Tales from the Ghost Town Writers Retreat

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15493618_10154899107475972_7094799763006043672_oI have had a difficult time writing this past year. I have a novel that I have started and stopped more times than I care to admit and a Christmas project that I decided to postpone from the planned November publish date. I had amazing momentum coming into this year, but it fizzled quickly, and I’m not sure why.

I decided many months ago to attend the Ghost Town Writers Retreat at the beginning of August to see if I could get my groove back, then my Grandma passed away a few weeks ago, and I almost canceled. Losing her hit me harder than I expected and I just wanted to hide out. My darling husband took time off from work to go with me and said it would give us some time away from the kids together, I suspect he knew I needed him to give me an extra push.

The retreat was held in the small mining town of Georgetown, Colorado. I’m a Colorado native but can say I’ve never hung out in Georgetown for anything more than a bathroom break, fill up, or to get to the pass to go to Clear Lake. I remember when I was little my parents looked at buying a piece of property there. The day they went to look at the property they dropped me, my two siblings, and my grandparents off at the little park in town to eat lunch so they could speak to the realtor without distraction. My sister would not play or leave the bench she sat on. It wasn’t until I told her where I was going that she said the park was full of spooks and they demanded to know why she was there. It scared the hell out of her, and that’s why she wouldn’t play. Weird story, I know, but totally normal in my family.

Georgetown is only about an hour from our house on I-70, but the ride up was hairy. The retreat needed to borrow some grills for the Grill and Greet, so I volunteered ours. Since my husband was coming along, we took his truck and loaded our old gas grill into the bed. The day was overcast, and the wind was picking up. Just as I inquired if the grill was safely tethered a huge bang shook us. The grill had fallen over but not out of the bed. Sadly, the handle didn’t survive. After readjusting the bungee cords, we journeyed on. We drove through dense fog, drenching rain, and pounding hail. It didn’t help that I woke up that morning with a nagging headache. Maybe it was a sign to go home, I thought.

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I-70 Westbound

 

When we got to the hotel we discovered that it would be some time before for our room would be ready and we were a little confused about where to check in for the conference, but we did figure out where to take the grill. After an uninvited cloud burst, my husband helped cook up some buffalo hot dogs and burgers, and we had a tasty little dinner with some fascinating folks.

One of the things I really wanted to do was check out the park. I still had a headache, but the next morning I grabbed my camera and off we went. The moment I entered the park through the iron archway my headache was joined by a turbulent stomach. No one demanded to know why I was there, but it felt heavy and strange. My husband asked if it used to be a cemetery because it gave that kind of vibe. As a side note, I got a terrible headache working on this piece, and I kept getting an error message when I tried to upload the photos of the park, it took several tries. Coincidence? Maybe, but my husband says I should quit messing around with this subject!

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The Park Entrance

Even though my head and tummy were very unhappy, I continued to hit up all the sessions I could. Every single session was terrific, and the presenters (some first timers) were great. When we got home and were describing some of the things we learned my daughter laughed and said it sounded like a murders’ convention! Most of the sessions were held in the historic Heritage Center, the old school house. The building restoration was fabulous!

The marketing sessions were beneficial, as that is the area I dislike the most about this author thing and find the most challenging. I’m a quiet, shy, introverted person which is a huge hindrance to my marketing efforts. I made a commitment to myself to move way out of my comfort zone in the coming months regarding this.

I also had an epiphany. I believe my difficulty in writing has come because I know the marketing will come after. Yes. I hate it that much. I think I got some tools and resources at the retreat that will help me, though.

Being the very first Ghost Town Writers Retreat, there were some hiccups and places where there is room for improvement. I thought Georgetown was a great location and I had the best burger ever (after my tummy finally settled down) at Round About Burgers. The waffles at The Happy Cooker were amazing, and the Family Dollar is stocked better than a full sized Walmart! It turned out to be more of a conference than retreat, however. I would have liked more opportunities to meet up and write with other writers. And coffee! Coffee at the venue for morning sessions, please!

I wasn’t sure where or how to sign up for editor/agent sessions, but since I didn’t feel well, I opted not to pursue it. Maybe for next year,  the signup and location information could be available a few days before the event begins.

