My pilgrimage to the Stanley Hotel.
As many of you know, in February I embarked, along with Sonya, on a six week adventure all across the west coast. We roamed from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, and then down to San Diego, before weaving our way through Phoenix, Yuma, Albuquerque, and finally arriving in Denver before setting off on the last leg home to New Orleans. While we were in Colorado we decided to visit one of the great icons of horror literature, the Stanley Hotel, which was the inspiration for the Stephen King book, The Shining.
I read the novel many years ago, and consider it one of my favorite ghost stories, so the chance to visit the Overlook was not going to pass me by. And it didn’t disappoint. The hotel, located in Estes Park, Colorado and opened in 1909, is a gem, nestled at the entrance to the Rocky Mountains. But it’s the 1977 bestseller that seems to draw most visitors these days, at least if the gift shop selling everything from keychains to Room 217 door plaques is anything to go by. When I was there the bar room and dining room were empty, and it wasn’t hard to imagine Jack Torrence sitting there all alone, talking to a ghostly bartender, or roaming the empty halls.
The hotel is grand, imposing, and is reputed to be haunted in its own right. The antique Steinway piano once owned by Flora Stanley (at rear in the picture above) can sometimes be heard playing, even though there is not a pianist in sight. Mr. Stanley, unwilling to take leave of the hotel he loved, wanders the hallways, and has been photographed more than once in the billiards room, no doubt keeping an eye on things to make sure everything is up to his standards. There are at least four spirits that refuse to pass over to the other side, and standing in the grand entranceway one can almost feel them drawing close, whispering in the ears of those still living.
Eager to accommodate the hordes of King fans, the hotel offers a tour, which I would have loved to take. But alas we had our two doggies with us, and while they loved roaming the grounds (happily oblivious to the hotel’s supernatural reputation) they could not accompany us on the tour, so it will have to wait for another visit. Even so, I did manage to snag a coffee mug, and one of those aforementioned plaques for my writing room door.
With the sun setting over the mountains we headed back down to Denver, and turned the car homeward the next morning. All in all it was great trip, and our visit to The Stanley will be a memory I will cherish for a long time, topping off a great day driving through the breathtaking, and often awe inspiring, Rockies. A fitting end to our six week trek. Hopefully the ghosts of room 217 didn’t follow us back to New Orleans, although if they did it might give me a little inspiration of my own!