Gypsy's Travels

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Let It Snow

Somewhere I read that the Japanese have over 100 words for "snow." I can undersatand having more than one. I can even understand having several, but 100! That's a lot of words for that frozen stuff that falls from the sky.
I realize that my contact with the white, fluffy stuff has been minimal, but I have seen lots of photos and there are all those Christmas cards that surface every year.Snow is depicted on a lot of them. We even have snow here in Central Texas....occasionally. That is when all the schools and businesses shut down and everyone stays home to telephone their friends in the Northeast . Conversations go something like this:

"It is snowing here!"
" I don't know. What is 'sticking?'"
"Sand the roads? No., I don't think that is in the budget. We just stay home."
"We built a snowman. The carrot was too big for the nose, but I found a broken baby carrot that fits. I had to take a close-up  photo so you can tell what it is."
"More snow tomorrow? I don't think so. It is supposed to be 70 degrees and sunny."
Well, you get the picture. It is said that no two snowflakes are alike. I would like to know who has seen and examined all those flakes. I can cut paper to look like snowflakes. I can examine snowflakes as they fall onto dark clothing. I can find oodles of photos of snowflakes. Lots of snow in lots of places, but none quite like what I saw in Colorado.

At Bishop's Palace, just as we were preparing to leave, I saw "snow" falling from the sky. It was a cold day, but fairly sunny, so I did not expect anything. I put my gloved hand out to catch some of the delicate flakes and just stood there in wonder. I had never seen anything like this before. Granted, I am not an expert, but it was still most unusual for me. Surely, the wind was knocking something from the trees, I thought. No, what I saw on my hand was really falling from the sky. No, it was not the fluffy, delicately patterened snowflakes I would have expected. I had cream colored, light-as-air, perfectly round little balls! They drifted down and settled, just like the snow with which I am familiar, but not the look of the snow I know.

The second occurrence was not really "snow", although I thought it was at first. In Amarillo, I walked outside fairly early in the morning. It was really cold, but the sun was beginning to peek through the clouds. I looked around in wonder as I saw brightly-colored "floaters" swirling about. You know, those glittering lights you kind of notice floating around your eyes sometimes. I felt as if I were in a giant snow globe and someone was sprinkling glitter over me. it left me with a sense of beauty and wonder.
"Frozen fog," my self-proclaimed Alaskan daughter said.
Well, it was news to me. I had never seen anything like it before.

I figure the Japanese might not be too far off the mark. Maybe there are 100 words for snow. I am anxious to see the other 95 kinds.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bishop's Castle

As we headed home from Colorado, we aimed for the back roads and sought photo ops rather than hit the freeways and get from point A to B without blinking. Off I-25 in southern Colorado, we headed down Hwy 165, a "scenic byway" unremarkable on the map, but it turned out to be a beautiful and interesting part of our drive.

We kept seeing signs referring to Bishop's Castle and wondered if it were a town, a family, an amusement park, or what. Then, as we rounded a curve, we saw it - on a mountainside, out in the middle of nowhere! Although, there is some indication it might be in a little town outside Pueblo.

Some forty years ago, Jim Bishop began building his castle - Jim built this amazing edifice alone, fighting the government every step of the way. Entry is free, but donations are welcome. Apparently, we were fortunate to find Jim Bishop on site. He does hold a regular job as an ornamental welder in town. He also has a wife. His 3-year old son was killed when a tree fell on him as Jim was felling it. Each person has her/his own therapy. I sew, Kr beads,  Jim builds a castle.
"Every man should have a castle!"

"I don't need any psychiatric meds; I have adrenaline!"

We did not climb the steps. They were very narrow, it was very cold, and it started "snowing." It appears to be a popular place in the summer although
Jim has signs everywhere, attempting to get his message across. He thrives on publicity and responds gently to kind words.
"You won't find it on any of Colorado's tourist lists!"

Blessings, Jim, as you continue the task you have set for yourself.
"If you build it, they will come."
As for us, we arrived back home, tired and happy. THOJAL,The House of Joy and Love, was deemed a great place to gather. Would have been better with an inside staircase so the children could have had more convenient access. Perhaps THOJAL should have been THOJALL. An extra "L" for all the laughter.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Where in the World is Jim Bishop?

