It was a bit overcast but warm when we headed for the Stanley Hotel a week ago today. However, I had put my ear muffs and mittens in my purse on the way out the door. When we were about 30 minutes away from Estes Park, Long’s Peak snowy appearance told me I had made a wise decision, you just never know in the Rocky Mountains.
Driving up through Longmont, CO the still visible scars of last year’s flood were shocking to see. We knew it had been bad but to actually see it drove the point home. It was a sobering moment on an otherwise light-hearted trip.
Some people might be shocked to find out that the movie The Shining was not shot at the Stanley Hotel, even though a stay here gave Stephen King the idea for the story. For the movie Stanley Kubrick used the Timberline Lodge in Oregon so this hotel looks nothing like that hotel. It’s clean white exterior and welcoming red roof are clearly visible from most of Estes Park. The mini-series of The Shining was filmed here and some upgrades were made to the interior for that shoot, including painting some of the interior plaster to look like wood.
The first thing your eye is drawn to when you enter the front doors is the split main staircase. Flora and F.O. Stanley’s ghosts have both been reported being seen on this staircase. I thought they had not shown up for our stay but when I started examining my photos closely to write this post I noticed something surprising just to the left of the staircase. Granted it’s in a window so it could be a reflection of some type, but hmmm. As you can see from the next photo looking down the staircase from the first landing there isn’t anything that could really be reflecting from behind me when I took the photo.
Blissfully unaware, we headed over to get our film festival passes and schedules first thing and to see if we could get on the Stanley Tour sometime during our stay. This area has a small display of Stephen King’s books and memorabilia from the movie. There was a lot to do and see and we knew we wouldn’t be able to hit everything.
This hotel was first opened in 1909 and the creaking floor boards hidden under impeccable carpet sang out to prove it as we headed for our room. The room we stayed in was clean and cozy with an oversized plush bed. Right below our window was a waterfall and outside patio. We opened the window because it was warm in the room, high mountain hotels rarely have air conditioning. I thought the sound of the falling waterfall would pose a problem when we were ready to sleep but it proved exactly the opposite. However, every time someone walked in the hallway or opened or closed a door our door would bang and rattle. The door didn’t quite sit square in the frame and voices from the hall carried very clearly into our room. I could see how someone could mistake that for ghostly activity.
I was stretched out on our bed, lying on my side facing the headboard, as my husband and I chatted about what screenings we wanted to see, where we should eat some dinner, and the fact that I wanted to have cocktails in the hotel bar at some point (just like Stephen King did). He was facing the window and reading the schedule to me.
I saw a brief shadow cross the massive headboard from right to left and at first thought someone was walking past our window, then I remembered, we are on the second floor!
To be continued…