Curious Colorado Town!
Teller County Hospital
This is the photo I took when we discovered the hotel in 1985. We were eager about the idea of a staying overnight, in an 84 year old building. We were even more excited that the building had originally housed a hospital, that treated the local miners from the last Colorado Gold Boom. We hiked up that long set of stairs, to learn more.
Earlier that day, we had toured an old gold mine. Our guide was a retired miner who was missing a finger, from a mining accident. He shared some interesting stories about the thousands of of men, who had worked in the dangerous mines, in the late 1800's.
Our Eerie Photos
In my old hotel photos, Don and Chris look humorously hesitant. But I'm pretty sure we 3, were more than thrilled about the place. We were quickly welcomed by the host, who invited us to look around and chose our rooms.
We had a giddy time exploring. Like most old hotels, there were antiques. But there were also antique wheelchairs and operating tables and even a bedpan or too. Scary? No, just fun. I have fond memories and for decades I hoped to return.
On a road trip 6 years ago, I noticed Cripple Creek on the map. Don and I took a detour and dropped by to see if the hotel was still open.
I was pretty delighted to see the old building, which was by then 113 years old. I had totally forgotten the RV park on the property. I barely remembered the retro seesaw and monkey bars in front. I snapped some photos and once again hiked the stairs, before grabbing a brochure, for a future stay.
Six Years Later
This year, Don and I planned another Colorado road trip and we made sure to book a night at the Hospitality House. When we arrived on a beautiful day in early June, it took me a moment to figure out what was wrong.
That crazy staircase was gone! Where was that exhausting display of steps, that made me picture doctors and nurses climbing and gasping for breath... before they treated their patients! Of course, locals would have been used to the 9,494 elevation. Not me!
When I look at these now and then images, I just have to wonder why on earth they ever had all those stairs in front? Later when I spotted a photo from 1902, I wondered again about the ever-changing stairs. 117 years ago, there was a totally different, arched, double staircase, leading up to the entrance.
When we arrived this past June, I was glad I had a past photo to help untangle my memories. It was fun to study the changed exterior. The lack of stairs seemed to put the focus on the wonderful porches.
There was no climbing to reach the lobby this time. We passed some colorful hummingbird feeders and walked through a large sun porch to the first floor lobby. Right away we were greeted by one of the owners. Rick was very amused to hear that we'd stayed so many years ago.
Questions for Rick
The stories have been preserved as well. Rick gave me a 15-page write up, of the hospital's history. He laughed that it might be more than I wanted to know, but I was totally entertained!
A Cripple Creek Native
Don and I also had some fun talking with Gary Lou, when she came on duty. Gary Lou was surprised to learn that we had been guests, 5 years before she began working at the hotel. She was born in Cripple Creek, possibly around the same year I was born in Indiana. I wonder if they had any paved roads in Cripple Creek, when she was born? There was only one in 1985.
St. Nicholas Hospital from 1898
It was especially interesting to read more about "Doc" later. I learned that he had come to town in 1922, to find work as a miner. When he learned about the need for additional physicians, (40+ doctors wasn't enough) he took a 2-year medical course and began treating local patients. By 1942, the boom was long over and Dr. Denham was the only doctor in the county. He continued to practice (often supporting the hospital, with his own funds) until his death in 1984.
Exploring and Learning
My blog rambles a bit, but it's sometimes hard not to share the fun tidbits we learn with our stays. Our most notable nights, usually involve an enthused "people encounter" and Rick was just that. He did not bombard us with history. He only shared, when we showed sincere interest!
Rick pointed out a downstairs guest room, with a thought provoking history. The large guest room is now called the Outpatient Room. Rick said it had initially been a dorm-like space for men, who earned their keep by helping out at the hospital. The facility really had two purposes, when it opened in 1902. It was known as the "Teller County Poorhouse and Hospital". Lots to think about with that.
I was eager to head up to the floor, where patients once stayed and operations occurred. I remembered the staircase well... extra wide, to accommodate gurneys and stretchers.
Wallpaper and Transoms
I recognized the wallpaper from my old photos. The transoms looked different. Rick said the plain glass was replaced with stained glass designs, to block the intrusion of hall light at night. That was appreciated!
New and Old
I loved seeing the old radiator and the rocker, with lion heads. The wooden wheelchair looked familiar, but it was now roped off... so no playing, like 34 years ago.
