Tag Archives: 5280

Frozen Dead Guy Days…Worth a Visit!

March 14, 2015

Frozen Dead Guy Days
Nederland, CO
Website: http://frozendeadguydays.org/

Fees: None
Hours: Around mid-March, Friday 5pm-10pm, Saturday 8am-8pm, Sunday 8am-6pm

David and I decided to stay over-night in Colorado’s beautiful Rocky Mountains. After strolling around Breckenridge beneath the sun, grapple and falling snow (all in one hour), we stopped for an early dinner at Ember. David was the successful orderer this time. I ordered a “simple salad” with the description of heirloom tomato, pecorino cheese, and pesto. I expected slices of tomatoes and cheese. It turned out to be a plate of greens with two cherry tomatoes and some grated cheese. I also ordered the fish that could have used a few more minutes in the oven. David on the other-hand selected tasty shrimp and grits, but for his entrée he may have ordered the best venison I have ever tasted. It was tender enough to cut with a butter knife and was sans “gamey” flavor. Absolutely fantastic! Post dinner we stopped at a pub and played cards as I sipped tequila, and he sipped beer before turning in early.

Saturday called for a visit to Loveland Pass for David to get in a few backcountry boarding runs and then a visit to Nederland for Frozen Dead Guy Days. I’ve wanted to go to this festival for a while, but manage to forget about it or it is bad weather. My friend Kristin reminded me of it and Saturday was a Colorado blue bird day.

The annual festival started in 2002 in honor of Bredo Morstol, Trygve Bauge’s grand-father whose body was transported in dry ice to the United States in 1989 and then stored in liquid nitrogen at the Trans Time cryonics facility in California for three years. Bauge and his mother, Aud decided to relocate in Nederland to open a cryonics facility of their own. When Bauge was deported from the USA for overstaying his visa, his mother kept Bredo cryogenically frozen in a shack behind her home.

Eventually, Aud was evicted for living in a home without electricity or plumbing which is against city code. Aud, concerned that her father Bredo’s body along with two others would thaw along with two others, upon her eviction, told a local reporter who expressed her concerns to local officials. The story caused a sensation which ultimately led to the city banning the storage of bodies with the exception of Bredo who was grand-fathered.

Today, the festival takes place over the first full weekend in March. We only visited on Saturday for a few hours and found the festival quite entertaining. I would definitely go at least one more time after having learned a few tricks and also after having learned of additional events. It is actually possible to tour the Tuff Shed where Bredo is still frozen! I think I’d like to see the documentary about him too. I’m not sure when these events take place.

We came into Nederland from Loveland Pass (which I recommend as there wasn’t any traffic and we could park very close to town) which didn’t appear to be the case from Denver. We arrived just after 12 to see the parade of hearses and coffins. Each coffin team was dressed in costume from Vikings, to the Globetrotters, to cereal mascots. The hearses were decked out with skeletons, hot rod flames and more. For a parade, I found it more entertaining than normal.

After the parade, we took a short stroll through town and then walked down to the park to watch the polar plunge. We ended up getting a great view despite all the people, but in preparation for the polar plunge and coffin races, it might be best to stay across the river from town and find a perch on the hill by the hearses to look down on the events.

The coffin races were hysterical. Teams of seven or so paired off and raced each other around a muddy course with mounds of snow obstructing their way. The self made coffins (some with skis on the bottom) carried a team member as most groups crashed at least once. Sometimes members just got left behind as they chased their team over obstacles to catch up. The pink team (I can’t remember their name) were five time reigning champions. They smoked their opponent, and I am assuming they won again, but we did not stay for the entire event.

The festival lasts all day and into the evening with music, beer and food trucks, but we needed to get back to Denver as we were both traveling at the wee hours of the morning. It was fun to get a taste of the festival, and now we know the best way to visit on a sunny day! ETB

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Herman Gulch Trail and Lake Attempt

February 7, 2015

Herman Gulch Trail
Location: 52 miles west of Denver on I-70
Round-Trip: 6.5 miles
Elevation: 10,332-11,987
Fees: None

It was a glorious, winter day in Denver…sunny, 70 degrees and record-breaking! I thought what better time to go for a snowshoe as I won’t freeze.

