Category Archives: politics

I Like Ike

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There are Presidential Museums for every President that served over the past 100 years, usually located in or near the their “hometown”. Some of the more memorable presidents from the 18th and 19th Century also have museums dedicated to their lives and accomplishments. While some of these museums are located in or near major cities, there have also been a good number of presidents who came from small towns. Their museums can sometime be interesting places to stop while traveling.

The first time I ever visited a presidential museum, I was driving from Saint Louis to Chicago on Interstate 55, a drive that had become familiar and dull to me. It was a July day and temperatures were close to 100 degrees. I knew both me and my car needed a break in the middle of the afternoon. So, I visited the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield, a museum I would certainly recommend. I love stopping at places like this on a long drive, allowing the body to move around a bit, and stimulating the mind with some historical information.  So, on my drive back to Denver from Kansas City, I decided to stop at the Eisenhower Presidential Museum in Abeline, Kansas.

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The museum is located in the EXACT SPOT that the former president grew up.

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On the museum campus is Dwight Eisenhower’s boyhood home, and, with admission, visitors get a brief tour of the house.

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Map from Museum’s Webpage- does not include parts of I-35

The museum is only a few miles from Interstate 70. As president, one of Eisenhower’s signature accomplishments was the signing of the Interstate Highway Act in 1956. So, it seems fitting that this interstate highway system would find a way to serve the town Eisenhower grew up in. Arriving here without using the interstate would feel wrong in a way.

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Every president, no matter the background, has two stories. A story about what they did before they became president, and the story about what they did as president. Before becoming president, Eisenhower was known primarily as the general that oversaw the Allies European Victory in World War 2.

In fact, Eishenhower’s military career, and exhibits regarding World War 2, appear to make up the largest part of this museum. Later in life, Eisehnhower himself considered his role in the military as the most significant one he had played. In his retirement, he preferred to be addressed as “General Eishenhower”, as opposed to “Mr. President” (which is how former presidents are usually addressed).

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After helping start the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), he decided to run for President of the United States in 1952. The museum portrayed him, in a way, as a reluctant president. There is no way of knowing what truly is inside anybody’s heart. However, the way the story is portrayed is not of a man with a strong desire to become president, but of a man who spent his entire life fulfilling the various duties to which he was called. After being called to do so by countless associates, supporters, and both major political parties, leading the nation, as president, was just the final in a series of duties he was called to and performed over the course of his life.

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The entire life story that is Dwight David Eisenhower felt like a story out of a completely different time in history. This idea seems almost like a long-dormant old folklore in American culture. The hero turned leader. A person who wins the adoration and respect of a large group of people based on some heroic acts and then goes on to lead decisively, yet not divisively. A person who sincerely tries to lead all the people, rather than just the ones that are supportive. And, a person who finds a way to be both transformative and a consensus builder with views that are strong without being extreme.

[I will leave the exact details of his presidency to the history books and the museum itself.]

This feels, in a way, like the exact opposite of what has been going on recently. When it comes to this idea of a military veteran/ war hero president, there are plenty of examples throughout history, but no clearer example than Eishenhower.

I do not want to make this another angry political blog (there are way too many as it is), but I do not consider our current president, nor his predecessor, to be a hero, at least not in a general sense like the heroes past. Sure, both men are heroes to a subset of our population. However, both men were also dismissive, and sometimes in a nasty way, to other groups of people within our country. Being the first president of mixed racial background, or the first non-politician president may be important steps for our country. But it’s hard to consider being a community organizer or a business tycoon “heroic” in the traditional sense.

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There is a time and a place for everything. Maybe the middle of the 20th Century was the time and the place for the hero. It could be seen throughout the culture of that time; the Western Hero/Villain movies, characters like the Lone Ranger, and such. Our society has changed significantly since then. Movies this decade more commonly feature protagonists with some form of character flaw, and antagonists who draw some amount of sympathy based on their life experiences or perspectives.