There was a walking ghost tour that I would have loved to attend, but it happened on Sunday evening, and I was already jonesing for my kids. We opted for the train, mine tour, and of course, the cemetery.

We really didn’t need a ghost tour anyway. I drug my husband around the town late on Saturday night, just to see what we might see. He always warns that I better not get him arrested, but I’ve been doing this to him for years, and so far we are arrest free, knock on wood!

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Haunted Hamill House After Dark

 

Even though I didn’t feel well for the first three days, I feel like I got out of it what I wanted. I have a strategy to push through my writing wall, and I got to spend some time with my husband. He got a better idea of what it is I do and struggle with and ended up getting into it himself! I said we should just write spooky books together and forget everything else!

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My Handsome Husband – It Looks Good on Him!

 

I can only imagine what it takes to organize a thing like this. The speakers and moderators were great. The movie screening of Dead Awake was fun, and I wanted to ask Jeffery Riddick (Dead Awake, Final Destination) what led them to cast Lori Petty (Orange is the New Black), she was great by the way, but my head was killing me.

How you go about contacting all these folks and getting them to come to a retreat in a tiny Colorado mountain town is beyond me. I’m grateful for the opportunity and that I ignored my headache AND did not go back home. I am already looking forward to next year, but I think I’ll stay away from the park…or not!

roy and joy

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Wild West Haunt

The Buckhorn ExchangeSome people wait until this time of the year to do one of my favorite things. But heck, life is short so I do it all year round. That activity is to visit areas around my state that are reportedly haunted. It’s my kind of fun. Just a couple of weeks ago I had dinner at The Buckhorn Exchange in Denver. This place embodies the spirit of the wild west like no other place I know.

The two story building opened for business in 1893 on Osage Street, the upper floor served as a lodge for railroad workers. The Rio Grande Railroad yards were directly across the street, today it is still rail yards and the light rail commuter train. The Buckhorn Exchange also hosted cattle barons, miners, gamblers, and Native American chiefs in the saloon and restaurant. As time progressed, astronauts, Presidents, and Hollywood legends have dined there as well. Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Bob Hope, Charleton Heston, Roy Rogers, and Jack Swigert have all stopped in for a meal and likely a beer. After all, The Buckhorn Exchange holds Colorado Liquor License No. 1.

They have a terrific menu that offers some exotic fare including ostrich, alligator, and Rocky Mountain oysters (no, I did not eat those and they do not come from the ocean!). We had the best fried artichoke hearts to start with. Then I had a steak that was absolutely superb. I also bellied up to the bar for a cocktail.

The ornate white oak bar and back-bar, made in Essen, Germany in 1857 and brought here by the the family of the original owner, Henry H. "Shorty Scout" Zietz.

The ornate white oak bar and back-bar, made in Essen, Germany in 1857 and brought here by the the family of the original owner, Henry H. “Shorty Scout” Zietz.

The decor reflects the rich history of the Buckhorn. Most notably, a 575 piece taxidermy collection with everything from a two-headed calf to a jackalope. On display is also a 125 piece gun collection with firearms dating as far back as 1889. There is an abundance of photographs and other historic pieces.

Some of the collection at the Buckhorn

Sample of the collection at the Buckhorn

Reports of footsteps, voices, and tables moving by themselves are reported. Considering how long it’s been around and all the artifacts it’s not surprising that a spirit or two is there. Sadly, on the evening I was there the only spirits I saw were coming from the bar area. I could see why some of the railroad workers, miners, and such would want to stick around; it’s comfortable and the food is wonderful. I was hoping for a pleasant surprise in the photos I took, like what happened at the Stanley Hotel. I didn’t see anything, let me know if you do.

If you are ever in this neck of the woods give this place a visit. If you’ve been there and had an experience share it with me, I’d love to hear about it. Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights.

Area 52: Good, Sandy Fun!

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve, Colorado Photo by Joy Yehle all rights reserved ©

My visit to Area 52 was fun and restful. The first time I came here I was around 5 or 6 years old. I don’t know why I waited so long to come back!