Let me introduce you to Jim Bishop! I think he must be brilliant, but troubled. I got just this small bit of rhetoric, leaving out the part before and after. Who is Jim Bishop and where is he? Read tomorrow's blog for the "skinny."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

By the Light of the Blue Moon

It was the night of the "blue moon."
KR, ABW, Ki, and I are all "in" to photography, but still learning. We had been watching the progress of the moonlight on the nearby mountains and finally decided to try photographing the scene. Three of us headed out New Year's Eve for a nearby viewpoint and prepared to shoot. We had no idea it would be so cold! It would have been bearable had not the wind been so strong. I took three quick shots and headed back to keep the car warm. My two girls prepped and posed and shot for several minutes. We were all frozen.
This is one of the photos I got. I thought it was completely black, but lightened it in Picasa and now it is almost like a watercolor. It is in Buena Vista, Colorado.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Day of Sledding

New Year's Day
The children did a lot of sledding in the small space at THOJAL, but they were anxious to move up to something more challenging. Besides checking out Breckenridge, we checked out a park in town that had been recommended. It was pretty dark, but it appeared the slope angled off into a drop that ended in the river. Pass on that one.

Joan, the innkeeper at THOJAL, checked around for information from the locals. They would surely know where the best, and cheapest, places were. Sure enough, we were directed to a "road just beyond the stables. If you go too far, you will see a large farm." We headed out with great assurance, found a stable, turned in, ended up in someone's driveway. They weren't home. As we headed back out, we stopped a car on the way into the driveway and asked for further directions.
We ended up at the local hill near Cottonwood Springs. As the, mostly, children would sled down the hill, the adults would watch for traffic and stop cars or sledders, whichever was more endangered. It was a typical small town gathering and just right for our group. There were some uncommonly good sledders there, indicating many trips to the site.

The children had to learn to watch for rocks, stumps, etc.

Em loved the sledding more than the skiing the previous day.

D.A.  tried it out several times.

Chas really took to it and enjoyed it!

Junior contemplated the scene and was enticed to ride down with his dad.

Eventually, he opted for a stick which became known as the "Sister Whacker" for obvious reasons.

We headed back to THOJAL for our traditional black-eyed peas, ham, and cornbread. Now, we are sure to have good luck all year long!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Reconnaissance for Sledding

DDs - Kr and ABW and I decided to run up to Breckenridge to check out a sledding area for tomorrow's Great Adventure. In doing that, we had our own Great Adventure. It wasn't intended, but those adventures are usually the most exciting.
Gunner volunteered to watch all 5 children while we "quickly checked out the area."
We left about 4:15 PM. That was the first mistake. It gets dark here about 5 PM.
The drive up was uneventful along Highway 285, then we turned onto Hwy 9 toward Breckeridge. The road quickly became smaller, snowpacked and icy in places. Add in several hairpin turns and two backseat drivers and....well, you get the idea.

Photo by ABW
We arrived in Breckenridge at dark-thirty. It was a magical atmosphere with twinkling lights, bumper-to-bumper taffic, and wall-to-wall people. We carefully drove toward our destination which Nellie, the GPS Navigation System, had directed us. We dodged people slipping on the ice, cars anxious to be out of town but sitting in traffic instead, and snowpacked roads to arrive in a parking lot at a local school. It was hard to see what exactly was available in the dark, but we unanimously decided  there must be sledding closer at hand, in an area that did not stress us out to get there.
After checking the map and ascertaining the way we had come was still the most expedient way to leave, we joined the line of cars and managed to work our way back onto Hwy 9. I was not looking forward to the drive. The girls were equally apprehensive, but we found a common thread of humor to see us through the experience. I looked at the speed limit signs as we inched down the mountain. Recommended speeds were 35-45 mph; I was doing 10-20. It looked like a long trip home. Fortunately, everyone else seemed to be driving the same way, so there was no one riding my bumper and rushing me. Well, almost no one. As we rounded one curve and came upon one fairly straight stretch, the pick-up that had been hugging my bumper, gunned his motor and sped ahead into the darkness. I could not believe my eyes!
I wrestled with my vision of the road ahead which held various terrors for us - "black ice," gusts of wind, narrow road, sheer cliffs, and the occasional cloud of gusting snowflakes that severly limited visibility. Through it all, our sense of humor prevailed! ABW attempted to notify Gunner that getting home would take a little longer than expected, but there was no cell service. It was only 5:30 p.m., but it seemed more like 10. We laughed through it all, even as we discovered we all needed a potty stop and the fuel light in my car was glowing bright yellow announcing its need for replenishing. We watched the car's temperature guage slowly drop from a balmy 24 degrees to -2 degrees in less than 5 miles. While we crept along, the girls pulled out a video camera to document our predicament.
We finally reached Highway 285 for the final part of the trip home and found it pleasantly uneventful. We will be sledding close to THOJAL on New Year's Day.