Thursday, November 01, 2007

Thursday travels 1: Glenwood Springs

Sunday afternoon I got back in my state car and headed west on I-70 again, through the Eisenhower Tunnel and over Vail Pass, zooming at 75 MPH where allowed by law and slowing to a 50 MPH crawl about 15 miles outside of Glenwood Springs. I arrived just after dark, checking into the Hotel Colorado, home of many ghosts. My room was on the first floor (something I wasn't entirely thrilled about) but I didn't feel like quibbling. The room had a 12-foot ceiling (I know this because the wardrobe was 6 feet high and another could have fit on top of it) and a mysteriously locked door, the bed about 15 feet away and across the room from the TV perched somewhat anachronistically on the period bureau. It was kind of a weird room, but I got two wireless signals between which to choose when I attempted to steal internets so that was OK.

Dan had given me a book to read (more on that in another post) so I headed across the pedestrian bridge (you can't hurtle yourself to your death onto the freeway or the train tracks, but you can jump in the river), book tucked under my arm, to a restaurant we'd eaten in last year called Italian Underground. The nice thing about this place (aside from good food and good service) is that you can kind of customize the menu (I asked for spinach lasagne, no extra serving of pasta in marinara, and it came with a small salad, bread, and spumoni ice cream for dessert). After I was finished, I headed back to my room and read some more, because despite having about 80 channels between which to choose, there wasn't a damn thing on the television.

Another drawback to my room was the lack of a functional alarm clock, which I discovered upon waking 20 minutes later than I'd intended on Monday morning. Luckily, I still had plenty of time to get ready, head across the bridge again to eat breakfast, and was setting up my workshop by 9:30. The training went well, and after everyone left I cleaned up the room and changed into jeans and a t-shirt. It was gorgeous outside, so I went out to wander around town, take some pictures, and look halfheartedly for a gift for my mom. I wasn't disappointed; it was about 70 degrees and the mid-afternoon sun started to cause all kinds of illumination of gorgeous fall color. The town of Glenwood Springs is filled with oldish houses, deciduous trees that turn lovely shades of gold and russet and purple, and the perfect fall atmosphere to make a great place to celebrate Halloween. It almost makes me think of a New England sleepy little town, and there is more than one ghost story to go along with the picture-perfectness. For instance, the hotel where I stayed was once a sanitarium for rich people recuperating from tuberculosis (apparently the hot springs in the area were considered to be beneficial to said condition). During World War 2, it was converted into a hospital for returning injured troops. Each time I've stayed there, I've had staff talk to me about experiencing the ghost who likes to wander between the kitchen and the service elevator, and this was the first year where I didn't hear all kinds of weird noises in the night. I guess the ghosts are all up on the 2nd - 4th floors.

Anyhow, I had lots of fun taking photos and then remembered something Dan had done last year. One of the two bars on the little touristy strip is called Doc Holiday's Saloon, after THE Doc Holiday who came to Glenwood to recover from TB and ended up dying there. Apparently, he's buried somewhere up on Cemetary Hill. Last year, Dan came with me to this particular training and he made the trip to see Doc Holiday's grave during the day when I was working. I asked a couple of locals, who pointed me in the direction I needed to go. Dan had said it was "up a little hill" but I'm telling you that hill was not little. It was up a BIG hill, and despite being in good shape I considered the climb to be a good workout. Partway up I stopped to admire the view, noting the splotches of color both in town and on the hillsides all around.

The cemetary itself was one of the more interesting I've been in. Once upon a time it was privately owned, so only very important or wealthy people got buried there (I'm sure the whole hassle of carting a body up the damn hill factored into it). The city of Glenwood Springs bought it in the 1930s, but I didn't see anyone who had been buried later than the 1950s (though I didn't look at every stone). The most interesting grave marker to me was one that had two men's names and "Brothers who died together in a mining accident", leading me to think some about how common that used to be and how the mining accident just a few months ago was such an anomaly these days. There was also a family site where Mom, Dad, and Kid all died within a few months of each other in the late 1800s, Dad being the oldest at 32. It didn't say how they died, but I expect there had to be some sort of disease involved.

Anyhow, I'd come to see Doc Holiday's memorial site. Nobody knows where he is actually buried (apparently, there's some sort of strangeness surrounding the burial) and for a while there was a memorial headstone that apparently had some misinformation on it. It was replaced by the city in 2002, so Doc Holiday (who died in 1880-something) has, by far, the most recent headstone. Even though he isn't actually buried underneath it. I wasn't the only one in the cemetary; it seems the trail to get up the hill is a multi-use trail (bikes, hikers, dog walkers) and I'm not the only one who found it to be a great workout getting up there. Two parents with a toddler had made it up the hill, and the toddler had no interest in anything other than practicing her running skills. Little trails had formed within the cemetary, so I explored a bit before heading back down.

My hike down the hill was shared with two off-leash exploring dogs and their person, and when I got downtown I decided I'd had a good enough workout for the day. I took some more pictures and headed back to the hotel to wait for my cousin who now lives in Vail. She got there around 7:30 and we went out for mediocre Chinese food (next time, I'm going back to the brewpub because I know that place is good). Afterward, we had a few drinks at Doc Holiday's Tavern. Just after our discussion about how I never get picked up in bars or have people buy me drinks (really, it's OK, I don't need skeevy guys to buy me drinks), this guy came over and offered to buy us some drinks. It must have been because she was with me. The guy, one of the many oil workers in the area, was actually pretty nice and it turned out we had similar taste in music. But later his skeevy friend who claimed to be in his 30s and looked at least 50 joined us, so my cousin and I excused ourselves soon afterward and headed back to the haunted hotel to have more cousin chats.

Tuesday morning I'd intended to get up and avail myself of the hotel's nearly adequate gym facilities, but we'd stayed up late so I slept in until 8:30, showered and had breakfast at my favorite breakfast place in town (Daily Bread cafe, not open on Mondays). It was delicious. I had a bit of time to relax before presenting the material for day 2 of my training (all bad news, unfortunately), which wasn't as well attended as it was supposed to be, but everyone there asked a lot of questions and that was what I was hoping for. After lunch, several of us took the suggestion of one of the attendees to take a short walk over to where he had seen a herd of bighorn sheep the previous day, and we were rewarded with a herd of about 20 sheep of various ages, including two rams with enormous balls.

After the training was over, I changed and packed up the car, making it home in 2.5 hours. The drive home was uneventful and I amused myself by seeing how efficient I could make the Prius by judicious acceleration on the mountains. I arrived totally exhausted and thoroughly glad to be home with my kitties, getting to sleep in my own bed with Dan beside me. I do like the traveling bit, but I do get tired of being away from home so much in such a short period of time. Overall, I enjoyed my trip to Glenwood, and kind of wished I lived there as a kid so I could trick-or-treat through the old spooky neighborhoods, dry leaves blowing in the wind, making myself shiver deliciously with thoughts of the ghosts floating down from Cemetary Hill to oversee the night's activities. Some kids have all the luck.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm Eve. I found you on the blogroll at NaBloPoMo. I'm trying to visit as many bloggers as possible and leave a short message to say hello.
Lovely pictures. Sounds like you were having a good time. It's always nice to get home no matter how much you enjoyed the trip.

♥.Trish.♥ Drumboys said...

Hi I found you because of nablopomo too - I commented on the wrong post.
Lovely scenes here. Happy November!

Anonymous said...

Found you on the blog roll too. Great post - the US West is so interesting. Reminds me of when we visited a cemetery in Virginia City, Nevada. We took a photo and later saw some misty images near a tombstone. Scary!