The first thing you need to know about Salida, is that even though it’s a Spanish word, in a state with a Spanish name, the locals pronounce it sah-lie-da.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, because at this point we’re still in Holly, just waking up in my cozy room in the historic Holly Inn when I glance at my phone and notice that it’s only 10°C outside. Not exactly summer riding weather. Nevertheless, I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself for packing that fleece jacket.
On my way west from Holly, just outside of Grenada, Colorado, I stumbled upon the Amache Japanese-American Relocation Center, a world war II era concentration camp for Japanese-Americans and their relatives. Over 7300 people were forced to live here for several years due to anxiety and hysteria of the general populace. Not a single one was ever tried for any crime, let alone convicted. Instead, they made the best of a difficult situation and built a thriving community within the barbed wire fencing. It was startling to see rows after rows of cement foundations where once long cheap wooden buildings had stood to house the residents in very rudimentary conditions. This was all the more powerful due to a book that I just started reading: “Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II”, by Daniel James Brown.
As I continued west, the towns I passed through became lest picturesque and more desperate. I made a brief stop in La Junta to get gas and some food to go before arriving in Pueblo, my lunch destination. Pueblo has done a really nice job building a small river walk complete with terraces and restaurants. As it was Friday, most patios were near full with locals and some tourists enjoying the fine weather. I was still bundled in my fleece and motorcycle jacket trying to will the blood back into my extremities, but a quick tour of the river walk revived my body and now I was suddenly too hot.
I left town and continued on my route, skipping the tourist traps of Cañon City (hopefully the locals pronounce this properly) to stop at the trailhead for the canyon ridge trail at the Royal Gorge Canyon. Here I sat on a ledge and enjoyed the sounds of nature for a while as I watched whitewater rafters navigate the Arkansas River over 300m below.
The final leg of my journey from the canyon to Salida traced the Arkansas River upstream via a winding road. This was a nice change from the straight roads of Kansas and eastern Colorado. Upon arriving in Salida I went to check out the historic downtown, and opted to have Taiwanese beef noodle for dinner (prepared by a white couple who had never been to Taiwan). It was tasty and a nice break from the pervasive American food. I also happened upon a community music and dance festival at the waterfront park. The music was not particularly good, but the show was amusing, especially the elementary school percussion group because each of the students seemed to be playing to a different beat.