La Junta CO

Tuesday morning…we had coffee and breakfast…then set about getting ready to travel the 220 miles to La Junta CO. It was still raining on and off so Neil went in and out and finished up everything but power, slides, and hitching while Connie did the inside stuff.

We picked a lull in the rainfall…finished up the outside stuff…and hit the road a bit before 1000. Our route for the day was straight west on US-50 with just a single scheduled stop on the way.

That stop was in Syracuse KS about 15 miles before the CO/KS border…there’s a mural on the wall of a building opposite a truck stop there that we wanted to stop and see.

We found a place to park the rig…it was a pretty small truck stop…and had some lunch. Afterwards we took in the mural…there were a couple more but they were 2 blocks down the street and it was still drizzling…and this was the largest one as we drove by the other two on the way into town…so we skipped the other ones.

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We continued westward…passed through a pretty significant rainstorm, went on the detour in Garden City through the middle of town and eventually proceeded on to La Junta. Connie’s GPS had her go past the campground and make a detour…we weren’t sure that the rig would have been able to negotiate the turn so we turned a little earlier than the campground as directed by the RV GPS. It had us turn south then onto Country Road 24 paralleling 50 about a half mile to the south, go west a couple of miles and then take a right on CR 26.5 to get back to 50 east for the right turn into the campground. As we were on County Road 26.5…which was basically a paved goat track…Neil told Connie on the radio that there would probably actually be a cut through to get into the campground. Turns out…there was, and in addition we could have gone another 100 yards past the campground and turned left at the light for Walmart then left again onto Frontage Road and right into the campground…thereby missing the goat track entirely. Oh well…no trip is complete without the “adventure portion of the tour”.

We pulled into the La Junta KoA and quickly got checked in…then proceeded to site 43…a nice, albeit muddy as it had been raining for 2+ days in La Junta…gravel pull through that was almost completely level. We got unhitched and setup…then rested in the afternoon as we were a bit tuckered out.

We headed out for dinner about 1630…which was 1730 body time as we had just crossed into Mountain Time at the CO/KS border and we were hungry. It was Neil’s birthday…so Connie was in charge of picking out a good place to eat…she chose Felisa’s Mexican Restaurant in town and told him it was the best place in town based on recommendations. 

The Margaritas were a vast improvement over the last ones I reported on…and it might have been the best place in town based on reviews…but it wasn’t good. The food was seriously over-salted…at least the service and cocktails were fine. We were both pretty full when we left so we just watched bedtime until bed time. Overnight…it got down to 38 degrees…somebody needs to tell these Colorado folks that it’s late May for heaven’s sake…it’s way past time to be warmer. On top of that…both Canon City (our next destination), and the road over Monarch Pass (2 destinations down the road) were getting snowed on. Ridikilus as Daffy Duck would say.

We were up about 0330 MT…or our pretty much normal 0430 body time…we turned on the furnace to warm the place up…it was in the upper 50s…and slept until about 0630. Connie got up and made coffee and Neil breakfast…then we worked on various things until lunch. 

After lunch…we headed out to do some Fun Stuff…one of our two stops here in La Junta was the Koshare Indian Museum and Trading Post…it’s right here in town. We paid our $3 admission each and wandered around, then Connie hit up the gift shop for a couple of items. All in all…not a bad little museum but it was pretty small.

This is a really nice stained glass piece…too bad it wasn’t lit from the back. I removed as many of the reflections as I could…but Photoshop and only do so much even though Neil had the flash off.

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Some of the native fauna. I think the one on the left is telling the other two “I told you to watch out for those guys.”

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Bison…some folk wrongly call the animals that roamed the plains way back when about 60 million in number buffalo…but they’re not. They’re bison and not even in the same family as the buffalo…think Cape Buffalo…is.

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Beaded Indian dress from the early 1900s.

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All in all…a pretty decent little museum and definitely worth the price.

