Sunday, May 20, 2012

Alleged paranormal activity, and the importance of hydration at high elevations

One of my favorite things about living in Colorado (other than the fact that it is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful places in the world-- and I have been around the block, folks) is that there are so many intriguing things to do within an hour or two of Denver.

This weekend, we did the Estes Park tourist thing. We ate and drank, we hiked, and we tried to get spooked.

Ever heard of the Stanley Hotel? Stephen King got his inspiration for The Shining there, in the famous room 217, and Jim Carrey checked out of the same room at 3am while filming Dumb & Dumber, for reasons he wouldn't state. It has a pretty cool historical background (which John likes) and also is supposed to be seriously haunted (which really tickles my fancy).

The Stanley Hotel- making guests soil themselves with fear since 1907. 
A bit menacing...
is it not?

I think the creepiest thing about the Stanley is a slight state of dis-repair. It's a beautiful hotel that is a bit older, and the rooms are nothing luxurious-- but ours DID have a closet, and this is important because it is reputed that the ghost of Lord Dunraven, who was one of the founders of Estes Park (and also a former Scottish pimp), likes to grope the asses of ladies who venture into the closet. Naturally, both myself and our friend Martha (who lives in Estes Park and knows all the hot spots) had to try this out after spending our evening at the bar, and also sipping some whiskey on the rocks in our room. I didn't feel anybody grabbing my caboose, but I did experience a pretty hefty sense of claustrophia from being shut into a tiny hotel closet, with a few sets of clean sheets and a small rotating fan.

The stairs leading up to the second floor of the Stanley Hotel is filled
with numerous creepy portraits and mirrors upon mirrors. Apparently
Lord Dunraven is also known to chill here, when not molesting hotel 
guests in confined spaces.

The Stanley really capitalizes on The Shining, and the fact that the Stephen King novel was inspired by his stay there. They play the movie 24/7 on one of the hotel channels, and if you've just re-read the book, your boyfriend has fallen asleep, and you've just spent 5 minutes in the closet waiting to be groped by Lord Dunraven, it WILL make you toss and turn all night and also think that you hear a tap-tap-tapping on your window.

Other than my over-active imagination and the fact that I fell asleep watching The Shining, and then had to switch to Seinfeld in the middle of the night to quell my fears, we didn't have any supernatural experiences. John did, however, snap this rather ghost-like photo of me going down one of the Stanley staircases, which just so happen to be known as "supernatural vortexes".

Redrum. Don't see it? Let me blow it up for you.

I'm sure some hooligan climbed up there and wrote it, or 
maybe it was a gimmick added by the hotel, but still, creepy. 
I picture Danny wiggling his little finger and saying it in his throaty
frog voice... barf.

On Saturday, Martha, good soul that she is to put up with us for the entire weekend and show us the Estes ropes, drove us up to Rocky Mountain National Park in the freezing rain and sleet. Like a real local, she took us around hair-pin turns with severe drop-offs at a moderate speed. At a certain point, Trail Ridge Road (which leads over the Great Divide) was closed due to weather, but that didn't stop us, because we are true adventurers. We parked and continued on foot.

Here I am, uncertain about hiking up a mountain road
in fog and hail balls, but not wanting to be the lame ass who
doesn't want to do fun things and have new experiences.
So, I put on a brave face.

The entire atmosphere was very strange... first of all, we were one of very few groups of people daring to hike in these elements, and one of the only other couples we passed were apparent hooligans who squatted on the side of the road and eyed us in an eerie manner. Also, they had weird hair. Secondly, the fog was so dense that you could look over the side of the road to a normally sheer drop-off, and see nothing but swirling whiteness, with occasionally a hint of another world out there. For some strange reason, it reminded me of a Lisa Frank folder I had in middle school, of dolphins splashing in a filmy ocean with a hazy picture of the earth in the background. I tried to Google an image of this folder to provide the appropriate visual aid, but apparently Ms. Frank is only producing kitten pieces now. What a shame that she has limited herself as an artist.

I've never wanted to kick kittens before. 

Here we are, rocking that sh*t.

...and here is me showing that even though it's been shorts weather
in Denver for months, you don't need to shave your legs yet in the mountains.

Now, something that is very important to remember while hiking and vacationing at high altitudes, is that hydration is very important.

Have you ever heard that while hiking and vacationing at high altitudes, HYDRATION IS VERY IMPORTANT?

Well, it is. And I found this out the hard way.. for the second time, I got altitude poisoning, and it feels like death. I experienced one of the worse headaches I've had in my entire life (it felt like Lord Dunraven was hammering a spike into my skull), and also vomited in an exorcism-like manner. You know how it goes, you just start puking and you can't stop, as if you're releasing a demon. And no, drinking $2 Dale's Pale Ales at Cooper's and several glasses of wine at the Stanley bar do not count as "hydrating". Apparently I am not very intelligent when it comes to learning from my own mistakes. Hopefully third time's a charm. 

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