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November 28, 2015
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Ouray’s Western Hotel: A Very Brady Slaughter House
By Mick Zano
Ouray’s Western Hotel: A Very Brady Slaughter House
Mick Zano

Ouray, CO—Part two of our compelling four part series takes us to Ouray. The town is about as scenically situated as our last Rocky Mountain sojourn, Telluride. These days I only do sojourns. You want an adventure vacation, go with Cokie McGrath. She’ll have you climbing the Matterhorn by lunchtime. Luckily, the Matterhorn in Ouray is a cheesy motel and I’ve already been on the roof...with a beer.

Ouray is not called ‘the Swiss Alps of America’ for nothing. I believe it’s because of their rich & creamy hot cocoa. We arrived in the one horse town to the news of a mudslide back in Telluride. I like to stay one step ahead of Mother Nature, the bitch. Alex Bone told me the last time he was in town a flashflood washed away all of his beverages. After a thorough search of every puddle and pool in the San Juan Mountains, he recovered only one beer. He cried. Apparently he had started with more.

For starters, my wife and I decided to hit a small coffee shop in town. There, I Googled Ouray, Colorado ghosts, and then the haunting echoes of Ri-co-la. My initial web search revealed only a barrage of tasteless pornography. Oh, this isn’t my computer. Whew, I thought I was in the wrong town...or the right town depending on one’s mood. Really, dude? Amputee porn?

Then we checked in. As it turned out, my glorified motel is nestled not only between the towering San Juan Mountains but between three of the most haunted places in town: St. Elmo’s Hotel, Wright’s Opera House and the historic Beaumont Hotel. As a seasoned professional, I obviously snagged the perfect base from which to explore all three of these paranormal hotspots. Or, one could argue, I managed to pick the only non-haunted place on this block. It was a shame I never set foot in any of them.

Prior to starting our para-abnormal research, I decided on a good hike to get the blood pumping. The Cascade Waterfalls are just outside of town. However, due to a combination of the elevation and O’Brienitis, a rare Irish pub-induced condition (IPIC), my wife and I were unable to hike the arduous ¼ mile to the base of the falls. It took us two days not to make the trek. I knew we were in trouble after the first night, when we had to set up a base camp on the north side of the parking area. We did manage to get a nice picture of the waterfall outside of our motel, though, which I’m sure is just as spectacular.

Hotel Falls

Besides, you can see the falls just fine from the bar.

Cascade Falls

The next step was to walk around town to get a feel for the place. So we beat up an old woman for her Rascal scooter. The first structure that cried out "haunted" was a place called the Western Hotel. The hotel hadn’t shown up on my last Googling endeavors, but my instincts are never wrong. Amputee porn? Really?

We decided to eat dinner at the place as the menu had food on it and we were hungry from a long day of not hiking. While waiting to be served, I hit the non-amputee porn section of Google. Sure enough, there were two stories. The first claimed the hotel’s cash register was haunted (this claim was made by one of their skinnier opiate-dependent employees) and the other involved the apparition of a woman frequenting the grand staircase (looking for her stolen Rascal?).

While waiting for my Rocky Mountain oysters to arrive, I interviewed the desk clerk. He turned out to be the owner, Greg. About five years ago his wife (he requested we leave her out of this, so we’ll call her Marcia) was doing some chores. No, this isn’t the Hawaii, cursed amulet episode. I know...that’s my favorite too. But as Marcia approached room seven, the door opened of its own accord. Greg explained the front part of the building sags, so this isn’t that unusual. But, just as she turned back toward the hallway, Marcia’s laundry basket chose that moment to go tumbling down the stairs to the first floor. Alice the maid is going to be pissed! Luckily, Marcia blamed the incident on Jan and/or Cindy.

All interviews in my paranormal posts are actual accounts. I never lie or exaggerate any part of someone else’s story. Occasionally Brady Bunch excerpts may surface out of some innate need to be moronic, but otherwise I tell these anecdotal tales and they’re usually the only noteworthy tidbits of "evidence" in my investigations.

That was all about to change...

Much to the annoyance of the other patrons, I started snapping numerous pictures of the barroom, the hotel lobby and the grand staircase. After focusing most of my energy on the, I mean the staircase, I got nothin’. Not even a phone number.

When I rejoined my wife at the dinner table, I was both shocked and saddened to see ghostly orbs all over my pictures. Shit! This is a joke ghost adventure. What was I supposed to do with actual ghostly orbs? This never happens. We PhotoShop our evidence here at The Discord, damnit! This is an example from my investigation of the Pioneer Saloon in Nevada, Ghost Writers in the Sand.

Now that’s some fake ghost hunting magic, that is. Here’s my first picture. Sadly, no PhotoShopping necessary. You can take the night off, fellas.

Lion/Deer Orbs

Then I realized, they’re probably just the ghosts of the mountain lion and the deer forever locked in some type of eternal National Geographic battle in the hereafter. Then to my further horror, my ridiculous theory gained further credence when I zoomed in on some of the other animals in the establishment. Geesh. I was going to need another hobby. There were orbs around the lion, the tiger, and the bear, oh my!

Lion/Bear Orbs

So, yes, I was focusing on the heads of these other animals and found more mysterious orbs. At least there was nothing around the swordfish. That would just be wrong. Oh, shit, is there a small one by the swordfish too? No, it’s just a smudge of paint on the trim. Fish do not have souls...but what if they did?

The next night we returned to the Western Hotel, because...ok, to be honest O’Brien’s Irish Pub isn’t open on Tuesdays. Damn you O’Brien’s! You’re dead to me. Dead! Well, we needed to come back to the scene of the orbs anyway. I had to know if fish have souls. So I spent all evening holding the world’s first swordfish vigil. I used 28 triple-A batteries, two candles, two camera memory discs, and I took hundreds of pictures of that swordfish. And I never did get that waitress’s phone number.


Thanks to my efforts, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that fish do not have souls.

So Christians, if you happen to have sex and impregnate a swordfish, you can have that controversial procedure. It’s ok, God understands. Well, he won’t understand why you had sex with a fish, but first things first.

As bizarre as this investigation ended up, I think this case is solved. The seemingly mild mannered, yet crazed Brady Bunch-wannabe guy...hey, I should have tried to pull off his mask. He could have been Mr. Jenkins, the caretaker. I hate it when I blow the Scooby-Doo ending. Anyway, the owner of this old spooky hotel must have murdered countless animals. He butchered them in the basement, decapitated them, and then hung their grisly remains on the walls as trophies, the sick bastard. Apparently, the animals are still not happy about this. This doesn’t just solve this case; this closes a whole chapter of paranormal research. Mammals have souls, fish do not.

Now here’s my second theory:

What if these are actual people-ghost-orb-thingies (APGOT)? Look at where they’re hanging out: around a bar. This further supports my sudsular generated apparitions (SGA) theory. I couldn’t find the old lady on the staircase, why? Because stairs are f-ing boring, that’s why. A good pub, now that’s a poltergeist party. My best picture was of three orbs right over the bar. Sorry, I couldn’t work the third one into a joke. Ghosts like to haunt their old haunts—places where fine alcoholic beverages are served. And the beer selection here rocks, particularly the bottle selection. Perhaps ghosts themselves manifest through some type of a brewular substance...ecto-pilsner?

Where did the haunted cash register story take place? The cash register is behind the bar. Where are most of the orbs? Behind the bar. Where is my research going to land me someday? Behind some bars.

Ecto-pilsner...I like that.

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