The Relocation Tour Winter 2013/14

                                                                                  The Relocation Tour Winter 2013/14

                                                                                                                                                   Or

                                                                                         The Ride Goes On Forever

Background: East of Lamar Colorado on Highway 50, a little west of Granada, is Camp Amache. Camp Amache was one of the Japanese Relocation Camps set up by the US Government at the start of WWII. It was set in motion by Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. Executive Order 9066 resulted in somewhere around 120,000 men, women and children, young and old, most American Citizens, some 3rd generation, to be stripped of their citizenship as well as everythiIMG_0630 - Copyng they owned, and shipped to an adjustable number of “Relocation Camps” around the United States. The crime these people committed was being Japanese or of Japanese descent. According to a flier at the Poston Arizona Memorial anyone with more than 1/16th Japanese blood was included as Japanese.

I am still working on finding information about all of this, but, as unbelievable as it seems to me, the whole thing was found to be Constitutional by the Supreme Court. So, all who think we have Constitutional rights had better re-assess that idea.

The visit to Camp Amache got me to thinking and looking around. It seems two of the Relocation Camps were in Arkansas, three in Texas, two in Arizona and others scattered around other states. The exact number of camps is a question as different government agencies ran different camps. As I was planning my winter ride and wanted to revisit parts of Arizona, it seemed a tour of these camps was a good or at least an interesting idea.

As normal, getting things worked out was a bit of a mess. But, eventually I got it going and headed east on I-40. I was on the BMW and don’t usually do the interstate if I have a chance, but I wanted to make some miles. I turned south at Sallisaw and stopped for lunch at the Wild Horse BBQ, one of the best in Oklahoma. From there I followed Highway 59 south until Smithville. That is a nice road, not a lot of traffic and lots of nice curves and hills. However, some of the traffic it does carry is logging trucks, watch them.

When I travel I seldom know when or where I am going to stop. I pulled into De Queen Arkansas and it was either stop there or be ready to ride. Hoo Hoo HeadquartersIt was getting dark and the little woodland critters were getting restless, so I called it good, checked into a motel and walked over to a fairly good Mexican joint.

The next morning was somewhat overcast but not real cold so I didn’t bother with all of the electric gear which was a good choice. It was a real nice Sunday ride across Southern Arkansas with my first stop at Gurdon and the Concatenated Order of Hoo Hoo Headquarters. This is the world headquarters. It has a website for those who are interested. www.hoo-hoo.com . I had come through here a few years ago and just wanted to get a couple of photos.

That done I rode on to the east towards Rowher which is out on the Mississippi River flatlands. It was a pleasant ride, not a lot of traffic, a winding road, the temperature was not bad and it was clearing. From McGeehee, Rowher is about 10 or so miles NE on State Highway 1. You have to look closely for the sign. Then it is up and over the railroad track and there is what is left of the Rowher Internment Camp.

By the time I got to Rowher as the photo shows, it had turned into a very nice riding day. At this point my experience with the Rohwer, Monumentcamps was somewhat limited. Amache had a cemetery and so does Rowher. There are several monuments at Rowher, this being one. There are also numerous headstones. This one is a concrete tank with a washed out flag and the mention of the 442 Regiment. After the young men and their families were moved out of their Tank Monumenthome and stripped of their citizenship they were offered the chance to “volunteer” for the Army. Surprisingly many did and they were all sent to the 442 and saw stiff fighting in Italy, France and Germany. At one time in France a Texas Regiment, with an idiot as a commander, got cut off and was in danger of being wiped out. The Army sent in the 442nd and according to records they lost over 800 killed or wounded to save a little over 200 from the Texas Regiment. Anyone who has ever been in a war will appreciate that little tidbit.

The cemetery and the chimney from the hospital are all that is left of the camp. By comparison Amache is quite large with most of the building slabs left as well as the streets. Not here, the land is too valuable. The Kiosk at the site had some interesting and surprisingly frank information on it. It seems that at the time of the war this area was steeped in poverty, especially if you were an African American. There was a bit of conflict because the internees, while in prison, were still eating better than the local sharecroppers.

As a side note, George Takei, better known as Mr. Sulu on the Star Trek series was relocated to this camp.