The Dunes provide a beautiful foreground to the Sangre De Cristo mountain range. The scenery is striking at any time of the day but we were afforded some of the most spectacular sunsets Colorado has to offer.

Great Sand Dunes at sunset

Great Sand Dunes at Sunset Photo by Joy Yehle ©

The sand dunes provide a surreal landscape. Not somewhere you would want to be lost!

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve

We rented some sand boards and sleds. The way down is awesome, the way up…feel the burn! Not just your muscles but the sand was hot, hot, hot! Fortunately, we could cool off in Medano Creek. The cool wet sand was perfect for digging, building, and generally being awesome!

Good Times at the Sand Dunes!

Good Times at the Sand Dunes!

As it got dark we turned our attention to the skies. It would have been pretty crazy if that cloud had actually been a mothership in disguise, but no such luck.

Sangre De Cristo Mountains Photo by Joy Yehle ©

Sangre De Cristo Mountains Photo by Joy Yehle ©

No Bigfoot, but the deer in the area are pretty darn friendly. This photo was taken without using the zoom. She was so quiet that the folks camping about 10 feet from her didn’t know she was in the bush!

Sneaky Little Visitor

Sneaky Little Visitor

The San Luis Valley is a reported paranormal hot spot. My mom’s family is originally from this area and I have heard the stories my whole life. I believe this may be what fostered my interest in the paranormal. I was slightly disappointed that I didn’t see Bigfoot, an UFO, an apparition, nor did I witness a vortex. But just slightly.

The paranormal rarely “works” on demand. It was quiet for us on this trip but who knows about the next?

San Luis Valley at Sunset

San Luis Valley at Sunset

As for now I’m going to enjoy the last few days of summer break because in seven days something really scary is happening…school starts!

Forget Area 51, I’m going to Area 52!

Peter Fitzgerald [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Peter Fitzgerald [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I’m taking a mini-vacation next week with my two sisters and their families. We are packing up 7 adults and 7 kids and heading for the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve in southern Colorado. It’s a fascinating geological oddity. Who would have thought that the tallest sand dunes in North America are in landlocked Colorado?

The area used to be covered by an ancient lake, when the lake dried up the silt and sand were left behind. The majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains create a wall causing the winds to drop their tiny sand particles to the tune of 750 feet tall dunes. Spanning more than 30 square miles it has been referred to as the world’s largest sandbox. My kids are excited at the prospect of massive sand castles and “sledding” on sand. I’m excited for an entirely different reason.

The Dunes are located in the San Luis Valley, known in some circles as Area 52 because of the numerous UFO sightings and hundreds of reports of livestock mutilations. For a small fee you can head to the UFO Watchtower platform where you can get a 360° view of the night sky but many of the hundreds of  reported sightings have come from all over the valley. Not sure if we will make it over to the Watchtower but we will be watching the skies.

Night watching is something my family has always done when camping. Without the light pollution of the city the sky is alive with light, some of them behaving in unnatural ways. However, the most dramatic UFO sighting I ever had was in the late afternoon in a busy suburb of Denver.

I was driving on the south side of a large golf course and country club with my young daughter in the back seat, I think she was about 10 years old or so. I noticed out of the corner of my eye what at first my brain decoded as the full moon hovering just above the greens. It quickly dawned on me that the moon wouldn’t be visible at that angle at this time of day. As I looked over to get a better look at it, it dropped straight down and disappeared into the ground. I thought maybe I was seeing things but when my daughter asked if I had seen “that”, I knew we had witnessed something very strange.

The San Luis Valley has reports of vortexes, ghosts, and cryptid sightings in addition to UFOs. I’m always hoping to witness weird and strange things so I’m really looking forward to hanging out in this paranormal hot spot. I’ll let you know how it went when I get back. Until then, Never Turn Off the Lights, on second thought it doesn’t really matter. UFOs usually provide their own.

