Sunday, November 05, 2006

Glenwood Springs: An appropriate place to be for Halloween

Glenwood Springs, CO, is one of the most physically beautiful places I've ever beheld in my life. The Colorado river runs through town and in all four directions are mountains of various sizes, shapes, with different vegetation and rock formations and colors each way you look. The town itself is just a typical little mountain town, with a couple of blocks of shops and restaurants (the touristy part) and a lot of houses and regular stores for those who live there. Two big fancy hotels compete for business (I'm sure there are chain motels as well) and a big pedestrian bridge spans the river and the train tracks - they put up anti-jumping sides where the freeway and train tracks run, but you're free to jump in the river if you wish.

Glenwood Springs was named for its sulfer hot springs and vapor caves that made it a happening destination back in the late 1800s and early 1900s for people recovering from tuberculosis or just those who had been advised by their doctors to take the mountain air and soak in the hot springs. The vapor caves and hot springs are still the main tourist draw, though the big fancy hotel where I hold my trainings is no longer a sanitarium for those suffering from TB (duh). (It was also once a hospital and rehab facility for troops coming back from one of the world wars).

The hotel was a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt (Bully!) back in the day and is reputed to be haunted, probably by the ghosts of all those people pissed off that they still ended up dying of tuberculosis. The person who served our lunch on the first day mentioned that she usually sees a ghost in the kitchen or the stairwell between the first and second floor. It's a grandiose establishment with history you can really feel, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it were actually haunted. The hotel is full of antique furniture and photographs and paintings of TR and other famous guests. Some of the rooms are reputed to be haunted, and Hulk and I did hear some suspect noises, though they might have been coming from the pipes (it's an old water system and uses radiators for heat. Those make noises like hissing cockroaches or cicadas). But 12:30 AM the first night we heard knocking noises near our heads that neither of us had made, and at that hour in that kind of atmosphere it was a little spooky.

Yes, Hulk was able to come with me for my Glenwood Springs trip, which was nice because I didn't have to spend another 2.5 hours each way in the car alone. He got frustrated because we were going through the Eisenhower tunnel during the most exciting part of last weekend's football game. The Little Hybrid that Could didn't like the mountains (this is the gold civic hybrid, that performs miserably over the passes), but luckily I picked a great time and the weather was gorgeous. We did see a couple of herds of bighorns on the way up, none of which were actually in the road this time. It was time change day and so it got dark much earlier than we were used to.

After a nice dinner, we spent some time in Doc Holiday's Saloon, one of the two bars on the main strip (the other, next door, is more of a sports bar type place). It's full of old timey memorabilia, photographs and portraits of notable wild west figures, and since it was low season we were two of the 10 or so people in the whole place - it was nice to just hang out and chat at the bar; we never do that sort of thing.

I ran my two days of training and spent the first afternoon (it was a small group so we got done early on Day 1) wandering around the downtown part of Glenwood. My hair was still red from the henna and kind of glowed in the sun, and we traipsed in and out of shops looking at stuff for sale, at one point happening into a store selling woven textiles made by developmentally disabled adults, some of whom were actually working on looms in the store. There was a sign that mentioned Doc Holiday's grave, but I didn't find it (Hulk did, the next day, I think). Ol' Doc had come to Glenwood to partake of the hot springs and never left, I guess. Maybe he was the one knocking in our room that first night.

The most notable thing about our hotel room was the full-length mirrored closet doors reflecting the bed, and to spare your sensibilities I won't go any further with that. Needless to say, we had a good time, and I loved having company on my trip. Thankfully, there was no blizzard in Vail pass and we had an uneventful drive back to Denver. We came home Halloween afternoon, carved our pumpkins and lit the candles inside. Our bowl of candy sat by the door and we waited all evening but only had one trick-or-treater, the 5-year-old next door. I found myself wishing I'd taken the ghost tour at the hotel or visited Doc Holiday's grave, wishing I'd had the opportunity to partake in more of the Halloween celebrations. At least I got to see the broadcast of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" that played the Friday before Halloween. I missed it last year because we were in China.


Anonymous said...

I did indeed find Glenwood Springs' finest non-sulphur-based tourist attraction on Hallowe'en. And, according to Doc Holliday's gravestone, "He Died in Bed."

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Have you ever been to Vermont? It's my favourite state on the East of my dad's old college classmates lives there now and we go once in a while. Glenwood sounds kind of like Stowe, though it's amazingly beautiful throughout.

I sort of feel like a traitor to Taxachusetts now...east Mass kinda emulates Vermont but the mountains aren't as nice.

Oh man, I really sense the clock ticking on my California residency.