So we made an attempt to return this past fall. When we arrived, it almost looked like smoke, lingering from 3 years ago. But the quiet little town was just soggy with fog and cold, drizzle.
Funny Little Hotel
We arrived on September 22, just a day or two before the hotel was going to close down for the winter. It looked dark, so we hoped it hadn't already! Don and I were determined to stay at this historic place that was once the best of about 100 hotels in the once booming town of Creede.
There were 3 doors. The one on the left was to the darkened restaurant. The middle door entrance had a barrel with a closed sign. Luckily, the door to the right had a note welcoming us. There were only 4 rooms listed and ours was the only one with a name next to it. It looked like we might be the last guests of the season.
The hardware on the door was pretty ancient, so the door wouldn't click shut after we entered. We headed up the steep stairs and hoped there were decent locks on the 4 guest rooms upstairs.
Calamity Jane Room
I was pretty delighted we had gotten the room that Calamity Jane supposedly stayed in. Her portrait in the room looked nothing like Doris Day, who played her in a very silly musical in 1953.
I'm not sure if Ms. Jane would have loved this decor? The white iron bed would have suited her fine. But would she have adored the two pink walls and ruffled curtains?
It was chilly and damp, so we cranked up the heat to enjoy our little room. There were some old bits of furniture that might have been around in Jane's day. The dresser and mirror looked about right... if you blurred your eyes and imagined a white pitcher and bowl, instead of the coffee maker.
Inside our small room, we did have a little tea table of sorts. It just made me laugh to look above the table cloth and flowerpot to see the portrait of Calamity. She was holding that gun like she was angry about this frilly room decor. Or was she just proudly protecting her guests? I preferred the porch table instead.
It was chilly in the morning, but we had a little coffee and enjoyed our view of Main Street, which was as quiet as the evening before. I was glad to see there was an emergency ladder draped over the railing... in case the ghost of Calamity Jane got any wilder!
The Rest of Hotel
I felt the need to pose with my cowboy boots, but they seemed to get lost in the shadows. I should have known I could not outshine Gene Autry, smiling down from his poster in his fancy hat!
Attached to the north end of the hotel is the restaurant that is oddly enough known for it's delicious food. Don and I had reservations for 7, but there were only a couple tables being served, so we had a drink at the bar, first. Dave who has been the owner and chef for 15 years came out and chatted a while. He showed us a photo of John Wayne at the bar in the 1950's. Our western road trip seemed to be connecting us with John Wayne and Calamity Jane over and over!
Our Quiet Feast
Dave told us how he moved to Creede to escape the new Colorado Boom Towns. He was tired of watching the old mining boom towns, like Boulder and Telluride being taken over by the wealthy. As we feasted on crab cakes and Caesar salad, pork tenderloin with spinach... and mashed sweet potatoes with bacon, brandy and maple syrup... we tried to imagine how a tiny place like this could serve such a feast!
This was not the first time Don and I have been the only guests at a hotel or inn. But usually the host or caretaker has a room in the building. I'm not sure which is more eerie, knowing you're all alone or knowing the host (whom you've just met) is sleeping in a nearby room. But compared to our other stays, this was the most dreamlike and mysterious. The very thought that we could enjoy a gourmet meal on a rainy night in a deserted town in an empty hotel just makes the whole memory more surreal. I'm so glad we finally got to have our stay!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!