I’ve never really be scared of heights. I could stand at Sear’s Tower and look beneath the glass plates on the streets of Chicago. I could peer out the crevices of Oravsky Hrad in Slovakia and look at the cliff side beneath me. While I had no desire to pay the fee, the idea of going up the Eiffel Tower never worried me. I went through an odd phase in my early teens where looking UP at giant structures made me a little seasick, but never in the reverse.
That is, until today.
A coworker had recommended Bishop’s Castle as a daytrip. I promptly decided I liked the builder when I started reading the signs he posted about his constitutional rights and anti-law enforcement sentiments. “This guy would be a lot of fun to chat with for an hour,” I thought to myself.
Then I started climbing.
And I started thinking, maybe, just maybe, this guy is beyond crazy.
And maybe, just maybe, the government isn’t in on some crazy conspiracy to destroy him but is actually trying to keep people from getting killed on this mad castle he’s built.
I was fairly certain that he was defying the laws of physics as I climbed ever higher stairs, eyeballing the crumbling cement and carefully watching where I put my feet on the thin metal hatches. I could see repair jobs, and places that needed repairing. I stepped out onto an overlook and started laughing nervously to myself, convinced that I was about to have a terrifying fall to the rocks beneath me and shatter my head.
We climbed into the lower orb, and as we stepped away from the stone base and continued onto the metalworks, the entire contraption shook with every step and breath. The wind was paradoxically warmer up here, but for the first time in my life, I felt my legs trembling in fear.
We continued around the castle and made our way up to the tallest point in the castle. I looked across the framework and saw another couple walking around the orb. The girl was nearly in tears as her boyfriend urged her onwards. “I’m not afraid of heights!” she defended herself. “I’m just a little uncomfortable with them right now!”
Her voice carried clearly. I almost shouted back, “Me too! Bishop is crazy!” but instead decided to pretend I was far braver than I felt and continue upwards. Terrence had hardly breathed a word since we arrived, simply looking around in a mixture of awe and horror. And, since I knew he was addicted to heights, we continued to climb. Every time I pulled out my phone to snap a picture, I would clench it tightly in my purse first, praying that my shaking fingers wouldn’t release it to fall to a shattering death.
“Maybe government regulations aren’t such a terrible thing,” I pondered as the breeze ruffled the Christmas lights at my feet. “And maybe you’ve somehow managed to find the glue of sheer determination to hold up this building. Mountains? No problem. Airplanes? Easy-peasy. Sanctioned buildings with safety procedures designed with them? Always. Absolutely mad hand-build castle? I think I’m good. I really, really think I’m good.”
Taking one final glimpse of the dragon’s head beneath me, I inched my way back to solid ground. About twenty minutes later my heart finally started beating normally again.