Lost Creek Wilderness {November 2011}

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

'To find a queen without a king, / They say she plays guitar and cries and sings ... la la la'

Going to California (Led Zeppelin)

Welcome to Yountville

The link above will tell you anything you'd like to know about Yountville, California (at the heart of Napa Valley and, of course, wine country). I have been looking forward to this vacation for several months now, primarily because I'll be traveling with my parents. This is the equivalent of luxury - an idea I was somewhat accustomed to growing up ... an idea that has been overshadowed in recent years by a greater desire to explore the unfamiliar and exotic, to learn about the world on my own ... on a budget.

We leave on Thursday morning, and will be spending our first four nights at the Vintage Inn in Napa Valley. My father is an internist at Kaiser Permanente, and his well-chosen neurology conference is making this stint in gorgeous wine country possible. Thanks, Dad :)

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we'll be in San Francisco visiting my cousin Dan, his wife Traci, and their new baby boy, Bryce. I love this city and, despite getting violently ill on my last visit, I cannot wait to return! Dan and Traci are two of my favorite people on earth, and I am so anxious to meet baby Bryce (the photos and videos that I've seen are ADORABLE, and I don't typically find babies cute).

So, I guess I'm going to California!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Colorado Renaissance

No, I'm not talking about the Renaissance Festival in Larkspur, but something far more interesting ...

Bishop Castle seen from Highway 165
Considered the most impressive one-man construction project in the country (and, so claims Jim Bishop, perhaps the world), Bishop Castle is a testament to determination, beauty, obsession, and insanity ... in the most bizarre way imaginable. The castle itself is located in the mountains of south central Colorado, west of Pueblo, and is the still unfinished outcome of Jim Bishop's physical labor and creative musings, and Jim Bishop's alone.

When he was fifteen years old, Bishop purchased land for the price of $1,250 and began construction on his castle in 1969. Now, the castle features intricate wrought iron walkways and bridges that weave between its towers, spiral staircases, a fire-breathing dragon made of recycled hospital trays situated at the apex of the great hall, and stained glass windows ... all made by hand without the use of machines. But a castle cannot be complete without a moat or a dungeon ... Bishop's latest ongoing projects.

Although it can be seen on an official map, and even labeled on nearby road signs, you won't find Bishop Castle in any Colorado travel brochure, which is entirely due to the tension that exists between Bishop and the government. The man is known for passionate political and anti-government rants as well as his crude language; various signs throughout his property display these viewpoints.

The guy may well be off his rocker, but his work is undeniably incredible. As I climbed up narrow staircases en route to the highest towers, I couldn't believe I was putting all of my trust, and my life, in one man's hands. But it was absolutely worth every second - go experience this place!

The highestmost point on Bishop Castle ... WAY up there

Details: The castle is open every day during daylight hours, and it is free (donations requested). Bishop spends about seven months of the year working in his iron shop in Pueblo, otherwise he can be found on site, still building additions to the already ridiculous structure.