We headed home…and as the temperature was up in the upper 60s…opened the door, windows and turned on the fan for awhile. We’ll have to close up later as it is going down to the mid 40s tonight but the next two days are supposed to be even a little warmer than today.

We had noticed up at the front of the KoA here in La Junta a nice little coffee and pastry place and decided we would get some breakfast there…so after we had a couple of sips of coffee on Thursday morning we walked up there. They had blueberry scones and several types of muffins advertised…but on getting to the window the young lady therein said she was out of everything but breakfast burritos. We were disappointed…but nonetheless picked up a bacon/egg and a sausage/egg burrito and headed home for breakfast. I can tell you now…they were not Good Eats…we choked down as much as we could but we’ll not venture there again. We sat around and watched the end of today’s bicycle race…stage something or other of the Giro d’Italia…which is like the Tour de France ‘cept it’s in Italy…there was a thrilling sprint finish between 5 or 7 guys. All of the main contenders for the overall race lead finished 10 or 12 minutes back.

Finally…about 1100 we headed out for today’s Fun Stuff© which in retrospect turned out to be fun stuff©…but it was educational as we learned one thing we had no idea of before.

Our destination was the Granada CO Relocation Center…also known as Camp Amache…which is the ruins of one of the Japanese internment camps…although concentration camp would be a more apt description. We had a couple of drive by stops on the way and Granada is about an hour east of La Junta.

First up were two quick stops in Lamar CO…first up is the Petrified Wood Building. It’s now part of a used car dealership…but it was originally built as a gas station built by local lumber dealer W. G. Brown in 1932. As the walls and floors were constructed of petrified wood that came from somewhere in CO…it can…I guess…truthfully make the claim that it’s the oldest structure in the world as the age of the petrified wood is somewhere around 175 million years.

While I would never recommend visiting Lamar CO just to see this building as it’s kinda tacky…if you’re here then why not…and one of the things Connie and Neil are interested in seeing on this US-50 journey is strange little tourist attractions it fit right in. It was raining by the time we got there…drizzling actually rather than full on rain…so Neil hopped out and got a couple of photos.

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Next up…we stopped for lunch a block down the road at Subway…it was a typically Subway meatball sub…then we headed off to the Lamar Depot and Colorado Welcome Center. Connie gathered up some brochures and such for our remaining time in CO and we got a few photos.

This is a memorial to the Madonna of the Trail…or the pioneer mothers who helped blaze the trail.

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The original…albeit slightly relocated… water tower for the AT&SF Railroad in Lamar.

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And a better view of the restored steam engine from across the street.

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On the way to Lamar…we passed a sign for the exit to the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site which was dedicated in 2007. As none of us had ever heard of the Sand Creek Massacre…Connie proceeded to google it…because after all…google knows all. Turns out that in 1864…we had no idea that in addition to the Civil War there was also some Indian warfare going on out in the west…this massacre happened.

Essentially…by the terms of the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie…the Indian nations…Cheyenne and Arapaho mainly…were given possession of territory between the North Platte and Arkansas River from the Rocky Mountains to western KS…at the time of the treaty no white people wanted this land. With the discovery of gold in the Rocky Mountains in 1848 leading to the Pikes Peak Gold Rush…naturally the US decided to “renegotiate… this treaty…or essentially tell the Indians it was null and void and that the Indians needed to give up more land…not our government’s finest hour by any means. Some of the Indian groups…those whose leaders advocated peaceful relations with the white man…accepted this and a group of them set up a village on Sand Creek. IN 1864 however…a US Army Colonel named John Chivington headed to Sand Creek and attacked and massacred an Indian village…his 700 or so men surrounded the Indian village which contained primarily women and children. Despite the US flag and a white flag of peace flying over the village as specified by the new treaty…Chivington’s men butchered and executed almost the entire inhabitants of the village. An investigation concluded that Chivington had ordered what would basically be considered war crimes by today’s standards…but he had left the army by then so nothing happened.

