocation Center in Southeast Colorado put into perspective the wrongs that my own country has committed.  These are not the only sins that burden my own cultural identity but give me a sense of what we are all capable of doing if we do not live with an ethical and spiritual conscious.  As a combat veteran, I can tell you that I am proud to be an American but one also must keep their hearts open to learning opportunities that we can learn from the past.

On November 29th 1864, America lost its moral compass when a force of Colorado US Volunteer Calvary under the command of US Army Colonel John Chivington attacked a peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapaho Native Americans.  The encampment was filled with mostly women and children, since the men were out hunting food for the upcoming winter. The band of Indians were requested to move to the Sand Creek area of Southeast Colorado and were guaranteed their safety by the American Government.    In their village flew an American Flag along with a White Flag underneath the stars and stripes which was raised by the tribe to show their peaceful nature.  Most adult Cheyenne and Arapaho men in the encampment were either sick or too old to attend the hunt.  There is no real accurate causality list but it is safe to report that more than 100 Arapaho and Cheyenne Native Americans were killed, mostly women and children.  This attack became known as the Sand Creek Massacre.  This blood bath lead to further violence throughout the region when countless reprisals were made against white settlers in response to the Sand Creek Massacre by Native American Warriors.     It’s a classic sad tale of hate begetting hate.   Not all the military personal under Colonel Chivington participated in the massacre.  Captain Soule who was in charge of Company D of the 1st Colorado Calvary ordered his men to stand down and did not attack when given the charge orders.  Captain Soule latter testified against Colonel Chivington.  On April 23, 1865 Silas Soule was murdered in Denver, CO while on duty as a Provost Marshal.  Evidence suggests that his untimely death was payback for his eye witness testimony against Colonel Chivington.

Granada War Relocation Center, also known Camp Amache was a Japanese Relocation Camp located just outside Granada, CO in Southeast Colorado.  In the spring of 1942, Japanese Americans were rounded up and forced from their homes and made to move to one of ten such Japanese Relocation Camps.  Individuals were only allowed to bring one bag to the relocation centers and were forced to sell their valuables and property including pets and livestock before getting forced out of their homes.  It’s hard to fathom such fear and hate which lead to such an abysmal act.  While their family members were stuck in War Re-Location Camps, Japanese Americans were fighting the fascists in Europe.  The US Army 442nd Regiment was made up of mostly men of Japanese ancestry and was the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of American Warfare.  The 442nd Infantry Regiment earned 9486 Purple Hearts and was awarded eight Presidential Unit Citations.  Their motto was “Go for Broke” and they lived up to that creed with twenty-one of their members being awarded the Medal of Honor.

I never have posted my pre-ride research before an upcoming ride but felt so affected by what I learned that I wanted to put in words and share.  I plan on taking this journey in the next few months and will hopefully be able to share more information.

442nd