Day three of our journey was one that brought us quite a diversity of scenery and experiences! It was an ambitious plan to try and see so many different things, and take our time doing it. We hit the road knowing it would be a great day regardless!
The morning started with a quick trip to the quirky Amy’s Donuts for Shawn to check out the local smorgasbord of sugar!
Once again the weather was absolutely perfect – almost 70F and a gentle breeze. It was another day that just felt so good to be on the motorcycles!
We headed south out of Colorado Springs on Hwy 115, and then took a quick break at a little pull off just south of Florence. It was so quiet out there and not a cloud in the big, blue sky!
I love reading all of the historical signs along the way. There is so much to learn! To me, reading these signs is as much a part of the journey as anything else.
We continued south on Colorado 67 – it was such a beautiful area!
And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Colorado 165 blew us away! So many of the aspens were still in full color even though we were well past the peak! I love living in Colorado anyway, but Colorado in the fall is absolutely spectacular.
A short while later we arrived at the infamous Bishop Castle. Jim Bishop has been building this, mostly by himself, since 1969. During that 46 year span, he has probably shattered every building code known to mankind! He really does have to be part crazy and part genius.
Whatever you do…do NOT discuss politics if you see him during your visit. He has more than a few signs declaring his rather colorful thoughts about the government.
Looking towards the top….Shawn and I would eventually make it all the way up!
Notice the dragon on the right? It’s made from metal hospital trays and occasionally Jim will fire up a hot air balloon burner and shoot 6 to 30 foot flames out of it!
It really is an impressive structure in many ways
After exploring the lower levels, it was time to step things up a little!
We would eventually end up higher than that tower!
About 3/4 of the way up I did have some thoughts about turning back. You can literally feel some of the metal move and shake when you walk on it! Additionally, there are no hand rails in most places, and pretty much nothing but your own common sense to keep you from falling right out of the castle in other places. It’s pretty unnerving.
As I contemplated my options, four pre-teen girls came flying down the stairs from the top, giggling about how “totally cool” it was up there. At that point I decided that I either had to turn in my man card or suck it up and get to the top.
So I pressed on to the highest part of the building and then climbed the wobbly metal tower above that!
There are two people inside that metal ball down there!
Oh look, I can see our bikes from here!
The view from the top was absolutely breathtaking!
As we prepared to mount the bikes, a man walked over to me and asked some questions about Stallion. I told him about the journey Shawn and I were taking, riding 1,300 miles around Colorado. “That’s incredible”, he replied. We chatted for a little longer, then he turned to go and said, “Well I hope it’s worth it and that you enjoy it.”
I quickly told him, “Oh it’s worth it. And for what it’s worth, you never see a motorcycle parked in front of a therapist’s office. Riding is the best therapy there is!”
He let out an enormous laugh and said he would tell his wife, then wished us good luck and safe travels. Honestly, I really do love interacting with strangers when I’m out riding. I welcome their curiosity about my motorcycle and I enjoy the opportunity to have conversations with other pilgrims on their journey.
We continued on and found ourselves taking another break at this store in Silver Cliff, Colorado. While Shawn went inside to look around and chat with the clerk, I sat on an old wooden bench in front of my bike. Then, a remarkable thing happened.
A lady walked out of the cafe next door, which had already closed for the day. I think she might have been the owner. In any case, she says hello to me and then says, “Could you please watch my purse and this bag for a moment? I just need to go lock up the place.”
I think I stammered for a split second when I replied, “Uh, of course!”
This woman had never met me before, and yet felt it was okay, even normal, to trust me with her purse and whatever was in the bag. She returned a few minutes later, thanked me, and then was on her way.
What an amazing world it would be if we were all trusting…and worthy of trust.
As I pondered what just happened, I saw a Mennonite lady and her children pull in to the country store. Then some hunters came by in a huge truck, towing some ATV’s. Soon after I saw an older gentleman drive up in a classic car.
Then I noticed an Amish buggy gently clopping down the road past an American flag (notice in the picture below at far right).
I enjoyed the time we spent at that little store, and marveled at the diversity I saw in this little community. And for a few moments, I honestly thought, “I could live here“. The simplicity of it all mixed with the Americana made me long for such a hometown experience, and to believe that it could be all be the new normal.
We rode along the edge of town and saw this beautiful mission out on the plains. Then we turned north on Colorado 69, and bid the towns of Silver Cliff and Westcliff farewell.
Our next stop was to enjoy the sounds of the Arkansas River flowing past Texas Creek Junction. I have been here a couple of times before, and it is a wonderful place to just sit and listen to nature. There is something about flowing water that is so peaceful.
The sun was setting fast, and we barely made it to the incredible Skyline Drive near Canon City before it was too late. I later learned that it was closed for repairs the day before, and the day after our visit!
As we walked around the observation point at sunset, I noticed an intimidating guy on a Harley looking at me. In all honesty, the guy looked like someone you did not want to mess with. So I tried to avoid eye contact, but then he said…”it’s a beautiful night for a ride isn’t it?”
Reluctantly, and still with very little eye contact, I replied, “Yeah, sure is. It’s been a great day.”
And then he and I engaged in another 20 minutes of awesome conversation! He asked about our trip; where we came from; where we were headed; the bikes we rode; our favorite part so far; and much more.
Then, in a “it’s a small world after all moment”, I asked him some questions and learned that he grew up next door to Jim Bishop and saw the castle being built as he was growing up. I told him how amazed we were with our visit there earlier in the day.
As if that wasn’t enough, he then told me that he was working on a wind turbine farm out near a place called Calhan. That’s where I live! And so we talked about that for a little while too.
I re-learned that you really can’t, and shouldn’t, judge a book by its cover. We are all human beings on this crazy and amazing journey of life. We come in all different sizes, shapes, colors, and styles. And meeting others is part of what makes our journey so special. Sometimes, all it takes is being a little out of our comfort zone.
And that’s okay.
We said our goodbyes, then rode over to a neat little restaurant and ate a wonderful meal that we had been longing for, for hours. While waiting for our food, a couple of older gentlemen talked to us about our bikes and the journey we were on.
Wanting to enjoy the day just a little bit longer, we took our meal outside and sat in the wonderful, cool evening air. Recounting the diversity of the day, we were thankful for each part.
As we finished the last bites, the two gentlemen walked past and said, “Ride safe guys…and enjoy the ride!”
Excellent advice. We were doing just that.