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Fighting the urge to burst into song: A birthday getaway

On my birthday, I wanted to visit the tiny town of Estes Park, Colorado. It’s situated at the hem of Rocky Mountain National Park. Estes Park is the kind of place where mountain meadows and living hills germinate the urge to twirl and sing like a Problem called Maria.

The town’s most famous landmark is the 102-year-old Stanley Hotel. I’ve always wanted to stay at the Stanley. It’s intrigued me for years. I have a mental list of Colorado’s grand hotels. I call it the Ice Bucket List. I’ve stayed at The Broadmoor and The Brown Palace. The Stanley makes #3, with several more hotels to go.

Several months ago, Groupon offered half-price nights and I snapped one up. At the time, I wasn’t sure when we’d use it so I didn’t make the reservation for several weeks. When I called, they mentioned they extended the offer into early June.

June 6th? I asked.

There was a room available. I snapped up a spot.

What a spot. This is the view from our room:

Teddy made it a trio. My dear in-laws watched the older kids.

Having Teddy along for the ride was fun. He was happy, chirpy, and seemed to enjoy his time alone with mama and dada.

We spent my birthday evening strolling up and down Estes Park’s main street, which is a mixture of authentic old west grit and 21st century traps for tourists. It’s the perfect time of year. The full summer crush of visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park hasn’t arrived. Crowds were light, the weather was perfect. After dinner, we returned to the Stanley and sat on its massive front porch.

The grounds at night were beautiful, especially right after the sun set. We walked around the building to see the lamp we left on in our 4th floor room.

There are all kinds of legends and ghost stories regarding The Stanley. Stephen King stayed one night in room 217. Within a week of his stay, he wrote the classic horror novel, The Shining. The room is said to be haunted by a proper old chamber maid. We learned the lore and history of the hotel on a Tuesday morning tour. Our wonderful tour guide, Kevin, said that many guests have reported the sounds of running and playing children on the 4th floor. A century ago, it’s where wealthy children and their nannies stayed.

I don’t have to go to an historic, storied, gorgeous hotel to hear those sounds. Tuesday afternoon, we headed home. Away from this:

It’s hard to leave such loveliness behind. I hope to return someday with our whole family.

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