Thursday, June 13, 2019

Keeping promises...

You know how you promise yourself how you will "return someday?"  Those promises you make to yourself when you visit a place that either you really enjoyed so much that you just want to come back again, or that you just didn't have enough time to see it (all) and had to leave, or drive right through it?  We all make them...but do we keep them?

Our first trip through Nebraska in 2012, we were scooting back "home" in October, with little time, as the fall was upon us, and we needed to get back to Washington before it got to late.  We happened to "pass through" North Platte, and discovered that they had a unique attraction there - the Golden Spike Tower that over-looked the Bailey Train Yard.  Now, Jack and I love trains...Jack, of course is more into the mechanics of them than I am, but both of us are fascinated by them.  When we read what the Golden Spike Tower and the Bailey Train Yard was, we immediately got excited and headed our RV right towards it, hoping we could spend some time exploring this great place!  ...we got there 15 minutes before it closed...

We rushed up to the top of the Tower, and spent those 15 minutes watching all that we could, talking to the gentleman as much as possible...but all to soon, our 15 minutes was up, and we had to leave..."promising ourselves we would return...someday".

That "someday", finally came this past week.  It has taken us all these many years, but, we kept that promise, and booked ourselves 4 days in North Platte Nebraska!   ;-)

The Bailey Yard is the World's Largest Rail Yard in North America, having 2,850 acres, 8 Miles long, 2 Hump Yards and 1 Diesel Shop.  From atop the Golden Spike Tower, you can watch the action from two different observation decks (one enclosed/one not) as the crews of  the Union Pacific Railroad sort and connect over 10,000 cars a day on two classification hump yards, with nearly 120 bowl rows and 315 tracks.  Even if you are not a "train nut" it's pretty fascinating. 


Well, once we got our fill of trains, we now had time to explore North Platte and see what else there was to see...it turned out, it has several interesting things!

One, was the Grain Bin Antique Town!  Seems some folks gathered up about 20 historic wooden and octagon granaries and relocated them out in the country, along with a very large building and started filling them with antiques!  They kind of "themed" each one, linens in one, china dishes in another, tools in another, etc.  When we went out there (after quite a long, dirt road ride) we were practically the only ones out there!  The gal shared with Jack (while he waited for me) that they had just started opening on Mondays, but usually on weekends, the place is so packed they have to have people direct traffic! Yea for us!  I had a ball wandering in one building after another all by myself...and of course found some goodies I just couldn't live without!  ;-)


The other wonderful discovery we made the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park!  Seems this is where Bill Cody and his wife settled down and built a beautiful home and raised their family back in 1887.  His sister is actually the one who took charge of the design and construction while Cody was out on the rode.  It's of the "Second Empire" style with Eastlake and Italianate features and was built and furnished at a cost of $3900.  It originally had two barns, but a T-Shaped one burned down.  He had the home built with "retirement" in mind, and named it "Scout's Rest Ranch" and had that put on the barn.


When we arrived, we were greeted, much to our surprise, by Mr. Cody and his wife Louisa!  As there were no other visitors at the time, Mr. Cody spent some time with us, telling us a number of wonderful stories about the ranch and his adventures.  He was quite an enjoyable storyteller and made our tour of the home complete!  It was so nice to be able to stroll through the house and barn and then out to see the new baby buffalo.  It is a beautiful place, but seeing pictures when Cody lived there, it was sure "out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a whole lot of dirt!".  Wow...hardy people...


Well, after a time of relaxing, now we are off to Wyoming!

...on the road,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Monday, June 3, 2019

A Castle in the mountains...

Did you ever wonder what makes someone do what they do?  Ever come across a building, or a structure and wonder "why" or "who"?  So many times it all happened so long ago, the history is lost and one knows, or we are just "passing through", so don't have any way of finding out the story behind it...

This time we were lucky.  Our host at our campground suggested we take a nice scenic drive out to see Bishop's Castle in the nearby San Isabel Mountains.  It wasn't to far, and the drive was a nice one, with a lunch stop on the way back at The Three Sister's Cafe.  She said the owner might even be there working on the place, "you never know, and he's an interesting guy".  I read up on the place, a rock castle, built by hand over several decades...sounded fun, so off we went!

The ride was indeed delightful, and the weather cooperated nicely.  Pretty valleys that wound up into the mountains.  Then, all of a sudden, there it was, looming right in front of you, this big, bold rock monstrosity!  Cars were parked all along the roadside, so that was also a give-away.  Tall trees tried to hid the entrance, but fail, at over 160' tall, it's hard to hide.


