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The Valley Line: Going Bouldering

May 27, 2010|By Jane Napier Neely
  • Dave and Julie Battaglia and Jack MacKenzie having fun after the Hathaway-Sycamores "Shot at Million" Golf Classic benefit. Dave was co-chair of the event.
Dave and Julie Battaglia and Jack MacKenzie having fun…

I'm back to our fair city from a jaunt to Boulder, Colo., and its rarefied atmosphere. Colorado offered up its most interesting weather just for us. One afternoon we were treated to a dramatic thunderstorm with lightning blazing across the sky in multiple directions and ear-splitting blasts of thunder. All of our little kids — three 3 year-olds, one 6-year-old and one 9-year-old — sat at the window watching the extravaganza as if they were in a movie theater. They seemed to be mesmerized by it all, screeching with delight with each roar of thunder.

One lovely, warm day we took a short road trip to Estes Park, where our boisterous group livened up the architecturally grand and historic Stanley Hotel. This classic hotel was built in 1909 by F.O. Stanley of the Stanley Steamer automobile fame.

The 101-year-old hotel, which sits at the edge of the Rocky Mountain National Park, is not only well known for being the inspiration for Stephen King's novel, "The Shining," but is also considered one of the most haunted hotels in America. It is said that the ghost of F.O. Stanley is often seen roaming the bar and front lobby area, while Flora, his wife, still plays the piano in the music room. It is said that their maid, Mrs. Wilson, still "takes care" of guests who stay in room 217 — that is, if they dare!

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After lunching in the large dining room (where our youngest travelers were on their best behavior) we drove into Rocky Mountain National Park.

Just a few short miles from the hotel there was an abrupt change in the weather, as the wind whipped into a gale and snow started flying. Deer and elk crossed our path into the meadows below the road we were traveling.

Unfortunately, we didn't see even one big-horned sheep, which I was hoping to encounter — my camera was all primed and ready in my hand just in case. We even waited by a sign that said, "Caution, Sheep Crossing" without success.

This was such a fun outing. When I was a child, my mom and dad took me and my two sisters to Estes and Rocky Mountain National Park, so it was a nostalgic re-visit. It was made even more interesting this time because I do have an Estes line in my genealogy. It was Joel Estes, a very distant cousin of mine, who first came to this area in the early 1800s. He and I share the same portal ancestor, who arrived in Virginia in the 1600s.

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