Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Bishop Castle

Jim Bishop

Kim and I drove all five kids to Horn Creek, Colorado for Family Camp this week.  This was our third year in a row to attend camp at Horn Creek, and, as usual, it was worth every bit of time, money, and effort it took to get there.  This is a wonderful experience, and if you read this and have a family, you should seriously consider making the trip with us next year.  Seriously, it's awesome!

One of the beauties of Horn Creek is that you can pretty much customize your experience.  If you want to climb Horn Peak, you can.  If you want to drive to the Wolf Sanctuary, you can.  If you want to shuttle over to Lake DeWeese, you can.  If you just want to stay in your room and participate in what we like to call "Horn Creek Aerobics" (that's code for taking the best nap of your life), you can.  The options are abundant and awesome!

Each year we plan to participate in certain things that sound fun and interesting.  Last year we drove to Colorado Springs, where we took the kids to "The North Pole", an amusement park that feels like spending a day in Santa's mythological wonderland.  We also took a trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park and enjoyed a fascinating adventure atop a mountain of sand.  This year, among other things, we decided to go to a place we had heard about many times before, but had never visited.  It only took us 45 minutes of majestic mountain scenery to get there, and it revealed one of the strangest, most mind-boggling sites I've ever hear of, much less visited.

The Bishop Castle is apparently one man's effort to... uhm... build a castle.  Who hasn't wanted to do that, right?  Well, Jim Bishop has done/is doing it!  Did I mention that it's strange?  It looks like something out of a Tim Burton movie (Batman, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands), and standing in its shadows is a grim yet fascinating undertaking.  

Every year since 1969, Bishop has single-handedly gathered and set over 1000 tons of rock to create this stone and iron fortress in the middle of nowhere. Bishop calls it "a monument to hardworking people" and "America's biggest, one-man, physical project."  I'm not sure whether that can be corroborated, but as weird as this place is, it's certainly impressive.  Bishop, on the other hand, is crazy.  I'm talking Britney Spears shaving her head crazy.  The dude is certifiable, but at least he's productive, right?

He is currently building a mote in front of the castle, and I happened to run into him while he was moving dirt with a Bobcat.  He took off his cowboy hat, wiped his brow, and went on an epic rant about how our government is planning to round people up into concentration camps replete with "human ovens."  After nearly ten minutes of uninterrupted ramblings, Bishop turned to me and my 10 year old son and said, "If b--- s---- was music, I'd be a four piece brass band!  But some of what I say is true, and I've got the God given right to say it!"  You might also need to exercise your God given right to take a high dose of anti-psychotics, Mr. Bishop. Seriously.

The climb to the top of Bishop's castle is an exercise in fear and vertigo.  Each side of the castle offers circular, wrought iron stairways that wind past open windows and up narrow towers.  There is a huge dragon-shaped furnace that protrudes through the front of the place, providing an ominous face to this egregious edifice.  Each step feels like it could be your last, but you feel drawn, inexorably, to continue to climb to the top of every terrible tower.  Words can't really describe this place, and pictures really don't do it justice.  If you're ever in Custer County, Colorado, The Bishop's Castle is definitely worth a look.  Here are some pics:

No comments: