Estes Park, CO Thursday, Oct. 6
A good time was had by all. Our five day sojourn in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park ends as we check out tomorrow morning from Crags Lodge. We were fortunate; Trail Ridge Road has been closed both days so our journey early Tuesday was the best time to make sure we could complete the drive over the top of the mountains.
Snow occurred early both Wednesday (high up in the mountains) and today (down here at Estes Park also) and impacted on our choice of activities. Wednesday Chris and I went out for a morning hike along the Cub Lake trail. The trail starts out along meadows and creek as it heads back toward the mountains. We only had two hours to hike so we only completed a portion of the entire trail. It is a popular trail. We encountered a group preparing a video on the meadow and the impact created on the meadow when wolves and other predators were eliminated from the park. We observed more stellar jays and magpies on this trail than we had elsewhere in the park.
Bernie and Tony went out for breakfast and shopping while Jude took care of some personal needs. We regrouped for lunch and then the five of us hiked around Lily Lake. The wind was slower, the sun was out, and the temperature reasonable. Lily Lake is across from the trailhead for the Twin Sisters peaks that Chris and I had attempted years ago. We agreed there was no way we could attempt that this year.
Late afternoon we toured the Stanley Hotel. The Stanley Hotel dates back to 1905. Twins F.E. Stanley and F.O. Stanley developed an early photographic process that they sold to Eastman Kodak and went on to also create and produce the Stanley Steamer Motor Carriage Company. The hotel grew out of the need for F.O. Stanley to gracefully die from tuberculosis. His doctor had little hope for him and recommended the Colorado air to ease his last days. Well, F.O.survived and many of the family friends and business acquaintances came from out East to visit them. From building a large enough place for them to stay for the summer developed the hotel.
The hotel has gone through rough times but its current owners have spent considerable sums to upgrade it and to allow it to attract clients year round. The tour discusses the history of the hotel and its tie-in to haunting. It is best known as the site for the inspiration for the book “The Shining” by Stephen King. King and his wife stayed here in 1974 during its run-down phase and that night was sufficient to provide the impetus for his novel. Portions of the hotel were also used for the movie “Dumb and Dumber”. The tour guide was happy to mention numerous paranormal experiences hotel guests have mentioned to staff. We finished up with an excellent dinner in the hotel dining room.
Today, Thursday, we woke up to the sound of rain and the sight of snow showers outside. We modified our hiking plans for the day. A morning hike to Sprague Lake seemed reasonable. It was flat, had a water view, and relatively short. We walked it twice, enjoying the falling snow the first time around and the slightly clearing skies the second time around.
After the hike, the adventure continued. This time we expanded our range and drove up to Cheyenne WY. Lunch was at the Albany Cafe. It has been in existence and owned by the same family for almost 75 years. Our waitress has been working there for 16 years. We could understand why it was still in business; the food (and desserts) were quite good.
Our afternoon exploration was at the Nelson Museum of the West. Founded by a local man, it focuses on numerous areas of western life. Nelson has been a major collector for years and most of the items here are from his collection. There are displays of western lawmen and outlaws, firearms, Native American art, saddles, military uniforms and stuffed animals from around the world. It was a pleasant diversion although not overwhelming.
Our evening was spent at the movies, viewing “Sully”. Crags Lodge was hosting a wedding this evening and festivities were likely to continue until 10 PM. Our rooms are directly underneath the party room so we thought it wise to make ourselves scarce during the main noise-making time.
Ed and Chris