Jim and I met in the Wooly Mammoth parking lot at 9:30. The late start was specifically chosen to let the ski traffic die down and to enjoy the warm weather. We hopped on I-70 West, sat in intermittent traffic, and in a little over an hour exited #218 and made a hard U-turn into the parking lot for the trailhead to Herman Gulch Trailhead (and lake).

The snow seemed packed at the trailhead, so we stepped into our micro-spikes, strapped our snowshoes to our pack, and pulled on our hat and gloves in preparation for our hike. Armed with the trail description, we expected a flat start with a steep climb only to level off again in a valley and then a final climb.

Without my sunglasses (Ugh) and one eye squinted closed, I led us up the snow packed trail than began at 10,000 feet. At first we walked through evergreens, and then along a flat, open area, and then up again through the trees. I kept thinking to myself that the trail didn’t seem as steep as I expected a 2,000 foot gain over 3 miles to be, but I decided to give myself credit for all my recent trips to the gym.

Soon, after about a mile, the forged trail abruptly stopped. No snowshoe or cross country ski tracks could be found. After post-holing for the last thirty feet and then reaching the end of the trail, I turned to Jim and said, “I don’t think this is right. Do you think we missed a trail junction?”

He replied, “I didn’t see another trail junction. Let’s keep going.”

Based on the cars in the parking lot, I knew others went out on the trail ahead of us, therefore, I had some hesitation with breaking the trail. In addition, in the back of my mind I felt like I saw a trail go off to the left from the corner of my eye, but it seemed less traveled so I followed the trail straight ahead.

I asked, “Will you pull the trail description out of the back of my pack?”

After studying the description and Jim adding a few waypoints to his GPS, Jim decisively determined we went the wrong way. I suppose he won’t follow me anymore! Normally, he has all the coordinates in his GPS before we go, but after a long week in California, he just relied on me printing the trail directions which were relatively simple.

As we backtracked the mile, we met a group of five.

Jim nonchalantly inquired, “Where are you guys headed?”

The leader of the pack looked at him inquisitively and replied, “The lake”.

Jim informed them that we think they are headed the wrong way, so they turned around.

Sure enough, near the beginning of the trail, we needed to do a hairpin left turn instead of following the trail to the right. Our print out didn’t mention a switch back, but it did mention at trail junction at 0.17 miles. Unfortunately, there wasn’t even a sign deciphering the two trails. It must have been covered in the snow?!?

Now that we were on what we felt like was the right track, we climbed up the incline through the aspen grove. The next couple we found, who were lucky enough to notice the trail junction, waited for someone to come along but when no one did they guessed left. At this point, I wasn’t feeling too bad about my misdirection, and we had plenty of time to make it to the lake.

As we continued up the tacky, soft snow, each group we met hadn’t made it to the lake. Having wanted to do this hike for over a year, I was feeling a bit discouraged, but determined to make it.

Once we exited the shade of trees and hit the level meadow of rippled snow in the blazing sun, we started post-holing regularly. Each time we fell thigh deep into the snow, we’d lean on our pole to push out only for our pole to sink or our other leg to sink. Finally, we succumbed and strapped on our snow shoes, something we were trying to avoid because they are clumsy and slow going. Not to mention, we could see the next section of packed snow just ahead where snow shoes wouldn’t be needed.

I must admit, in this instance, snowshoeing was much easier. We should have switched over sooner, especially me since I was falling through the snow three times more often than Jim. We’d probably only hiked a little over three miles by now, and I was exhausted from all the squats and lunges I was doing to get out of the snow!

We kept going intermittently through open areas, with views of towering snow-capped mountains, and the trees. Soon we were less than a mile from the lake, yet not one snowshoer had made it. One girl, who was a regular on the trail suggested that we not break our own trail to the lake since we didn’t know where we were going. Silently, I agreed with her. In addition, another couple mentioned they had never made it to the lake in the winter time. With those two comments, I told Jim, “We are turning around!”

Not one to quit, I’m kind of glad we turned around when we did. A dark cloud rolled in, and it began lightly snowing on us! Oh the joys of mountain weather. Not to mention, I rubbed one heck of a blister on the back of my heal, so I wasn’t extraordinarily faster going down hill than up!

