Jim Ablao, "Climbing at the Boulderado"
Douglas Dellinger, "She said that I needed to sit down"
Aimee Horton, "A Call from the Boulderado"
Len Barron, "Dinner for Dr. Robert McFarland"
Spencer Harte, "My Two Alexes"
Juliann Brumbaugh, "Ghost on the Staircase"
Lori Hoppe, "A Fun New Year's Eve"
Carrie Host, "Lobby Love"
"Thinking back to my twelve years in Boulder and working at the Boulderado, many memorable moments stand out. I was much younger and the Boulderado was my first job away from home, away from school, and it was great to feel the independence of moving west, from the great lakes with all my belongings in a hockey duffle bag. I was where I wanted to be, Boulder, Colorado. I was twenty years old, and climbing the cliffs of Eldorado, Boulder Canyon and the towering Flatirons was my main mission. I enjoyed many years as an employee at the Boulderado. The hours were perfect, working early and giving me the afternoon and evening to explore the Front Range. I had a lot of memorable adventures and gained many scares and scars in the hills around Boulder. Through that time the Boulderado was my ground, home base. So many great people, staff, and guests that moved in and out of that old building. While I was exploring the beauty of the land outside I also forged friendships with some great people around me and met many interesting characters there. The Boulderado is one of those rare places where you can feel its history and pulse that's been a part of connecting the people of Boulder for so many years. Which brings me back to the moment I want to share. When it all came together one late night at work.
I was entrusted with the task of cleaning glass, the backside of the stained glass that hovers over the lobby had collected dust for decades. I was splayed out on a two-foot-wide plank of plywood bridged over the support beams that suspend the stained glass two stories over the lobby. I had dropped a rag as I was shuffling to turn around on my narrow perch. Reaching over the end of the plank with one hand as far as I could, I couldn't quite reach it. I had a harness on and was securely tied to a beam so as not to go through the glass if I fell. Legs wrapped around the board, both arms out -- stretched reaching . . . reaching . . . I've got it in hand. From below the glass I hear a sharp voice, "Oh my God, there's a guy on the glass!" With both arms over my head and most of my torso hanging over the edge and my legs wrapping the board, I realized I couldn't easily move back onto the board. I put one hand onto the plank at my thigh and began to scootch myself back. Floundering around I inched my way onto the plank. Dripping with sweat, feeling quite foolish and a bit embarrassed I sat there in the middle of that cavernous atrium grumbling. I shuffled my plank around the wires and beams over to the open third floor window and climbed out.
"Hey!" I hear as I walked down the staircase to the Mezzanine. And there, at a small marble table, was a couple with an extra beer in hand. "I thought you might want one of these," the man said. It was the couple who saw my rag-doll shaddow puppet show through the stained glass. I clocked out and shared a few beers and conversation with them. I never saw them again but it really made a moment I may have wanted to forget into a memorable evening. It took me a few more nights to finish. I did take the next few days off from climbing. I would find myself in a few more interesting situations at the Boulderado over those years with both feet on the floor. But that's another story."
-- Jim Ablao
Smith Rock, Oregon
**Favorite Story ~ January 2010**
"My wife and I met in Palo Alto, California. She was originally from Montpellier, France, and I had grown up in rural Iowa. I had lived in Boulder in the 80's while attending graduate school so I was quite familiar with The Catacombs. When I asked my wife to marry me, she tearfully told me that she could never have children as a result of an endrocrine condition that was diagnosed when she was a teenager. Being a medical researcher myself, I contacted a friend who specialized in similar disorders, and he sent us to a local colleague at Stanford Medical School. The physician at Stanford confirmed my wife's condition and explained that our only option for having a family was through adoption; a pretty heart-wrenching depressing realization for my wife.
