Friday, July 12, 2013
Camp Tales 2013 Part IV: Haunted "Western Hotel"
After fleeing the frightening experience with The Texans at the Ouray Museum, we were terribly thirsty. We needed beers quite badly, I'm afraid. Dooooders looked parched, her complexion pale and her demeanor listless. Her walk was no longer lively, and she looked alarmingly dehydrated. Dr. Duder promptly wrote out a "Beer-prescription," and Dooders suggested we look for a place to fill it.
So we found ourselves visiting a few places (all with great stories, mind you), but this place was the most entertaining by far because it was so intriguing, and well, so spooky.
As in, 1980 called. Kubrick's got a new film out. You might recall it, The Shining.
Apparently, this hotel is one of the few remaining 1880's wooden frame hotels left standing in the old West today. My guess, is that is because it's not burned down. So many old west towns lost their wooden frame buildings to fire. Leave it to some drunken sot to kick over a lantern in a barn, and poof. Fifty or more years of history down the drain. Especially, saloons, which are of course my favorite thing in the world and the only place I feel truly at home.
We didn't SEE any ghosts as much as felt an atmosphere of weirdness. Firstly, no one who worked there appeared to be a local. In fact, no one who worked there was even from America.
When you're in small town, America, this is just weird.
"How old is this place? Who built it? What is its history?" I anxiously queried noting the 100-year-old-looking back-bar. The doe-faced server, young enough she could have been my grand-daughter, looked at me blankly then ran outside and read the date on the outside of the hotel.
"1891," she announced as she walked back in. Rocket science, I thought.
How could anyone work here and not be curious about this place? How could you work here and not know anything? Besides being mentally-challenged, there's really no excuse.
An 8-foot tall, impossibly-ancient, painting of an attractive, naked lady graced the bar behind her, which was alarming on many counts. Firstly, no respectable Victorian woman of the era of this bar would have ever posed in the nude. Secondly, what led this portrait to be here behind a bar in Ouray, Colorado? Who was she? What was the story, damnit!?
"Who's that?" I asked curiously pointing to the painting. Certainly, it was a madam of the night from the 1880's. No doubt, someone with a notorious history a mile long. Maybe she was murdered behind the bar by one of her many young, handsome lovers who was jealous of her many sordid gentlemen-callers. I waited in anticipation for undoubtedly a juicy answer. Doooders blinked and set down her beer, looking at our bartender expectantly.
When I'm on vacation, I want to see the local color. A red-headed local named Flo, who knows everyone's business going back 100 years. An answer such as, "1891, and it was my Great-great Aunt Ethel's sister-in-law who everyone knew was a concubine, scoundrel and thief. In fact, legend has it that blah, blah, blah," evoking a fat tip on the bar from Doooder and I.
"I dunno," she said rinsing a glass. "I'm from the Netherlands," she added as if that explained everything.
I sighed heavily. If there's ANYTHING a writer can't stand more, is a story that's left untold. And if there's ANYTHING that a former news-reporter hates is a dead-end.
But this wasn't the only disappointing encounter we had that day with a young woman.