The roads were curvy, mountainous and beautiful on the long way up to the Stanley Hotel. Shawn and I drove slowly around the deadly curves, while Kane disappeared in his own car ahead of us, driving at suicidal speeds (no seat belt of course) not to be seen again until we arrived. As we took the turns, I couldn’t help but hear the dun, din, dun, din… of the creepy Shining theme music playing in my head. More than once, I looked out the window and to the sky to see if a helicopter was filming our dramatic drive to the Overlook... I mean, Stanley Hotel. Sadly, aside from some creepy soaring birds, that I imagine were waiting to pick my bones, there was nothing in the sky.
As we pulled into Estes Park, Colorado, I expected to see nothing but miles of trees and mountains that would not let us out if it snowed. Instead, I was shocked and more than disappointed to pull into a cute, but regular looking mountain town. Heartbreak set in when we stopped at a store to get a snack. When I stepped out of the car and stretched, I saw a familiar looking building on the hill behind the store. I turned to Shawn, “Is that…” His eyebrows raised and he nodded. “Wow, not as remote as I thought it would be.” He said, clearly disappointed that the Stanley Hotel, while on a beautiful property, was smack in the middle of town and not isolated in the middle of nowhere, miles from any outside help like we envisioned.
Shrugging off the letdown, we took our snacks and headed up the long driveway to the hotel (I told Shawn to go slow so we could pretend it was the last isolated road into no man’s land). Seeing the sprawling bright white building with trim of muted, almost blood red, I started to get tingles of excitement… we were at the Stanley Hotel. We drove around the back and met Kane where he was parked and waiting for us. While Kane could win a billion dollars and not show an ounce of emotion, I could tell he was as excited as I was to get inside and explore. Carrying our luggage we made our way through some back doors, and found the front lobby. It was absolutely beautiful, though it didn’t look a thing like the original Shinning, not at all, there was no way of even finding one common element, besides it being a hotel, but I didn’t care about that… this was where it all began. As I looked around the dark wooded entrance while Kane checked us in, there was something even more familiar about the hotel that I just couldn’t place. It would take three days of this feeling, in various areas, before I found out what was making the building so recognizable.
Dumb & Dumber, the most important film of my fourteenth year of life was also filmed at the Stanley! The second I was told this I let out a little squeal as everything suddenly made sense to me, the grand stair case, the party with the tuxes, the framed news paper in the bar that showed the moon landing, it was all from the movie I saw 2,347 times in my teen years. I had to fight down my excitement as Kane gave me a look that made me feel like I belonged in the dumber clan. Back in the lobby, before I realized all of this, we were greeted by several employees of the hotel who know of our (ok, Kane’s) arrival and wanted to introduce themselves. They knew who Kane was and that we would be filming during our stay. What they said next, pretty much boggled my mind… we were going to have free reign during our stay. We could pick what rooms we wanted to stay in, switch them during the week at any time to experience the most “haunted” ones and we’d have access to any area we wanted. The excitement was starting to build; it was going to be amazing to do all of this… but then a few of the words they said broke through my train of thought “The most HAUNTED rooms”…
I think I went into panic mode, then for the life of me, I cannot remember what happened next. I remember going into my first room as there was a wonderful gift basket from our partner Missy filled with snacks and Stanley swag, but I cannot recall the time line of what happened next. All I do recall is being at the edge of the parking lot, at the base of a small mountain with Kane as we planned to hike up it. Why on earth we decided to do this before anything else at the hotel, I cannot recall. My only guess is that our rooms were not ready so we were killing some time. Regardless, Kane somehow talked me into ignoring the giant sign that stated “Absolutely No Climbing Mountain” and got me to follow him to the base.
Now, I’m not that much of an outdoorsman. In fact, I really don’t like the outdoors. Bugs, dirt, sweat, threat of a masked killer chopping you into pieces, not my idea of fun. Finding myself climbing a mountain wearing jeans and leather gloves to fight off the bitter cold, was another impressive showing of Kane’s powers over my better judgment. Now, it’s been said a million times that I’m a klutz. Putting me in a situation outside of a computer chair in front of a keyboard and there is a high probability that I might have an accident. This climb was no different. Embarrassingly, or more so thankfully that it wasn’t the top of the mountain, I fell before I made it twenty feet up. Shawn had climbed up a bit so he could film me and Kane making our journey up. Kane of course was leading the way, haphazardly tromping up the mountain as if it were a walk in the park. I was a good twenty yards behind. Knowing I’m a klutz, I kept my eyes glued to the rocky terrain to make sure I wouldn’t trip, which was my fatal mistake. With my eyes pointing to the ground, I didn’t see the tree branch about to hit my face.
The one good thing about being a klutz is that it has sharpened my reactions. The second the branch hit my face, I screamed and instinctively threw myself backwards. How this was helpful in any way other than to hurt me more by falling, I have no clue. It was rather painful and I spent more than a few seconds on the ground. Of course Kane yelled at me to get up. When I finally did, my eye was watering. When I caught up, I asked him if my face was cut, “Stop being a ********, you’re fine.” Kane said before turning and heading further up. I tried to brush off the fall and act tough, but my face was stinging. I knew it was cut (and in fact it was. I spent the rest of the time in Colorado with several scratches on my face). The only upside was that Shawn caught the fall on film (you can see it in the trailer for The Killer & I Web Series). Sadly, it wouldn’t be the last time I would fall at the Stanley, or even the second from last, though it was the least painful.
At the precipice of our mini-Everest, Kane played King of the Mountain and jumped from rock ledge to rock ledge, any one of which could have given way and let him fall a few hundred painful feet to his death, but Kane doesn’t think or worry about things like that. I on the other hand spent most of my time complaining about the cold, yelling at Kane to get down like a nervous mother and holding tightly onto the rocks that I refused to let go of to climb to the top. I did my best to take in the amazing sites, but when I turned around and saw the Stanley glowing in the sun set, I wondered if the fear of falling I had in my gut at that moment was going to be worse than the fear I’d have that night while I was cozy in bed… worrying about ghosts.