We still got the 6.5 miles in that we planned, though at a much slower pace. We probably got in four hours of exercise and were on the trail for almost five.

Not making the lake only fuels the fire for me to go this summer. It is supposed to be home to fantastic wildflowers, moose, big horn sheep and mountain goats!! Overall, we had a blast laughing at ourselves and enjoying a lovely day! ETB

PS…Should you forget you sunglasses on a sunny day in the mountain snow, remember to put sunblock on your eyelids!

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Matisse and Friends Exhibit

February 6, 2015

Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century
Denver Art Museum
100 W 14th Ave Pkwy
Denver, CO 80204
Phone: 720-865-5000
Website: http://www.denverartmuseum.org/exhibitions

Fees: Colorado adult resident – $10, non-resident adult $13; for seniors and youth pricing check the website; member – free
Hours: Tues-Thurs, Sat-Sun 10-5; Friday 10-8

While I have to say Tanya and I enjoyed a lovely day on this splendid, Denver afternoon, I recommend not paying for the Matisse and Friends Exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. And given it is closing today (February 8, 2015), don’t feel bad if you missed it.

We started out with lunch on the patio at Lo Stella enjoying 60 degree temperatures in February! My grilled seafood salad was fantastic as well. Tanya ordered the Nicoise which wasn’t traditional, but a nice salad once she added salmon.

Lo Stella is just a few blocks from the museum, so in no time we presented our member cards, and had access to a large, exhibit room on the first floor that seemed like it would house several Matisse paintings which we were excited to see. Much to our dismay, the exhibit displayed more of his “friends” work, than that of Matisse. And while I am no art connoisseur, both Tanya and I liked some of his “friends” work, better than the four Matisse paintings hanging on two walls.

Due to the bright colors, we liked Matisse’s “The Open Window” the best. It was also cool to see how he depicted the scene compared to a black and white photo of the window located at the entrance of the room.

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Our favorite painting in the Matisse exhibit was by Rauol Dufy. It was of sailboats.

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Despite the limited number of paintings in the exhibit, only 14 in total, the atmosphere with different colored walls and cozy seating arrangements were an added touch.

Fortunately, the museum is large. Since we strolled through the Matisse exhibit so quickly, we wandered through part of the regular museum. Some of the western art was fantastic, along with “junk” art made of cardboard and styrofoam.

There was also a neat piece made of the metal pieces that cover the tops of wine bottles. All in all we had a nice time, though we wished there were more than four Matisse oils. ETB

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Take a Road Trip to Colorado Springs

I wrote this post on my other blog about painted mines, the incline, and the Broadmoor. Since Colorado Springs isn’t too far from Denver and even closer than some mountain jaunts, I figured this post would also be suited for a day around town 5280.

http://adventuresofacouchsurfer.com/2014/12/21/painted-mines-the-incline-and-christmas-at-the-broadmoor-a-cracking-time-in-colorado-springs/

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The Nutcracker Ballet

December 12, 2014

The Nutcracker Ballet
Colorado Ballet
Ellie Caulkins Opera House
950 13th St.
Denver, CO 80204
Phone: 303-837-8888
Website: http://coloradoballet.org/performances/the-nutcracker-2014

Fees: $25-$155 depending on date and section.
Hours: 1pm, 6:30pm, and 7:30pm on select days

Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet is one of the most famous in the world. It is based on the “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” written by ETA Hoffman. I found a synopsis of the story at the following link which is better than what I could say about it: http://classicalmusic.about.com/od/balletsynopses/a/thenutcracker.htm.

nutcracker

Why not make going to the Nutcracker an annual tradition? The Colorado Ballet produces the show each year. This year productions can be seen from November 29, 2014 to December 27, 2014. I went Friday night with a few friends, and we thoroughly enjoyed the show from the dancing to the costumes. Something I’ve never seen before at a venue are teleprompters on the seatbacks. While the neon blue words that flashed on the seatbacks were a little distracting, it was helpful for following the story. If I wanted, I could have turned it off.