Spooky Vacay

Summer is in full swing and unfortunately this year we won’t be planning any big trips. Just our usual camping and fishing trips. I have camped and fished my whole life. The many weeks I spent doing this activity as a kid are among my biggest and best memories of growing up. Now as an adult, it really is my favorite pastime. There is just nothing more relaxing than to be the only human for miles, listening to the wind in the trees, cooking over an open fire, heavenly.

I know that for many people this just isn’t their cup of tea. Bugs, wild animals, creepy forests, the feeling of isolation, and the all the rest. I admit that on occasion I’ve been a little nervous for some of those reasons. I’ll even go so far as agreeing that nature can be dangerous.

I grew up in Alberta, Canada. They have bears there, lots of bears. We have had several close calls with them, like the time a mama bear came sniffing around our campsite, including the tent we were sleeping in. The sun was just rising and we watched her shadow lumber past followed by two little cubs. One of our party had a pick-up and camper, she went around to their rig and placed her paws on the hood, stretched up and tried to peek in the upper bunk bed window. That’s how big she was. When the coast was clear we ran to the cars, luckily she wasn’t interested in us.

We’ve had a pack of coyotes so close to our camp you could just make out their silhouettes as they ran around us just outside the light of the campfire. That was a little worrisome, healthy coyotes are usually too afraid of humans to get that close.fire-3312_640

I’ve heard weird sounds in the woods that I was never able to identify. I’ve had the occasional feeling of being watched, but I usually chalk that up to mountain lions. I’ve even had the fleeting thought of an ax-wielding maniac stumbling into our camp with help many miles away. So I can relate to why some people would rather scrub outhouses with toothbrushes than go camping. But even with those problems, I absolutely love it.

Maybe you are one of those people who are not at all frightened by the woods and seek a more extreme experience. Ghost stories around the camp fire are all well and good but not nearly enough for you? I ran across an article that may provide the answer. Out in California, on the Alameda Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, there will be a wilderness camp that is geared for the more adventurous camper.

As far as I know, this is a first, “The Great Horror Campout” will be held in July. You get to watch horror movies, roast marshmallows, and choose to hang in a less scary area or go all out in an interactive game. The game involves “scare actors” and very spooky challenges. Don’t worry you can make it all go away by saying: I want my mommy! It sounds like fun. I won’t be able to go but if you go, come back and tell us about it! I could see franchise opportunities here.

Pretend scares still not good enough for you? Read Missing 411 by David Paulides before you enter the woods. He discusses mysterious and weird disappearances of people from National Forests. Some of the stories are so disturbing that you won’t want to let anyone from your group out of your sight. You may even think twice about visiting the woods yourself.spookylake

I’ll be lurking out there in the woods this summer, just like every summer. Happy trails to everyone who is going on vacation and remember, Never Turn Off the Lights. However, that could be difficult if you are camping because your flashlight battery will die and you will be left in the dark and who knows what may be lurking with you.

Tuition Isn’t the Only Scary Thing on Campus

I apologize for the sporadic postings, I had a personal loss that has knocked my writing schedule off. Our little kitty disappeared on Easter morning. As best we can tell she went out the doggie door in the pursuit of birds and she got lost or something. She was my little writing partner and it has just been too lonely to write without her here. I’m still looking for her but I know its time to get on with it. I know that some writers will say, use your pain in your writing, I’m not so good at that.

Such is life, I suppose. Loss is inevitable, change is the norm. Spring is the epitome of that observation. Sure new things are being born, plants and trees are being reawakened but it’s also a time of transition. That is felt most acutely for many of us in the ending of the school year. Particularly if you are celebrating a high school graduation.

The end of a high school career is a loss and a rebirth all in one. Parents loose their little kids to a young adult (hopefully) and kids go from high-schooler to something else, in the literary world it’s called “new adult”. It’s an exciting and scary time for parents and students alike. The possibilities are endless but some kids already know exactly what they are doing and where they are going in a few short weeks. It’s the same thing one of my kids did, move away from home and into a dorm.

I wasn’t sure how this particular kid with a super vivid imagination was going to do living on her own. Well, I know there are a bunch of other kids in the dorm but this is the kid that would turn on every light in the house if she was home alone after dark. I mean, every single light would be blazing when we got home, think the Griswald’s in Christmas Vacation. In the weeks before she moved out she refused to watch any scary movies or hear scary stories, particularly about haunted dorms. Not an easy feat in my house.

The day we arrived at her university to move her in some upper classmen were there to help unload the arriving freshmen. They asked what room she had, we told them, and their response was a uuuummmmmm. I saw in her face that her first thought was: holy crap I got the haunted room! When asked what was wrong with that room the boys said, nothing, its just on the third floor and there is only one elevator. Phew for her but I must admit I was a bit disappointed. As far as I know she never had a spooky experience there. Scary roommates, scary food, scary class load but not spooky.

Not surprisingly, most major universities have some kind of ghost lore. The environment and emotional landscape create the perfect conditions for such stories to spurn. Large, usually older buildings dominate campus where years of human drama have played out leaving an indelible mark. Additionally, for many people it is the first time they are out from under the protection of their parents and the safety of their familiar surroundings. Maybe, ghost stories create a place for some of those unspoken terrors to be worked out and shared. Here’s just a few that I know about, feel free to share!

Are You Moving Here?

University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado
This one is in my state and I know many people who have attended in the past and currently. This picturesque campus has more than a few spirited tales. Edith, is the most well known specter on campus. She haunts Wiebking and Wilson halls. Residents report electrical anomalies, the sounds of moving furniture, and click-clacking of the marbles she used to roll to relieve stress. Clearly, she had lots of stress. It’s reported that she was meant to be a RA but the girls in the dorm were awful to her, so much so that she hung herself. The basement of another dorm, Harrison Hall, is haunted by the ghost of a janitor who was killed in a freak accident there.

Wiebking Hall, University of Northern Colorado

Wiebking Hall, University of Northern Colorado

Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Established in 1804 making this the 9th oldest public university in the US it maybe number one in hauntings. Here’s a strange coincidence (or is it?), in both Bush and Jefferson Hall people have reported hearing the sound of rolling marbles and have poltergeist type activity very similar to the UNC haunting reports. Why do dormitory ghosts like to play with marbles? Residents of Crawford Hall have experienced poltergeist activity and apparitions of a young girl, sadly this may be the ghost of Laura who fell out of her fourth story dorm room by accident as was killed in 1993.

Wilson Hall is probably the most interesting haunt on the campus. In the city of Athens there is reportedly a set of several cemeteries, if you connect the dots of these cemeteries on a map they form a pentagram, in the middle of this pentagram stands this dormitory. There are numerous reports of paranormal activity here including apparitions, disembodied voices, cold spots, and banging sounds. There is even one dorm room, 428, that is haunted by such a violent poltergeist that it remains sealed shut.

250px-Entrance_sign_CSUCICalifornia State University Channel Islands, Camarillo, California
Perhaps the youngest, but among the scariest, this campus opened in 2002. Built on the site of a former mental hospital there are several and varied reports of paranormal activity. Electrical anomalies, scratching and rustling sounds, and voices are reported in the dorm areas. Doors slam and lock themselves only to unlock themselves. Scratched into the wall of one lab area are the words – no one can help me. You may recognize some of the campus from the movie The Ring.

Fordham University, Bronx, New York
This Jesuit university was established in 1841, so there has been plenty of time for stories to percolate and be shared, the gothic flavor of the architecture has surely aided in this. An old hospital was torn down to make room for the university. Keating Hall supposedly now stands where the hospital morgue once stood. Residents report being touched by icy invisible hands and seeing apparitions, in particular a young blonde woman in the showers. Finlay Hall not only used to be the hospital crematorium but in the early days of the university it was the medical school and all that entails, including housing human cadavers. Many residents have reported being awoken by cold hands on their throats.

Parts of The Exorcist were filmed on this campus but Queen’s Court dorm was reportedly the sight of a real-life exorcism. As the story goes it was the summer of 2003 and some Residence Assistants and the Residence Director were left behind to check dorms for damage, repair them, and clean up all summer to prepare for the upcoming fall semester. In one room mattresses kept being mysteriously moved much to everyone’s amazement. One night, very late, a priest knocked on the door and told the RA who answered the door that he has taken care of the problem in that room. The next day the RA discovers that no one knows who this priest was or who sent him.

Fordham University

Fordham University

 

Regis University, Denver, Colorado

Main Hall; Regis University; Lowell Campus; Denver; Colorado

Main Hall; Regis University; Lowell Campus; Denver; Colorado

Back to my state and the place where I attended class. Another Jesuit university, this one was founded in 1887 by a group of exiled Italian priests. The main campus is small but beautifully landscaped and maintained with native trees and flower beds. No matter what class you are taking or what area of study you are enrolled, all students are encouraged to attempt to answer the question: How ought we to live? That one tenant has shaped many, if not all, of my life choices and I am thankful for being directed to such a thoughtful life. However, some of the older buildings are a little bit creepy in that old-religious-building kind of way. I did have one weird experience on campus but I’ll tell you that story in a minute.

As the campus at the North Denver location grew, the part of the campus that served as a Jesuit cemetery was overtaken and the graves were exhumed and moved. When the bodies were relocated new headstones were also installed; however, the old headstones are stored in the basement of the Main Hall. This same basement once served as an entrance to the underground tunnels that priests used to use to get around campus, these tunnels have since been sealed for safety. But you all know how strange abandoned tunnels are, right?

In the various residence halls there are reports of poltergeist type activity like doors slamming shut and open by themselves. Ghostly black cats are often seen in a coven near the Science building. The baseball diamond is said to be haunted by a ghost dog buried 30 years earlier there by a student.

Freaked out? No need to worry, I doubt highly there is anything malicious there as the campus is blessed from time to time by priests.

As for my story, I was taking a night class on Cultural Awareness in Education in the Main Hall upper level classrooms, at least I think it was in this building oh so long ago. On this particular night class ran a bit late and apparently the night maintenance crew did not realize we were up there. By the time we left all the lights were out on the main floor. Being in the dark was creepy enough but the lower floors were being remodeled and there was construction sheeting up all over the place giving it a “serial killer” vibe. I first walked all the way to the doors nearest to where I had parked my car only to find them locked. I had to walk all the way to the other end of the building through the creepy-creepiness. I burst out of there as quickly as possible and had to walk all the way around the building to my car, in the dark, by myself, late at night.

I got disoriented for a minute and couldn’t remember if my car was to the left or right, I hesitated and then took a step to the right. Very clearly and very much right in my ear I heard, NO. I froze. I scanned the area for any potential attackers, all I could see in the dark were the shapes of buildings and the trees swaying in the wind. I quickly turned left and bee-lined it directly to my car. Had I gone right I would have ended up way far away from my car. In the dark. By myself.

Who was it? What was it? I don’t know. All I know is that wasn’t the first time I had help whispered in my ear and not the last either. I just gratefully accepted the help. College, as is life, can be pretty challenging. We can use all the help we can get. How ought we to live? That night, grateful for unseen protection and help, who knows what or who might have been waiting in the dark.

Just google your prospective place of study, chances are there are ghost stories and legends associated with it. Just remember, Never Turn off the Lights and you should be just fine. Should be…

The Stanley Film Fest – That’s a Wrap

After a few moments of trying to debunk the shadow moving across the headboard I finally shrugged it off as a large bird flying by. If I had known about the picture of the grand stairway I may have thought differently, but ignorance is bliss.

We headed out to catch our first screening (Rigor Mortis, pretty good martial-arts-ghost story) then we rode the shuttle into town to find some dinner, we were starving since we skipped lunch. We ended up at our go to place in Estes Park, The Wapiti, where they serve your beer in cowboy boot shaped mugs, awesome right?

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We checked out the horror trivia game at The Wheel Bar and then we checked out what was happening at the historic Park Theatre. This theater was built in 1913 and is the oldest working movie theater in the United States and several screenings were taking place there as well as the theater at the hotel and the modern Reel Mountain Theaters. The quaint little town of Estes Park depends economically on tourism, this area was hit pretty hard by flood waters last year and many businesses are still recovering. If you are nearby or passing by, head up for a day of shopping and sight seeing, they could use our support.

