Archive for the ‘Estes Park’ Tag

Christmas in the Rockies

Longs Peak, RMNP, 14, 259 foot elevation, second tallest peak in Colorado.

A view of RMNP peaks off Trail Ridge road.

Lower elevation at the foot of RMNP, a clearing where herds of elk are usually seen grazing. Towards this time of night at sunset hours they will hunker down for the night. The sun was just beginning to go down, and the skies lit up with soft hues of pink and orange. These clouds seemed to descend down upon this peak, and I thought it was an awesome sight to photograph.

Elkhorn Ave. and The ‘Old Church Shops’ in Estes Park lit up for Christmas.

A view of the southeast side of  Estes Park. Notice the large star lit up on the side of the mountain.

 

Sometimes the Christmas season gets hectic with the business of shopping, decorating, program events, parties, and family gatherings. There are times when things came too soon and hurried right after the Thanksgiving Day holiday and often just having a moment to sit and relax with a cup of hot chocolate and a favorite Christmas movie seems like a luxury I don’t have or take time for and regret it later.

But, through the years we have tried to keep a few favorite Christmas traditions and even started new ones as we tried to prioritize what meant the most to us. Things like going up to the mountains to cut and collect our own greenery and pine cone branches to make our own wreath was a favorite event. Browsing through Christmas shops and antique stores to find a new Christmas ornament or antique toy to place under our Christmas tree was another.

But, our favorite thing is to just drive up to the mountains during the holidays and spend the day exploring the territory. This year we went up to Estes Park that sits at the foot of Rocky Mountain National Park, then drove up part way to Trail Ridge road. After the first snow storms of the season they close the first gate to the higher elevation areas when snow cannot be cleared and it becomes too dangerous to pass or drive through safely.

I took these shots above this last Friday (12-15) when we went up with our dog, Maggie, had a bison burger and fries at a favorite place and walked around town in Estes Park on our way down before returning home. Making a day of it makes it a special memorable outing. Colorado has not seen too much snow this season thus far, so it is pretty dry along the front range except for brief snowfalls in the higher elevation. Snow skiing is a very big sport industry here in Colorado so the ski slopes are waiting anxiously for some really good snows that keep them busy into spring. But, for those of us who are happy to find just enough to tramp through the white covered ground in brisk temperatures, and see Christmas lights glimmer off its white sheen it is enough to make our day.

I hope your Christmas will be merry and bright, memorable and special. Merry Christmas to all.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

 

Experiencing the famed Stanley Hotel

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“Look! There’s an ax. It’s just what we need,” my husband said. The long wood handled ax with its red steel blade was one of the featured sale items in the window of the hardware store on Elkhorn Ave., main street in Estes Park.

“Yes. It looks like a heavy-duty one, and a good buy.” I replied.

We bought the ax. We knew we would put it to good use on our newly purchased mountain property. There were a lot of trees to thin out, and we needed firewood.

When we got to The Stanley Hotel we grabbed up our bags and went to go check in. Then I remembered.

“Wait! We need to cover up the ax in the back of the car. It’s too exposed and someone will think…we don’t want someone calling the police on us.” I said.

I went back to the car, opened up the hatch back of our red Ford Escort Wagon and covered the ax with an old blanket.

This was the start to our weekend at The Stanley twenty-five years ago when we had a reservation to celebrate the weekend of our 25th wedding anniversary. We had a second floor balcony room that opened up to the veranda outside overlooking the magnificent Rockies encircling Estes Park. Beautiful and serene.

When we bought the ax we didn’t know that The Stanley Hotel was used for the inspiration of Stephen King’s horror story in his book, and movie, The Shining. Until we discovered all the copies of his book in the gift shop there, and vaguely remembered the story. The Stanley is also considered to be one of the most haunted hotels known. We didn’t know that either, or believed it. Until we heard sounds during the night like one banging pots and pans on old, creaky pipes. There was little sleep that night. Ghost story events are a regular form of entertainment at The Stanley.

The hotel sits atop a steep grade, in the mountains facing east, overlooking the town of Estes Park, Colorado. It is designated a national historic site, a mammoth four-story structure with the inside furnished in antique, heavy, ornate furniture in old world period pieces. It is located just six miles from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, and remains still one of the most popular and expensive hotels in Colorado.

Our daughters wanted to grant us another ‘memorable’ night at The Stanley, this time for our 50th wedding anniversary we are celebrating this month. So, once again we were guests, in a king size suite, a gift from our girls, after having celebrated with friends and family at a surprise anniversary party. I guess our girls wanted to keep the tradition going, though it is not our wish to repeat it a third time in another twenty-five years, if we’re still around. 🙂

As popular and expensive as The Stanley hotel is we could not understand why there were no screens on the high windows up on the fourth floor in our room this time. They had been cut out. Literally.  The room was beautifully furnished, but, the balcony off of that floor is completely inaccessible by doors so tightly secured one cannot use them to step out for some invigorating mountain air, or for any other needed escape. It was hot, and there was no air conditioning in the room, so we opened up the windows and just pulled the shears together, and hoped for a good night’s rest after a long drive up through RMNP.

Whether the hotel’s popularity dates back to its founding and opening in 1909, named for F.O. Stanley who came into town on his ‘Steamer,’ or is due to its long rich history of story lore and fame, it has hosted many a traveler and tourists, and then maybe those, who walk the dark hallways, and balconies, unseen. 🙂

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For information and history related to The Stanley Hotel you can find it here: http://www.stanleyhotel.com/accommodations

Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

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