On the Road
Don and I spotted Hotel Ekland on our drive to Colorado, 4 years ago.
This time, we spent the night at the old hotel, which by the way, was actually built before 1905.
The Older the Better
I like the oldies! This sturdy, stone hotel (at least the first 2 floors) was built in 1892. I think they should flaunt that.
Originally, shops were on the first floor and rental rooms on the top. Carl Eklund bought the building, some years later and added a saloon. The saloon brought in enough money to add that third floor.
Stone Meets Brick
I always like figuring out the puzzle pieces of old buildings and their additions.
On the side of the hotel, there was a pleasant little sitting area with tables and flowers. We could see where a brick addition had joined the old stonework.
The lobby had a living room feel, with a small sitting area and some unusual rockers.
Nuns and Popes for Sale
Near the entrance, there was a small gift shop where we could buy postcards or jewelry.
But for a more unusual travel souvenir, we could have bought a gourd painted like a nun or monk or pope! The "innkeeper" was busily working on her gourd crafts when she wasn't attending to desk.
Framed Hotel History
While Don distracted our gourd artist to get us checked in, I found some historical goodies.
Hotel wallpaper, circa 1893 (with an arrow on the bullet hole) and a rosary, found imbedded in the plaster wall of room #2, when they did renovations.
Up We Go
There was an elevator, but the stairs were handy to our second floor room.
206, The Dorsey
There were 3 rooms on the second floor, that shared the hotel's balcony. Our room #206 was the middle one.
It was named Dorsey, not for Tommy of Big Band days, but Stephen Dorsey. Mr. Dorsey started up this town of Clayton, and gave the town his son's name.
Originally there were 42 guest rooms and some community bathrooms. After renovations were completed in 2004, there were 26 rooms with private baths.
I was happy to not share a bath down the hall. Ours was spotless and the towels were fluffy. The western style furniture was newish, but not exactly hotel quality. I don't think it would have stood up to those rough cattlemen who stayed here 100 years ago.
There was a steady wind, gusting through town all evening, but we were determined to make use of the balcony.
Don and I spent a little time hanging out on the breezy terrace, keeping an eye on Main Street.
If it had been a weekend, we could have strolled across to the old movie house.
There were no shows on Tuesday night, so we took a walk down Main Street.
We walked down past the Feed & Supply warehouse.
We didn't see any trains, but we heard them in the night. You have to get used to train sounds if you want to stay in old hotels.
We had to wait for the big set of metal gates to be unlocked, before we passed through the swinging saloon doors. Funny, they had similar locked gates keeping us out of the dining room as well.
Maybe that's because Clayton has had to deal with some notorious characters in the past. We learned about Blackjack Ketchum when we had a drink in the saloon. There were some rather eerie pictures of him being hung.
The Old Oak Bar
The beautiful bar, that Mr. Eklund won in a poker game, was mighty impressive.
You could picture some dusty characters lined up along the stand-up bar. The lack of stools meant you could get a good look at the arches and pillars in the design. The lack of a bartender, made it hard to get a drink.
Quiet at First
We amused ourselves with the buffalo head and some old photographs until a young woman wandered out to serve us a drink.
The dining room was closed, so we ended up eating dinner in the bar, which eventually filled with a crowd of mostly locals. The meatloaf, salad and soup was actually quite tasty.
Don and I waited for the gates to open in the formal dining room for the complimentary breakfast.
The woman putting out the food seemed to have a system that we didn't want to disturb.
We watched her bring out numerous trays with dishes covered in plastic wrap. We were a bit perplexed by the cold quiche and oatmeal, but then realized a nearby microwave was there for our convenience.
A Little Scared
Don found us a table by the fireplace, under the watchful eye of Mrs. Eklund... I think. We were careful to avoid the lower part of the dining room that had been purposefully blocked by a chair.
Our food server told us that some guests just want to sit there because it's pretty. I wanted to ask her, "And why exactly aren't guests allowed to sit there?" But she sort of scared me.
Don doesn't look scared in this photo, but he should have been!
Look at the whispy bit of a ghost that seems to be photobombing this image! Yikes, that might be the spirit of Blackjack Ketchum!
I'll remember how sturdy The Eklund felt, in this town of dust and wind. The sandstone exterior, will be what I remember. The interior was less impressive with lobby knickknacks and mixture of real and "new" antiques.