As our culture progresses, we enter a period where maybe we should not look to a hero, but within ourselves. Most of the problems we face today are not as straight-forward as a General coming in and defeating Nazis. They’re more complex, like structural racism which results from the cumulative effect of people’s individual attitudes and pre-conceptions, the negative emotional and communal effects selfishness and the accessibility of smart phones create, or the susceptibility of those that feel disenfranchised to messages promoting radical and sometimes violent behavior. They are not solved by a leader, an army, or a bunch of laws. They are solved by each person’s behavior, one by one, day in and day out.

A Weekend in Texas

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In my last post, I describe my experiences visiting the City of Austin, Texas.  Some people describe Austin as being “not really Texas”.  And, while that may be a simplification, or exaggeration of the experience there, the general point is that the experience of being in Austin is different than the the experience of being in any other part of Texas.  So, while I spent some time in Austin last weekend, I also got the opportunity to experience other places in Texas, and actually get immersed into the culture here.

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One of the first places I went to, just 20 miles or so outside of Austin, was the Salt Lick, for some high quality Texas barbecue.  I was surprised to see such a large establishment.  I had gone to BBQ in places like Oklahoma City and Tulsa in the past, and those experiences usually involved smaller, more side-of-the road type establishments.  I had come to, in my head, assume that was the standard BBQ experience, but the Salt Lick is pretty gigantic.  And, the first thing I saw when I entered the restaurant was a gigantic barbecue pit.  The last time I had seen so much meat in one place was at the World’s Largest Brat Festival in Wisconsin.

Texas style barbecue, of course, includes brisket.  In order to experience the full range of barbecue experience, I ordered a combination plate that included brisket, ribs, and sausage.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the restaurant asks their patrons if they want their brisket “lean”, or “moist”.  Not being a fan of fatty meats, I chose “lean”, and really enjoyed the entire meal.

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In fact, I kind of felt like I spent the entire weekend eating brisket!  The other establishments I went to, like the Salt Lick, were sizable establishments.  Coopers, in New Braunfels, was big enough to accommodate a group of 16 people without really having to adjust anything from their normal operating experience.

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Whenever I was not eating barbecue food, I was eating Mexican food, which is plentiful in Texas due to it’s close proximity to, as well as history of being a part of, Mexico.  I visited several Mexican food establishments while in Texas, including a place many of us that live elsewhere should become familiar with: Torchy’s Tacos.  Later this year, they will expand beyond the borders of Texas, opening up a location in Denver, Colorado.  They may very well expand to some other areas as well.

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This area is often referred to as “Texas Hill Country”, as, well, unlike most of the Great Plains, it is kind of hilly.  Parts of it sort of remind me of the “Driftless Area” of Southwestern Wisconsin, with rolling hills one to several hundred feet tall.  Although, the geological history these regions is quite different.

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Here I attended a wedding, and took part in another local custom, floating the river.  At the wedding, the main thing I noticed about the culture here in Texas was the affinity for line dancing.  I had expected the country music line dancing.  But, what shocked me was how often people would just naturally form a line while dancing to other songs.  When YMCA, and Gangnam Style, came on, people here just naturally formed themselves into a line as if it were second nature.

In Texas, if is quite common for people to go on “floating”, or “tubing” trips.  It is basically an outdoorsy activity that is far more relaxing than the ones I usually take part in here in Colorado.  It mostly just involves laying in a tube, and gently floating down a river.  Many people here own their own tubes to float in, and bring floatable coolers, where they pack beer.  I have heard it is quite common for people to get quite intoxicated while taking part in a float trip.

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Texas hill country also contains a lot of natural features, some of which have become common family-type tourist destinations.  A few miles west of New Braunfels is a place called Natural Bridge Caverns, which, just as the name advertises, is a Natural Bridge above ground with a cavern below ground.

