I'm happy to report that I recently signed on with Feral House publishing. I'm not going to write too much about The True Life Adventures of Violence Girl because I'm superstitious about the projects I work on. I don't like to talk about something and then have something go wrong - not that I think anything will but that's not my style.
My advance check was burning a hole in my pocket and I didn't have to think too long before I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. My husband's birthday is this month and my daughter is about to go back to school. I decided to seize the opportunity to grant Greg one of his long unfulfilled wishes: to spend the night at the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write The Shining, the famously haunted Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado.
The Stanley is located about an hour outside of Denver so the first leg of our adventure starts in Denver, a town I couldn't recall ever wanting to visit. Not being a skier or an outdoorsy type, it was hard to imagine what attraction Colorado could possibly hold for me. Aside from the fact that it's the place Nina Flowers (the first runner up in RuPaul's Drag Race) calls home, I imagined Denver to be culturally delayed but I couldn't be more wrong. Not only does the place have awesome natural beauty, it knows how to get a little dirty and funky.
We did some of the touristy things like watching a screening of the 1970's version of Willy Wonka outside on a giant screen in front of a grand old clocktower and taking in the Molly Brown House tour (love her!). On Sunday night, my husband and I went to a bar called Charlie's where a local promoter hosts a drag revue called Vivid. OK, so maybe a drag show is not cutting edge but the vibe was so good, the admission was free, the bartenders poured with a heavy hand and the audience was an unpretentious mix of gay, straight, glamorous and slovenly drag enthusiasts that I had a wonderful time. I was really hoping for a chance to see Nina Flowers but she was out of town. Still, it was a great time and I recommend Charlie's if you find yourself in Denver on a Sunday night.
I've already mentioned that The Stanley is the hotel that Stephen King credits with inspiring him to write The Shining. My husband loves ghost stories and every time we go out of town, he tries to find the haunted sites so we can visit them. The Stanley had been on his list for a long time and I have to admit I was afraid to stay there, but love is stronger than fear so we made the hour plus drive north to the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The Estes Park area is beautiful, very green with a mountain stream running alongside the winding highway. A few teenagers walked on the side of the road carting their inner tubes, disheveled and wet, looking like they were having the best time. Almost as soon as you get into town, you can see the hotel in the distance up on a little hill. The Stanley really does "shine." Maybe it just seemed like it to me but as soon as we started to drive up the hill towards the hotel, I felt like I was transitioning into a different reality. The Stanley Kubrick movie wasn't shot at the hotel so it doesn't look the same but you know how some places (like some people) just seem to have loads of personality? Well this place has got it. I quickly went from feeling scared to feeling excited.
We got there early and our room wasn't ready so we got a bite to eat then walked around exploring and taking pictures. When check-in time finally arrived my charming husband received an upgrade from the front office clerk who put us in a large, supposedly haunted two room suite on the 4th floor. It just kept getting better after that. The early evening was filled with a staff guided ghost and history tour where we had the chance to meet other ghost hunters of varying levels of commitment. We took the last ghost tour of the day and I got an orb in one of my photographs. My husband observed that the Stanley Hotel is like Disneyland for ghost enthusiasts and as the evening progressed, the regular tourists cleared out and the ghost hunters took over.
My daughter and a couple of teenage boys put candy out as bait in the 4th floor corridor where the nursery used to be and where the sound of spectral kids playing and apparitions of children have been seen and heard. This led to more orbs in the photographs. Groups of investigators armed with electromagnetic frequency detectors and other gadgets combed the darkened hallways searching for cold spots and energy spikes. We caught a glimpse of a professional video and sound crew taping a "ghost session" in a bedroom. Around 11:30pm, we decided to go back out and look for ghosts on our own. The lunatics had taken over the asylum - I mean the ghosthunters had the Stanley to themselves. With foot traffic at a minimum it was easier to hear. We walked past the music room where I thought I heard the sound of a piano playing a melody that was incongruous with the classical music that was being played in the lobby.
"Can you hear that?" I asked my husband incredulously and he gave me a puzzled look. Feeling brave, I decided to walk up to the piano to see if the sound would get louder, but I was distracted from the sound when I saw a faint cloudy film moving in front of the piano. I thought there was something wrong with my eyes and exclaimed "Oh my god!" I'd been carrying my cell phone in my hand and started snapping pictures as quickly as I could with my cell phone camera. Greg rushed to me when he heard me gasp and looked over my shoulder.
"What is that? It's moving around!" He could see the white mist on the digital camera screen as well.
I don't know!" The hair on my arms and on the back of my neck stood at attention, then as suddenly as it had appeared the cloud vanished. We looked back at our photos and realized that the substance appeared in some shots but not in others.
Three shots of the Music Room at The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park CO. Shot by Alice Bag on August 3, 2009 with an Iphone camera.
We wandered around a little more after this excitement and finally crawled into our beds around 1:30 am, thoroughly exhausted but enchanted with our experiences. I slept soundly and didn't wake until the next morning but my husband reported that sometime between 3 and 4 am, he was awakened by the muffled sounds of children having a conversation overhead. The only problem was that being on the 4th floor, we were at the top of the building and no rooms were above us. Tapping and knocking sounds kept him awake for awhile before he pulled the blankets up and fell back asleep.
We left Estes Park the next day to catch our flight back home, sad that our mini-vacation was over so quickly but happy to have had the chance to scratch off one of the stranger items on our quirky little family's list of places to go and things to do.