From Rowher I headed south on Highway One, gassing up in McGeehee putting 8.8 gallons in an 8.7 gallon tank (?). In McGeehee I picked up Highway 165 to Jerome.Jerome Ark. Just on the north edge of Jerome is the sign and the monument for the Jerome Relocation Camp. There is no cemetery here, just this monument and like Rowher, the chimney for the hospital. Given the number of people who were here there had to be some deaths, but there is no mention of any cemetery. The land around here is valuable so there is not much land dedicated to this or the Rowher camps. At the Amache camp signs indicate that the Denver Optimists Club sort of takes care of the site, but at these, there is no mention of who maintains them but someone thankfully does.

I followed Highway 165 from Jerome to Monroe Louisiana where I picked up Highway 34 to Winnfield. When traveling around every now and then you get a surprise and Highway 34 is one of those. It is an interesting and fun road. The scenery, while not Rocky Mountain spectacular, is very nice, and I am thinking coming this way in the spring would be the thing to do. The road also winds around some real fun curves and up and down some hills and does not carry a lot of traffic. At any rate, the sun was going down when I pulled in to Winnfield and checked into the Best Western. The meal in the attached restaurant was not bad so all in all it was a good day.

The next morning was overcast and cool, but nothing serious. I waited until it got good and light and headed to the southwest on Highways 84/6. The first town of any size is Natchitoches. This is a very old town with a river running through it. Most of the downtown area has been restored with lots of boutique shops, bed and breakfasts, upscale restaurants with outside tables and more of the usual. If you like places like that Natchitoches would be a nice place to visit, say in the spring or fall. Summer I would skip unless you like heat and humidity.

Fish, Many La.I was coming through Many when I saw this at the Chamber of Commerce. Many is close to Toledo Bend Reservoir, a premier bass lake. It turns out that these things are all over the place and usually painted different colors. During my travels I have seen many of these types of things. In Oklahoma City they did Bison, other places have done horses, bears, up around Tulsa they do Penguins.

By now I was on Highway 6 and was going to stay on it until close to Temple.

I have been down the roads in this area many times, but it is always a pleasant ride. I went by the place where I got stuck in the ditch but didn’t pull over and get stuck again. It was only a short ride to Temple and it was early afternoon when I pulled into the Carden Manse on Pecan Drive and hugged everyone and scratched the dog. The rest of the 30th and the 31st were dedicated to playing with the Grand-kids and visiting. Long ago I discovered that the New Year would make it in without me making a fool of myself, plus, waking up is much better than coming to. So, shortly after all of the kids went to bed, I followed, did a little reading and slept the New Year in.

When I left Temple on Jan. 1, 2014, it was a beautiful day, clear, light breeze and 34 degrees. I wanted to have breakfast at the Blue Bonnet in Marble Falls and took the normal back roads to get there. It was indeed a great riding morning. Intersecting Highway 287 in Burnett (pronounced burn it) I headed south to Marble Falls only to discover that the Blue Bonnet was closed for the holidays. Bummer. I settled for a, probably not toxic, meal in a Mexican place.

After breakfast I gassed up and headed south towards San Antonio. Just a little north of San Antonio part of my beautiful day went away as it clouded over and stopped warming up but still things were good. San Antonio has turned into another large city and I had no intention in going closer to it than I had to. With little trouble I took the loop around it and picked up Highway 90 heading towards Uvlade.

At Uvalde I took Highway 83 south towards Crystal City. This is getting into the area of the county where they have lots and lots of miles and miles. I eventually pulled into Crystal City and looked for signs directing me to the camp site. I did not see anything but I did see this statue. It seems that they grow a lot of spinach around here and call themselves the Popeye, Crystal City, Texasspinach capital of the (US, Texas, World) something. This statue was in front of the City Hall where they had the police station. I figured they ought to know about the camp so I walked in. There were two people there, one of who know what I was talking about and gave me direction. In short order I was driving north of the school and at the end of the tennis courts, there was the monument.

