I don’t know if you know this, but I’ve got a damn awesome sister. I hated her in our youthful days; it’s alarming to realize that I now love her so much, I would be willing to chop her into tiny pieces and gobble her up. That’s a compliment, trust me.
Little B and I share birthdays this month. We’re five days and twenty-five years apart. We’ve co-partied for our birthday celebrations before and it’s always good fun but guess what Noelle did this year?
She took B and me to The Brown Palace for a night of ghost-hunting and a day of fancypantness!!
Here’s how it went down.
I go to Denver often enough to know my basic way around so I offered to drive. Noelle and I dressed up because…well, because. I mean, it’s not like either of us get that chance too often. B wore teenage gear because she is sixteen. The point here is that none of us were in shorts and tank tops, ok? Anyhow, my car doesn’t have air conditioning anymore and it was a hot day so we arrived all sweaty and gross. Noelle told me to give the car to the valet. I’m sure he was not glad to hop into our girl-sweat infested vehicle, but he didn’t complain and we didn’t care because we had arrived for our birthday adventure in overheated fashion! Yay!
Noelle, B, and I, sitting outside of The Brown Palace, ready to begin our grand adventure.
We checked in, dropped off our luggage, and B changed into a skirt because we made her. We had some time to kill before our ghost tour and since we were suffering from starvation, we decided to gnosh on appetizers down at the Ship Tavern. Also, Noelle and I enjoyed refreshing adult beverages while B had a Sprite.
It’s on the pointy end of the building.
B’s choice of appetizer
These kept jumping out of the fry cone as the server brought them to our table. It was like they were alive, leaping about, falling to the floor, sprinkling parmesan all around the room. Had Hansel and Gretel had these, they definitely would have been able to follow their trail back home.
This is what was left of the crabcakes by the time I remembered to take pictures. Here’s the dumb thing: we didn’t want to fill up because we were going to have dinner later. So why did we order 3 appetizers? Yeah, we filled up.
Tasty adult beverages
After flinging fries hither and yon, we exited the eatery and waited for our tour guide who turned out to be the actual hotel historian! Her name is Debra. I didn’t take her picture. I don’t know why.
She started by telling us she couldn’t say, “Oh, yeah, we have a whole passel of ghosts in our hotel,” nor could she tell us about anyone who may or may not have fallen/leapt to their deaths from the 7th floor to the marble atrium below because none of that is allowed. However, she could tell us about “unexplained phenomena” other guests, as well as staff, had experienced while at the Brown Palace.
So we started with a short history of the hotel. It is 121 years old and the only hotel in Denver that has operated continuously for that amount of time. It was owned by the Boettchers for awhile and they’re the reason it didn’t have to close down during the Depression. Yay for smart business decisions!
Now, here’s something I hadn’t known: The hotel gets its water from an artesian well that is around 16 stories deep. People who know about ley lines and ghostly things have said that the well goes deep enough to pass near/on a place of otherwordliness (I am totally paraphrasing all this, by the way) which could be why there are so many instances of “unexplained phenomena” in the ‘ Palace. Of course, as Debra said, this hotel has been in operation 365 days a year for 121 years. The odds are that with that many souls passing through the building, a few are bound to stay.
We visited the former gentleman’s club where one tour group saw a man come from the bathroom only the bathroom was nothing but a wall.
A man walked from this panel and some of the members of that long-ago tour were all like, “Who the hell is that guy? He’s not part of our group. Is he a staff member?” but no one recognized him. Also, they realized much later, that the bathroom from which he’d emerged was actually a wall.
We visited the Presidential Suite and heard about a woman who had owned one of the apartments on the 9th floor, had lived there many years and died there in the arms of her nurse. She had been a cranky thing, according to legend, and in later years, when the hotel took tour groups into her former suite, the front desk’s phone rang, the call coming from her room, yet there was never anyone on the other end. The thing is, at the time, there was no phone in that room because it hadn’t been remodeled as a hotel room yet.
There was also the story of Lizzie. She was not very old when she fell from the 7th floor banister. When she landed on the marble below, she lost consciousness but, according to everyone who had been there at the time (I think in the 20’s or 40’s), she came to and walked it off a little later. There’s more to that story but you can go take the ghost tour, yourself, to find out. Just remember to ask how many people have fallen from the 7th floor.
View from the 7th floor. You can’t see the 8th floor because it’s all walled-in and that is because it sports an art-deco style rather than Victorian.
I didn’t see/feel/hear/experience anything unearthly but Noelle did and B thinks she may have. While we were in the former gentleman’s club (now an event room), Noelle and B felt something cold pass between them. I only felt air conditioning. When we walked down the stairs from the 8th floor to the 7th, Noelle got vertigo. I did, too, but mine came from going from the art-deco-style back down to the very busy, very patterny, somewhat overwhelming Victorian style below. While B and I leaned on the banister rail of the seventh floor, Noelle had to back away because she felt sick. Like, puke-out-her-guts sick. Once we made it to the floor below, she was fine. When we went back up to where she’d felt sick, she was fine. She thinks someone had jumped from there and the leftover trauma made her sick. I blamed the crazy carpet.
You can see how walking down stairs and into this busy-ness could cause vertigo.
Noelle is trying to catch orbs but her camera won’t work right there.
This all goes along with Noelle’s hypersensitivity to anything from other planes and my complete inability to sense things not right in front of me. It’s been this way our whole lives. It used to make me jealous, but now I’m used to it.
After the tour, we ran about, retracing our steps and taking pictures. Then we walked the 16th Street Mall, ate gelato, got henna tattoos, rode the mall shuttle, laughed as B had her tattoo removed by a stumbling homeless man carrying a washboard, went to the Tattered Cover only to find it had closed two minutes before we got there, and finally wound up back in our room where we listened to a wedding party play loud music until midnight.
B gets henna-ed
Noelle gets henna-ed
Moments before the Most Horrific Experience.
It was like this:
We’d just gotten our henna tattoos and were walking along, walking along, getting tired.
We wanted to go to the Tattered Cover but it was so far away.
We got on the mall’s shuttle bus.
Noelle said, “Uh oh, here comes a guy with a washboard”
A man with an enormous backpack, several jackets, dreads, and a beard got on the shuttle, carrying his washboard.
Britt’s eyes got big (She doesn’t see homeless people in her life. They don’t exist where she lives. This was surprising for her)
The man, unstable on his feet, fell into/jostled against her arm, against her new tattoo.
Britt’s face grew horrified. Then she looked at her arm. Her birthday tattoo was gone.
She gave the man a look of evil.
Washboard Man had taken her birthday tattoo.
Britt has decided she is not a fan of homeless people who carry washboards and take off tattoos.
He got off at the next stop.
We laughed at Britt’s terror and indignation.
We did not do a good job at making her a more compassionate person.
This is the tattoo that was scraped off by the shuffling Washboard Man.
The next day, we got to loll about lazily (awesome!!) before getting up and successfully visiting the bookstore. We returned to the hotel and wrapped up the adventure with a super-fancy Afternoon Tea. It was 100% fabulous.
It is time for Afternoon Tea!
“One lump, or two?”
Noelle and I got champagne with fruit juice and B had fruit juice in sparkling water. Because we were extra-fancy.
What is the title of the person who takes care of you during tea time? The Tea Mistress? This is the pouring of the tea by our tea mistress, Hiwat.
The seriousness of the consuming.
It was a fantastic birthday present for both the 16-year-old and the 41-year-old. Noelle, you are the BEST PRESENT-GIVER EVER! Thank you and I hope you had as much fun as I did!