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Every time I visit a place like this, I always come away with mixed views regarding the commercialization of these natural features.  One one hand, I look at staircases, buildings, and all of these artificial looking features being present, and wonder if we are losing out on some of the experience.  But, I also see that having paved roads to get here, walkways through the area, and other comfort related conveniences opens up the experience of viewing these places to many people who otherwise would not have been able to see them.

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It was in San Antonio, however, where I learned about the history of Texas.  Downtown San Antonio kind of has an odd combination of historical significance.  On one end of downtown is The Alamo.  Originally a “mission“, the place later became a military post in the war for independence from Mexico, and now a museum, which is also considered a Shrine of Texas Liberty.  This place very much celebrates the people of Texas separating from Mexico, and, of course, later joining the United States.

On the other end of downtown is a place called Historic Market Square, a place that celebrates Mexican cultural heritage.  In the plaza, I saw T-Shirts for sale that exuded Mexican pride.  In fact, with authentic Mexican food and cultural items for sale everywhere, I almost felt like I could have actually been in Mexico.

It just makes me wonder.  Is this a City that is in conflict with itself?  How do those of Mexican decent here in San Antonio feel about Texas history?

The area between the Alamo and Historic Market Square was also kind of confusing.  On the surface, the city looked kind of dreary.  I kind of felt like I was in a bad part of Chicago, or any other big city that has a significant amount of blight.  But, underneath the surface was San Antonio’s Riverwalk, which is quite lively.

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In fact, San Antonio kind of pioneered the idea of riverwalks.  And, it appears other cities are trying to copy them.

After reading about Texas history, I kind of had a better understanding of the place.  Specifically, at the Alamo, they describe a struggle in Mexican politics.  On one side there was a group of people that strongly supported a Federalist type system of government based on a constitution that was modeled after the United States.  Under this system, some powers were devolved to the states, of which Texas (or Tejas) was one.  On the other side, was a group of centralizers that wanted more control in the hands of the central government in Mexico City.  Texans strongly supported the former over the latter, and when the latter won power, they felt their way of life threatened.  The successful defense of Texas, establishment of the Lone Star Republic, and later admission to a country whose values more closely resembled their own is viewed as a triumph.

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It is without a doubt that many Texans today see a lot of parallels (whether or not they are correct) to today’s political struggles in the United States.  Having this history, one in which many people in the state take pride, definitely explains why succession talk would be much more prevalent here than it would be in other states who strongly oppose some aspects of how our Federal government is operating.

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There was always some concern over whether I would fit in here in Texas.  Anyone that talks to me can clearly hear my Long Island accent.  I do not try to hide it.  Some people who have lived in Texas  told me that it would also be obvious that I am an outsider by the manner in which I conduct myself, and the types of topics I discuss on a regular basis.

But, I took a “leap of faith” of sorts, and just decided to be myself when interacting with people here.  And, I was actually received quite warmly here, by people who probably have a significantly different lifestyle and set of values than my own.  Everyone was friendly to me, and they were even receptive to the kinds of conversation topics I tend to engage people in.

As I thought through the acceptance I experienced here, as well as the history, the current succession talk and anger, I came to an important realization.  Maybe we are not nearly as divided as people make us out to be.  Maybe it is really only the most vocal (and angry) among us that display this division.  After all, if 1.4 Million people can live in a city which celebrates both it’s Mexican heritage and it’s struggle for independence from Mexico, maybe we can find a way to celebrate what makes everyone unique.

Swing State USA 2014: The Current State of Colorado

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What is the current state of your location?  What are the trends?  What do people like to do?  What makes your particular location unique?  What are people talking about?  What are people concerned about?  What are the hopes and fears for the future?

These are amongst the questions often answered through travel.  Sometimes, even when a traveler has nothing of this nature on his or her mind, answers to questions like these present themselves.  This is why I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the travel related shows hosted by Anthony Bourdain.  In each and every show he has been involved in, he travels to various locations with the simple goal of getting a comprehensive sample of a particular region’s food.  However, in nearly every show, he strikes up conversations with people local to the area, and learns quite a lot about their culture, history, and expectations.