This "Castle" is hard to describe, as it's not like any you've ever seen, I believe.  You see, it didn't start out to be one, according to Jim Bishop.  Here's his story...

When Jim was 15 (in 1959) he decided to buy (from his own money saved from mowing lawns & delivering papers) two and half acres of land for $450.  He had dropped out of high school the year before and joined his father in the family ornamental iron works business.  When he was 25, he decided it was time to start building on the property.  Since wood and rock was plentiful, he decided to build a one room stone cottage. 

To make a very long story shorter, Jim, Phoebe (his wife) and his father, would come out on weekends during the summers and work on the "cottage"...it continued to grow, and grow, and grow.  Friends would say "what are you building, a castle?"  After awhile, Jim decided that's what he was supposed to do with it, build a castle...for people to come and enjoy...so he has kept building it all these years, never stopping, with Phoebe by his side until a year ago when she passed.  He does not, and he will not charge admission; Phoebe managed to set up a non-profit so that any donations can go to financially help local families with medical expenses for young children that aren’t covered by insurance.

After walking up and down several flights of stairs, in and out of many domes, around balconies, peeking through doors, taking lots and lots of pictures, we ventured out to find Jim Bishop.  Jack found him, where else, but digging rocks out on a project site!  They had a nice long chat while I perused the gift shop, then joined them towards the end.  Jim shared with us about loosing his wife and young son and his faith in God.  He's a small man, maybe only 5'6", frail, but what a life, and a mission to keep this project up, for the people.  I asked him about ever living here, and he said, it was never intended for him and his family, it was always intended for others to enjoy, that's why he does it.


What a treat to be able to actually meet the Dreamer, to hear the Vision, to Know Why...
It made my day...Thank God for people like Jim Bishop...


...kicking back in Colorado,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Passing the time in Pueblo

We are hanging out west of Pueblo Colorado these days, passing a little time until we can meet up with some friends of ours.  Seeing what there is to see and do...turns out, quite a bit!

Our first venture out, was to check out their "Riverwalk".  We have been to San Antonio's in Texas, so I wanted to see if it was anything like it.  Theirs is along the Arkansas River, and is a loop of about a mile and a half.  It is mostly art sculptures and a few restaurants.  It's more open than San Antonio's (theirs is "sunken", if you haven't been).  I guess this part of the area that Zebulon Pike camped at in 1806 as it is dedicated to him and much of it is about him and his journals.  (Pike's Peak in the Rocky Mtns. is named after him)


Afterward, we went to check out the Rosemount Mansion/Museum.  It was built in 1891 for the John Thatcher family who began in the dry goods business, then started the First National Bank of Pueblo and grew from there.  This 37 room home was built for $100,00 back in 1891, from the best that Colorado, New York  and Pennsylvania had to offer.  Tiffany & Co lighting system, stained & painted glass windows, painted canvas ceilings, and plumbing brought in from a 2,000 gal. water tank that was installed in the attic for to gravity supply throughout the home.


Mrs Thatcher loved roses, so roses were planted all around the home, hence the name.  She also had numerous themed rooms with them.  No pictures were allowed inside the home (I got, so got two inside the kitchen before they told me not to).  Needless to say, the home is beautiful and well maintained.  They left almost all the furnishings to the "museum" after the last child no longer wanted to live in the home (Raymond).  He never married and decided to leave the home to the city as a museum.  He died in 1968.

From there, we drove around town and discovered some really beautiful murals.  This town has some great artists!  What surprised me was that they don't sign them.  Most places not only have their artists sign them, but they even advertise their murals.  I even checked to see if they have a web page, and nope.  To bad, they are huge too...whole building-sized, most of them.  Here's just a sample...


They also have a really cool alley...It does have a web page that I found.  Seems a single man is responsible for this, it's called "Neon Alley".  Joseph Koncija has been collecting neon signs (along with various other signs) for years and has over 41 of them displayed on two buildings downtown.  They look great, even during the daytime!  Hooray for him!  Look at these great signs...


Nearby is a wonderful 1889 Pueblo Union Depot.  They have restored it and use it for functions.  They have done a great job, it's a beauty.  ;-)


Well, that was a full day...time for lunch!

...kicking back in Colorado,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/