At this site as with Jerome in Arkansas there is no cemetery. There are a few concrete slabs left from the buildings and that is where this monument is set. The Crystal City Camp was a little different from the others. It seems, depending on your source, that this camp, along withCrystal City Texas Relocation Camp Monument quite a few others, was run by the Department Of Justice and were used to incarcerate 2260 “dangerous persons” of Japanese ancestry taken from 12 Latin American countries by the US State and Justice Departments. If these people were given up by their countries I have not yet determined. One of the sources I have says that 1800 of these people were Peruvians and the government wanted them as bargaining chips for potential hostage exchanges with Japan and actually did use some for that. After the war 1400 were prevented from returning to their former country. Over 900 Japanese Peruvians were deported to Japan, 300 fought in the courts and were allowed to settle in Seabrook NJ.

From Crystal City I headed west to Eagle Pass. Along the way, I ran out from under the clouds and the temperature went up. I stopped for gas in Eagle Pass and got out of the heavy gear and into my light riding jacket and headed up to border to Del Rio. It was still fairly early when I pulled into Del Rio. I have been down this road many times. After Del Rio there are lots of miles and miles and not much else. The nearest town with a motel of any sort is Sanderson and it is 120 miles. I stayed there once and was not impressed. Also, that time I was lucky to find an open restaurant. With that in mind I called it good in Del Rio.

The next morning dawned clear with little wind and with temperature in the low 30s. Great riding weather.

Judge Bean's placeI stopped in Langtry to see what has happened with Judge Roy Bean and the Jersey Lilly. It has changed much over the years since I first stopped here. It is an interesting story and worth the stop. Judge Bean was an actual historic individual and a character to say the least. As the photo says, the actual building is there and you can go in and look around. There are both inside and outside exhibits, and it is all free.

By now it had warmed up a little but not much. After Langtry I was heading for Big Bend National Park, one of my favorite places and I had some miles to make. Fortunately the posted speed limit on the road is 75 and no one gets too bent out of shape if you improve on that a bit so I pulled the ears back and let the BMW hum. As I rode through Sanderson I noticed there were no open restaurants and the one I had eaten at the last time was now closed for good. I made it to Marathon in short order and headed south into the Park.

Once again, the best $10 I ever spent got me into the park free. Over the years there are only a very few of the more remote places of the park I have not seen so I was just going to enjoy the ride down to Santa Elena Canyon then ride out on Maverick Road. Maverick Road is seen in this photo. It is 16 orMaverick Road, Big Bend NP so miles of mostly gravel road with little deep sand. Doing this type of stuff is why I got the BMW. I like to stop in places like this and walk away from the road. It takes a very short distance for all traces of technology to vanish from sight and out here it is very quiet. I have camped out in Big Bend before and you ought to see the skies out here. There are more stars than you would ever come close to seeing in most places.

Study Butte is on the west side of the Park and it is where Highway 170 comes in. I have ridden this road before and it is a great one. If it is not the best motorcycle road in Texas it is for sure in the top very few. The road runs along the border and through Big Bend Ranch State Park, one of the newest parks of the Texas State Park system. Here is the website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/big-bend-ranch .

When you come in from Study Butte one of the first towns you come to is Terlinga, a ghost town (sort of) and the site of the first International Chili Cook off. I was at the second one in 1974-75 (?). Right after that the people who started it found out a lot of money was involved and started suing each other and that pretty much was that.

Highway 170This is just one of many photos I have of this road. It is truly a fantastic motorcycle road. It has a lot of ups and downs as well as all sorts of curves. You want to be very careful, when topping a hill you really don’t know which way the road goes and most of the curves are not marked and guard rails are few and far between. But, with a bit of care you can enjoy the road as well as the fantastic scenery. If you are expecting pretty trees and waterfalls you are going to be disappointed. This is a desert climate and has been for quite some time. The photo at left is of an outcropping of volcanic tuff. This is most likely from the same eruption that deposited the tuff in Big Bend. It is soft and easily erodes into all sorts of shapes.

The road is a fairly well maintained two lane blacktop with not a lot of traffic. From Study Butte to Presidio is about 70 miles and in the time it took me to ride that I doubt I passed and was passed by 20 vehicles. The good ride pretty much goes on until you get within 5 miles of Presidio where I stopped for fuel and a look at the map. Marfa is not far but that would mean again stopping early so I elected to make it to Van Horn. The road from Presidio to Marfa is high by West Texas standards and it was cool in the high spots. It is a nice ride through good grass lands, of course it was dry and brown this time of the year, but it would be nice in the spring after a rain.

