Part Six: Denver
What do the Stanley Hotel, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, and marijuana have in common? Me, for better or worse.
Content Warning: Light drug use* and light sexual themes.
Where do I begin, man. There's a lot to be said about my time in Colorado.
We'll start at the beginning.
I woke up in Santa Fe and hit the road early. I stopped for coffee at the Santa Fe Railyard, a cute outdoor destination. The shop, Sky Coffee, reminded me a lot of the third-wave shops in Houston. I ordered their cold brew and headed back to the car when I noticed an open-air farmer's market taking place across the way at the other end of the Railyard.
With the little cash that I had on hand, I walked away with some fresh honey from Taos, New Mexico and a little carton of blackberries to munch on during the drive.
I accelerated north toward the Centennial State, which, by the way, is truly an unfortunate nickname. Colorado ought to have the moniker "Mountain State," which is instead the nickname of West Virginia... who decided that?
Anyway, the famous Rockies don't appear until you're closer to the state border. Leaving Santa Fe, there came a point where no mountains were visible except for a few blue-hued peaks set against the horizon behind me as though a Hollywood set decorator had haphazardly painted them there.
While New Mexico had a glorious "Welcome to New Mexico" sign, I saw no such thing upon entering Colorado.
Suddenly, I began climbing mountains again and Colorado state highway signs appeared.
I guess I'm in Colorado!
My first stop was Pueblo, a gorgeous town up at some high elevation. I was feeling weary, so I grabbed coffee from the "inventors of the world's only commercial solar-powered coffee roaster," Solar Roast Coffee. Nestled among the turn-of-the-century construction of downtown Pueblo's North Main Street, the expansive shop had the whole block smelling of freshly roasted coffee.
I tried the Colorado Strong Brew. This, friends, is a heart attack in a cup and I loved it.
You know how you make a pour over by pouring hot water over coffee grounds, thereby gently making a fabulous cup of coffee? Well, Solar Roast's "CSB" is made like that, except instead of pouring hot water over the grounds, they pour already-brewed hot coffee over the grounds.
She was flavorful.
I was lit all the way to Denver.
I arrived in the Mile High City and, when in Rome, I decided to hit up a dispensary on recommendation from a friend who'd been there previously. In this house, we only patronize Black-owned dispensaries, by the way. Here's a tweet that illustrates why.
Anyway, I hit up Simply Pure, which is owned by two total badasses. Wanda James is the founder and CEO, along with her husband Scott Durrah. They became the first African Americans legally licensed in America to own a dispensary, a cultivation facility, and an edible company. In addition to his work with Simply Pure, Durrah is an Executive Chef and has owned and operated five restaurants over the years. (Also click here to view their full bios - and be prepared for Wanda James' photo to slay you).
I packed my goodies away (a mint chocolate bar) and headed out to Pennsylvania Avenue for a real treat. Anyone who knows me knows that since I was a very small child, I've been fascinated by the Titanic. Like... it's my thing that I have heaps of useless trivial knowledge about, and I've probably seen the 1997 film 137,000 times.
Molly Brown, noted survivor of the disaster (portrayed by Kathy Bates in the film), lived in Denver. Her home, which had several lives after her death, is now a museum dedicated to her life and her charitable causes, such as women's equal rights.
Though of course the house is closed at this time, it was still a wondrous treat to have been able to see it, albeit from the outside.
Walking the blocks around her home, there were many surviving signs of the recent Black Lives Matter protests. "DIE PIG" spray painted on the steps on the Colorado State Capitol, boarded up windows on the Legislative Services Building (and on many, many others all through the downtown area), and the words “FIRST AID” and “FLOYD” painted on the pavement.
A church across the street from the Capitol donned on their marquee, "BLACK LIVES MATTER." All of these buildings are currently behind pop-up chain link fences.
I was just about to head to my apartment for the night when my partner told be he had a little birthday surprise for me.
I had planned to visit the Stanley Hotel the following day, located an hour and 20 minutes outside of Denver in Estes Park. He let me know he'd booked me a room, instead.
Well, in case you're not aware, the Stanley Hotel is the hotel that Stephen King slept in which inspired the setting for The Shining.
I just about died when my partner told me what he'd done.