A few weeks later I traveled to Boulder on business and stayed at the Hotel Boulderado. To cheer my wife up, I arranged to stay at the Boulderado through the weekend and have her fly in to join me. After picking her up from the airport, she was quiet for the whole trip back to Boulder. The minute I got her suitcase into the hotel room, she said that I needed to sit down, that she had something to tell me. She told me that she was pregnant; the joy on her face was probably as remarkable as the shock and disbelief on mine! That weekend we so enjoyed Boulder that we schemed a plan to eventually move to Boulder to raise our family. Our first daughter was born November 15th of 1999 and we moved to Boulder two years later in December of 2001. We currently have three children, two of which were born at Boulder Community Hospital. Still, every time we walk by the Boulderado, my wife and I have to talk about that night and how it changed our lives."
-- Douglas Dellinger
"It was late summer 1994. I arrived in Boulder for the first time, filled with enthusiasm about starting a new life in a beautiful place. At the same time, I also needed to find work as a massage therapist. As per a friend's suggestions on where to find a job, I ventured out to what was described to me as a 'beautiful, historic hotel called the Boulderado.'
I walked into the hotel and was instantly charmed by its old-time elegance. At the front desk, I spoke to hotel staff about getting a job as an on-call therapist. They informed me it would be difficult at first since there was a long list of therapists on call, but he would keep my resume on file. A bit discouraged, I went home to continue settling into my new home.
Later that day, I received a call from the Boulderado. The person asked me if I could give a massage later that same day. Pleasantly surprised, I answered that i most definitely could -- and then he explained that my client would be someone 'famous.' It turned out to be Patti Scialfa, wife of Bruce Springsteen and a member of the E Street Band . . .! At that point, my enthusiasm went up another ten notches, and we agreed on the logistics and time of the appointment.
A couple of hours later, I met Ms. Scialfa's manager in the lobby of the lobby of the hotel, and he escorted me to her room. As I entered, Patti was seated on the bed with headphones on, apparently listening to music -- her manager explained that she was in Boulder recording her own project, without Bruce. As I walked into the room, I noticed that she didn't look up to acknowledge me; in fact, I don't think she even knew I was there. I remember thinking, "Oh boy, this is going to be interesting." I suddenly felt nervous.
Soon the manager let her know the massage was to begin. She finally looked at me and gave me a big smile. As she was getting on the table, she said 'Hi, I'm Patti!' During the massage, we talked quite a bit. Patti told me a lot about herself, including mentioning Bruce only as 'her husband' several times. To my surprise, it was an extremely friendly and fun session. I felt very much at ease.
When it came time to leave, she gave me a warm goodbye and said she was very happy with the massage, and that she would let the hotel concierge know this and would encourage him to send me a lot more business. I left the room feeling rather uplifted.
This is one of the happy memories the Boulderado holds for me. Exactly seven years later, in August 2001, I was married on the Mezzanine to my wonderful husband Gary. Interesting how life comes around full circle sometimes . . .
"Over the years the most continuing pleasure I've gotten at the Boulderado has been on the Mezzanine listening to live jazz with Andy Weyl on the piano and Mark Diamond on the bass along with their guest musicians.
But without question the most impressionable evening for me at the Boulderado was on March 10th, 1990, when people filled the Ballroom for a celebration dinner in honor of Dr. Robert McFarland.
After dinner folks stood up and told of Bob being one of the founders of the People's Clinic and the Boulder Valley Women's Health Center, the first abortion clinic in Colorado. They also spoke of his many years hosting "A Public Affair," an interview program on KGNU and his constant presence in the peace movement, his starting Parenting Place in 1984, a workshop and resource center for new parents and their children. (Two years ago Bob created a similar program in Boulder's sister city of Dushanbe, Tajikistan.)
People celebrated the range of Bob's work and the crowning touch of the evening was the number of people who got up and told of things that Bob had done for them, medical and personal . . . it went on and on. Bob never talked of those things, he just did them.
That evening was a celebration of good deeds, community, and friendship, and Bob McFarland, who died on November 22nd of this year (2008) was a grand expression of those qualities. That dear and stubborn man will long be remembered in this town."
-- Len Barron
**Favorite Story ~July 2008**
"I fell in love with Boulder the first time I opened my eyes there, and the Boulderado was the first thing I saw, in a blinding blizzard I had stressfully fallen asleep in (I was the passenger, of course!) on the long drive from California. What a beautiful site, that hotel!
