Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Macon, Georgia History Comes “Alive” with a visit to Rose Hill Cemetery & Antebellum Homes

We visited Macon, Georgia a couple of years ago.  We so enjoyed our driving “tour” last time that we were looking forward to coming again to visit. 
This year we had the added treat of getting to visit George’s cousin, Mike Kirk.  They had not seen each other for almost 28 years, so we knew there would be more catching up to do than our time allowed.  We met Mike at a local pub for a delicious lunch.  We shared stories of the journeys of our lives.  His life journey has taken him to several states across the country.  He is a now a hair dresser in Macon.  I am sure this will be a relationship that we will continue to maintain, as we all really enjoyed our time.
After lunch Mike jumped in the backseat of our Jeep and took us on a driving tour of Macon.
Mike first took us through a Historic Cemetery, Rose Hill Cemetery.  We knew from the large Arch at the entrance, this is no ordinary cemetery; it is special from the first view. 

Rose Hill Cemetery was designed to be a paradise-like garden; a place that one could spend an eternity in a beauty.  In general being buried in this cemetery was saved for the “rich and famous” of the day.  Design for Rose Hill began in 1839.  It was designed around the elegance and romance of a Victorian age.

Rose Hill is located near the Ocmulgee River.  Being located on the river provides a beautiful tranquil place to bury a loved family member.  However, being located on a river presents water, flooding problems. 

I cannot say it any better than the account that was published in the Macon Telegraph & Messenger newspaper on October 7, 1881 and provides a vivid description of the Cemetery at its peak:
“Probably the most naturally beautiful of all spots in Georgia, is Rose Hill Cemetery, situated on the west bank of the Ocmulgee River, in the city of Macon. This celebrated burial place was laid out in 1840, … The land hilly, rolling and densely wooded, broken up into beautiful valleys and slopes, and covered in many places by a heavy carpeting of ivy. Art has assisted nature greatly in beautifying the place, the numerous springs have been walled in, and the little branches ornamented with rustic bridges. Costly monuments and the well-kept yards are prolific of flowers and choice shrubbery. No stranger has ever visited this spot without receiving impressions of its loveliness that lingers long after the solemnity of the surroundings has faded from his mind.”

The uniqueness, beauty and tranquility of Rose Hill provided a place for people to share a picnic or enjoy a leisurely walk.  
This description is as true today as it was in 1881.  Today the history is a significant part of what make Rose Hill a special/unique place.  There were large family Mausoleum and Crypts throughout the cemetery.  I am sure this was a huge status symbol of the day.  We saw several that had birthdate's in the 17 and 1800's.

The roads are VERY narrow and winding.  They were built originally for carriages and not meant for motorized vehicles.  Our Jeep did fine, but anything more than that would have been a challenge.
The winding roads led us through steep green hills.  

The hills were peppered with old and new graves.  Giant trees and flowering bushes accessorize the landscape.  There were family sections that were set apart with ornate black iron fencing. 

This cemetery has made it through tornadoes, floods, a railroad rerouting, vagrants and vandals.  All of these things changed the landscape and feel of Rose Hill.  Although it is still a cherished Historic cemetery, it is no longer place for weekly gathering.  People just do not share lunch at the local cemetery any more… go figure. 

I am sure a major impact on the peacefulness of Rose Hill is the addition Railroad and then finally of Interstate 75 and Instate 16.  Although, we were enjoying the beauty; it was periodically interrupted by frantic sounds of traffic.

We left the cemetery and drove around looking at several Antebellum Homes of days gone by.  These homes help me imagine the grand lifestyles of some of the wealthy people from historic Macon. 

These homes stand majestically as an example of the opulence of some.  I love to imagine men in top hats and women in flowing hoop skirts.  Horse carriages would carry people to and from social events of the day.  And then… it happens… I am snapped out of my perfect dream world to remember… with horse drawn carriages come horses… and their ----. 
These plantation-style homes have an elegance that represents a lost time—a slower time.  The houses greet visitors with large columns, shutters framing the windows along with porches that allowed afternoon tea and lemonade with friends and neighbors.   Each house is different with distinct architectural features.
My imagination goes crazy here.  The truth is: very few were wealthy enough to own these homes and these homes may have been maintained because of servants and slaves, the women wore corsets and the men wore wool year round.   They lived without air conditioning and TV and imagine… no Internet or phones.  However, a lady can dream. J

We drove away from Macon, having had a perfect day.  The weather was nice, reconnecting with family was so fun and our private tour around Macon was so special.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Settled and Happy in Colorado Springs

I could not have imagined we would be happy being stationary for any length of time.  Because of medical issues, we need to stay in Colorado Springs for up to 6 months.  It is nice to be with family and friends.  I am looking forward to being in Colorado for some important birthday celebrations and for the holidays.