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Colorado has been on a lot of people’s minds lately.  Most surveys rank it one of the top 5 (or at the very least in the top 10) fastest growing states in the country.  Most of this population growth has come from migration of people from elsewhere in the country.

Colorado has also drawn significant national attention for a variety of reasons this year.  Recently, football fans at Sports Authority Field got to witness quarterback Peyton Manning break the all time record for career touchdowns.  This year, Colorado became the first state in the nation legalize the sale of recreational marijuana.  And, the city of Denver was recently ranked the 4th most influential city in the country, according to a survey of mayors.

With this being the autumn of an election year, and Colorado being a closely contested state (a “swing state”), much of the recent national media attention has turned to Colorado, and our two closely contested elections.  As the story goes, in two weeks, two very important elections are about to take place; one that will determine the direction the State of Colorado takes in the coming years (Gubernatorial), and one that may determine the direction the whole nation takes in the coming years (Senatorial).

Living in the Capitol City of such as state, one would expect these two important contests, and the political implications of them to garner a significant amount of intensity and enthusiasm.  However, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me who I was planning to vote for in either election, I would be not a cent richer than I currently am.  By contrast, if I had a dollar for every time I was inquired about the other all important state question, whether I was getting the Epic Pass or the Rocky Mountain Super Pass, I would probably accumulate enough money for an amazing night out.

While this could be just the people I happened to associate with here in Colorado, or the types of conversations I tend to pursue, a walk through my neighborhood reveals significantly less yard signs than in most election years.

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What I do see throughout my neighborhood, as well as most areas nearby, including downtown, are fliers like this one everywhere, sometimes multiple fliers per block, attempting to get people to inquire about campaign jobs for the coming election.

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Nearly every one of them appears exactly as this one does ,with close to all of the tabs underneath the flier remaining un-pulled.  In fact, this past Wednesday evening, after a networking event, I returned to my bicycle to find a similar flier had been wedged into my brake lever; something I had never expected to see, but also something that demonstrates to me campaigns are actually having a hard time getting some of these paid positions filled.

All of this tells me that Coloradans have other things on their mind.

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There is a significant of excitement around the Denver Broncos, by far Colorado’s most cherished sports team.

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And, while this October has featured some beautiful weather, and some amazing fall colors that are atypical of this areas, many are concerned that this may delay the opening of ski season.  Most of the ski trails remain snow-free.

And, of course, people are quite divided regarding the rapid growth of the region.  Some cherish the opportunity to become the next significant and influential mega-region, with all of the privileges and responsibilities that it brings, while others lament the changes that are making the place significantly different than it was just a mere half a decade ago.

So, which is it?  Is Colorado, with its high density of start-ups, leadership in the craft brewing movement, and unique way of life, the place where trail-blazers grab the bull by the horn and reshape the world?

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Or is it still a place largely isolated from the population centers and mega regions, where people go to explore the world on their own, and escape as many outside influences as possible?

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Or, more importantly for the future, can we find a way to be both?

 

Anne Arundel County and the DelMarVa Peninsula

Anne Arundel County is my favorite county in Maryland.  It sits on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, south of Baltimore (and Baltimore County), and east of the counties in the D.C. area.  Many people are surprised that I have a favorite county in Maryland.  But, I feel like Anne Arundel County provides visitors with an experience that seems quintessentially Maryland to me.  It’s primary city, Annapolis, is characterized by the colonial development style that makes these early colonies on the eastern seaboard distinct from much of the rest of the nation.  However, much of the rest of the county is suburban in nature, which is really what much of the populated part of Maryland is like today.  With it containing a shoreline on the western banks of the Chesapeake, many of the boating activities synonymous with Maryland culture have a significant presence in this county.