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Park Theatre, Estes Park, CO

We made our way back up to the hotel and had some time before the special-secret screening so I made my sweet husband creep around the hotel taking random photos. I didn’t see any anomalies in these photos but feel free to look again for me. The Hall of Owners looked particularly odd in the falling light of dusk.

The hallways are long and narrow. The lighting adds to a creepy vibe.

The hallways are long and narrow. The lighting adds to a creepy vibe.

Hall of Owners

Hall of Owners

Hall of Owners

Hall of Owners

Mrs. Stanley

Mrs. Stanley

Looking up the stairs to the second and third floors.

Looking up the stairs to the second and third floors.

Looking down the stairs, slightly disorienting.

Looking down the stairs, slightly disorienting.

Stairs to bell tower on the third floor. If you climb these you will feel a nanny who is still there watching the children on this floor pull you down.

Stairs to bell tower on the third floor. If you climb these you will feel a nanny who is still there watching the children on this floor pull you down.

 

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The original elevator. In King's story the elevator was operated by phantom party-goers.

The original elevator. In King’s story the elevator was operated by phantom party-goers.

Room 217 where Stephen King stayed.

Room 217 where Stephen King stayed.

We made our way to the Whiskey Bar and had ourselves a very coconutty Redrum Punch in a tip of the hat to the The Shining. Unfortunately, unlike Jack Torrance, our money was good there, good enough for an other round! But now I can say we had drinks with Elijah Wood, well at least in the same room.

Drinks with Elijah, sort of.

Drinks with Elijah, sort of, that’s him back there in the dark sweater.

By now it was dark outside and we headed over to the theater on the grounds to see the super secret screening. It was Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno that is slated for release in September. If you like gory-tense-thrills and an ending you didn’t see coming, this movie is for you. I gave it thumbs up.

The Stanley Hotel at night.

The Stanley Hotel at night.

There was a horror immersion game going on with these weird clues popping up  here and there.

Game Clue

Game Clue

I wish I could report that we had a terrible and terrifying night but I slept like a baby. Maybe even the best sleep I have had in months. In fact, nothing at the Stanley ever felt scary or sinister.

The next  morning we hung out in the lodge to drink coffee, we were a bit late for breakfast because we got stuck watching Room 237, a documentary about Kubrick’s version of The Shining. I have to watch it again, the documentary and the movie.

I don’t know who their decorator is at the Lodge, but I loved it. Okay maybe not the cow-hide chairs but everything else is perfect. I left there with visions of redecorating dancing in my head.

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The screenings we saw were all pretty good. I’m always looking for a movie to scare myself with and some of these were very well done. We didn’t get to see everything we wanted but what we did see was well worth it. The Australian flick, The Babadook, was like every fear I have had as a mother and all my kids’ childhood fears rolled into one. Loved it!

The last thing we did before we left was the Stanley Tour. It was especially fun because our guide was dressed like a zombie as were many festival goers. There had been a fun zombie parade earlier in the day. There was a wedding going on and I felt kind of sorry that there would likely be some zombies in the background of some of the photos, the bride did not seem particularly amused. It made me think about The Shining. Stephen King wrote about the time periods lapsing over each other at his fictional Overlook Hotel and that day with an impeccably dressed wedding party and zombies lulling around it felt that way.

A friendly zombie waiting for coffee.

A friendly zombie waiting for coffee.

Our tour guide told us about her own ghostly encounter in the tunnel, not scary really, just one of the “workmen” saying good night to her as she passed through on her way to the dormitories after work. She told us that she feels the ghosts at The Stanley are just coming back to a place they had very good memories of, nothing sinister. I could see that actually. I left there with some pretty good feelings myself.

My hubby in the underground tunnels.

My hubby in the underground tunnels.

We had a really relaxing and fun time and the weather could not have been more perfect. My only complaint, the chairs in the theater at the hotel were a bit too unforgiving for a long sit. On Saturday night I saw a woman come in with her pillows from the hotel, smart girl. I’m not sure if my husband is, but I’m looking forward to maybe going back next year. I want to take another photo of the main staircase.

Until next time Never Turn Off the Lights.

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