The carpet had been replaced. I'm all for authenticity... but new carpet is nice!
I spotted an old doctor's bag and wondered who once carried it. Was the bag owner a doctor, who practiced in 1902... when 14-year-old, Roy Bourquin was rushed to Teller Hospital, after blowing off his hands, while playing with explosive powder?
Hopefully Roy's ghost was not wandering these hallways. Roy eventually became a resident at Teller Hospital, in the Poorhouse, I assume. He continued to cause serious problems with his love of dynamite, despite the fact he had no hands. He lived at the facility, until a more serious action sent him to prison, in 1922.
Don and I were mighty pleased that we were able to grab the Operating Room for our overnight! Some might shy away from the room's history, but we grinned with anticipation as we headed towards the door. Luckily I didn't know the story of Roy, when we walked in. I didn't picture the young pyromaniac being treated in our room... until right now. Yikes!
The room looked as clean as an operating room should be. I remembered peeking in this room years ago, but I didn't notice the odd doorway to the bath, until this time.
Our bathroom had once been the Scrub Room. My photo shows how the brown woodwork, is within a larger (white) frame. After the medical staff scrubbed up, they they would head through the large opening, to the Operating Room... I guess.
Our Own Scrub Room!
Bathing in the Scrub Room might not thrill all guests. But there are many options for others, who don't like to be reminded of the hotel's odd history. But, I loved our scrub room! Look at the old transom, hiding behind the toilet and shower. That was the room's other entrance, from the hall.
The original marble sinks and floor tile were impressive. The brass buttons on the floor didn't function, but I had fun imagining the physicians and nurses, working them with their feet.
Updated Just Enough
Our cozy room had been updated just a bit, since I peeked in 6 years before. There were new window treatments and the queen bed had new bedding.
Chairs and Windows
Our room wasn't huge, but there was enough space on both sides of the bed, for a table and lamp, a chair and even a radiator. I'm always thrilled when Don and I get our own lamps and tables in old hotels.
Three tall windows and the bright white tile, made the room seem even larger than it was. In fact, our room seemed much better suited for relaxing, than for operating.
Time For Fun
Then and Now
Next, it was time to revisit some of our old photos. The photo of Don and Chris speaks for itself! It's lucky we were ever welcomed back after to Hospitality House.
This time, we respected the protective rope, for our photo op. Don didn't have nearly as much fun posing, without Chris.
Years ago, I stuffed a pillow under my sweatshirt, when we stayed in the Maternity Room. This time, we didn't have a third to take our photo and I was too old to play "Mommy". I popped a nurse hat on and cradled the pillow, instead.
Cripple Creek Donkeys!
This was a huge highlight for me! The friendly herd of 17, are believed to be descendants of the original donkeys that worked the mines. They are basically the town mascots, roaming the town freely from mid May through October. Healthy feeding is encouraged.
I was surprised to know that a local club has cared for the donkeys since the 1930's. I never spotted any critters on our past visits. We wondered how the residents feel about these critters. Rick assured me that the donkeys came first. "If you don't like donkeys in your yard, you're encouraged to build a fence." I love that.
The cutest donkey moment, was when two seemed to snuggle up, in the middle of the street. I told Rick later and he told us the donkeys often hang out with their favorite buddies. That made me a little sad, when I noticed the third donkey in this photo. He needs a buddy.
Solarium Happy Hour
It was time for Happy Hour, when we returned to the hotel, already in giddy spirits. Don and I remembered the second floor solarium, from years ago. It was the perfect place to celebrate!
Gary Lou gave us some ice and Don made a couple martinis... although they look like glasses of water in this photo. Hmmm? We made a toast to the donkeys!
There were other guests, but we had the wonderful glassed in porch to ourselves. We spotted the actual wheelchair from our photo, 34 years ago. We were told later that the operating table (holding the baby scale) had actually been used for surgeries, in our room.
We didn't get around to checkers, but we loved lounging with our view through the glass. As the wind picked up, the surrounding trees became very entertaining. I could have sat there forever, but we needed to get some dinner.
Rick recommended a restaurant called, Maggie's. We walked about a mile to town and ate in the basement restaurant, which had once been the town morgue. The food was quite good and gave us energy for the uphill hike back to the hotel. As we headed up the hill towards the glowing, brick building, we were glad we were able to return... unlike some of the patients who ended up at the morgue, after their stay at Teller County Hospital...