While covering this stretch of road I saw a Javelina strolling along in the ditch, not concerned about much. As to the difference between a Javelina and a Peccary, according to the NPS website, a Javelina is a type of Peccary and neither is a type of pig. Never mind all of that, I would not want to hit one as they look pretty solid, not elk solid, but solid enough.

As I have seen the Marfa lights I turned left in Marfa and headed to Van Horn. If you have not seen the lights and it is going to be a clear night you might consider stopping. If you stop you might consider staying at the Paisano Hotel, www.hotelpaisano.com, it has been around quite some time and is a nice place to stay. Reservations are usually needed, but it can't hurt to check. So, with the sun sinking it the west I again took advantage of the wide open spaces and let the BMW pick its speed. I arrived in Van Horn with a little light left, checked into a nice motel and walked about two blocks to a very nice Steak House and had a very nice steak and a salad.

I had been having a little trouble with the clutch on the bike. After riding for a period of time without using the clutch the first time I used it, no clutch. If I pumped a few times it worked fine but then went away after a bit. Around town when used frequently, no problem. So, I called the BMW dealer in El Paso and arranged to get it looked at. From Van Horn to El Paso is around 120 miles. I wanted to get to the dealer when it opened so I pulled out at 7:00. I saw 25 degrees in the valleys and a little more on the hills. A right frosty ride. The speed limit on I-10 out there is 80 then drops down to 75 near El Paso so I made it in time. They looked at the bike and told me I needed a new slave cylinder. I didn’t want to do that in the middle of a ride so I settled for a fluid replacement and bleeding. It worked for almost a day. Oh well.

From there I picked up New Mexico Highway 9 running through Columbus. I rode part of this road several years ago and it hasn't changed much. Last year I was going to ride Highway 9 from Rodeo to Columbus but it was closed due to snow; that was the part I wanted to ride. I have to say that part is more scenic that the part from Columbus on east. The eastern part is pretty bare, little grass and not much else. The western part is higher and has some pretty decent grass and is a nice road.

Chiricahua MuseumIs this a great photo or what? A little south of the intersection of Hwy 9 and Hwy 80 is the Chiricahua Desert Museum. The Museum is a fairly well done tourist trap thing where you can pay to see all sorts of rattlesnakes, spiders and such and pay way too much for Tee shirts, caps and all the usual stuff. This sculpture was out front and in my opinion, at least ties for the best photo of the trip.

From here it was a little jaunt down to Douglas and then to Bisbee. A friend and I had come this way back in 1969 on  first really long bike ride. I was riding a 1969 Norton and he was on a Sportster. We did it in the summertime and it was hot. The country hasn’t changed much but Douglas has. Last year when I came through I had looked over Douglas so this time I rode through and into Bisbee. I checked into a motel with a pretty good restaurant and a laundry, ate, did the laundry and called it good.

Bisbee is an old mining town set up in the mountains and looks like a bunch of old mining towns all over the west. However, it seems to be doing better than quite a few of them. There has been a lot of restoration done and again, lots of bed and breakfasts. For the fans of old hotels the Copper Queen is still in operation and from what I have read is a highly recommended place to stay.

A few miles west of Bisbee there is a turn off to the Coronado National Memorial. If the map was correct I could ride through there on a secondary road pick up Hwy 82 then 83 and miss some roads I had ridden lastWarning sign time. It turns out that yes, you can do that, but the lady at the visitor’s center told me some of it was rough and steep and she was not telling stories.

After a quick look around the visitor’s center I headed up the road and here is what I saw. It really wasn't that bad. The worst parts were the washboard parts caused by the cars spinning on the dirt. You just have to go slow and bounce around.

Here is the view from the top. It took about 8 miles of road to go about 3, as the crow flies. After this it was another 14 miles of some downhill and a bunch more bumps. Nothing serious, no deep sand or gravel, mostly, and not a lot of traffic. Also, not much forward

Dirt road to the top
Dirt road to the top

movement as 25-30 mph was about all you could do without your eyes getting knocked out of focus. Eventually I found the pavement and it was still a great ride. On roads like these they do not move the mountains to put in the roads. They lay the roads in the places where they have to do the least amount of dirt work so the roads go up, down, around rather than through.