We sat on stage left and had a very nice view of the show. It was a perfect way to get into the holiday spirit. ETB

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Visit Castlewood Canyon State Park

December 7, 2014

Castlewood Canyon State Park
2989 S Hwy 83
Franktown, CO 80116
Phone: 303-688-5242
Website: http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/CastlewoodCanyon

Fees: Daily Parks Pass $7, Annual Pass $70
Hours: 8am-5pm

Dogs allowed on most trails

I had heard Castlewood Canyon was pretty, but I found such a statement somewhat hard to believe given the park’s location. The canyon is nestled on the plains in the southwest suburbs of Denver, and I have to admit it is quite pretty.

There are two entrances to the park, the main entrance on the east side and the more remote entrance on the west side. I chose the less commercialized west side entrance and followed the dirt road to the parking area at the Lucas Homestead.

I love old ruins, so I found the Lucas Homestead quite interesting. Patrick and Margaret Lucas were Irish immigrants who met in Arizona and moved to Colorado in 1893 where they settled on 160 acres. The Lucases originally built a wood house and later a cement home to house their family of 10. It is unknown what exactly they did with their land as it was too steep to drive cattle or equipment. It thought they were attracted to the area due to the newly constructed dam. Beginning in the 1920’s, it is said Mr. Lucas began charging travelers twenty-five cents to cross his land to visit the dam.

I eventually made it to the dam, but I first followed the Homestead Trail to the Rimrock Trail. The Rimrock Trail led me across the creek and then up a steady climb of switch backs and stairs to the rim of the canyon. The canyon rim offered a view of the snowcapped Rocky Mountains which was lovely. As I followed the trail along the rim, scooching to the edge a few times to take a look in the canyon, I came across three deer grazing to my left. It is always a treat to spot wildlife! Amazingly I spotted three more deer toward the end of my hike and on my drive back to Denver, I passed by a herd of 15 or more pronghorn.

Soon I reached the trail’s descent and followed the path to a trail junction near the creek’s bottom where I veered to the right to check out the remnants of the old dam. The dam, which was built in the late 1800’s burst in 1933 which sent a 15 foot wave all the way to downtown Denver! That must have been a surprise.

After following the Dam Trail and checking out the historic structure, I connected to the Creek Bottom Trail to complete just over a four mile loop. The Creek Bottom Trail in many places was rather muddy from snow melt, but it did provide a great view of the icy water fall. I followed the undulating trail through the juniper until I ended at the parking area. What a nice way to get a few hours of exercise! ETB

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Visit the Clyfford Still Museum

October 31, 2014

Clifford Still Museum
1250 Bannock St.
Denver, CO 80204
Phone:720-354-4880
Email: info@clyffordstillmuseum.org
Website: http://www.clyffordstillmuseum.org

Fees: Adult-$10, Membership-$45; See website for details on groups, seniors, and children
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday/Sunday 10am-5pm, Friday 10am-8pm

The Clyfford Still Museum offered a free day on Halloween. Knowing nothing about Clyfford Still, I took advantage of it. I am still stumped as to why there is an entire museum dedicated to Clyfford Stills in Denver. I know upon his death, his will stipulated that his work go to an American city that was willing to dedicate a permanent museum to his creations, but I wonder how his wife picked Denver given he spent most of his life on both coasts. The short stint he spent in Colorado was for teaching, and he did not paint during that summer in the state. I suppose I should just consider Denverites lucky.

Clyfford Still was one of the first artists to develop abstract expressionism, a new approach to painting that began shortly after World War II. I was expecting to see lots of modern art on canvas; however, his work ranges depending on the period of his life. I’m generally not the biggest fan of “modern art”, as I don’t see how one line or splatter paint can be so coveted when it seems like a three year old could do it!

Having said that, I’m not knocking Clyfford Still’s work. In fact, I was quite impressed. I loved moving from room to room in the stark museum to see how his work changed over time. In addition, his talent was recognizable given the variety of techniques and medium in which he practiced. The museum exhibited watercolors, oils, carvings, etchings, charcoal and more. He painted landscapes, self portraits, and abstracts.

Much of his work at the museum has never been seen as he kept it rolled up in his studio. While most of his work has been in very good condition, the museum has restored some of his work and offers a rotating exhibit to display his all his pieces. I enjoyed the museum and made it through the space in an hour or so, probably a little faster than most. ETB

Side Note: Photography is allowed without a flash and available for personal use, but not commercially. Given I don’t write my blog for money, I understand it is OK to post a few photos to encourage my readers to visit the museum.

