Thursday, 16 September 2010

I Wished I had Met Mr Bishop.

The motel I stayed at didn’t serve breakfast – in fact they didn’t even provide coffee, so I started my ride on this day with the sole intention of finding myself something to eat! It didn’t take long to find the Two Sisters restaurant in Florence, Colorado.

I sat there eating breakfast and the telephone rang. Connie, one of the two sisters answer the call and then told me it was the previous owner calling to check that her favourite table was available. Apparently it was, as it always is, ready with her personal chair cushion and her daily newspaper. They arrived and she was shown to her table and the old man that accompanied her walked up to me, tapped me on the shoulder and said “Whatever happened to them 40 cord of wood?” and he then turned away and sat down. I guess he mistook me for someone else!

I ordered my breakfast and asked for some cooked tomatoes, which wasn’t on the menu. I was thinking of grilled tomatoes, but when they arrived, I had to smile and not say anything, because they had been deep fried! They actually tasted not too bad, but I think if I ask for these again, I will make it a little clearer about what I want. What was it that H. G. Wells said? “Two peoples separated by a common language”.

I liked that restaurant as it was a million miles removed from what I am used to. It had a few ranchers eating their breakfast and everybody seemed to know each other. Like most places I go in small towns, the people welcome me and I try to sit at the bar or counter if I can rather than a normal table, so I can talk to the other people there. As I left, I saw this dog patiently sitting on a chair. I assume it was the previous owners dog and I imagined the dog had its favourite chair too as well....


























Just outside Wetmore in Colorado, my mileage hit the 12,000 mile mark for the tour and so as usual, I stopped and took a picture of exactly where I was at that point....




















I was heading for somewhere I had been looking forward to for a long time. This was south of Wetmore on Highway 165 and my sat nav / gps was telling me I was at 9394 feet. It was still early in the morning and my hands were telling me it was cold! For the first time, I had noticed some trees really turning colour as autumn (US – fall) came knocking at the door....







































I had heard of a guy called Jim Bishop who is single-handedly building Bishop Castle and I really wanted to see it. I soon arrived and stood and looked up in awe of what Mr Bishop has created. It is wonderful....


























So that you appreciate the size of the building, look at the picture above and see the ball structure on the roof - there is a man standing to the left of it. The castle is huge!

He started building this in 1969 and yes, that is 42 years work put into one building. There was nobody there to say if it was open or closed and you are free to walk around providing you read the signs and put your name down in a guest book. You have to be really careful because this is really a construction site with many dangers. I spent an hour and a half, just walking around, looking at the marvel he has created....

This is looking up at one of the towers....


























The staircase entry to the building rises on top of the stonework....


















One of the flying buttresses that splay out from the bottom of the castle....


























Some of the incredible structural ironwork he has created....


























Just look at the intricate shapes incorporated into the iron....


















I love the way the iron has been fixed into the stonework. It seems to just touch the surface, but it can support my weight – I walked on top of this....


















The roofs.... yes, that is a dragons head.... and yes those stairs do look as if they are floating in the air....


















Inside, the spaces he has created are wonderful.....













































I particularly liked this stained glass....











































Looking up at the exquisite roof....


















One of the lower rooms....


















It seems Mr Bishop makes a lot of his equipment to, in the same style. This is a temporary platform system used to raise materials up the building. Look at the detail in this!....


























It is clear Jim Bishop is a man of principles and that he has had a few clashes with the authorities. His signs that he asks you to read are very interesting. Enlarge them somehow, for they make terrific reading!....












































































I adored this place. He has managed to create something with his bare hands that I hope will serve for a long time as a reminder to us all just what an individual with a dream can achieve.

My only regret was that Mr Bishop was not there working on this day, I truly wish that I had met him.

I left Bishop Castle with a smile on my face.

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My journey now changed direction and once more I was heading west. I reached Monarch Pass which at 13,312 feet is located on the continental divide. The first thing I saw here made me laugh....


























Here is a closer shot of the sign....


























