Monday, May 4, 2009

Amache, Lamar, Hicklin Springs, Vogel Canyon & Home

amache1 It was only 7:30 am when I got back to the RV so that left the whole day for more adventure. I had a number of things on my list but the first was only a couple of miles away, Amache Relocation Camp. Amache was one of the infamous Japanese American Internment Camps from World War II. Between 1942 and 1945 over 7000 citizens of the United States were kept prisoner at this place. It was a sad chapter in our history but it is our history and I wanted to visit this place.amache2

When I left the Dorenkamp’s ranch it was overcast, drizzly and cold. Somber weather for a somber tour. Shortly after the Japanese surrendered in WW II, the people held in the camps were released and the camps were razed. As a result there is really not much to see at Amache except the foundations of the old buildings and some informational signs that were erected by the town of Granada, CO which now owns the site.

It was interesting to try to imagine that time with a multitude of buildings and 7,000 people carrying on with life in this desolate place. One thing that struck me was the trees. This is high prairie and trees are not native to the area. If you look at pictures of the camp you can see how open the terrain was…but you can also see young trees that were planted by the internees. Those same trees now are grown and many are in the process of dying, much like the former occupants of the camp. After spending about an hour looking around I headed to Lamar, CO. Enough somberness for this day. I needed to lighten things up a bit.lamar2

Lamar, CO is home to one of 12 Madonna of the Trail statues all across the United States. An interesting bit of history and just the kind of history I like to seek out. But wait! There’s also some kitsch in Lamar, Colorado and I haven’t had a dose of kitsch in a while.lamar3

A building that claims to be the oldest on the planet? In Lamar, Colorado? Yup. This building is constructed of petrified wood and has even made the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not books. It is kitsch with a capital K. The  but now serves as an office for the car dealership next store. I also found a wonderful old art deco movie theater in Lamar….appropriately named the “Lamar”. Unlike a lot of theaters I come across, this one seems to be thriving. Not surprising I suppose when you consider that this is a small town VERY far from the next larger town.

Time to move on to my next adventure, Hicklin Springs. I was a little concerned at the directions I got while visiting Bent’s Fort. Wherever the site was it was way out in the sticks. If the directions weren’t accurate I would have blown a lot of time. While at the Dorenkamp’s ranch I asked if they knew anything about the site. They said they didn’t but they gave me the name of a gentleman who works for the Corps of Engineers at John Martin Reservoir and said that if anyone knew about it he would.

Right around lunchtime I pulled in to the COE office and asked for this gentleman. I was in luck, he was there and he was a fountain of information about the place. He even gave me a map to the site and a copy of an article he wrote about the site…..what a stroke of luck!rock3

After about 20 minutes of great conversation I headed out with his map in hand. It was only about 10 miles from his office so I was there, well almost there in about a half hour. I was told that the road down into the site could be difficult at times and I didn’t want to chance driving down the trail in my RV. That left me with a 1.3 mile hike in each direction. No problemo, I can do that. As I walked into the site, this strange sensation came over me that the area looked familiar. If finally dawned on me that Guitar and I had driven down this trail in my Expedition about a year and a half ago, while camping at John Martin State Park! At the time we knew nothing about the petroglyphs and were just “exploring”.rock1

The walk in was pleasant, it was overcast and cool but conditions were dry. This site was really interesting to me. I have seen a lot of ancient petroglyphs in the last few years. Most of the time you will find modern graffiti in the same area and a lot of times the ancient images are defaced by the more modern graffiti. This site contained both but the level of defacement was a lot less than other sites I have seen. Incredibly at this site I found the historic graffiti even more interesting that the petroglyphs! When I say historic graffiti I mean anything that European people left behind. In this part of the country that can be dated back to the late 1700’s or early 1800’s.rock2

It looked to me that in historic times, ranchers or sheepherders spend considerable time in the area. There was a lot of intricate drawings on the rock that I had never seen anywhere else. Two especially intrigued me. The first was a very detailed drawing of an old sailing ship with the name Sea Queenee etched below it. The other was a drawing of a priest or friar. Next to the image was engraved the name Jesus Oglin. It took someone a very long time to complete either one of these petroglyphs.

I was glad it was cool and overcast because a lot of the area looked very “snakey” and I was told to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes if I climbed around the area. I spent over an hour looking around before heading back to the RV.

Once back at the rig I decided to head for Vogel Canyon and spend the night. This is a small picnic area maintained by the BLM. Guitar and I had been there a couple of years ago so I knew it was a good…and free place to spend the night. When I arrived there were two other cars in the parking lot and by 5pm….and for the rest of the night I was the only person around.

Friday morning it was time to head home. The weather was overcast and drizzly so I didn’t feel too bad about ending what had been a very interesting two days. I arrived back in the Denver area a little after 2pm. It was really good to get on the road again. I saw a lot of interesting sights and by Friday evening I was thinking about my next trip. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you about that.

Thanks for visiting.

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