Friday, October 13, 2017

Highway of Legends

The Highway of Legends is primarily Hwy. 12 from
La Veta to Trinidad.  There is a route from Cuchara through the San Isabel National Forest, up over 11,743' Cordova Pass, and down to the community of Aguilar.  We did the Cordova Pass route on our first drive and Hwy. 12 from La Veta to Trinidad another day.  If choosing to make only one of the trips, take Hwy. 12 to Trinidad.
In route from Walsenburg to La Veta you will see the Spanish Peaks.  The 13,673' West Peak is on the right and the 12,708' East Peak is on the left.  The Spanish Peaks can be seen 133 miles away to the north in Colorado Springs and 85 miles to the west in Alamosa!  They appear so close to Walsenburg that we like to think of them as being ours, but in actuality they are located near La Veta.  Do you see the cloud coyote over the West Peak?  Click on the picture for a closer look!  
This is the beautiful and artistic community of La Veta!  It is also home to Francisco Fort.
The flowers in a street planter in La Veta were active with butterflies!
These are the Spanish Peaks, as viewed from La Veta.
Just before you reach the community of Cuchara, you will get a close-up view of The Devil's Stairsteps! 
This is the view from having passed the stairsteps and looking back.  These formations are called dikes and are unique to this area.
Approximately 500 rock walls (dikes) radiate around the Spanish Peaks.  They were formed by molten rock being extruded up through cracks in the Earth's surface.
This is the community of Cuchara.  It seems to have just enough restaurants, taverns and gift shops to keep the tourists entertained.  There is a nearby ranch for trail hikes, horse rides and cabin rentals.
Farley's Overlook is the first scenic view you'll have at the turnoff for the climb to Cordova's Pass.  Most of the drive is through pine forest with just a few views similar to Farley's Overlook. 
This is an interesting cut through a dike along the Cordova Pass route.  This route ends in the community of Aguilar.  Aguilar, while having some interesting architecture and history, is now mostly vacant buildings.  A return to Walsenburg is made on Hwy. 25.
On our second day's scenic drive we followed Hwy. 12 from La Veta to Trinidad.  Once past the community of Cuchara, historic churches similar in architecture to this one will be seen in each small community.  This is an Internet picture of the old church located in Weston.  When active, the churches were of the Catholic denomination.  This area of Colorado is said to have belonged to the Spanish three times longer than it has belonged to the United States.
Although, most of the trees along the route were yellow in their Fall color; the grasses and bushes had pretty Autumn hues of orange.
This is just a pretty lake along the route.  I think it may be Monument Lake.
As you get close to arriving in the bustling 9,096 resident community of Tinidad, you will pass the historic coke ovens near the community of Cokedale.  Coke is a byproduct of heating coal to a very high temperature in airtight ovens.  Coke is used in the creation of steel and other products.  Highway 25 north out of Trinidad takes you back to Walsenburg. The Highway of Legends will stand out in our memories for the amazingly beautiful scenery, unique geological formations, and historic communities!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Bishop Castle

From Walsenburg we drove 45 miles through some beautiful countryside and up to 9,000 feet in elevation to see Bishop Castle.  We returned home via a scenic valley view along Highway 69.
Behold Bishop Castle, the life work of one man!  When Jim Bishop was just 15 years old, he spotted a two and a half acre piece of property for sale on a mountaintop!  He convinced his dad to purchase the $450 property for him, with money Jim had earned and saved.  Together they built a cabin on the property for family getaways.  The rockwork that Jim incorporated around the cabin inspired people to comment that it had the look of a castle.  The idea of a castle was born!  Jim has been working on his dream for almost 50 years and his castle continues to grow!  As visitors to Jim's castle, we can tell you that his design and workmanship is breathtaking!  Bishop Castle is open everyday and admission is free!   
The entrance not only has the arched entry, but an upper room and top deck! 
You are welcome to climb up into the entry archway!
Once through the entry, there is a small hill to climb to the castle.
Jim's father had a wrought iron business, where Jim learned the art of ironwork.  The wrought iron walkways he created are amazing for their beauty, functionality and placement!
This great chair is on the porch of the gift shop.  I wonder if the cabin style gift shop was once the family cabin?  The cabin was said to be across a driveway from the castle and that is the location of the gift shop!
This is a view looking from the right corner of the front.
Here is Roy trying out a very large chair near the castle porch!
Looking up, while standing at the entrance to the front porch.  Soooo artistic!
This is the porch entry.
Upward we go to two upper floors!
I love the curve of he iron walkways in contrast to the rockwork and sky!
Look how ornate he made each walkway brace!
Let me tell you that it takes bracing one's nerves to walk through the sky up high!  Roy and I tended to tippy toe lightly!
This is the entry into the first upper floor.
Keep in mind that the castle isn't completed, but is already so gorgeous! 
This is the stairway to the second floor and even grander room!
Wow!  How is this for a view across the room and out the front windows!  The three windows have huge louvers that open!
This is the view out the back! 
These are the side entrances that lead to the wrought iron balcony that totally wraps around the castle!
Here is another look at the beautiful front view!
This is a stairway up to a turret!
This is a fun little passageway off the grand room.
This is a look at the gift shop.
Want to climb a little closer to the dragon?
Here is the walkway across the front!
Are you brave enough to make the walk once you've looked down?  We made it treading lightly and a bit breathlessly, while all the while in awe!
Wow!  Drawn on, despite the climb, by the sheer inspiration of it!
We want to be brave and walk the bridges, but really don't think we'll be able to once there!  We ran out of climbing power after doing a smaller turret and will save this one for another day! 
Here is the view from the lower turret we made it up! 
The amazing dragon is actually set-up to breathe fire!  Wouldn't that be amazing to see?
At the top of the turret we climbed were steps into the sky!  We wanted to go, but the nerves just said, "No, no, no!"
Isn't this a gorgeous decent!  Such detail everywhere we went!
This is a view from the back.
This is another stairway option up to the second floor!  It is located near the front porch entry.  We'll have to climb it another day!
Our drive home was near dusk and we saw wildlife in abundance!  What a treat!  These are female mule deer.
What a view of Wet Valley!
I think getting to see three young mule deer bucks so nearby may be a once in a lifetime blessing!
Seeing buffalo in such beautiful surroundings was another amazing treat!  We had a long day of seeing beautiful soul stirring sights, but will have to return again to complete our climbs to the heights of Jim Bishop's amazing castle!