When our RV friends weren’t working their remote jobs, we’d get together for an outing and vittles. One morning, we all rose early to drive out to the Great Sand Dunes National Park for some hiking, sightseeing and to get our National Park Passports stamped.
About the Great Sand Dunes…
Welcome to the Dunes…
After getting parked, we got our passports stamped at the Visitor Center and viewed a video and hands-on informational exhibits.
All four of us headed to the picnic area where we sat down to enjoy some fellowship while chowing down on our cooler full of vittles. We were blessed with beautiful weather too.
Our exciting adventure…
It was already a very warm day so it seemed like it was a little more work but that didn’t stop Dan and Brittany from doing the inevitable; climbing to the top of the dunes. Being that Eric has bad knees and I have knee and back issues, we hung out at the top of the smallest dune to watch Brittany and Dan challenge themselves.Now remember, we were already 6000′ above sea level, so this was a bit more challenging than just taking a stroll up a 750′ hill, not to mention, it was loose sand. The kind that gets-in-your-shoes-sand.
While Eric and I stood there chatting for what seemed forever (because we stood there in the heat for all of it), Brittany and Dan disappeared over the crest of the first dune. They looked like little ants the further they hiked. We’d see them again and then loose them doing down another…and another…and another.
Brittany’s words upon their return, ‘it was quite exerting; one step forward, three steps back and doing it at higher altitude, we just couldn’t catch our breath’.
Dan said they had to stop often to empty their shoes which weighted them down. Traipsing through loose sand, Eric and I could only imagine how much work that would be. Adding to that, it was a very warm day; about 85 degrees.
A few times, we’d see one of them, bend over in the distance during their climb and stop for awhile. They said they were offered water by some passerby’s (hikers that were faster and more in shape as them?!). Then we’d see them start up again.
The finish line…
An hour and a half later, they successfully made it to the top and another hour and a half after that, they came back tired, weary but celebrated. They were red-faced and a bit dehydrated so Eric and I sacrificed our own water bottles to get them back to looking a normal color. But LOOK at them!!
On the drive back, our tummies were growling so Eric took to googling places to eat in Pueblo. We agreed on the Bingo Burger which turned out to be a very deserved and pleasant meal. Fantastic burgers!Best friends! Good times! Fantastic memories!
Back in 2016, while we were parked at the Air Force Academy, Dan was called out for a family emergency in Pennsylvania. Our campground neighbors made certain I didn’t have to be alone the whole time. It was then that I met another motorcycle riding couple, Vicki and Rex in the sight behind ours.
During a morning coffee conversation, Vicki asked if I knew of any good roads or day-rides (they had a trike). I had told them about a cool trip to Bishop Castle, a hand-built medieval castle in Wetmore, Colorado that our son took us to see years prior. I told her the route to get there was outstanding, especially riding motorcycles.
Austin heard me talking about it and googled it on his phone as I described it. We all then made plans to ride out the following day with Austin riding on the back of her trike as her navigator.
The next morning, we coffee-d up, ate breakfast and rode out. The ride out was gorgeous as was the day! Surprisingly, not much traffic for being a weekend. Getting there was simple.
We rode out the gate of the Air Force Academy south on I-25 to CO 115 to Florence, onto CO 67, turning right on Hwy 96 in Wetmore. We saw signs directing us to the castle; turning left onto CO 165. It was about a 90 minute ride out to Bishop Castle.
Once we got there, the site was a little busy but nothing to be worried about when it came to capturing some good photos.
Admission was free, although donations were greatly appreciated. There was also a gift shop that helped finance Mr. Bishop’s ongoing build. It’s open most of the time.
About Bishop Castle…
There is nothing architecturally ‘perfect’ about the castle. Its completely constructed by the hands of Mr. Bishop. I’m willing to bet there were no official blueprints. If you’re into the whole Harry Potter thing, this is the place for you! The stonework, iron work and blacksmithing was done all onsite; there is even a room where all of his tools and shop are on the ground level.
Every year since 1969, Bishop has single-handedly gathered and set over 1000 tons of rock to create this stone and iron fortress in the middle of nowhere. Bishop called it “a monument to hardworking people” and “America’s biggest, one-man, physical project. I always wanted a castle. Every man wants a castle,” Bishop said.
Other places we visited while in Colorado…
In our experience and opinion, Jefferson County Fairgrounds Campground was overpriced for what it was. This is not a long-term campground’/park; only good for a couple/few overnights. This was the only place with vacancy for our 44′ big rig toyhauler 5th wheel. Though accessibility to I-25/US-6 was great, no sewer connections (except for dump station which was not big rig friendly), layout of the park, spaces between sites, maneuverability, and no sewer earned only 2 stars.
Would we stay here again? As a last resort.
We were really looking forward to seeing Breckenridge. Eric and Brittany from RV Wanderlust raved about it at dinner the night prior about these magnificent Colorado Alpine Slides going down the mountain at the ski resort.
We parked in the Gondola parking lot and road them up the mountain; about a 30 minute ride. The views were awesome the further up we went; oftentimes seeing snow below us. We also experienced a little altitude again. We must have been 10,000 feet up.
For the rest of the afternoon, we walked part of the town until sunset when we headed back to the RV park in Golden. What a great day of shopping, taking in the breathtaking (literal sense) views, lunch, racing and just being free!!