We are able to feel at home because our house did not change--just our address.
We found a lovely Mobile Home/RV Park, Holiday Village.   It is a 55+ community.  They seem to be very strict about keeping the park clean and quiet.  It is a lovely place to be.

Since we generally travel to warm areas, we do not spend much on propane for heating.  We primarily use Coast to Coast for our campgrounds—so we rarely spend more than $150/month on camping expenses.  Holiday Village reduces the site rent by $200 if we pay 6 months up front.  We took advantage of this savings.
The park is primarily Mobile Homes; but they have multiple RV sites sprinkled throughout.  Although it is close to the Interstate; it is relatively quiet.  We are on a cultisac, so there is very limited traffic.

Our site is very nice.  We have a small patio and large parking area for our truck and jeep. Although it certainly has a campground/Mobile Home park, it feel spacious to us.  We have plenty of room to spread out, but close enough to visit with neighbors. 

Our neighbors are fabulous!  Jim is a widower who is always ready to lend a helping hand.  We enjoy any opportunity to share a meal or just hang out and compare life stories.  He has a toy hauler.  I think he is so brave.  He had never had an RV before.  Now he owns a large RV and moved from his home in Oregon to Colorado to be near his children.  Jim has a Bernese Mountain Dog, Saddie.  We have quickly fallen in love with that dog.  She greets us at the jeep whenever we get home.  

Patrick lives on the other side of us.  He has a smaller Travel Trailer—that perfectly fits him.  He is also very friendly and has a warm greeting for us whenever we are outside.

We have taken advantage of several of the social events in the park.  They have regular Pot Luck dinners, game days, Bible Studies and more.  Every person we meet is very nice and excited to hear about our full-time adventures.

Since going on the road I have had a hard time imaging ever settling down to one location.  Our stay at Holiday Village has given me a little picture of what life might look like if we came off the road.  


Monday, August 15, 2016

Medical Sabbatical in Colorado Springs

If we stay 3 weeks in one location it feels like we are putting down roots.  We are about to start a 6 month stay in Colorado Springs.

George has been having shoulder pain for a couple of years.  We mentioned the pain  to his doctor during his physical 2 years ago.  The doctor told us it was bursitis and he is just going to have to deal with the pain.  I’m not a doctor, but I never thought it was bursitis.  Bursitis generally comes on slowly.  George can remember exactly when the pain started.  One day he had no pain, the next day—pain! 

Finally, after dealing with the pain for 2 years, we made an appointment with a different doctor.  We were referred to Dr. Ky Kobayashi an orthopedic doctor in Colorado Springs. He had done an elbow surgery on our granddaughter, Amber.  After an MRI, it was easy to see he had a complete Rotator Cuff tear and also a torn Bicep tendon.  (Surprise… NOT bursitis!)

Medicare would have allowed him to get the surgery anywhere in the country.  But, the physical therapy needs to be in our state of residence.  We moved forward to schedule the surgery and start his PT.

Generally we stay in Monument when we are in Colorado.  The campground in Monument is on the top of the Palmer Divide—so the weather can be extremely cold.  We are planning to move the RV to Colorado Springs.  We went to every campground and RV/Mobile Home Park in the area.  Some of them were just plain scary.  We wanted to be in a neighborhood that feels safe.  We wanted a place that is clean and sites are decent size for all of our vehicles.  We were finally able to get into Holiday Village Community the 1st week of September. 

Since George had already had his surgery, he was not able to move the 5th wheel.  He could not open or close the 5thwheel hitch.  He also is not able to drive until he is out of his sling.  Our son-in-law, Paul, volunteered to pull our rig from Monument to Colorado Springs.  He did a fabulous job.  We have never had anyone else drive our truck and our home—so I was nervous.  Paul did a great job!

