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Photo Diary: Colorado, Day 1, part 1


Bad, blogger. Bad. This was supposed to be up Monday. What can I say? Procrastination is my worst bad habit.

Last year a friend and I took a trip to Colorado. We flew out of Lambert Saint Louis International Airport in Missouri early Tuesday, September 9th and then flew home from Denver International Airport early Saturday, September 13th. I must say, the Denver airport was the largest I’ve ever been in. You have to take a train – a train – to get from the main building to the terminal arms and even then you have to hoof it to your gate. That airport is freaking huge. It puts the Lambert Airport in Saint Louis to shame.

We landed in Denver around 8am, collected our bags after wandering around trying to figure out where the hell the baggage claim was (did I mention the Denver Airport was freakn’ huge?), and then caught the bus to our car rental place. I talked my travel buddy, Jamie, into springing for an upgrade on our rental car. She was going to get a compact car but I knew we’d be doing a lot of mountain driving and did not want to be sitting in a little car like that for the amount we planned to drive. We got a mid-sized SUV and were incredibly grateful that we did. It made a lot of difference in how safe we felt on those winding, high roads. Trust me, if you are traveling to mountain country for the first time, spring for a better car rental.

We headed for our first stop, Estes Park (elevation of 7,522 feet). Most of the way was highway driving but once you start climbing, you climb quick. Luckily it was sunny and beautiful on the way up and we reached Estes Park without problems. We had a tour at the infamous Stanley Hotel booked, which we were late for, but they just stuck us in the next tour. (Click on photos to see larger versions on my Flickr. Also, sorry for the freaking date stamp in the corner. They are all like that because I’m an idiot and forgot to turn it off.)

Colorado, Estes Park

The first photo of the trip, taken from the parking lot of the Stanley Hotel.

Our tour guide at the Stanley Hotel was funny, energetic, and a good story teller. We went up into the balcony section of the Concert Hall where our tour guide told us the basic story of Freelan Stanley and his wife Flora. We then went down into the empty Concert Hall and walked around. We saw the piano that Flora’s ghost supposedly plays, misplaced from its usual position in the main lodge building at that time. We returned to the main lodge building to tour the dining room, men’s lounge, and music room. Then our tour guide led us up the main stairway to the upper floors. We saw the door of Room 217, the room Stephen King stayed in where he had the inspiration for his book ‘The Shining’, but weren’t able to go in.

Stanely Hotel 5

Stanley Hotel 6

The front of the main lodge building.

We walked around the hallways while our tour guide told the story of ghost children heard playing at night and of a housekeeper who reportedly still continues her duties despite having died years before. I could have sworn I took at least one picture of the hallway while we were up on the fourth floor but for the life of me I can’t find it. It’s not on my camera either, even though I haven’t deleted any of the photos. Ugh! I wish I had taken more photos while we were on the upper floors but I was too busy listening to the tour guide and spaced.

We did have one slight ghostly encounter. Flora, Stanley’s wife, was said to wear rose perfume, which supposedly you are able to smell in odd places. Our tour guide had just told us this and then this floral scent overcame us as we were walking up the stairs. Someone else in our group asked “do you smell that?” and my travel buddy said she could. Jamie asked if I could too and I could but I can’t really accept it as paranormal because we were all trooping up the stairs, touching the polished wood banister that I know is probably cleaned with a scented cleaner, and then there was a cleaning cart in the hallway when we got up to the third floor. I think I sort of burst everyone’s bubble when I pointed it out. Sorry!

The tour guide then took us down to the basement and the tunnels. She told us about the story of the maintenance workers seen down there and about her own experience seeing someone out of time and place. I really enjoyed the whole tour. It was interesting, even for those who might be less enthused about the paranormal aspect and just there for the history and architecture.

We did some wondering around the lobby and the gift shop at the end before leaving for lunch. The Stanley Hotel is a beautiful place and I’m glad we went. This was one of the things that my travel buddy agreed to for my sake. I don’t think Jamie had any interest in it but there was no way I was going to Estes Park without seeing the most haunted building in Colorado!

Stanley Hotel 3

Stanley Hotel 9

A couple pictures of the main stairway in the lobby.

Stanley Hotel 2

The lobby.

Stanley Hotel 1

The Stanley Steamer car on display in the lobby.

Stanley Hotel 8

Safe on display downstairs.

Stanley Hotel 13

Plaque out on the front porch.

Stanley Hotel 4

Stanley Hotel 7

A couple of photos from the front veranda of the Stanley Hotel.

It was nice and sunny when we arrived at the Stanley Hotel but by the time was left it had started to rain. We had lunch at a KFC, of all things, and then headed over to the jeep tour. I’ll talk about that and show you the photos next week. Estes Park was an adorable little town. The main street is lined with restaurants, more interesting than KFC chicken, I promise, little shops, and boutiques. I bought a couple of post cards and a key chain from the “trading depot” and some loose leaf tea from the tea shop. (More about that later.) I plan to go back at some point. We only spent a day and a half there before going south and I wish we’d stayed longer. Estes Park was the prettiest part to the whole trip, in my opinion.

Up next week: the jeep tour and the hotel.

Thank you for reading!

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