Don and I slept well in the Operating Room. In the morning, we scrubbed up well and headed to the "kitchen" for our complimentary breakfast snack.
There were a couple of old stoves and an antique table, holding some decent breakfast options. We chatted with Rick one more time before heading off. He laughed at the photos I shared from our visit years ago. He gave us some great suggestions for a scenic drive to the nearby town of Victor and some old mines. We were off, in great spirits!
This time around was even better. (Except that Chris wasn't with us!) Don and I may be old geezers now, but we felt as giddy as we did in 1985. We had a hoot of a good time, rediscovering all the delights of the hotel.
While we enjoyed all the whacky medical stuff, we also appreciated learning about the history and the renovation.. and preservation. Thanks so much to Rick and Gary Lou for helping with that. This was not just an oddball overnight stay in a hospital building. We learned about its connection to the town and the people.
We left happy! We won't wait 34 years to return, this time!
"Flagship of the San Juans" of 1886
Don and I spotted this Victorian beauty when visiting Ouray, in 2013. It looked pretty grand on the outside, with the San Juan Mountains in the background. We could see how it got its nickname, way over 100 years ago.
A Peek Inside
On that summer day, we stepped inside to have a look around. The hotel had recently undergone major renovations. The lobby, with its split staircase, looked pretty swanky. Swanky at least, for a town of only about 1,000.
We put The Beaumont on our list, for a future trip.
Beaumont Hotel & Spa in 2019
This past June, Don and I had our chance to be guests at the Beaumont Hotel & Spa. Neither of us cared about the spa features of the hotel. I was mostly eager to know that our second visit to Ouray, would involve a hotel room... with a bathroom and no bullet holes.
We arrived at 3 and found no one at the lobby desk, but a sign told us to use the antique phone, for assistance.
A young voice answered politely and soon we heard her steps trotting down from the 3rd floor. The young woman welcomed us with much enthusiasm and got us checked in.
Posing Like Newlyweds
Our very enthused host saw me trying to photograph the staircase and offered to take our picture. She teased us into posing like many of the bridal couples, who have celebrated weddings at the hotel. Our western attire wasn't exactly suited for the photo shoot.
My eyes kept wandering upward, as we chatted at the desk. The afternoon sun through the skylight, made the lobby extra dramatic.
Later, when we climbed the stairs towards the skylight, I found my favorite view. Looking over the railing on the 3rd floor, I took in all the shapes and patterns and angles... above, across and below. Altogether, the wallpaper, railings and woodwork created a fun design!
Looking down, I was glad we weren't traveling with small kids who like to climb, or drop things. Actually small kids aren't allowed at the hotel. So I guess that's never an issue.
Our host took us to our third floor room. We rolled our bags past some lovely doors and a stack of vintage trunks. Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover were once guests at the hotel. That was back in the day, when people traveled with steamer trunks.
I recognized the intricate wallpaper from our first visit. I recall some stories about the renovation challenges and the difficulties of matching the original wallpaper patterns. I couldn't decide which was my favorite.
Next to The Dragonfly Suite
Each of the 12 rooms had a name plaque. I liked the name of the room next to ours. "Dragonfly" We were told Oprah once stayed in that room.
In our usual style, we booked one of the cheaper rooms. Our room named Sarah, didn't look a bit cheap. I would rather have a queen with 2 nightstands than a king, without. There were certainly no bullet holes in the Sarah!
Our 4 windows were decorated with elegant drapes, pulled open with equally deluxe (and festive) hardware. The windows gave us a good peek at the hotel's garden, below.
Rich and Cozy
Victorian is not always the most comfortable of styles, but we had no complaints. Our pretty little room had all that was needed from desk to ceiling fan, to fridge, microwave, Keurig coffeemaker and TV.
Our marble vanity held 2 sinks, which is a treat in an old hotel. The nightlight was handy and so were the small towels in the box beneath the sink. "Rags... For your dirty work"
Cookies & Robes
After returning from dinner, we decided to make some coffee and chow down on the cookies we'd bought earlier. While the coffee brewed, we discovered the robes. They worked like giant bibs for all those giant cookie crumbs!
