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A Visit To The Stanley Hotel

From June 13th, to June 16th, 2003, I stayed at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado for the wedding of my friend Ed Pierce (nee Carter). Ed is a fan of swing music and swing dancing, so all the guys in the wedding party, including me, wore 1940s zoot suits. The wedding ceremony was held in front of the Hotel, with the swinging reception afterwards in the Hotel's MacGregor Ballroom.

The Stanley Hotel was built in 1909 by F.O. Stanley, one of the Stanley brothers who produced the famous "Stanley Steamer" steam cars from 1897 to 1925. The cars weren't officially called "Stanley Steamers", by the way. The official name was the Stanley Steam Car. Later on, "steam" was de-emphasized in a marketing ploy, and they were just called the "Stanley Car".

Anyway, there is a beautiful 1906 Stanley on display in the lobby, which I will try to get a photo of onto this webpage. There are several other photos I want to add to this page; not in jpeg format yet. Also, downstairs is a branch of the Stanley Museum, with a boiler, burner, and engine from a later Stanley steamer on display, along with much other interesting historical and technical material. So I not only enjoyed the wedding, but had some fun from a steam angle!

Until I can get some of the "steamier" pix up here, here are a few shots of me at Ed & Jaime's wedding at the Stanley Hotel.

Wedding Party at the Head Table

From left to right, here are radiant bride Jaime, Ed the groom, Best Man Chase, and Second-Best Man yours truly. Not shown is my travelling companion Sarah, in one of the foxy black evening gowns worn by the ladies in the wedding party. You can just see her shoulder to the right. The wedding was a delightful affair, with wonderful company, excellent food, drinks, fine Cuban cigars, classic Big Band music, and dancing. I even got dragged onto the dance floor, and enjoyed it, despite having 3 left feet (some folks have only 2). (Photo courtesy Dave Hart)

3 Of "Da Guys"

With me in the center background, apparently saying, "What -- you want me to clown around with a cigar too?". Taken on the front steps of the hotel, leading down from the broad front verandah. Estes Park and the Rocky Mountains are visible in the background. The Stanley Hotel is surrounded by breathtaking mountain forest scenery -- elk graze on the grounds (and are available on the menu -- yum!). (Photo, Dave Hart)

Me and Ed

Check out Ed's wild red zoot suit! Here we are standing in the grand Main Lobby of the Stanley Hotel, with the 1906 Stanley steam car directly behind the photographer, and the entrance to the excellent Cascades Restaurant (try the elk!) behind us. To the left is the entrance to the MacGregor Room, where the reception and dance were held. Dig my 1940s-style slicked-down hair. Hey Pops, better change that oil!(Dave Hart photo)

Zoot Suit Crime Wave!!!!

The Stanley Hotel is where noted horror novelist Stephen King wrote "The Shining", inspired by his experiences at the hotel in the early 1970s, when the place was a bit run-down and spooky. Well, it is still a bit spooky at night, despite being beautifully restored. The hotel is also reportedly haunted -- many strange happenings have been reported by staff, guests and visitors. Our first night there, I smoked a pipe on the deserted front verandah at midnight, while a Friday the 13th full moon peeked through the passing clouds over the distant mountains. All that was missing was a hooting owl and some sinister creaking floorboards ... Stephen King also shot and directed the 1993 TV movie version of "The Shining" at the Stanley Hotel. Inspired by the darker side of the Hotel, Chase and I hammed it up for the camera with a big carving knife borrowed from the caterers. This is behind the grand staircase from the Lobby; to the right are the stairs down to the Stanley Museum in the basement.

We had a really delightful time. I heartily recommend a visit to the Stanley Hotel to anyone, steam fan or not. Rooms are comfy (if pricey -- starting around $180 for two), and food, drinks, and coffee are excellent. Pool and tennis courts on the premises, game arcade & snack machines for the kids downstairs, and plenty to see and do in Estes Park and the surrounding mountains too. And the Hotel itself is a masterpiece of ornate, classic architecture.

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