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Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge

November 1, 2014

Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge
6550 Gateway Road
Commerce City, CO 80022

PHONE: Refuge: 303-289-0232, Visitor Center: 303-289-0930
EMAIL: rockymountainarsenal@fws.com
WEBSITE: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Rocky_Mountain_Arsenal/

HOURS: Open from sunrise to sunset; the visitor center is open from 9-4 on Wednesdays-Sundays

I’ve visited Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge a handful of times over the last year. The refuge was once an area where the army produced chemical weapons for World War II. Clean up for the area began in 1985 and when a bald eagle winter roost was discovered, the area was converted to a refuge.

The refuge is not only home to bald eagles, but also countless birds, bison, prairie dogs and deer. Last winter I took a wildlife viewing tour with staff to see the deer during rut. I learned quite a bit about the difference between white tail and mule deers. I will probably do it again later this month.

Today, I decided to advantage of the 10 mile trail system at the refuge as I didn’t feel like driving miles to the mountains. I had hoped I would spot a deer, but I was starting my walk mid-morning so the likelihood was low. I drove past the visitor center to check out the Locust Loop and Army Historic Trail first. I kept my eyes peeled for four-legged friends, though mostly found song birds and one remaining home with a windmill. Two hundred families once lived here, and eight kids were raised in the Egli House.

As soon as I gave up on spotting a deer, one stood just outside a small clump of trees and stared at me, just like a “deer in headlights”. I slowly raised my camera with my blue water bottle in the other hand, and just as soon as I went for a shot he moved into the protection of the “forest”. I finally found an angle in the trees that provided a full view of this magnificent buck. He was huge with a giant rack!!

Upon finishing up the 1.7 miles of trails, I felt like I wanted to walk somewhat longer, so I crossed the parking lot to Lake Mary’s Loop and followed the 0.6 miles around the placid lake. The quiet, sunny day offered wonderful reflections on the glassy lake. From Lake Mary’s Loop, I connected to Ladora Lake Loop, which added another 1.8 miles to my journey. This lake was much larger and home to ducks, geese, terns, a heron, and a crane, though I didn’t have a long enough lens to capture a decent photo.

At the end of my hike, I drove through the bison area, but didn’t spot any grazing on the grassy plains. They weren’t very cooperative given it was national bison day! My self guided wildlife drive was still nice and just one more activity the refuge offers. Maybe I’ll try fishing in the spring, or not, but it is available to visitors. What a nice way to spend a few hours within 10 miles of downtown Denver! ETB

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The Haunted Corn Maze at the Botanic Gardens

October 17, 2014

Denver Botanic Gardens
Corn Maze and Dead Zone Haunted Maze

8500 W Deer Creek Canyon Road
Littleton, CO 80128

http://www.botanicgardens.org/corn-maze/about

HOURS: Fridays 4-9, Saturdays 12-9, Sundays 12-6 through November 1

FEES: $12 non-members/$10 members for corn maze, $22 non-members/$20 members

I would have never guessed the place to be on Friday night would be the haunted corn maze at the Denver Botanic Gardens’ Chatfield location, but it was!

I had never been to a corn maze and it didn’t take much convincing to get a few of my friends (Brian, Harlow, and Erin) to join me. They had never been to a corn maze either. While none of knew what to expect, I don’t think any of us thought there would be a 15 minute line for tickets at 6:30 on a Friday night!

Upon reaching the ticket window, we had the option to purchase the $12 ticket for the regular maze or the $22 ticket for the haunted maze. Since we were there and it was dark, we figured why not go for haunted. And as members, we got a $2 discount.

After a quick stop for a corn dog and armed with our glow sticks as part of our ticket price, we stepped into the maze which from an aerial view is shaped like a butterfly. We should have snapped a photo of the map so we weren’t wandering around the maze aimlessly while we were dodging children and highschoolers. We didn’t find the aimless wandering through the regular maze to be terribly amusing, but eventually we arrived at the haunted part whose entry was marked by a skull.

