Friday, April 18, 2008

The Holy Cross Abby

Our first stop on a whirlwind weekend vacation was the Holy Cross Abby where my Dad went to school in Canon City Colorado. I’ve always wanted to check it out and knew I may never be quite so close again so this was my chance. The Abby was gorgeous! It is fun to imagine a bunch of boys so far from home all going to school. I’m sure those monks had there hands full. My dad attended all 4 years of high school here.

The Abby is no longer owned by the Catholic church. A portion of it is now a winery and the monastery is now rented out for weddings and youth group activities.

These are the choir benches.

There wasn’t really anyone to show us around or tell us what was what but I gather that this is one of the bed rooms where the monks stayed.

This is a telephone booth in the hall.

I think this is the Abby’s sister school St. Scholasticas where my Aunt Peg and Aunt Joanne each attended a year of school. It’s now a boarding school for troubled Utah teens.

Royal Gorge Train

I am a teeny bit scared of heights. I was just thinking this week how weird it is that my sister is such a little rock climber and I don’t even like to look out the window in a tall building. Wade kept saying how much he wanted to see the Royal Gorge while we were in Canon City and I kept saying that I would wait for him on solid ground while he peeked over the edge. I think we came to a fantastic compromise by taking in the sights from down below on the Royal Gorge Train. We did lunch on the train which was fabulous and we had a great view. I loved being so close to the river. Our waitress said that in the summer the rafters like to display their bare bums as the train goes by. Rafting would have been fun, but in my current condition, probably not a good idea. This is something everyone needs to do while they are in Colorado.

Lark Landing B&B

We stayed at a wonderful little Bed and Breakfast in Florence a little town just outside of Canon City. Our hosts at Lark Landing, Barbara and Mark, were delightful. In the evening we sat around the campfire with them and ate s’mores as we chatted. They only have one room and it is separate from the house, over the garage so it was very secluded. Our balcony overlooked the Arkansas River. Their five acres of land was filled with beautiful trees, flowers, ducks, goats, and a lovely dog named penny that even I, a non dog lover, loved.

The Breakfast was fantastic. We had the choice of eating with Barbara and Mark, in our room, or anywhere on the grounds. At a warmer time of year we probably would have chosen somewhere outside but since it is still a little bit chilly Barbara made us our breakfast in a basket and Mark brought it to our room. It was lovely. It came with a paper that Wade red outside on the porch. He loves to read the paper. I snuggled up on the couch inside and read my book.

Bishop's Castle

We saw what we wanted to see in Canon City so when we woke up on Sunday morning we decided to head down to Trinidad Colorado for a little more family history touring. I will get to that in a minute, first you have to see Bishop’s Castle. We ran into this little place on the side of the road as we headed through the mountains. This was by far the freakiest thing I have seen since I’ve been in Colorado, maybe anywhere. The castle itself was pretty cool. But the builder, Jim Bishop, happened to be there. We spoke with him as we stood on a tall balcony about to head up another level until I quickly realized that the maker of this fantasy castle was a little bit crazy. He started ranting about the government and spouted off all sorts of conspiracy theories. He was very upset that he and his castle hadn’t been on the news recently and mentioned that it was because he wasn’t a liar, and that if he had been a liar like George Bush he would be on the news too. We slowly backed away into the castle as he continued to vent his frustrations. I no longer felt safe in a castle made by this man so we headed back out, ignoring the donation box and sign in book – I didn’t want him to know my name.

This is me just as we got out of the car. I'm not worried yet.

Wade may be a litte worried. The stairs up the castle turret were a litte steep and skinny.

I, however, was still not smart enought to be worried so we headed highter into the castle.

This place was huge, and all built by one man, it is pretty amazing.

This is where I realized that I should be worried. As the caslte builder chatted with us from down below I thought to myself that he proably didn't heed any building codes or other regulations that might make this castle safe for thousands of people to visit each year.

You can see one of his signs indicating a big worry he has regarding driving regulations in the United States. Similar signs are posted through out the property and castle.

I googled Bishop’s Castle when I got home and started to learn all sorts of stories. The following is all gossip via the web and my coworkers.

Jim, a high school drop out was given the land by his father. Together they began to build a small cabin or cottage beginning with a large water storage tank. As they covered the tank with stone it began to look like a tower and the town’s people joked with him that he was building a castle. I guess he liked the idea because it has really gotten out of hand. The project started in the late 60’s and he hasn’t stopped.

Sad story: He has lost one child to this building project. In the process of removing a tree from his property one of his small children crawled into the whole left by the roots of the tree. Some how a chain snapped and the roots and tree stump fell right back into the hole killing the child. Maybe I should cut him a little slack.

The dragon head at the front of the castle doubles as a chiminy and is also fitted with torch so it can blow fire. Jim is also working on a mote. He will probably need it to protect him from the wacky government spies that are trying to ruin him.


This was the last stop on our quick Colorado road trip. My Grandma was born and raised in Trinidad and although she may not remember many things, she remembers Trinidad as clearly as ever. When I called her to tell her where I was she was so excited. She gave me her old address- 1415 Arizona St.- and I talked to her as I sat in front of her childhood home, built by her father.
The Catholic Hospital where my great grandfather worked is no longer there. It has been replaced by an ugly newer hospital, but his doctors office was over the store then over the bank for a litte while so we got pictures of that. Down Town Trinidad was so cute. The streets were made of brick, each one stamped with Trinidad.

This is the Catholic school where my grandma went and the Catholic church was right next door, both on Church Street. It was on church street where a guy I know found a loose brick and swiped it for me as a souvenir.