Since we will be here through the winter months, we had to make some additions to handle the colder weather.  Because of George’s limited mobility, we needed help with our winter prep.  Our grandson, Christian, came over to put shrink wrap plastic on all of the windows.  This is a nice option to help keep out the cooler weather.  The only down side is the windows cannot be opened with the plastic on them.  But it is easy to see out the windows, so I do not mind not opening them for this season.

A major concern with cold weather is having pipes or tanks freeze.  Our grandson, Justin, and our daughter, Catrina; came over to help us but Styrofoam insulation skirting around the bottom of the 5thwheel.  It has made all of the difference.  It has gotten down below 30 degrees, and it has stayed toasty in our RV home.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Our Trip to Bishop Castle—Part 2

We had heard for years Bishop Castle is a “must see” in Colorado.  It is unique and quirky, due in majority to the odd and quirky builder, Jim Bishop. He painstakingly placed and mortared every stone into place. 
A 15 year old Jim Bishop bought the 2 ½ acre plot of land for $450 in 1969.  He purchased the land with the intention of building a small cottage.  What started as a cottage ended up turning into a one man’s obsession to build a castle.  I wondered if he builds, and continues to expand, his castle because of the objections of the government—not in spite of them.
This tourist attraction might be considered a family destination. I would recommend parents of young children be very cautious when bringing your family.  

There is a long narrow stair case that can be used to enter the castle--some went in this way.  I did not!

There are several narrow, dark stairways.  There are areas of limited or no safety railings.  There are pieces of the structure  with holes for little feet to slip right through.

This "cage" sits high atop a tower.  Getting to it took more nerve than I could build up in a month.  Made me think of the ball of death that motorcycles use in dare devil shows.  😬

One of the steeples is roughly 160 feet, which is about the size of a 16 story building!   A local zoning official told Bishop he could not build any higher than 25 stories—which only makes him want to go higher.

There is welding and iron work throughout. The metal work adds special details to the castle.  I liked the details, however, there were multiple places welds were broken.  There were also boards that have large holes.  Just before the wedding I saw a woman fall ankle deep through a hole, her shoe landing in the floor below. 

A large piece of railing along the catwalk had completely broken off, but luckily  there were a couple of ropes to warn us—so I did not going careening over the edge.  Ok, I feel a little unsettled--but luckily there is a rope and yellow caution tape to save me. 
George is not comfortable with heights, he was more than a little nervous here.  The fact that the entire structure was built outside of any building codes, did not make him more comfortable.  His nervousness only increased as he saw holes in the structure and missing or broken safety and support elements. 
Bishop uses no blueprints, he has no written plans and he has no interest is building anything to government building code.  The rocks that Bishop uses to build his castle are taken primarily from ditches and National Forest property. 

Bishop has single handedly built his castle.  He has used make-shift pulleys to lift rocks up to create the foundation, walls and stairs.  

He is a skilled Iron worker and does all the welding and metal work throughout the property.  

There is a large "ballroom" that special events (weddings, etc) are held.  It has stained glass on one in and clear panes of glass on the other with french doors.

The castle is a combination of high flying  buttresses, a great hall and several extremely narrow spiral staircases. There are high steeples and steel bridges between the different castle structures.  

There is a giant dragon’s head that spews fire, although it this didn’t while we were there.

There are hand painted signs throughout the property.  The signs detail Bishop’s strong anti-government views.   He seems to be against anything with real or perceived authority.  Many of his tirades are targeted at the IRS, politicians and political parties, the United Nations and even law enforcement.

Here are a few hints to make your visit great:

  • Know what you are getting into
  • If you see Jim Bishop, be prepared.  Cover your ears and get out your camera.
  • Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes (there is a short hill to climb up to the castle and there are a lot of steep, uneven stairs)
  • Steps, bridges and catwalks are made with sheets of steel grating.  Where they have broken, he has simply laid another sheet on top.
  • If there has been rain, it will be very muddy.
  • If there has not been rain, it will be dirty and dusty
  • The castle was built with no permits and no building code approvals—so it can be dangerous (there are warning signs posted)
  • Bishop does not care if the castle property is safe.  So visit at your own risk.  
  • Hold tight to your kids hands.
  • I recommend googling Bishop Castle to see a little of it before you visit.  
  • The YouTube videos are a hoot to watch.
Bishop Castle is an unforgettable experience.  We like Unique sights across America and Bishop Castle definitely fits that bill.
**Without hesitation I would recommend putting Bishop Castle on your Colorado sight-
seeing list.

