JoDo Chasing Rainbows

City of Rocks State Park

We stopped over in Deming, New Mexico on our way to the winter home in Sierra Vista, Arizona. We only had the opportunity to choose one location to visit. City of Rocks State Park was the winner. It was about a 50 minute drive from the RV park where we were staying. It was worth every bit of drive. There were mountains in the distance in every location on the drive. It was fairly flat and straight until we almost got there. We came off a hill and saw the most beautiful rock formations.

I was so impressed with this park. These rocks were formed by a prehistoric volcano. This is what was left after erosion. I hope we can visit this place again soon.

It is a small park. Were stayed about 4 hours. There is a small museum area which will tell you the history of geographical features. There is a small RV park where you have water and electricity. The best feature is that you can

Buffalo Soldiers

We have started following the trail of the Buffalo Soldiers. After the Civil War, Congress reorganized the Army and authorized the formation of two regiments of black calvary with the designation of the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry. All units were composed of black non-commissioned officers and enlisted men commanded by both white and black officers.

We were told by Buffalo Soldiers reenactors in San Antonio the name Buffalo Soldier came from the Native American tribes that they were fighting. Bison have dark, wooly hair like a the men they were fighting. That is one theory. Another came from the 10th calvary fighting ability. Another is that Native Americans had given soldiers coats made from bison. Whatever is true the name is one that was used with respect for these soldiers. Eventually, this became a generic term for any black soldier. The term was used until integration of the troops in 1948.

So we started our journey in San Antonio, Texas at the Institute for Texan Cultures. They had a Buffalo Soldier day.

We then continue our Buffalo Soldier journey in Fort Stockton, Texas. There are only a few building left of this old fort but the museum is full of wonderful history. These soldiers were tasked with keeping the migration routes open. Especially protecting water sources where folks where were migrating west might stop for water. There is not a whole lot of water in West Texas. The Native Americans used these stops as well to stop for water while following their nomadic routes.

I know that I am guilty of thinking of the Buffalo Soldiers as fighters. They were so much more. They had to build the fort include family housing for the officers, set up the telegraph. They surveyed the land. They had to tend their animals. Becoming a soldier after the Civil War was a pretty good job. They were paid much less than their white counterparts but it was steady work where they could gain further skills.

Our next stop on the Buffalo Soldier tour is Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona. This base was very important in World War II. I would encourage a visit to the museum on base. It tells the story of the men and women who served at this Fort for training to be deployed overseas. This is an active military base so if you don’t have a DoD ID you will need to enter through the Van Damen (East) Gate to get a visitor pass to visit this museum.

We will be following the trail of the Buffalo Soldiers for most of this year. More to come about them soon…

Sources: Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers, Inc; Fort Huachuca Buffalo Soldier Museum, Fort Stockton Buffalo Soldier Museum, San Antonia Buffalo Soldier Days, Wikepedia

Lake Livingston State Park

While we were at our home base in Livingston we decided to go check out the state park. We wanted to check out the RV park and the walking trails. There are a few walking trails. The Pineywood Boardwalk trail is handicap accessible.

It goes through a wetland area. It is approximately one mile long. We did not walk on an of the other trails. It had been raining quite heavily the week we were in Livingston. Those other trails were muddy. We did walk along the lake and the road ways.

We did not camp here but we checked out all the camping and RV areas. This is a great place to bring your bike. The roads are nice and flat. You can ride your bike easily to all parts of this park. The tent camping areas look pretty dry even with all the rain we had been receiving. All the RV areas were nice. The Red Oak and Piney Shores looked to be the only loops open.
It also looks like the pads have recently been updated to concrete. All other RV pads were asphalt. Piney Shores has great views of the lake.

Next time we are in Livingston we want to stay at this park for a few days. There was great bird watching and it was very quiet. I can only imagine what this place must be like in the spring and fall. It has got to be packed with activity. Have you stayed at this park? You can make a reservation at TexasSateParks.org.

Texas Prison Museum

We are new residents of Texas. We moved to the state in July of 2018. We strive to visit any and all places that can give us a little more insight on this history our adopted home. So off to Huntsville we went to visit the Texas Prison Museum. There is a nominal cost of $3.00 per person for the visit.

This museum does not shy away from Texas prison problem but it is not as specific as I could be. They don’t shy away from the convict labor that was used after the Civil War through the early 1900s. However, they don’t discuss the specific impact that this had on Black people. You could read between the lines though because in every picture during this time all the prisoners were black.

Also there is a disparity in the early death penalty cases. They do have an exhibit of the no longer in use electric chair. Next to the exhibit listed the crimes of men who were put to death during that same week we are in. It seemed the white men were bank robbers who killed people and the black men were put to death for assaulting white women.

I find it interesting that the average inmate is 32 years old, who dropped out in 9th or 10th grade and has a comprehension level of a 6th grader. Texas does has its own school system for inmates so that when they leave prison that they will be better equipped to find employment.

An interesting fact was that Texas had a very successful prison rodeo that ran from 1931 through 1986. It was only canceled because they could not raise enough money to keep up proper equipment. Inmates make all their own clothing, uniforms for the guards and still create a large portion of their food. There is no air conditioning in any of Texas prisons but there is heat.

This was a very interesting place. I continued to be amazed by the ingenuity of some of the prison population with the art that was created and the items they could make, like a food processor, out of every day materials.