October 2009


Heart(less) Mountain

It snowed last night.

It snowed last night.

It’s not exactly my worst fear, but it’s come awfully close: It’s snowing in Cody, Wyoming. I got up here with limited road challenges: a few brief periods of limited visibility and a bit of slush here and there.

This morning I went out to find my car covered in snow and more snow falling. Any sane tourist would have decided to go back for breakfast, I plunged ahead, cleaning off the car and setting off for Heart Mountain Relocation Camp.

US Highway 14A between Cody and the Heart Mountain War Relocation Center was covered in slush—slick in spots and generally miserable driving. It was 13 miles out of town and I managed to miss the turn off—probably the sign was covered in snow. I ended up getting to Ralston, Wyoming, which I knew was too far.

Hard to see.

Hard to see.

I turned around and headed back.

Honestly, visibility was crap. I reached a point where I decided that I would just give up and head back to my hotel. However, in one of those odd moments of coincidence, I was listening to The Story—an episode from last week entitled “Unexpected Honeymoon”. The story was about a young African-American couple on their honeymoon, stranded in Japan. A chance encounter onboard an airplane got them the business card of George Ishiyama, who played forward generosity he’d experienced after World War II.

George Ishiyama, it turns out, had been interned during the war, and after the war it was an African-American family that welcomed them to the neighborhood with open arms, even as other families tried their best to make the Japanese-Americans feel unwelcome.

Japanese-American Soldiers during WWII.

Japanese-American Soldiers during WWII.

By the way he was interred at Heart Mountain.

Not that I believe in cosmic signaling, but I decided that it would be insane to have flown all the way from Weimar to Denver, then driven all the way to Cody and not see what I really wanted to see.

This time I saw the signs, slowed down, and made the turn onto County Road 19. Half a mile up the road was a parking area and the trail.  I parked my car (inconsiderately, but I was the only person there and I wanted to make sure I could get out) and walked the trail.

The first sign warned that it would take about 30 minutes. Perhaps on a nice day.  I took less than 15 minutes to run around the path, try and read the signs, and try to see what they were pointing out.  The weather was awful. Cold, blowing snow—harshly blowing snow, and poor visibility.  I couldn’t see the real Heart Mountain.  I still haven’t seen the real Heart Mountain.

It wasn’t an optimal tourist experience—but on the other hand, it wasn’t an ideal situation for the people who were forced to live there—people forcibly removed from California due to racial prejudice by those in power. As I ran from sign to sign, freezing my posterior off, I could imagine what it would have been liked to move to this alien land.

Colorado Govenor Carr

Colorado Govenor Carr

Although it’s gratifying to know that there were some, including then Governor Carr of Colorado, that opposed the internment of citizens, Japanese Internment is clearly one of America’s low points in history—a wholesale violation of the US Constitution upheld by the Supreme Court.

5 comments to Heart(less) Mountain

  • Looks like typical weather in Wyoming for this time of year.

    Remember that first snow on the 14th of September 1994? I seem to also remember that it was mid-October the same year when I decided to venture to the Taco Bell on Grand Avenue and by the time I got back to the dorm my drink was decidedly frozen. I turned on the Weather Channel and it was -23F/-30C. Brrr….

    Let’s hope that isn’t next for you!

    Enjoy your visit to Wyoming, I’d love to get back again sometime soon.

  • Jay

    Snow already? Here in New Orleans we have a few more months before the temperature drops below 50 degrees F.

    Enjoy your trip, but head south sometime.

  • Cynical Queer – Alas, I don’t remember that particular September 14th. I believe you, but I had six September 14ths in Wyoming–I can remember that there were always freak storms that would make travel and getting around town miserable. And then there were random nice days…

    Jay – Fabulous to hear from you… I do want to go to New Orleans sometime… How’s life in the Big Easy?

  • Reko

    Adamo, I really enjoyed reading about your adventure at the Relocation Center. Where are you off to next?

  • Thanks for the reminder that ski season is on its way! 🙂