Bishop’s Castle

When the black asphalt isn’t scaling the heights, it is dipping down. Up or down, the road hairpins the closing radius curves through a swath of Kelly green, knee-high grass, aspen and pine. Running south from Mckennzie Junction towards San Isabel, Highway 165  is a treat to drive. It’s the kind of road that makes you feel reckless: you can’t restrain yourself; the years peel back as you step on the gas and lean into the curves. The wind will erase your concerns, corkscrew your hair and give you an instant face lift.

We could repair the round logs,
or we could begin with the square.

Heading south you will pass heritage homesteads in various states of disrepair. Passing this homestead on the left, I thought of my mom who, passing a home in need of tender loving care, always turned to my dad and said, “Now there’s a fixer-upper. Maybe it’s for sale. Let’s stop.” He never stopped to look at fixer-uppers. He never stopped for historical markers. He was loath to make a toilet stop. Somewhere in the Great Beyond, he is behind the wheel of his truck – going too fast with no intention of stopping until he is ready… or he runs out of gas.

Whichever comes first.

Nearing Lake Isabel, you will see Bishop’s Castle on the right. If you haven’t seen it, the castle is a must. If you haven’t seen it in the last few years, the castle has Jack-and-the- Beanstalked. It towers. Entry to the castle is free; donations are appreciated. I’m impressed. Jim Bishop has collected fallen highway rocks alone and using these stones has built the castle alone. You know that he has built the castle himself because a hand-lettered sign (lettered by Bishop himself, no doubt) tells visiting guests that HE, not his father, began the castle project.

Note the scale of the castle
to the people in the foreground.

Some men build backyard barbeques. Other men build decks. Beginning in the late 1960s, Jim Bishop, who works in Pueblo as an ornamental wrought-iron artisan by day, has built a castle in his free time. Looking at the castle, you are left to wonder what you do in your free time. (Heaven forbid that you think that I am pointing my finger. I am left wondering what I do in my free time.)

Jim Bishop is not without controversy. He marches to his own drummer and that drummer hammers on a timpani which resounds throughout the Valley giving Custer County Commissioners headaches. Bishop is his own man and his politics are as individual as he is. No one will be telling Bishop what to do or how to do it. When the commissioners ruled (in 2002?) that he could not host raves at the castle (a perfectly reasonable ruling given the road to the castle, the nature of a rave, and the castle itself), Bishop felt the heavy hand of government denying him his freedom.

The only thing we can say for sure is
that Jim Bishop is not a party man.

The castle itself is a jaw-dropping marvel of stone, stained glass, and wrought-iron. Pictures will tell the story better than I can.

Stairway to the stars

Although signs warn parents that Bishop takes no responsibility for any accidents, parents seem oblivious to the warning or the structural integrity of the castle. The children run wild. They scale the structure as though it were a jungle gym. As indeed it is.

Say what you will about Jim Bishop
and his politics, is this sphere not lovely?

You may not agree with Jim Bishop’s politics, but you cannot deny his dream or his quest for immortality. I’m thinking of a National Public Radio piece that ran on Wednesday. The piece concerned an immortality cocktail of 150 pills to be taken daily. It is no coincidence that Ray Kurzweil runs a nutritional supplement business.

So make your choice. Follow Bishop’s example: immortalize yourself by building a monument, or take 150 pills a day, or… perhaps you can look closer to home and just enjoy the moment.

You can choose to fight aging
and sing the Blues or…

First Do Nothing
Then Rest

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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2 Responses to Bishop’s Castle

  1. Lynne Ormandy says:

    absolutely like–like–like the Bishop’s Castle blog!!! What a treat for me —have visited same several times—but new details in pix are delightful — thanks so much——–Lynne O

    • timeout2 says:

      Dear Lynn, Knowing your love of dance, I highly recommend two movies that you need to order through your inter-library loan. The first is Dancing Dreams which is a documentary of the German choreographer Pina Bausch working with high school teens who had no background in dance. I could watch it and watch it again – just when you are on the verge of giving up on the next generation, you will be uplifted by this beautiful movie. The second movie is Been Rich All My Life. The vintage footage of the Harlem chorus girlsdancing at the Cotton Club or the Apollothe 30s is in black and white. The recent footage of these same girls still dancing in their 80s and 90s is in color. Another feel good movie. Both movies left me with a smile on my face and a lighter heart. If you watch either of these movies, let me know what you think. Love, Doris


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