Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rocky Mountain National Park in Autumn




The 100th Anniversary celebrations of Rocky Mountain National Park began this year in September, with special events held each month until next September, and my husband and I felt that visiting the park again on our 40th wedding anniversary would be a fun thing to do! I want to thank everyone for all their well wishes on our anniversary and my husband's retirement on that post--you made our celebrations even happier with all your nice comments!

Autumn's full tree and shrub color begins early in the higher elevations of Colorado in September, but we hoped there would still be some color in early October......


....and, happily, we were not disappointed! 

There were still many aspen trees on the lower part of the park in full leaf.


They made a beautiful necklace around the lowest perimeter of the park leading towards Longs Peak


The spectacular Rocky Mountain vistas are breathtaking, but autumn colors along the way made this visit to the park an extra special treat.




We were fortunate that there had also been a snowfall on the high mountain peaks the week before, that made them also look even more defined and beautiful!


Everywhere we drove there were autumn trees to light our way.


The first day we entered the park, we stopped at one of the large meadows towards the late afternoon, as we knew the elk rut season was still in progress, and we hoped to see some elk herds gathered there. The first meadow we stopped at was in the Moraine Park section.  We saw a large elk heard in front of the Stanley Hotel the day before in Estes Park--click here to read that post and see a couple ghosts-- but seeing the elk in Rocky Mountain National Park is always a treat, as they are in a more natural environment.


Again, we were not disappointed!


We watched this herd from afar as the elk bull paid careful attention to his harem of females and young juveniles.  He also entertained us with quite a few bugle calls--click here if you'd like to see a youtube of an elk bugling!

The fencing in the backgrounds of some of the photos above is an effort by RMNP to conserve some of the trees and vegetation from the ever growing elk population. The entire report about this effort can be read here.


We were excited to see two young bulls practicing their dueling skills in the meadow. When they are mature adults they will be able to attract females by proving their superior physical strength as part of the mating ritual, by challenging other bucks and winning the duel.  Some bulls will even fight to the death!


Also delightful for us on our first day in the park, was taking a few strolls along aspen trails.  The wind rustling the quaking aspen tree leaves is such a beautiful sound!  Would you like to hear it? Then please go to my blog's facebook page at this link, and you will!  I posted a short video there. It was quite windy the first day we were in the park. I hope you will also look around at other things on my facebook wall as I always try to share uplifting and interesting things I find on facebook, as well as blog updates and personal things.  I also have an Instagram page which you can access on this link. I am amazed by all the wonderful photos I am finding on Instagram, and connecting with people through photography.

I have more to show you about our autumn visit to Rocky Mountain National Park on future posts. It's a big National Park!

If you'd like to read a more detailed trip we took through the park last year--we traveled the entire Trail Ridge Road through the park, which is the highest continuous paved road in the United States--you can click these links: RMNP Part One, RMNP Part Two, RMNP Part Three.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park--America's Most Haunted Hotel?


As I wrote in my last post, my husband and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary in early October. After a special dinner celebration in a local restaurant with our family, we decided to also celebrate by spending a few days in one of our favorite places in Colorado--Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Estes Park and the surrounding areas was hit hard by flooding last September, when over 14 inches of rain fell on consecutive days, and the rivers swelled and over ran their banks with water and mud. Tourism is one of Estes Park's major commodities, and they lost millions because the damaged roads and businesses from the floods halted one of their busiest seasons.  They worked hard under the motto "Mountain Strong" to rebuild, and we wanted to support their efforts by spending time there.   Estes Park is about 73 miles north from where we live, and to get there we drove the very scenic Peak to Peak Highway.  As you can see from the photos above, the views along this road are spectacular!  There was still plenty of autumn foliage tremaining hat made it even prettier.


As we drove into the town of Estes Park we saw the beautiful and historic Stanley Hotel standing on a hill in the distance.


We were excited to have a three night reservation to stay at this hotel, and our excitement grew even stronger when we saw this enormous herd of wild elk grazing on the grass of the hotel's front lawn!


