June 2nd ~ Cañon City, Colorado
This trip has included some wonderful reunions. In Florence, Colorado, just outside of Cañon City, we dropped in on Carrie and Leonard Miller. Tim has known Carrie since he was about eight years old and she worked with his parents at their family restaurant, “Poor Richards” in Illinois.
Arriving mid-day, we found them puttering in their garden. We had prearranged to join them for lunch at a nearby restaurant in town. The salad bar was brimming with selections, but the star of the meal was the amazing rolls. They were so good that I purchased a dozen frozen pieces of the dough to take with us.
Not wanting the day to end so quickly, Leonard and Carrie offered to take our group on a drive to show us some of the highlights of their area.
Turns out that they are excellent tour guides!
This may not be for “flatlanders”, as this narrow one-way road winds its way up, up and further up, eventually to what is known as a razorback ridge. There are no guard rails, and it is a LONG way down.
“It was built by inmate labor in 1908. The road starts from U.S. Highway 50 with a gradual incline up the side of the ridge. When the road crests, it winds, climbs and falls like a roller coaster until near the end where a scenic outlook overlooks both the city (east) and the highway (west).” ~ Wikipedia
Thankfully, all of us are comfortable with the mountains and thoroughly enjoyed the magnificent views.
The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is the home of America’s Highest Suspension Bridge & Zip Line!
There are several ways to get an adrenaline rush here if you are so inclined, from taking the Cloudscraper Zip line, Aerial Gondolas, Royal Rush Skycoaster, or walking across the Royal Gorge Bridge – all located 956 to 1200 feet above the Arkansas River.
General admission ticket includes access to the Bridge, unlimited Aerial Gondola rides, Tommyknocker Playland, Plaza Theater and Gift Shop.
May 1, 2018 – Sept 30, 2018
$27 / Adult (13 & Up)
$22 / Child (6-12)
Children 5 & under are free.
If you purchase your tickets online you can save $2 on each one.
Dick, Karen, Carrie, and Leonard opted not to cross the gorge, and visited while Tim and I took the gondola ride across to the other side.
Not wanting to keep them waiting too long, we passed on seeing the movie on the opposite bank, and walked across the bridge back to the starting point.
Walking back across the bridge offered up thrilling views down into the gorge far below.
“It’s the only place where you can hide the Empire State Building standing straight up, with an extra three feet on the top for a flagpole!” ~ RoyalGorgeBridge.com
The lighting was not great while we were there, and the wind was fierce, but the views were still impressive. Click on the “Royal Gorge” link above to see better pictures.
If you look closely, down below is a railroad line. There is a rail trip you can take that I understand is highly recommended. Here is a link for more information. It may be something for a future trip!
Right behind the Visitors Center is a relatively rare Water Clock. It replaces the original, that kept time for 30 years before being destroyed by the Royal Gorge Fire. Water cascades from bucket to bucket to propel the moving parts.
Carrie is still recovering from recent back surgery and decided to rest for the remainder of the afternoon, while Leonard generously offered to drive us to see a quite unusual and intriguing site.
Wow, where to begin???
This is a one-of-a kind, unique, bizarre and fascinating place to visit. Built by hand by only one man, it is definitely well worth a side trip approximately 35 miles from Cañon City.
“For nearly 60 years, Jim Bishop has been constructing one of the most impressive monuments to perseverance in Colorado. Bishop castle is a monumental statue in stone and iron that cries loud testament to the beauty and glory of not only Having a Dream, but Sticking with your Dream no matter what, and most importantly, that if you do believe in yourself and strive to maintain that belief, anything can happen! Three full stories of interior rooms complete with a Grand Ballroom, soaring towers and bridges with vistas of a hundred miles, and a Fire-Breathing Dragon make the Bishop Castle quite the unforgettable experience! Visitors are always welcome free of charge, and the castle itself is always open.” ~ BishopCastle.org
First of all, OSHA would have a field day here. There are safety hazards up the ying-yang and plenty of signage warning visitors that they are entering at their own risk.
And in case that was not clear enough…
We wandered freely to each corner of the castle, exploring turrets, clinging tightly to narrow cast iron railings, and climbing up tight circular staircases. There were no areas off-limits. We were not stopped by cords, gates or signs.
At each turn, we marveled at the ingenuity and skills that this one man possessed to create all of this by himself.
The main ballroom was stunning and has made a unique location for weddings.
Various stained glass patterns were joyful as well as whimsical.
We found one piece resting precariously on its side, waiting to be installed whenever or wherever Jim Bishop decides it should be placed.
There is a small maquette model of the castle plunked out in the elements, rusting away. I hope it can be better preserved at some point.
Click here to read more of the story of how one man came to build this engineering marvel.
One has to question if he is mad, a genius, or a combination of the two. There are youtube videos that can be found where he is interviewed that could support either view.
Sadly the cottage and gift house were completely destroyed by fire in March of this year.
The closest I can come to a similar experience is visiting Watts Towers in Los Angeles, but that is tame in comparison. Still worthy of a visit!
Back in time for a late dinner at a steak house, where prime rib with all the trimmings was the single offering. We did not go hungry!
They graciously offered us the option of dry-camping on their spacious lot and then Carrie welcomed us for coffee and a hearty breakfast the next morning before we once again hit the highway toward our next adventure.
Trivia Note: I was curious about the little “squiggle” above the letter “n” in the name, Cañon City. The correct pronunciation of the name of the town is the same as “canyon”. The curved line is called a “tilde” in English, or a “virgulilla” in Spanish.
Coming Next: Great Sand Dunes National Park
GRATITUDE MOMENT: What an amazing time we had with Carrie and Leonard. They put out the welcome mat and made us feel so at home and comfortable. Their hospitality, warmth and kindness can not be overstated. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the wonderful stay and tours.