Saturday, July 2, 2016

Colorado Springs to Albuquerque, day 6

The time had arrived for us to pack up our little studio apartment and hit the road. We weren't headed straight home, but rather making our way south to Albuquerque to meet up with Yiayia, Bill, and Nana for a couple of days. They have been vacationing out west the same time we are, so it seemed like a good opportunity to get together.

Before we could get to Albuquerque I had to make a stop at a road side attraction just outside Rye, Colorado called Bishop Castle. A couple of friends had mentioned it to me before and said it was a I googled it and knew instantly that we would be making a stop there! Oh my. It looked incredible and I couldn't wait to go. (Read the crazy story about how it came to be at

First things first, we packed up and hit the road. We chose the scenic route to the castle, which took us up to around 9200 feet above sea level along the Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway. The scenery was incredible, and even if the castle had turned out to not be all that cool the drive was so worth it. Of course this was not a fast drive, as we were traveling on winding mountain roads. Of course I pulled over once for some photos.
 Finally we round a corner and see lots of cars and motorcycles parked along the highway - we had arrived. We hopped out of the car and walked to the clearing past the trees...and there it was. The excitement inside was bubbling over!

We stopped at the port-a-potty first and then made our way into the castle. It's an active construction site and there's no real entrance or "start here" sign, so we picked a doorway and started exploring. There were plenty of other people doing the same. You pretty much explore the castle on your own and at your own risk - and trust me, there's plenty of risk involved.
 There are all these iron walkways around the outside of the castle (iron work is the family business) and staircases and towers everywhere...but not necessarily safety rails everywhere. As we went up our first staircase inside, we were greeted by wonderful archways and stained glass windows! (You can purchase your own piece of stained glass to be installed for $300. Please someone do this for me for Christmas.)
 We walked up a beautiful iron staircase ad entered the biggest room of the castle, the great room, or whatever they call it - I felt like I was in a movie. I took one look and told Nick I wanted to get married here. It's breathtaking!
We climbed another spiral concrete staircase only to reach the top and realize that there was literally an open tower at the top. You could stand up there, but there were no rails! It was just open. I had gone first and turned to look down at Nick and said "Nope! Go back! This one isn't safe." I didn't even step out on it. Instead we made our way out onto one of the iron grate walkways that goes around the outside of the castle. It was scary, yes...but this time there were safety rails. However standing on an open metal grating 80 feet off the ground is quite unnerving. I was a little amused when the three of us stepped out and Nick immediately hugged the wall. He couldn't really handle the height that well. Kate seemed fine, and I was ok, although I will admit that my toes were tingling!
We walked around to the opposite side and I spotted my next goal - I was going to the sphere and I was going to take the most epic selfie of my life. Fear didn't matter. I was doing it, and no one was stopping me.
 We made our way down and over to the tower where the sphere was perched. Once inside the tower we were greeting with an iron spiral staircase this time with no hand rails. We decided right away that Kate was not making that climb and I don't think Nick was sad about being the one to stay down with her. So up I went, and they went back down to explore the lower levels of the castle. I passed a large black bell in the tower, but it didn't appear to have a way to chime inside anymore.

I finally reached the top and began climbing up into the top of the sphere. The whole thing was shaking with every step I took and swaying quite a bit. Once I got inside, the wind really seemed to pick up. But I HAD MADE IT. The dragon head on the front of the castle is 80' off the ground, according to the website, and I was a pretty good ways above that. The view was AMAZING. The adrenaline rush was awesome, and I was freaking out and completely excited all at the same time. I stayed in the middle of the sphere - there was no way I was walking to one side or the other, almost as if the whole ball was going to roll off its perch if I did. I'm not even sure I could feel my feet at this point and I know my legs were shaking.
 The next step was to go climb back out of the sphere and step out onto the bridge that went nowhere. It is also made of metal grating, of course, so it's really, really, really freaky and scary and HOLYCOWI'MGOINGTODIE panic inducing - but AWESOME all at the same time. More selfies ensued, and of course I had to take some video as well.
 I walked back off the bridge and shimmied around the sphere tower to another staircase that walks down to a shorter tower, although this tower isn't large enough to be open to walk down so I just stopped at the top of he staircase and took a picture. It was time to come back down.
I headed back down the winding staircase to the bottom to find Nick and Kate at that point. I opted not to climb up the 160' square tower you can see in some of the photos because 160' on a winding staircase is like 80000 steps and I wasn't about to attempt that. Plus, as much as the sphere structure was swaying in that wind, I can't even imagine how much that square tower would be swaying by the time you got up to the top. We also needed to get on the road to Albuquerque.

I've already told Nick that next time we go back to Colorado, we are stopping here again!!

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