At Sonoita I picked up Hwy 83 for the run up to I-10 and while not as fun as 82, it is still a good road. At I-10 I turned west heading for Tucson. I wanted to pick up Hwy 86 for Why and Ajo and I did after only getting lost once, you would think the Canadians are marking Highways down here. Highway 86 crosses the Tohono O’Odham Reservation. Look at a map and you can see it was either this way or the interstate. There are not a lot of through secondary roads out here. It was a nice ride, done quickly with no trouble. I gassed up in Ajo, went up to Gila Bend and turned left on I-8. I made the stretch from Gila Bend to Yuma in good time. Initially I got behind a car doing about 75 and quickly found out he was a slow one. There were lots of folks from California who wanted to get home. I finally settled behind one doing around 80 and watched most everyone pass us. As my brother and sister-in-law were in the same spot as last year I had no problem finding their trailer and we settled in for the evening.

We decided that on the following day my brother and I would drive up to the Poston Memorial as I did not have a back seat on the BMW and he did not have his helmet and did have a broken foot. So bright and sort of early we headed north in the truck. Yuma is an interesting city. They irrigate out of the Colorado River and grow bunches of all sorts of veggies. It is also a haven for snowbirds from all over. We drove up to Quartzsite then over to Ehrenberg then north to the site at the town of Poston.

Poston Relocation Monument
Poston Az. Relocation Monument

This is the monument at Poston. Poston is in what is called the C.R.I.Ts (Colorado River Indian Tribes) Reservation. Interestingly, at the time the government was setting up the camps the tribes told them they had no interest in any camps. As in been there done that and didn't like it. However, they were overridden and the camps, there were 3 Poston camps, were constructed. It actually turned out to be a good deal for the tribes. Before then this place was desert with little in the way or roads or anything else. To service the camps the government constructed roads and the beginning of an irrigation system so the inmates could grow some of their food. Since then the tribes have improved the irrigation system and now it is without a doubt the best run reservation I have seen anywhere.

According to the information at the monument 17,867 people of “Japanese ancestry, citizens and Alien, Men, Women and Children”, were incarcerated at this site. Of that number 1200 men “volunteered” for service, most in the 442nd regiment. Of that 1200, 25 were KIA, no mention of how many were wounded. The brochure we picked up gave the names and decorations awarded to the ones who were killed, quite a few of those took part in the rescue of the “Lost Texas Battalion” and several are buried in Arlington. The awards are impressive and it also mentions that the 442nd was awarded 7 Presidential Unit Citations.

After looking at the monument we talked with the lady running a store near the site. We were told that there were a few of the original camp building just across the road so we drove over for a look. They were not in good shape, but even when they were I would not have wanted to live in them.

After that little pause we drove on back to Yuma where a nice dinner waiting and we settled down and got with the visiting. About this time a cold wave was going through the NE part of the country while it was around 70 in Yuma. So we spent part of the time texting all of the friends and relatives about how warm we were and how cold they were.

The next morning it was fifty degrees when I left Yuma. Like last year, when I topped the first ridge to the east the temperature dropped down to 32 so like last year I stopped and climbed into the electric gear. After that, I rode the interstate to I-10 and a little north where I turned east towards Globe.

Highway 60 toward Globe is a real interesting road. I took this photo in February of last year when I rode out IMG_0613to Yuma for the 2nd time. As it appears, Highway 60 is heading up into the mountains with all of the usual twists, turns, and ups and downs. It was also a reason for me to stay in the riding gear, but with the electricity turned off.

After gassing up at Globe I headed out on Highway 70 towards Safford. I wanted to ride north from Safford on Highway 91 towards Springerville. However, parts of that road are quite high and I was a little concerned about snow. So I elected to ride Highway 78 and New Mexico 180 into Silver City.

Highway 78 is a great motorcycle road. It starts at Three Way where 191 turns north. Past Three Way the road starts climbing with 10-15 mph winding curves, lots of ups and downs and unfortunately few pull outs to admire the view. Also there are few if any guard rails or run off room so be careful. Fortunately the road does not carry a lot of traffic. There was snow on the slopes near the top so I had to slow down a bit However the chuckles continued all of the way to and past the New Mexico border until the land becomes more open grassland but still a nice ride. Roads like this one make any motorcycle rider smile. So, still smiling I turned right at the intersection of Highway 180 and road into Silver City as the sun was going down.