It was exactly what I expected to see, because small town historic hotels often reflect the personality of the community... those who contribute.
My favorite part of the hotel was the porch with the view of Main Street. I could sit there and imagine it was 1910. The ranchers and railroad men would be pretty thirsty when they arrived and headed for the great oak bar in the saloon!
Matador is not exactly a tourist destination, but it does have some curious ranching history... and it just happened to be on our road trip route.
We figured the hotel from 1915, probably had some stories to tell, so we booked a night.
Snores and TV
We arrived late afternoon and let ourselves in the front door.
We immediately noticed a man stretched out, snoring on the couch. We tiptoed past the man and the big TV, which was showing a western movie.
In Search of the Inn Keeper
We assumed the man wasn't the owner, since the hotel is owned by 3 sisters.
We wandered through the dining room and found Linda in the kitchen. She checked us in and chuckled over the sleeper. "Oh he's a frequent guest."
The Barber's Room?
Linda told us we'd find our room upstairs. We walked past this beautiful door at the base of the stairs. It had the original knob and transom. The door was actually open at the time, since it belonged to the sleeping man.
I peeked in and saw a long mirror covering the opposite wall. Later when the sleeping man woke up, he explained that his room had once been a barber shop. It also held a bathtub and cowboys from all around could come to the hotel barber and get a haircut and a bath for 25 cents. The old bathtub was long gone, but a big whirlpool tub is now in the room.
Miss Meddie's Quilt Room
Our room didn't have nearly as much fun history. It was a small room with a quilt theme and some little antique accents here and there.
Over the years the hotel has been converted to apartments, then a single home and back again to a hotel. Sadly some of the historic charm disappeared, when old doors and walls were removed and new ones were added. I'm not sure if the window was old or new, since It was completely hidden behind the drapes and window unit. I did peek through to see if there was a view, but only saw a brick wall.
The decor was a little like a vintage resale shop. There was a little lace here, a flower vase and a quilted heart there.
This is the stuff that collects dust in shops and B&Bs. But at least it was clean. The bathroom was sufficient and at least it had a table to hold stuff. We had picked one of the cheapest rooms, so our expectations weren't high. We were just there for one night, so there was no need for luxury.
Relaxing in the Evening
It was 100 degrees when we checked in, but the air was dry and a breeze was blowing.
We bought a couple beers at the grocery store next door and sat on the patio beside the building. (Luckily we didn't need the fire escape during the night.)
We didn't have a view from our room, but the view from the patio showed us the Matador water tower.
I happen to love old water towers that have "heads" like the Tin Woodsman. So that view pleased me.
There was a huge storm in the night, but we slept well with the loud hum of the window unit.
In the morning we came down and headed through the sitting room. Our sleeping friend was now at the breakfast table.
A Feast and Good Talk
Don and I joined the other two guests at the quilt covered table for breakfast.
Eric was a geological engineer, I think and Bo was a Nuclear engineer, so we had some intelligent table talk.
Too Much Food
Linda served us our feast, which Erik called, "Nap on a plate". 2 fried eggs, 3 slices of bacon, hashed browns, English muffins, broiled tomato with cheese and 10-ton apple scone.
Erik, who is a frequent guest because of oil field work, asked if we'd been to the jailhouse, down the street. He said it was a must. Later, Linda gave us a key and we had a pretty amazing visit in the creepy building that once housed prisoners above and the jailer's family, below.
Bo, who grew up in Matador but was visiting a family grave site, remembered the jail keeper who used to live there. We heard from others that the jail was haunted, but Don and I had no encounters when we explored on our own.
It was fun to hear Bo tell stories about living in town, when it was thriving during his childhood. He said he used to get his hair cut at the hotel's barber shop, that is now a guest room. He talked about the once famous, Bob's Oil Well gas station, just down the road.
He remembered eating at the petrified wood cafe, next door. What I read later, told me that the station's owner, killed himself at a Hotel, in Matador. I'm guessing it must have been our hotel, since we didn't see another hotel in town that would have been around in 1946, when Bob shot himself. Yikes! I think our hotel did have stories to tell.
It was a pretty dull town and a not so exciting hotel. But our breakfast with Bo and Erik ended up making the visit memorable. When it came time to check out, I once again couldn't find Linda and had an awkward encounter, after knocking on doors to find her. The vibe of our stay was more boarding house than bed & breakfast... but I'm kind of okay with that.
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!