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.



Saturday, April 16, 2016

Joshua Tree National Park—This is One Weird Landscape!

One of the things I love the most about our full time life is being able to see unique sights across the country.  The Joshua Tree fits the bill for unique.
Joshua Tree National Park is in California, just outside of Desert Hot Springs.
We have been to Joshua Tree National Park before.  This trip we had time to linger and make sure we were able to enjoy the quirky, twisted plant called the Joshua Tree. 
Joshua Tree National Park is full of large rock formations, desolate desert, blooming flower meadows and bizarre looking Joshua “Trees”.
The Joshua Tree is actually the largest of the Yucca plants.  It is not a tree at all. It’s Not Tree?  What???
The only place in the world the Joshua Tree grows is this region of the Mojave Desert. 
So why is it called a Joshua Tree—that was my question?  A group of Mormon settlers crossing the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century saw this unique plant.  It reminded them of the story in the Bible when Joshua reached his hands up to the sky in prayer.   When I look at the Joshua Tree and think of this story, it is true; it does appear that they are reaching their arms toward heaven.  Albeit the arms that appear to be riddled with arthritis. 
If this crazy plant can survive the rigors of the harsh desert, it can live for hundreds of years.  The tallest trees reach about 50 feet.   Although as we drove through the National Park, it is rare to see trees as tall as 50 ft.  Most of the trees appear to be 15 to 30 feet tall and about 1 to 3 feet in diameter—small for a tree; but huge when you consider it is a Yucca plant.
There is nothing welcoming about the appearance of a Joshua Tree.  The “leaves” look like dark green knives.  But I really enjoy seeing the rich green color in the desert.
We were lucky enough to be viewing the trees in April, so there were flowers in some of the trees.  The flowers are a creamy white color and look almost like a bunch of grapes.  Because we had heard the trees do not bloom every year, we felt very blessed to see so many blooms.  The number of blooms depends on the amount of rainfall in any given year.  A winter freeze is also necessary to produce the blooms—some years the area does not get heavy enough freezes to produce blooms.

Throughout the National Park there is the occasional gardens of ocotillo and cholla cactus.  First I learn the Joshua Tree isn’t a tree and now I learn the Ocotillo is not a cactus. The Ocotillo appears to be a group of sticks branching out from the base.  We saw some that were full of green “leaf” covering and some were as brown as dead trees. 

They can grow up to 30 feet tall, however it was rare for us to see any that were taller than 15 feet, or so.  Because of the time of year we are here, we were able to see many blooms.  The bright crimson flowers wave slightly in the desert breeze.  The stems of these plants are often used to create a fence or rows of Ocotillos are planted to create a natural growing fence. It looks like it certainly would deter anyone from crossing.
From a distance the Teddy Bear Cholla look like a fuzzy, cuddly plant with Teddy Bear like arms reaching out to say hello. The Cholla cactus—Teddy Bear Cholla, is anything but warm and fuzzy.  We have heard horror stories about the prickly spines on the Cholla jumping off the plant and attaching to the innocent traveler. I was not willing to get close enough to allow these jumping cactus spine to attack me.
The Cholla Patch was a large group of the cactus stuck out in the middle of the park.

As if the Cactus are not scary enough...  Now I have to watch for bees! 

The park was alive with the beauty of fresh blooms--bright yellow wild flowers and other flowers blanket the desert floor. 

We were at Joshua Tree National Park in April—which seemed like a perfect time of year.  There are many blooming cactus.  The temperatures are between 70 to 85 degrees.  I read that summer ground temperatures can reach 180 degrees!!!   Ouch! 
Throughout the park there are massive rock formations.  We have always enjoyed seeing the different rock formations around the country.  The boulders in this area did not disappoint and were some of the largest we have seen.

We had a great day touring the park.  Most of the time was spent driving on the designated main park road, which is paved.  
We also took a couple of Four-Wheel drive detours—which provided some of the best scenery. 
We love any opportunity to go off main roads to a Four-Wheel drive adventure.  Today ended with a great combination of touring the Joshua Trees, seeing massive rock formations and bouncing over the back roads of the park.

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