Colorados Singing Mountains

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Colorado’s Singing Mountains

I’m in an RV park next to I25 in Pueblo, Colorado listening to a whistle only wind makes. Magical mountains in the distance while wind gusts of thirty miles an hour move six tons of steel side to side like a beach ball. My sister Caroline is in a tent next to our truck. Her tent makes a constant high-pitched howl its side panels straining against retainer cords. She sleep with roaring wind, Interstate 25 right next door and a pesky train blowing its whistle. I don’t have the heart to wake her despite our intent to leave for Bishops Castle in a half an hour at six AM.

Sustained 30 mile an hour winds moved my RV bed around like magic fingers. I woke up seasick and with a telltale dull headache. I recognize the dull ache from being “at altitude”. Pueblo is in the Colorado “flats”, but at 6,800 feet it is 200 feet above the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway (6,600). We slept higher than the highest mountain we’ve climbed. Foreshadow anyone?

There was no preamble; no, “Hey Martin, good to see you come ride up my back,” from the mountains this morning. We left wind in the flats, climbed out of the RV and started climbing on bikes. It didn’t take long for Brian to go off the front. My sister tried to pace me back in. I didn’t have it today, so at an altitude over 9,000 feet and after riding fourteen miles straight up I stopped. “I’ve had it," I explained needlessly to Caroline. She rode effortlessly ahead to alert our troops. Jeremy picked me up in Caroline’s car and we drove to Bishop’s Castle.

Bishop’s Castle is what German collage artist Kurt Schwitters called a Merzbau, a seemingly random ad hoc construction. Jim Bishop’s rambling, strange, dirty, beautiful, unfinished “castle” is a fitting backdrop for Mr. Bishop’s political “happenings”. It was Saturday and hundreds were randomly walking over Mr. Bishop’s castle. About once an hour Jim Bishop would stand on large rocks and yell, “911 was a hoax, the Civil War was a set up and Swine Flue is a government conspiracy.” The state department of transportation sign clearly indicating the path to Mr. Bishop’s castle and its rambling almost incoherent gift shop proves Mr. Bishop’s battles are with government not capitalism. Bishop’s Castle stands in the same original folk art space as LA’s Watts Towers. I sense Mr. Bishop’s “castle” will never be finished. The castle is both physical and performance art.

Having fully bonked I didn’t trust descending (normally a favorite thing). Caroline said she hit speeds of 45 mph. I was glad to drive away from Mr. Bishop’s Castle and my first encounter with Colorado’s singing mountains.

Posted: July 25, 2010 by Martin Smith | with 0 comments |
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