Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

High Mountains and Cool Weather

The heat in Wyoming sent us searching on the map for towns with high elevations that would lead us to the promised land of cooler weather.  We found reprieve in the high altitude mountainous town of Estes Park, Colorado, just west of Denver.  I previously learned of this town in the context of Rocky Mountain National Park and the glowing reviews were enough to set our GPS to that destination.  Estes Park is situated at an agreeable altitude of 8,000 feet.  Perfect!  

The travel brochures convinced us we would have lots to do for a week (if not months).  The town is full of gift shops, boutiques, candy stores, ice cream parlors, restaurants, and every other type of shop Americans want in a vacation destination.  There are plenty of family-friendly activities like go carts, miniature golf, horseback rides, hiking, bike paths, guided tours, etc. 

Downtown Estes Park.

First on our list – find the dog park for Spirit.  Up next - a little shopping and a visit to a local fly shop to buy our fishing licenses and a few more flies that are certain to bring in the “big one.”  And then, off to the hunter-jumper equestrian event that was in town. 

Contestant number one won a blue ribbon in the lead line class.
The setting of the fairgrounds is beautiful and overlooks Lake Estes.
One of the most famous people associated with Estes Park is Freeland O. Stanley, the inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile.  (O.k., so I had never heard of a Stanley Steamer automobile and thought he was the inventor of the carpet cleaner.  My ignorance produced a chuckle from Betsy.)  Mr. Stanley came to the area in 1903 seeking a climate to alleviate his symptoms of tuberculosis.  Not to rest on his laurels, he set out to build a luxury hotel and attract the many visiting easterners.  The Stanley Hotel is a prominent fixture in the town today and sits beautifully perched on a hillside overlooking downtown. 

Enough boring history, here is where the story gets interesting.  The Georgian hotel was the inspiration for the fictional “Overlook Hotel” in Stephen King's novel The Shining.  King and his wife were staying at the Stanley Hotel when he conceived the basic idea for the novel.  They were staying in the hotel when it was virtually empty on the night before it was due to close for an extended period.    

Many believe the Stanley Hotel is haunted and there are frequent reports of “ghostly activity,” primarily in the ballroom.  Kitchen staff have reported to have heard a party going on in the ballroom, only to find it empty.  Visitors in the lobby have allegedly heard someone playing the ballroom's piano, only to find no one there.  Employees believe it is the ghost of Mrs. Stanley's, who used to be a piano player.   Hotel guests have many stories of things gone missing like jewelry, watches, and luggage while others reported to have seen ghosts in their rooms in the middle of the night, simply standing in their room before disappearing.  Allegations are so strong that the hotel has been investigated by the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society and featured on Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures.  This is your fair warning if you decide to book a room.  Us, we just had a drink in the famous Whiskey Bar and left.

Not the carpet cleaner!

Drink up, we have to leave before the ghosts come out.

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