Off to Estes Park

Isabella Bird in Tibet
Isabella Bird in Tibet

I had to accept an invitation to go to Colorado for their spooky ghost tour, because it includes a  stop in Estes Park. Most people know the town as the home of the Stanley Hotel where Jack Nicholson goes bonkers in The Shining (book by Stephen King, movie by Stanley Kubrick) but to me it’s the place where Isabella Bird met Mountain Jim and found romance amidst the offal, in the shadow of Long’s Peak.

This story on gonomad summarizes several blog entries  I posted about Isabella and Jim. The mountain man with half his face ripped off pays court to the Scottish lady, now known as the paradigmatic intrepid solo woman traveler. He takes her up Long’s  Peak, literally carrying her in some places.

She went on her way to Europe, and several months later Jim was shot  in the head by the town drunk. There was an English nobleman buying up land in Estes Park for a  hunting lodge, and Jim was opposing him, and some say that had something to do with it. Anyway, Jim had promised to see Isabella again, and he did. In her room in a hotel in Switzerland. Here’s an excerpt from a blog by Fairweather Lewis, who writes a spooky blog:

“Isabella returned to England, and thence went to the Continent. Jim Nugent returned to his cabin near the little mountain town of Estes Park (itself famous as the town nearest the notoriously haunted Stanley Hotel). On June 19th, 1874, Nugent was shot in the head by a neighborhood drunk named Griff Evans. Carried to a hospital in Fort Collins, Nugent lingered for three months.

“In September of that year, Isabella Bird was staying in a hotel in Switzerland. One morning she woke from a sound sleep to find Jim Nugent, looking exactly as he had the last time she had seen him, months before, standing beside her bed. He was staring at her with sorrow in his eyes. Before she could get her wits about her, he said, ‘I have come, as I promised.’ And then he was gone.”