Anyways…we got to our actual destination for the day…the remains of the Granada Relocation Center or Camp Amache as it was known. After the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941…about 7,300 US citizens of Japanese ancestry were forcibly relocated to this camp…in total between 110,000 and 120,000 US citizens were relocated under this program. Today…this would be considered intolerable…but in 1941 the government believed that US citizens of Japanese ancestry were…despite their oath of allegiance to the US…still would serve as saboteurs or spies or whatever in support of the Emperor of Japan. Not actually true…as many of the interned men went on to serve with great distinction in the European theater during the way…but with the mass hysteria of the day it was done.

There’s nothing really left of the camp…just some foundation ruins and the roads that were in the camp. After striking out at the Visitor Center…it wasn’t clear whether it was open before Memorial Day or not and it turned out to be not…we headed back slightly west of the town of Granada to the gate of the historical site. By this time…it had been raining fairly steadily for an hour or two and as we turned off the main road the historical site roads were clay. No gravel on them…just clay. We slip-slided away for a mile or two before coming to our senses and deciding that we didn’t need to be there in Li’l Red…it would have been easy to slide into a ditch we couldn’t easily get out of and we saw zero other vehicles inside the historical site…so discretion was the better part of valor as they say. Neil found a place to turn around and we headed back out…making sure as we approached each turn to carefully scout the intersecting road so that we didn’t have to actually stop to look before making the turn…we were seriously concerned that if we stopped we might not get going again if it was even a little bit uphill. No worries though…we made it back out to the highway and stopped on paved road before pulling out and heading home for the day.

We did listen to the entire audio driving tour of the camp on our drive home…and again I have to say…not one of our government’s finest hours.

We did spot some black tailed deer shortly after entering the historical site…Neil rolled down the window and got a couple of photos. Since we were in Li’l Red…it served as a blind and even through they were only 40 or so yards away they essentially ignored us.

This group of 3 was standing in the road…there was an additional group of 3 to 5 off to the right a bit but they were in the trees and Neil couldn’t figure out the exact number and they were mostly obscured by the trees anyway.

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One of the group walked to the right into the trees and Neil zoomed in for a closeup of the other two. Black tailed deer are named for their black tail just like the whitetail deer down in the southeast…but they more resemble mule deer as they’re larger in size than most whitetails…these two are probably 170 pounds as opposed to 120 or so for a whitetail…and they have the same larger ears that a mule deer…which is found mostly in the west…has.

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The road they’re standing on was way, way better than the one we were driving on at the time…and once we made the turn off the main camp access road onto the road leading between the resident blocks it was even worse. We were glad we turned around.

On to interesting things found the net.

This is what happens when you order non OEM parts from a dealer on the internet sometimes.


David Pogue…who’s one of the tech guy gurus you see a lot on Yahoo, CNN and the like…anyway he posted this waiver for a hot pepper eating contest he entered last week.


And finally…no matter what side of the illegal immigration/undocumented people debate you come down on…you have to admit that this one is true and unjustified. It was clearly prepared by somebody who thinks illegal immigration should be stopped…and I’m not sure that the “thousands of veterans” isn’t an exaggeration…but the sentiment is true. Why are we not taking care of our own citizens who served the country during wartime at least as good as we’re taking care of those that deliberately violated both US and international law by coming here.

While I realize that many of the folks pouring across the border in the past year or so consider themselves “refugees”…the truth of the matter is that (a) they’re economic migrants which doesn’t qualify as a refugee under international law and (b) a “refugee” under international law is required to stop and request asylum from the FIRST country they get to that isn’t the one they’re refugees from…in this case it would be Mexico and not the US. Despite this…and despite the fact that Mexico has offered all of the recent “refugees’ asylum in Mexico and guaranteed them jobs…they continue to violate international law, proceed to the US border, cross illegally, and turn themselves in to US Border Patrol so that they can be taken care of. I understand that the US is the gold standard where probably 98% of all the people that want to immigrate want to end up…but we need to take care of our citizens first and enforce existing law.



About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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