September through October is the "rut season" for elks, where elk bulls gather elk cows and caves into harems and aggressively guard their harems against other bulls. The bull elk for the harem that was in front of the Stanley Hotel this day was very busy herding his many cows to a place under the trees to eat and rest. He kept a close eye on them to keep them from harm.


The Stanley Hotel was built in 1909 by F.O. Stanley, the inventor of  the Stanley Steamer. He had been sent west by his doctor, a few years earlier, as it was thought that mountain air would improve his health. He did feel better staying in the town of Estes Park, and fell in love with the area.  He bought land from Lord Dunraven and built his magnificent hotel  there--a complex of eleven buildings, some of which are still in use today.


The hotel is full of vintage photos, and historical markers.  F.O. Stanley can be seen in the collage above in the upper right.


As soon as I stepped onto the front porch of the hotel I could see why it is world renown.  It's views of the Rocky Mountains are outstanding! Longs Peak has particular prominence in the distance.  I took a short movie of the clouds passing over Longs Peak, while I was sitting on the front porch of the hotel, which you can view on my blog's facebook page-click here.


The main staircase inside the hotel.


Views from the back of the hotel, inside the main lobby, special side rooms and the staircase.


Our very comfortable room was on the third floor in the front side section of the hotel, and had three windows that looked out at the mountains and the town of Estes Park.


That evening we had dinner in the hotel's Cascades Restaurant.  Inside the restaurant there is also a Whiskey Bar and Lounge that offers almost 600 different brands of whiskey!  The menu is American steakhouse style, with an emphasis of locally grown Colorado foods.  We had a view of the Stanley Hotel's backyard cascades waterfall from our window as we dined.  I enjoyed the Crispy Prawns as my appetizer, followed by a Braised Boneless Short Ribs, while my husband had Burrata Mozzarella served in a wild mushroom fino sherry jus, followed by a Colorado Lamb Shank served over wilted Swiss Chard and Lentil Ragout.  Afterwards, we both enjoyed an Irish Coffee as our dessert.  It was a memorable and delicious anniversary dinner!


Some views of the Stanley Hotel at night. Our hotel room can be seen on the top right photo.


The Stanley Hotel has a long reputation of being haunted!  If you click on the highlighted link you will read on the hotel's web site their story about the hauntings, and the hotel even offers a 90 minute hotel tour that highlights all this paranormal activity. The novelist Stephen King was a guest in the Stanley Hotel in the infamous haunted room 217, and he found the experience so unsettling that it inspired him to write his best seller novel "The Shining."  I've always though that The Shining was the scariest book I've ever read--it is much scarier than the movie version--and I was intrigued by the thought that this hotel could be haunted, although I really don't believe in such things.  Like all older building we did hear squeaky stairs and rattling windows, but I slept very soundly all three nights, without any sight of a ghost.......
.............but wait.........look at what I found when I downloaded the following photos........


Please click on this collage to enlarge it for easier viewing. The photo on the left shows the back of the Hotel Stanley's reception desk. When we were checking in I noticed that the old fashioned room keys hanging on the wall grid behind the reception desk began to glow and flash.  I wanted to ask the reception clerk if that was a speciasl effect of some sort, but because my husband was conversing with the clerk I did not want to interrupt, and took this photo instead. Soon after I took the photo the keys stopped flashing, so I did not mention it to the  clerk or my husband.  Imagine the chill I had when I finally saw this photo!  Do you see the streaky shadow to the left in the photo?  If you look closely you can make out a hand......or at least I can see that......do you?
The photo on the right is even creepier. My husband and I walked down to see the outside of room 217 --the room that is supposed to be haunted, and the room Stephen King stayed in.  I took a photo of the door and thought no more of it.  Can you see what I see in the flash reflection on the door? At quick glance I see a face!  Do you?  I can't say I believe in ghosts, but I did think these photos were pretty uncanny! What do you think?


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