In my experience here, which is quite extensive, as I have an Aunt and Uncle who used to live here, and good friends that still do (whom I am visiting this weekend), it seems as though this part of Maryland is not as politically charged as the counties to the west, adjacent to D.C.  Those areas actually feel more like an extension of D.C. than really Maryland, the same way Arlington and Alexandria seem more like a D.C. extension than Virginia.  Both of these areas are significantly different culturally from the rest of their respective states, and therefore a visit to Silver Spring is no more of a “Maryland experience” than a visit to Arlington is a “Virginia experience”.

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I have some amount of destain for politics and politicians at this time.  It is not that politics is not an interesting topic of conversation and not significant.  It is just that the way we practice and discuss politics in this nation at this time has this strange way of bringing out the worst in people.  Right now, I view Washington D.C. as a group of people who generally view themselves as way more important than they are/ should be, and therefore I had no desire to pass through this city at this time.  So, I went around on the “beltway” to get to Anne Arundel County.

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My friends live in a row house in Millersville, MD.  The section of houses they live in is not too uncommon for this part of the country.  It is crowded and the houses actually connect to one another.  Saturday was a housewarming party, and my contribution was a bottle of Bourbon I had picked up on the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky on Wednesday.  It is Bourbon Cream from Buffalo Trace.  It tastes like Bailey’s, only better.  It went over well at the party, and I would recommend it!

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On Sunday we took a drive over the Bay Bridge over the Chesapeake Bay to an area referred to as Maryland’s “Eastern Shore”.  The Bay Bridge is a really neat bridge.  It is a classic for those that love bridges.  The main marvel of engineering on this bridge is how long the bridge is, 4.3 miles.  It is a testament to the amazing engineers that we have in this country that I, along with millions of drivers each year, cross this bridge, over 150 feet above the water’s surface for this long of a span of time and distance without feeling nervous about the integrity of the bridge.  I think more people complain about the toll than anything.

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Traveling through Maryland’s eastern shore, first on U.S. 301, then on state route 300, I am quite surprised by the scenery I encounter.  After the first few miles off the bridge, where the same shoreline features that are common in Anne Arundel County seem prevalent, I actually encounter farmland that reminds me of the midwest a bit.  Not as many trees have been leveled here to make way for farmland as have been in northern and central Illinois, and the trees are a bit denser in the non leveled places.  But, many of the crops are the same.  And, I surprisingly encounter some irrigation devices too.

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Our destination is Dover Downs, a “racino” (which refers to a racetrack that is also a casino).  Unlike many of the other racinos I have been to, this particular one has both a horse racing track and a NASCAR track.  NASCAR hosts a couple of races here each year.  I headed into the club box, where all of the rich people would sit during these races, as well as their horse races, which occur more frequently.  But, there were no races, for cars or horses, today.

The other thing that differentiates this place from other racinos I have been to is that the casino part of the facility is a full casino, and offers you a casino experience equivalent to visiting a standard casino.  By this I mean that every table game, from the common black jack and craps, to games like pai gow poker, can be found here.  Also, there are no alternate rules that change the experience, such as no alcohol sales or the requirement of a “rake” at the black jack tables.  At Canterbury Park in Minnesota, for example, every $10 black jack bet requires the player to chip in a 50 cent “rake” that the casino just takes.  This makes it nearly impossible to win, and not a great place to gamble.  No such restriction exists at Dover Downs, and I appreciate that.

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After the racino, we head back into Maryland, but not quite back over the Bay Bridge.  This was so that I could take part in an activity that I have always closely associated with Maryland; eating crab.  In fact, I can barely remember the last time I came to Maryland without going out for crab.  There is really nothing like eating seafood when it is fresh, and being that I currently live in land-locked Colorado, it was imperative that I have a seafood meal while in Maryland.  The restaurant I was taken to is called Harris Crab House, and it is right along the shore of the Chesapeake.  There is nothing better than eating crab while staring right at the body of water the crab was just caught from. It is beautiful in two ways.  The views here not only make me think of both the tranquility and adventure that can be achieved on water, but also reassure me of the freshness of my food while serving as a reminder of how connected the culture of this region is to the water.