Directions to Bishops Castle:

The easiest way to get to Bishop Castle is from I-25. Take exit #74 at Colorado City and head towards the mountains. (right off the exit ramp from the north and left off the exit ramp from the south) This puts you on Colorado state highway 165 and its 24 miles without a turn to the Castle. You will see signs for the castle as you come upon it, and there's usually many cars out front.
The Scenic Route, from Colorado Springs, is to take Hwy. 115 south to Florence, turn left at the first traffic light onto Hwy. 67, turn right onto Hwy 96 in Wetmore and at the next junction you will see signs for Bishop Castle. Turn left there onto Hwy. 165 and it is 12 miles.


Monday, August 8, 2016

You want Unique and Quirky, Bishop Castle is The Place to Go—Part I

We had the great pleasure to attend our grandson’s wedding in August.  Justin and his new bride, Shannon had their wedding at Bishop Castle near Rye, Colorado.

They had the wedding in the Great Hall.  It was a perfect setting for them, they were able to get married in a castle—like a prince and princess.  There was a giant wall of windows at the front of the room.  As the kids were saying their “I do” the sun glistened through the window pane, as if to be a kiss from God.  The beauty of the mountains is all around this castle. 

What makes Bishop Castle fun and quirky is what makes it a perfect place for Justin and Shannon to start their lives together.  It is rough and it is a work in progress; and it is large and a little dangerous.  I am sure that speaks to Justin’s heart.  And what woman does not want to marry her prince in a castle???
The front of the Great Hall is a wall of clear windows.  The back of the room is a collection stained glass windows.

The wedding was lovely.  Because George and I are still so crazy in love, we love to be part of celebrating new, young love.  The joy in their eyes brings a smile to our face… we have a secret for them… “their happy journey together is just beginning”.
Although they were able to reserve the Great Hall, the castle property does not close during any private events.  It felt like we had hundreds of new friends helping us celebrate the wedding.  We could hear people outside the room enjoying their day.  The laughing and peeking visitors just added to the special feeling of this place.  Several times I heard mothers’ shouting warnings to their children that were bravely going places they should not.

Jim Bishop is a man with a true purpose—which is something to be admired.  He is a man on mission.  He will not let anything or anyone stop him from “his God-given” right to build whatever he chooses on his land.

Bishop Castle is an impressive structure. It is even more impressive to know that ONE man built it.  His strong fiery personality motivates him to continue.  The roughness of the castle makes it is a better replica of a medieval castle than if it were a clean pristine building.
Proceeds from the gift shop and the donation box supply are the primary sources of funding for the continued construction and maintenance of the castle and the property. 

I would warn any potential visitors that Jim Bishop is still building and is very active at the castle.  He is a man with strong opinions; and he expresses them loudly and often with many expletives.  If you want to protect the ears of your children—or yourself, steer clear if Jim is having a tirade.  Before visiting the castle I watched several You Tube videos of his offensive rants about the government, attorneys, taxes and different races.

Bishop had a Dream and he stuck to that Dream.  There is a lesson we can all gain from Bishops hard work… develop your Dream and stick to that dream. 

There are so many things to share about Bishop Castle, I wrote “Part 2” of our Bishop Castle experience.  Part 2 has some hints to make your visit more enjoyable.

A Few Family pictures
Our beautiful granddaughter, Amber.  

 Evidence George does own a tie.  😍😍😍😍😍😍😍
Our wonderful Son-in-Law, Paul and our so, sweet daughter, Catrina.

Paul, Catrina, Christian, Justin and Amber 

Our precious little grandson, Trenton.

Christian, Amber and Trenton.  Such a beautiful family.

We didn't have a picture with Christian and Amber and both kids.  Here is the sweet little Analiese enjoying the party.


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