It Gets Cold in Colorado!
As I mentioned in my last post…having the choice of 3 states (as I was leaving Arizona), I crossed diagonally into Colorado. The scenery changes quickly from the hot arid desert of reds and ochre to mountain tops of grey and white with lush green below. Welcome to the Rocky Mountains!
I don’t know if this guy was writing or sketching. All I know is he was digging this scene as much as I was. Speaking of digging…they call this the million dollar highway because of all the gold that must be buried underneath it.
You can see Silverton in the valley below. Silverton is an old mining town, but it is still very much alive and vibrant.
I stopped and got some BBQ and a local brew.
There was still evidence from the old mining days hanging rocky mountain high.
Just outside of Silverton was a nice primitive campsite. It was free, which is always nice.
A guy I met at the campsite showed me where all the firewood was. See, the river comes from the melted snow. So In the Spring it is high and washes down wood and debris from up stream. As the water recedes in the Summer, the wood is left on the banks to dry out. Perfect! This guy who showed me where the wood was, was from Upper Louisiana. He was there with his girlfriend. Very nice people. In the morning he told me he checked a thermometer in the middle of the night. It was 37 degrees. It gets cold in Colorado.
Laying in the hammock is great in these areas with very little light. The only bad thing is you have to hang it between two trees which blocks some of the heavenly glory. (“heavenly glory” should always be said in the voice of Bruce Lee. If you don’t know what I mean CLICK HERE.)
Heading north. It is an awesome place to ride.
There is continuous evidence of the old mining days throughout the Rockies.
You can see how the road is cut along side the rock. There are no guard rails. If you screw up, it’s for good!
There are many different mountain ranges. You are not always 10,000 feet in the mountains. Sometimes you come in to valleys and plateaus where you can warm up until the next range.
Some people I met at the Four Corners told me about this place called Royal Gorge. There is a suspension bridge there 1250 feet over this deep gorge. The floor is made of wood planks and the whole thing rocks in the wind. So of course I had to ride over it.
They also have a tram. They run the whole thing is run like an amusement park. I got there late in the day so I got a discount.
Now, I didn’t take the photo below. I just threw it in there to give you an idea of how high that bridge is.
It was actually scarier walking across than riding because you really feel the rocking. On the bike you don’t feel it as much though it is still pretty freaky!
This is an amazing place and like Salvation Mountain it was build by one man, Jim Bishop. The big difference being that Salvation Nation will more than likely fall apart in our lifetime. Bishop Castle will be around for generations to enjoy.
Twice I met people on the road who told me Jim Bishop was nuts. When I arrived at the castle I saw hand painted signs. The first one said to make sure and read all the other signs. It also said you must sign in. I walked onto the porch of the house next to the castle. There sat this man. He said “Hey!” I asked him if he knew where I was supposed to sign in. He said, “I don’t believe anyone should sign anything they don’t want to sign, but it’s in there if you feel like writing your name.” Then he said, “I’m Jim, the castle builder.” I said, “Hey, I’m Pat” as I shook his powerful gnarly hand. The hand of a castle builder.
People are free to climb all over Jim’s creation. From the palatial interior to the many ramps, spiral staircases and balconies and that surround the massive structure.
You can barely see my bike in the top left corner from the highest tower.
Here is the castle from behind.
As I was leaving I could see Jim Bishop was back to work. I said “Thanks Jim.” He turned and said “You bet, come back again!” I will. And I don’t think this man is nuts at all. I envy his drive and commitment to something wonderful that he shares with anyone willing to visit.
If you would like a worthy tax write off, throw some money Jim’s way.
I passed the largest rocking chair in the world in front of a store that was closed and gated off.
I figured I would save some time as I was eager to go to Sturgis. Instead of continuing north through the mountains, I would hop on the interstate between Colorado Springs and Denver. It wasn’t until I was deep in in back to back vehicles that I realized I put myself in rush hour traffic around an enormous city. After some painful riding I made it back into the mountains of Northern Colorado.
I found another primitive campground 4 miles down a dirt road. This one was off a lake.
The St.Malo Chapel would be my last photo in Colorado before descending down from the majestic mountains and into a completely different reality. I was headed for Sturgis, South Dakota.
It was on this day August 16 in 1977 that Elvis died.