Many years later, I was with my best friend, soulmate, and the man I adored. He booked a surprise trip to Boulder, knowing I loved it so, and put us in the Presidential Suite. We were welcomed by wonderful, always smiling, always happy Alex, the doorman/elevator operator. We had many sweet conversations over the years with Alex, always shining the glass on those doors, and he could stop that elevator spot on . . . smooooooooooothly! But, this trip, my love, also named "Alex" took me to Estes Park, and proposed to me. The week we spent at the Boulderado was magical, and we would visit the hotel many, many times over the years.
My very favorite had to be New Years Eve for the millenium. We were married by then, living happily ever after, and we were taking a nap that afternoon preparing to dance the new year in. In the hall, in the silence of the afternoon, we heard these lovely voices singing. We were entranced, and mesmerized, at how beautiful the harmonies were, how rich the voices. Come to find out it was part of that evenings' entertainment, singing do-wop hits from the 50s and 60s, acapella, right outside in the hall. We had an impromptu, private, very special concert for almost 45 minutes, and it was delicious.
I haven't been back to the Boulderado since my husband died suddenly two years ago. I know I will, and I have a feeling it will be without both of my Alexs . . . my husband and the Alex to greet me at the door . . . but I know that the Boulderado (always staffed with the brightest and friendliest people I've seen in all my travels) will welcome me with her stately open arms, like an old friend."
**Favorite Story ~ March 2008**
"When I look at websites such as yours, I miss Colorado so very much! I lived in Boulder 1974-1979 and then Lakewood (Denver) until 1999 when I returned to the land of my birth -- Ohio. I have tremendously fond memories -- Easter buffet at the Boulderado, Friday night drinks on the Mezzanine, dining in the restaurants there. One year when I was a meeting planner for Security Life Reinsurance in Denver, we held a conference at the Boulderado. I finally had a chance to stay there! In the newer wing -- but nonetheless! I believe our group was there for three nights total.
And that is what led to the story I have to share with all of you.
In planning for the conference, I had an initial meeting with a sales/catering director and the only thing I remember is that her name was Sarah. I went one day to the Boulderado -- had been there many times before and knew the property fairly well. From the main lobby I walked up the beautiful staircase to the second floor to meet Sarah. At the turn on the staircase, I passed a woman -- or thought I did -- and after turning up the second flight of stairs looked back to see her. She wasn't there. What I recall -- clearly -- and to this day -- was that she was dressed very old-fashionedly -- a dress that went to the floor, a small hat -- and the image was a dark (almost charcoal) gray -- no color. Opaque -- not transparent or "ghostly" at all.
I thought -- hmmm. I'm not unfamiliar with "ghosts" and assure you that NO spirits were involved that day (haha).
When I met Sarah, I told her what I saw. Her response was one of no surprise -- as though she had heard it before.
We met for quite a while, going over menus and room rates and the obligatory tour. I left thinking nothing other than of the morning in Boulder and needing to go back to work in Denver . . . and knowing full well I would delay the return. As I walked DOWN the staircase, I once again passed a woman. The same woman. She was walking up, past me. As I turned to the second flight down, I again looked to see her -- and she was gone. I seem to recall that she made eye contact with me.
I am very interested in knowing if others have shared identical information. I know what I saw and do not require validation. I just find it interesting. And just who WAS she?"
"I was 38 years old, and I had NEVER had a fun New Year's Eve. We usually stayed home and did nothing or went to a lame party at someone's house. But that year, some friends of ours wanted us to go to the Hotel Boulderado with them for New Year's Eve. I'm so thankful that we did because we had so much fun that night ,and that following November 1999, one of our friends died suddenly of a heart attack. Now, every time I hear the name Hotel Boulderado, I think about dancing with my friend that night, having the time of our lives!"
**Favorite Story ~ February 2008**
"My story of love definitely began the moment I first saw my husband in the lobby of the Hotel Boulderado. We met there, by the grandfather clock, on November 4th, 1994. We are now married with three children, and come each November, we delight in boring them with our story -- the story of how we fell in love in the lobby of the Hotel Boulderado.