No, the film was not filmed at the Stanley. It was filmed at a couple different hotels and a Hollywood sound studio. But the fact that this is the place that inspired the setting was enough to earn it a solid spot on my road trip must-see list.
And I had a room there?
If you've been reading the COVID notice that I've been leaving on the bottom of each blog, you have probably seen that I avoided people at every turn on this trip, and that I did self check-in with every apartment except Part Six.
Well, here we are. Part Six, where I did, in fact, have to quickly converse with a desk attendant to get to my room. I laid down my bags in room 314 and went exploring. I had to see the basement, the lobby, the bar, the halls, and of course, room 217.
Yes, in the film the Torrances are in room 237, but that was a change made by Kubrick: They were supposed to be in 217, but the hotel Kubrick used for the exterior shots feared it would lead to a decrease in bookings if the film used a real room number. To placate the hotel, they chose 237, a room that does not exist in that building. It was room 217 that King stayed in at the Stanley which inspired his novel's setting.
Settling into bed, I tried some of my mint chocolate.
So, the blog's going to get weird here - fair warning.
Like, kinda Rated M for Mature weird, maybe.
Here's the thing: I never smoke weed or do edibles. I've done it in the past; literally twice smoking - ever - and an edible once while watching Cats in theatres... yeah, that was an experience. Suffice to say, it's very much not a typical habit of mine. My tolerance is likely very low.
I had one piece of the bar, 10 mg. After an hour or so, I didn’t feel anything so I had a second 10 mg piece. I didn't feel high, I just got sleepy. Fell right to sleep. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and just rolling around in my bed, thinking wow I feel really high, before falling back to sleep. That's all I remember!
The next morning, I went down to the coffee shop in the basement for a "Redrum latte." Normally, I'm not one for flavored coffees. But how could I resist that?
It's a cherry, vanilla, and butter rum latte, by the way. Tasted delightful.
I get in my car and swipe up on my home screen to open my recent apps, looking for my map. I see that my Notes app is there, which was weird. I opened it to find a Note that I presumably wrote, from the night before. I do not recall writing it.
(Here's that possibly Rated M part)
I saw Molly Brown in my room and I apologized to her for masturbating in the hotel room.
She told me she didn’t think that I had done that?
I remembered that I hadn’t masturbated, but apologized anyway because I never know if a ghost is watching when I do it.
She said she’s never seen me before, but to apologize to my grandmother instead.
Then I cried in my dream but maybe in real life? Until I remembered my grandma isn’t dead.
I don't know how to explain myself. But truly, if that was my Colorado/Stanley Hotel experience, I don't think I would have it any other way - having the ghost of Molly Brown think of me as a bewildering tourist is a better experience than seeing Mrs. Massey.
You know me, forever curious: I know the Stanley Hotel existed during Mrs. Brown's lifetime. It was built in 1909; Mrs. Brown lived a mere hour away in Denver, passing away in 1932 (hell, the Titanic didn't even sail until 1912). I Googled it and, yes, she did stay at the Stanley. *Cue the Twilight Zone theme*
Thanks, Colorado. It was rad?
- NOTICE -
COVID-19 TRAVEL PRECAUTIONS I IMPLEMENTED
Though this blog is written with a carefree, fun, and exploratory nature, please know that I took every precaution behind the scenes.
I tested negative for COVID-19 prior to taking this trip.
I avoided other people at all times.
If person-to-person contact was unavoidable (such as my accommodations in Part Six of this series), I was wearing a mask. That being said, person-to-person contact was a very rare occurrence.
I only booked accommodations where I could have the whole place to myself with no spaces shared with other people (except for Part Six).
I only booked accommodations where I could check myself in. Again: No person-to-person contact (except for Part Six).
I took sanitizing wipes with me and gave every accommodation a good wipe-down.
Though I talk about food and coffee here, I also brought a lot of non-perishable food with me which I ate in the car while driving. Any and all food that I did purchase was done so over the phone and picked up to-go.
Photos posted to this blog and my Instagram featuring me without a mask were only possible outdoors, distanced from other people - and the mask only came off for the photo.
If you are choosing to travel during this time, please be aware of all of the precautionary work that you must put into your trip to ensure that you do not contract the virus and do not spread it to other people.
If you cannot guarantee that, do not travel.