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Not only did I get to see the sun set over the bay, something that is possible because we are east of the bay, but the stairs of the restaurant also had a marker marking the high point of the water during Hurricane Isabel.

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Apparently hurricanes Irene and Sandy did not bring water as high in the Chesapeake as Isabel, a 2003 North Carolina landfall.  The marking labeled here reminded me how much coastal storms are also a part of life here.  I saw plenty of boats on the water, both out in the open and docked.  Many of these boats would be submerged if this event were to repeat itself.  I also imagine these boats being battered by the wind, in this hurricane, the two more recent ones, as well as the dozen or so “Nor-Easters” that occur in these parts every winter.

Maryland has other parts, including Baltimore city, the D.C. influenced suburbs of Montgomery and Prince George Counties and western Maryland’s mountains.  However, for some reason, when I think of Maryland, and the things Maryland is most known for, I think primarily of the places and I activities I have seen here in this part of the state.  It may be a while before I have another crab meal like the one I had today.  In fact, I was too preoccupied with eating to take any pictures.  So, I am quite glad to have had a good Maryland experience this weekend.

Bent’s Old Fort

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The idea of racial unity, or more accurately the idea of two or more racial/national groups living side-by-side without conflict, and mutual respect for one another is not new.  It isn’t, as it feels like some people believe, something that mankind first came up with in the middle of the 20th century after finally sorting through the fallout from World War 2.  It is just an idea that has never really overcome other pressures.

In the early to mid 19th century, brothers William and Charles Bent, of Saint Louis Missouri, actually believed that it was possible.  Early in life, these brothers participated in a series of trade missions along the Santa Fe Trail.  As the Bent brothers encountered both Mexicans and Native Americans on these missions, over time they established good relations with both groups of people.  William Bent was even accepted into the Cheyenne tribe, and participated in negotiations on their behalf.  This included negotiations with other native tribes, as well as with the United States. The two brothers, along with Ceran St. Vrain established a trading fort in what is now Southeastern Colorado, along the Santa Fe trail.

For this reason, I decided to make the trip to Bent’s Old Fort, but I ran into one minor issue.  Apparently, I did not realize that Bent’s Old Fort is a National Historic Site, and therefore is closed due to the current government shutdown.

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So, I did the only sane thing.  I pulled my car off to the side of the road (the parking lot was also closed), and I snuck around the gate.  Heck, I didn’t have to pay the entry fee!

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The fort is reconstructed really well.  I should probably come here sometime when I could actually get inside the building.  And also when the bulls and horses that are kept there are contained rather than wondering around where I could have theoretically provoked them and wound up in trouble.  In fact, that is why I did not stay very long, and did not take any pictures of the animals and the trail.  I was, however, able to imagine what it was like for pioneers and traders to travel along this trail, and encounter this fort, the first building of any sort travelers along the trail would find for miles.  And, according to the information presented in the parking lot, which I did get to read, from 1833 (when it was built) through 1849, this place would have been bustling.  Surely, a welcome sight for travelers.

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One question that often comes to mind when learning about Bent’s Fort, is why it was placed where it was, near La Junta, Colorado.  Currently, most of Colorado’s largest cities are a lot closer to the mountains, within 20 miles or so.  From the perspective of modern day Colorado, it appears illogical for this major trading post to be located over 60 miles east of Pueblo, the mountains, and all of the good fur and pine.   However, at the time Bent’s fort was built, 1833, it was built right on the border with Mexico.  For someone traveling west on the Santa Fe Trail, this fort marked the end of the portion of the trail in the United States.  After this, travelers would have entered Mexico, or, after 1836,  the Republic of Texas.

Unfortunately, both Bent brothers ended up on the wrong side of history despite their good intentions.  Actually, it was perhaps because of their good intentions.  Charles Bent, the older brother, was appointed the first territorial governor of New Mexico following the Mexican-American war.  The reading material outside the fort suggested that he was appointed to this position due to his good relations with the people there.  However, he was killed by the Native Americans in the Taos Revolt in 1847.

