Monday, December 8, 2014

Another Stanley Stay

This past weekend was a long time in the planning.

Amber and I always try to find something fun and different to do at least once a month. 

She'd really wanted to stay at the Stanley Hotel and, since our birthdays are about a week apart, had batted around the idea of doing that in celebration. 

However, both of our birthdays are in the hottest part of summer and the Stanley does not have AC. How's that for historic?

So, we postponed. 

And plotted.

We stalked the hotel rates for the fall and finally pounced on a reasonable Colorado resident rate for the first Saturday in December. Shouldn't need AC by then, right?

Thanks to the lovely nastiness going around, Sam managed to get strep the week prior but was finally feeling better and antibiotic-ed up to go with us. Amber's boys were both sick, too, though, so instead of driving together, we agreed to meet on Saturday afternoon instead. That way, if she got a call in the middle of the night that Daddy was heading to the ER for a fever spike, she could get down to them without leaving anyone stranded. Luckily, they did fine all weekend.

Sam and I packed up and headed out around 10:30 Saturday morning. We stopped in at the Big Horn Diner in Estes Park for lunch before getting to the hotel around 2:00. 

The room we'd reserved was supposed to have two queen beds, but the computer was only showing a single Queen room -- with three people. Instead, he was able to find us a double King room on the third floor, but it wasn't ready yet. We roamed around the hotel a bit before Amber arrived. 


The Music Room was set up for a banquet and we were seeing folks arriving who were setting up for a wedding in the Concert Hall. This would mean a pretty limited tour that evening.

One of those rare moments you have to stalk to get an empty lobby shot

Amber found us in the lobby and we decided to check out the Whiskey Bar waiting on the room.

The Elderflower Mule could be served in the chilled copper cup, but only if you handed over your ID. Apparently people were making off with the copper mugs otherwise.

The requisite Corpse Reviver 

After that, we checked back at the front desk and Room 308 was ready. 

Up the elevator to Floor 3, originally the Consumptive ward for very rich friends of the Stanleys who would spend the summer at this most fabulous of guest houses trying to get better.

Our room:

Our view was on the back of the hotel in the courtyard that is home to an outdoor restaurant in the summer, but closes up shop after that.

The bell tower is now in operation and chimes on the hour.

We stowed the luggage and walked back out front to see if the full moon was rising from any vantage point behind the hotel. No moon in sight.

I'd purchased Ghost Tour tickets for the last time of the night at 5:30, so we still had about an hour to hang out. 

We proceeded down to the basement for the start of the tour, which cut out quite a lot this time around: no ice house, no concert hall, no music room, no Pinon billiards room, no MacGregor dining room. We did have one of only two locals who is on payroll as a tour guide. 

Let's see, new information this round included:

The twins' IQ was said to be over 160, which explains the very early (age 5) entrepreneurial enterprises the two engaged in. 

F.O. Stanley became friends with John Philip Sousa and presented one of his violinists with his hand-carved professional violins to play when he first met her. That would be Flora, who became his wife.

F.E. Stanley's legal issues over his non-graduation from college led him to get a law degree from Harvard to sue the professor and administrator involved, after which he never practiced law again. (I can find nothing to support this story).  He was definitely the first to patent an airbrush, in addition to figuring how how to create the chemicals required to mass produce dry-plate photography, thus cutting down the time required for people to stand stock-still and not even blink in order to produce a photograph. The twins sold the rights to Eastman, of Eastman Kodak, for half a million dollars at the turn of the century so they could focus on automobile manufacturing. (That's better than $13.5 million today.)

the moon did finally show up, off behind the Concert Hall

Of course, there was the stop at 217 as always. Everyone famous stays in 217. One of these times it's going to be empty (probably during an ice storm in the middle of a week long blizzard) and I'll get to see inside. Getting to stay in 215 was pretty awesome, though. 

Then up to the top floor

Our guide confided that the REDRUM addition at the top of the stairs was courtesy of a drunken friend with a red sharpie in hand.

I have to imagine anyone who stays on the 4th floor, and especially in 428 gets really tired of the endless tours coming through the hall. At least the last one of the day is over by 7:00!

He contradicted a previous guide who had suggested the Cowboy long reported to hang out in the corner of 428 was once a doctor who had cared for one of the children who had died while summering here. According to him, only three people have ever died on the premises: a caretaker on the grounds who had a heart attack, a maintenance man killed in a tunnel collapse, and . . . I forget the third.

And the end of the tour, always under the floating foundation of the hotel. It has about another century before shifting plates will make it untenable. He also mentioned knowing the bartender who had been walking through the dining hall (directly above) and answered the Ghost Hunters when they called out. Everyone had strict instructions to be off the premises. She was fired the next day. They still air the episode without explaining who it was.

He let us crawl into the tunnel. Pierre the maintenance man for decades who was killed in a collapse of one of these is said to hang out around here. No Pierre tonight, though.

After the tour wrapped up, we hit up the lounge for a nibble supper. 

Round 1: the Smoked Colorado Trout dip with flat bread as well as the Charcuterie Board of meats and cheeses. Amber ordered the "soup of the moment" which we decided must mean it either goes for more than a day or could change at any second. Sam also got a pretzel. We finished up sharing a piece of German Chocolate cake.

We turned in for the night. The hotel, as last time, is strangely hot all the time. The thermostat was set at 65° but even with both windows wide open, both ceiling fans on, and kicking off the covers, all of us were very warm all night. You just do not sleep well here. It's easy to see why people claim to encounter hauntings. Everyone gets sleep deprived within one night hearing every door closing, every footstep in the halls, every single sound, all night long. Welcome to history.

The next morning we headed out to have breakfast back at the Big Horn Diner before our horseback riding groupon experience.

up next: Our Ranahan Ranch at the Elkhorn Stables experience!


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