Silver City has grown quite a bit since I first stayed there several years ago. If memory serves, I stayed in a very much not so good motel as that was all there was. Now there are several of all types. I checked in and then rode over to a very nice Steak House for a good dinner and a couple of drinks. While watching the news I found out the next morning was going to be interesting.

When I rode off the next morning the temperature was around 20 degrees and the electric gear was most appreciated. It was clear and there was no wind to speak of so really, I was quite comfortable. I found Highway 152 with little trouble and in short order found it was going to be as much fun as 78 the day before. The climb was not quite as steep but the curves were just as much fun and I was really enjoying the ride until I got near the top and the canyons got narrow. There was snow all over the mountains and in the warm weather it melted and the water ran across the road and promptly refroze in the night. In the narrow canyons the sun does not always get to the road so I had to slowly tiptoe along in first and second gear. Now I was sorry I didn't have knobbies like I had last year. There was little if any traffic and I

Highway 152
Highway 152

took it easy and it was a nice ride. At the top is the Emory vista pull off and you really should pull off. These two photos were taken there. From the pull off it is pretty much downhill to Hillsboro but still a pretty ride. I think they want you to slow down for Hillsboro they have a non operative (I’m betting) police car sitting on the south side of the road looking like it is doing something. It hasn’t done anything in quite some time. Do everyone a favor, slow down.

From there it is just a bit to I-25. I hit that, turned north and stopped for gas in Truth or Consequences, which if you didn't know, changed its name back in the 50s because of a game show on TV paid it to. A little south of Socorro I turned east on Highway 380 towards Carrizozo. This road runs by the Trinity site where the first ever atomic explosion happened. Twice a year, in the spring and fall, for one week end, you can go in there and actually stand on the exact spot where that happened. Mick and I did it several years ago and it was interesting. The monument at the right FH000014is the actual spot where the bomb went off. After all of these years the area is still radioactive but you won’t be there long enough to get a dose worth mentioning.

Carrizozo is an interesting place. It is the location of the Valley of Fires Recreation area: http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/roswell/valley_of_fires.html . Here is a lava flow that is on the order of only 5000 years old, geologically speaking, yesterday. You can, and I have, got out and walked around on it. It doesn’t get a lot of attention but New Mexico has several of the most recent lava flows and volcanoes. At Carrizozo I turned left on Highway 54 heading for I-40 and eventually home. I hit I-40 at Santa Rosa, gassed up and finally called it a day in Shamrock. Shamrock is only a little over 100 miles from OKC but It was dark and I was hungry. I had no overwhelming reason to make it home and they had been advertising a Big Vern’s Steak House for the last 100 miles and that was good enough to call it a halt. I checked into a motel and tried Big Vern’s. Not 4 star but pretty good plus they had a liquor license. So I closed out an almost 600 mile day with a toast and a good night’s sleep. There is not much to say about the rest of the trip. I have done that stretch of road more times than I can remember. I pulled into OKC about 11:00 and rolled the BMW into the garage with its stable mates.

Here is a link with a lot of details about the Relocation Camps. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_American_internment It is full off a bunch of information. In 1980 President Carter started an investigation into the Relocation Camps. In 1988 President Reagan signed legislation to apologize for the Relocations and other activities. In 1992 President Bush the 1st signed legislation awarding $20,000 to surviving internees. There is also a bunch of stuff on the link about legal actions related to the relocation. Essentially they say it should not have been done. Not a real proud moment in the history of this country.

The trip was a little less than 4000 miles. While not a long ride it is about average for my winter rides and the fun is not measured by the mile but the smile. Compared with last year the weather was much more cooperative with cold but no snow or freezing fog. I saw a lot of country, educated myself on some history of this country, had good visits with family and overall enjoyed myself. I rode some very good roads and am looking forward to riding them again.

When spring time rolls around you can bet I will be heading SW to see things turn green. Or maybe I will head SE to see what Louisiana 34 looks like in the spring. I really enjoyed the spring ride last year down into Louisiana.

Not all who wander are lost