In case you cannot read it, the sign says “Property of Department of Highways. No Trespassing”. Brilliant!

There is a cable car that you can take to the summit, which of course I did....


















The views from the top are pretty good. I read a sign that said on a clear day, you can see 150 miles....





































There is quite a lot of equipment on the summit. I don’t know what it all does....


















After coming down the mountain, I headed towards Gunnison along the Arkansas River. The views were terrific....




















I stayed at a very nice motel called the Water Wheel Inn, where I met John and Diane, who arrived just after me on their Honda ST1300. They are from Durango and have a house also in Florida, and we went straight out to the local micro brewery for a beer and then into Gunnison for dinner together..... we of course talked about travel, travel with motorbikes, motorbikes..... Oh, and thanks John for buying dinner!....


























We had a great time and promised we would meet up again in Durango when I went through there.

9 comments:

Geoff James said...

Great post Gary!

Mr Bishop and Gaudi (of Sagrada Familia fame)would have got on like a house on fire.

Your comment about peoples united through a common language (not).... on my first trip to Aussie, I wondered what the hell "Hairgamma" meant as everyone said it to me. Turns out they were saying "How ya goin', mate?", delivered at machine-gun pace!

Eve said...

Love that castle! What great work...I would want to live there, I wonder if he plans to? I see that one sign is dated 2002...he must be much more angry today with all the freedoms Americans are losing daily!
Must be lots of people are driving all the way up that mountain to steal the gravel from the highway department!! hahahaha!
Glad you had a great time with John and Diane!
Ride Safe!

motoroz said...

Isn't Bishop's Castle awesome. Quite a remarkable story. This summer when our group stopped by he was there working. He had A LOT to say about our current President and staff.
Monarch Pass is also great. Glad you took the gondola up. The views are great.
There is so much more to come. Enjoy.

Canajun said...

Bishop's Castle is very cool and the pictures are great. Would love to see it one day myself.

bobskoot said...

Gary:

You must do a lot of investigative work to find places like Bishop's Castle. It is a work of art.

I'm still stumbling on your 2nd paragraph.

What ever happened to the 40 cords of wood ? Can't imagine it disappeared without a trace.

I too prefer the local eateries while travelling.

bob
Wet Coast Scootin

Charlie6 said...

Great pics of the layout of Bishop's Castle, really must an effort to visit it myself one day...have come close a couple of times but time constraints....

I'd never gone up the gondola at Monarch Pass though I've stopped there several times.....great shots from up there.

dom

Redleg'sRides

Gary France said...

Geoff – Thanks, I suspected you might like the castle. I have seen Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and they have similar characteristics. I think you are right – they would have got on well. That’s funny about Hairgamma!

Eve – Sadly I think there might be a great problem with anybody living there, as the castle has obviously been built ignoring all building codes. While it looks fantastic, there are many issues with the building that would prevent an occupation certificate being granted. As yet, the building is just the structure, floors and windows, so at the rate it is being built by just one man, it could be many years before anybody trying to live there might be tested with the authorities. Whoever put the sign on that pile of gravel has a good sense of humour!

Oz - The castle is phenomenal. I so wish I had met Mr Bishop. It is one of my true regrets about this trip that I didn’t.

Canajun – It is worth the trip.....

Bob – I will write a post near the end of my tour about how I planned it and found all of these places. Oh, I hid the wood on my saddlebags!

Charlie6 – If you get the chance, you should go! You could combine it with a trip to the gravel road behind Creede. The gondola is ok if you had the time to stop and go up, but its not a must-do.

Jerry said...

Hey Bud, I was with the same group as Oz and we had a blast just listening to Mr. Bishop and his thoughts on our government and staff.
Really enjoyed the ride through the country to get there as well.
Sure am enjoying the trip with you as you keep us in the loop. I haven't looked for you but have you started a Facebook page?

Gary France said...

Jerry - I am sure he had some strong opinions! I am glad you are enjoying the blog, but alas I don't use Facebook. I have enough trouble keeping up with the blog!