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In the haunted maze, we walked through decorated props and followed the path while actors jumped out at us. Given our eyes were able to adjust to the light and the haunted parts were spread out a bit we were more entertained than frightened on the lovely Friday evening. We felt fortunate when we ran for safety through the exit, as the line to enter the haunted maze had quadrupled in length during the 15 minutes we spent inside. We didn’t have to wait very long, but the line looked to take an hour (and there aren’t any refunds).

We meandered back to the start, which wasn’t exactly what we were supposed to do. There was a way to an exit near the start on the left-hand side of the maze, but we thought we were supposed to cross all the way to the right-hand side. After a few failed attempts, we resorted to going to the start. At the start, we found the maze has two parts (left and right) with two entrances and two exits, so set out to explore the right-hand side next.

This side was much quieter and much easier to navigate now that we had a picture of the maze to refer to occasionally. The right side of the butterfly had a glow tunnel. We called it the Chihuly Hallway, though the glowing lights didn’t compare to the Chihuly exhibit.

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I’m not sure we spent more than 1.5 hours at the corn maze, and I’m not sure I’d go back on a Friday night again, but I’m glad I visited once. I think it would be fun to go during a nice day and have picnic, enjoy the entire Chatfield location, and stroll through the maze. It’s a little bit of a trek from Denver to Chatfield for 1.5 hours, so we went out for a drink later. I must say, it was a unique experience, and I look forward to many more while I check out things to do in Denver! ETB

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Hooked on Haunted Houses

October 15, 2014

The 13th Door
Curse of Slaughterhouse Gulch

3184 South Parker Road
Aurora, Colorado 80014
(303) HAUNTED
http://denverhauntedhouseguide.com/

HOURS: Sun-Thurs 7pm-10pm, Fri/Sat 7pm-12am

FEES: $25, VIP (skip the lines) $35

With a nondescript exterior and shopping center location in Aurora, my first impression of The 13th Door and Curse of Slaughterhouse Gulch haunted houses was will this experience be worth the $25 price of admission. Let me just coin the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

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I can’t even remember the last time I visited a haunted house, but I didn’t find the lines, price, or the fear factor to be worth it in the past. This experience, with Erin and Moria, was quite the opposite.

We purchased our tickets online which automatically upgraded us to VIP “skip the lines” priority. For a Wednesday night, this didn’t make much of a difference, though we did get to cut in front of a few people.

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We chose to go through The 13th Door first. The legend of The 13th Door stems from a riff between a wealthy Denver millionaire, John Barrington and his nephew Andrew. John Barrington was holding his annual Hallows Eve party in his hotel’s penthouse suite when his nephew pleaded for his help. Andrew had run up large gambling debts with unsavory individuals. When Andrew’s uncle refused him, he went into a fury, blocked all exits to the hotel, and set it on fire. Only one person survived to tell the story, the one who found the unlocked 13th door.

We slowly crept through the dark hallways, pushed back black drapes and cautiously entered into each room. As expected, actors jumped out at us from multiple corners and sometimes followed us down the hallways which was very creepy and sped up our very slow pace as we huddled together at every turn. Luckily, they have a rule not to touch the guests. And of course, we knew they would leap out at us, so I don’t know why we felt so scared. With strobe lights, fog, and pitch black hallways, it was very hard to see during our fifteen minutes in the dark. When we did stop and look around the rooms, I have to give props to the detail of the decor. It was well done! By the time we finished, our adrenaline was pumping and we’d broken into a sweat. Our alternating screams and giggles, I’m certain could be heard from a distance.

After The 13th Door, we were greeted by a bloodied face host at the entrance of The Curse of the Slaughterhouse Gulch who had nothing to say, but still creeped us out. So much so that Erin bowed out. This haunted house was like a theme house of scary movies…Scream, Halloween, Friday the 13th (just to name a few). Moria and I walked through or should I say jumped, skipped and ran through with locked elbows. It was scary! There was one room where neither one of us wanted to walk through the hanging corpses so naturally we looked for a nearby exit, and the actor grunted “wrong way” as he followed us through the manikins…YIKES! And we were chased to a speedy exit. The folks that worked at the haunted houses did a great job. We had a ball and the experience was well worth our money. We were laughing all the way home.

Two more weeks until Halloween…try one out for yourselves! ETB

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