The younger Bent brother, William, was persecuted by the other side.  During the Sand Creek Massacre, he was captured by General John Chivington after attempting to make peace between the U.S. and the Native tribes during the gold rush.  He was forced to lead Chivington and his troops to the Cheyenne campsite where he conducted the Sand Creek Massacre, killing hundreds of Native Americans.  William’s end was not nearly as dramatic as his brother’s, but his efforts failed to create peace between the U.S. and the Native Americans.

The story of the Bent family and their fort reminds us that it is important to judge everybody as an individual, and not paint every member of some group with one brush.  Throughout this time, there were definitely more white people like Chivington, who murdered natives despite their efforts to make peace, and also more white people like the Bents, who approached native tribes with deep respect for their culture, and attempted to share in the human experience with them.  There is more to who someone is than their racial identity.

Just in case the lines were not blurred enough in this whole story, John Chivington was a hard-core abolitionist.  He could not wait to free the black population and share our culture with them.  Yet, he viewed all Native Americans as savages that needed to be exterminated.  On the flip side, the Bent brothers owned slaves, and William would eventually support the cause of the confederacy.  So, there is a group of people out there who would potentially view Chivington in a more favorable light than Bent.

So, who is the good guy and who is the bad guy?  People like to simplify history, assign one side ad good the other as bad, and establish one or two themes.  This makes them feel like the have a good handle on the situation.  However, in reality, history is about as complicated as the human mind, and all of the many mechanisms that cause people to behave in the way that they do.  Some people may know more individual facts about history, but that does not necessarily mean they understand history better.  Some people view all facts through the lens of a preconditioned idea about the nature of the people involved, and cannot appreciate all of the facts.

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One amazing thing about traveling is that travel has this way of causing people to build upon their thoughts.  Sometimes it almost feels as if the world has found a way to set itself up in such a pattern that it creates certain themes in everybody’s lives, or at least each person’s individual trips.  After pondering these thoughts on the drive from La Junta back to the interstate, the drive home took me through two towns that recently made waves in our current political climate; Pueblo and Colorado Springs.

Last month, these two towns made news across the state as they surprising recalled two of Colorado’s state senators.  One of them was actually the leader in the senate!  The recall election was at least partially about the gun control debate, but other factors may have contributed.  Advocates on each side of the debate appeared, at least to me, to be motivated by ideological differences rather than some form of tribalism.

But is it all just ideology?  Have we really replaced racial issues with actual issues about how we view our government and society (which would be a positive change)?  Unfortunately, last year’s election results, and specifically the large difference in voting patterns by race indicates differently.  Race also still finds it’s way into may of the political debates we have in this country today.  I am not going to assign blame to either side on this one.  This is not a partisan political blog.  But, pondering the racial component to our politics, the self-segregated neighborhoods in Chicago and other places, the Indian Reservations and the like, makes me think that we are not really living side-by-side the way the Bents had envisioned.  The middle of the 20th century saw a major push towards that end, with Matrin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech articulating that goal in a manner that most can relate to.  But, there does still appear to be a disconnect.

Tribalism is an inevitable part of human nature.  But will our “tribes” always be dictated by our origins?  The internet now provides us access to nearly everybody around the world, and more and people are moving more frequently.  These factors may encourage our future “tribes” to be more determined on different grounds, such as worldview, or common interests.  But, would this be better?  Less disconnected?  Less violent?  Maybe the key is not how we determine our “tribes”, but having respect for other “tribes”, or at least letting them live the way they want to as long as they are not hurting you.  This is a tall task for the human race, but one that is theoretically possible.  All challenges can be met, like the one below, Pike’s Peak, which I got one last view of before it once again becomes snow packed tomorrow (which is fine, it looks better with the snow on it anyways).  A mountain whose peak was once unreachable, is not reached by People on foot, in their cars, and by the cog railway.

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