This has been on my list of to-dos for quite a number of years. We were all geared up to go last year, but it turns out the city closed it down for seven months to fix some easement issues (read: angry neighbors). The Cathedral was recently re-opened, slightly smaller in size.
Not sure quite what to expect, I called the phone number provided to set up an appointment to visit. From talking to Vincent on the phone, we realized that this was his personal house, but he was more than willing to schedule a time for us to stop by and check it out. He receives over 10,000 visitors a year.
We pulled up into the neighborhood - just a typical older Austin neighborhood located in South Austin. Normal, that is, until you hit 4422 Lareina. As I was parking the car, the jaws on all the boys just dropped. The house is bright purple and yellow, the front yard filled with an assortment of gardens and looming over the back of the house is literally... a cathedral of junk.
You really have to go see this thing, it is amazing. Everywhere you look, there are bits and pieces of memorabilia, all piled into a three-story structure. There were Trolls and Barbies, a prosthetic leg, roller blades, typewriters, telephones, every kind of computer hardware that ever existed, bicycles, cd roms, toilets (at least two), a drum set, and surfboards.
With the owner's permission, the boys very merrily climbed their way to the top. Dave followed closely behind. With my extreme aversion to heights, it took everything I had to make it up there. The structure has three floors, and the owner had an engineer in there recently (required by the city) to ensure the safety of the structure. He told me he had pulled 400 gallons of water up to the second floor, to prove its stability. So, I climbed up the rope ladder provided to the second floor, and then climbed the home-made ladder to the top. I'm afraid I didn't have the guts to cross the diving board to the balcony, but the boys did with glee.
This is, by far, the oddest summer adventure we have had. But well worth the trip!