I was a single mother with two lovely children: a daughter, Chanel, five, and a son, Marco, then three. I had just finished an early dinner with friends at the Med, and as I meandered to my car, I realized I still had an hour and a half before I had to be home. I stopped into the Hotel to take a tour of my past, but auspiciously, walked right into my future.
I had been a cocktail waitress there, when I was a student at CU. I entered through the Corner Bar and crossed the lobby towards "Teddy's," the restaurant aptly named for Theodore Roosevelt, a former guest. Next I headed down the stairs and poked my head into the "Catacombs," the basement bar where we used to do our check-out after our shifts upstairs were done. I headed back up the grand staircase to check out the Mezzanine, the area where I had worked for two years, which back in the early 80s was one of Boulder's central "hot spots." Looking up at the stained glass dome, I smiled at its continuous golden grandeur. Walking back down the stairs, I looked over the banister on the landing to see what had become of "The Oyster Bar," which was once tucked into the corner to the right of the reception desk. I did a visual double-take. There, to the left of that same desk, were two tall men standing beside the grandfather clock, momentarily giving the uncanny appearance of three faces. I remember thinking they seemed oddly to resemble three clocks standing in a row. Though I wanted to take a closer look, I didn't make eye contact with them as I descended but walked past, trying my best to appear uninterested.
One of the gentlemen, as it would turn out, was my former college friend, Warren Stickney, whom I hadn't seen in seven years. The other had come to the hotel to meet him for a drink. They had just met up and were standing in the lobby, when I crossed their path. What were the chances of each of us being there in the same five minutes?
Apparently, my detour was just the break the two needed in order to devise a plan to "get the girl." They agreed enthusiastically, that at least they had me "trapped" -- knowing that the side hall I had entered would mean I'd have to cross through the lobby again to leave the hotel. Warren was able to recall my name just in time to rescue the situation for his friend, who had decided that he absolutely had to meet me. Warren called out to me as I passed them by, and upon recognizing him I rushed to greet him with a big smile and an even bigger hug. The old grandfather clock may have been ticking but time stopped right then.
"Amory Host," his friend said, as he took my right hand and kissed it, looking me straight in the eyes. I felt that invisible sparkle one feels when something in nature is so magnificent and bold, that one stands simply awe-struck. For that single second, every thought cleared from my head. Feeling shy, I looked down to try and recover my composure and saw the small black and white tiles, beneath his worn, brown cowboy boots. (I thought it was a good sign, as I was also wearing cowboy boots, though mine were black, with red hearts and white flowers.)
They invited me to have a cocktail with them back in the Corner Bar where an hour felt like five minutes. And because I was so thoroughly smitten with this man, I decided that the best thing to do would be to run, and quickly. Although he had mentioned wanting to invite me to dinner, he hadn't yet asked for my phone number. Oh well, I reasoned, he would look me up, if he were the resourceful man he appeared. I snuck out.
I vanished into the lobby and slipped through the double doors, pleased to retrieve myself from the old hotel. My quickening pulse told the truth, and I wanted to run back, and to run away, all at the same time. I picked up my pace, briskly walking down the wet sidewalk, glistening like a dark river, grateful for the cold, tangible air. When I heard him calling my name, I turned to see him a block down, his calm, powerful energy like a velvet current, rolling gently towards me.
"Hey Carrie, wait up . . . where are you going?" he called, with just a trace of longing.
"I was just going to get my coat . . . for later," I fumbled with a lie.
"No you weren't. You were leaving. You were leaving me," he smiled, busting my oh-so-sly escape.
"Okay, it's true. I was leaving."
"You can't leave now . . . I've just found you," he said.
I let go of my heart and took the hand he was offering; palm up, to the softly falling snow."
-- Carrie Host (center), Amory Host, and Family
Did you enjoy Carrie's love story?
Learn about her amazing battle with carcinoid cancer in her debut memoir
"Between Me and the River" published by Harlequin.