We were sad to learn that the hotel no longer had a restaurant and bar. However, our building housed a bookstore and sometimes books can be every bit as exciting as food.
In the morning, we enjoyed a complimentary breakfast in an area that was connected to the book shop.
I sipped my coffee near the old fireplace, waiting for the book store to open at 10.
I'm guessing the breakfast room must have been where the restaurant was in 2013. Many years ago, the same space was a movie theatre.
From the breakfast room, there was another door, (near the stove that held the toaster) that led to the hotel's garden. What a sweet little mountain view, between the buildings!
The Beaumont may no longer have its own dining options, but there were so many options nearby. Ouray felt like an extension of our hotel. We could head right out the door and explore the little mountain town on foot.
We enjoyed the view from the rooftop lounge, at Ouray Brewery and we dined at the Outlaw Restaurant. If we'd been just a little braver, we could have mingled with the locals at the nearby Elk's Lodge. It was Bingo Night and the sign said, "All Welcome!"
It's also hard to believe that our meticulously restored hotel, showed no signs of it's troubled years. There were no hints of the pink paint that covered it, when it sat vacant. I'm so grateful that the Beaumont was rescued... so that we could be guests in 2019!
Curious Place in Redstone, Colorado
Cook Book from 1959
While traveling two years ago, we flipped through our old Ford Motor cookbook for inspiration. We looked through the recipes in the Colorado section, hoping to find a restaurant or hotel that was still serving food in 2017.
On page 215, I found Redstone Lodge, with a recipe for Mock Cheese Cake and an illustration that looked like a Walt Disney created fairytale setting. I checked the internet and the hotel was still in operation! We decided to stop for breakfast.
The hotel didn't exactly match the exaggerated book illustration, but it was festive with flags and flowers.
Not Always a Hotel
The building was completed in 1902, but not as a lodge or inn. The structure was built to provide housing for bachelor miners, who worked for John C. Osgood's Colorado Fuel & Iron Company. Pretty ritzy, for miners who were often used to living in shacks.
The hotel lobby was neat and quiet, that June morning. The woman at the desk was pleasant. She steered us towards the bar/grill.
Old Dining Room
I was disappointed that the main dining room was closed, since this was probably the place where Mock Cheese Cake was once served.
Dining in Back
We were actually better dressed for the bar and grill. We settled in with our menus and coffee. While waiting for our omelets and bagels, I studied the space trying to determine whether it was a new addition. I always prefer old.
It looked like at least part of the dining area was the original building. One of the servers said the round window had been there since 1902. It looked like a glowing, circular painting.
There was a screen door and there were lots of windows, to enjoy the surrounding pine trees and gardens and sunshine. Best of all, our young server was excited to see the cookbook with the spotlight on Redstone. "We don't even serve cheesecake at all!" She laughed as she studied the watercolor image and recipe. Usually young people don't really get it, when we share the cookbook.
Up We Go
We didn't mind the stairs. We're always happy to burn off some of the road food calories. We also didn't mind one night, without our own bath or sink.
I reworded my question twice but couldn't get a real answer. I sensed there were no other guests on our floor, but she seemed to enjoy withholding the information. "Oh there are just a few." She said at first. I said I would be more comfortable, if I knew how many people I might be sharing towels and soaps with. "Oh... there really shouldn't be a problem." That answer was a little vague for me.
In the morning, (after rushing more than usual in the shower) I was pleased to come down the stairs and see a new smiling face at the desk. I asked my I'm just curious question, and she answered with an enthused voice. "Oh, you were our only guests on the third floor last night! You had it all to yourselves!" Grrrr! I would have enjoyed my shower more...
Our Clock Tower Room
But our sweet little room was just fine.
When we first opened the door to our square, cozy space, I grinned. I loved the idea of sleeping beneath the big clock. We also had a clock on the wall, but it was the tower clock that I heard late at night, when all was quiet. The soothing tic-tocking sound, helped me drift off to sleep.
There were two sets of windows, with oddly tied curtains. The window shapes were fun and the view was even funner.
The lush landscape beyond was lovely, but I was intrigued by the roofline, with all the dormer windows.
The dormer windows right across from us, must have belonged to more guest rooms. Did the miners once sleep on the third floor? Maybe the cooks and cleaning staff did? Who slept in the clock tower room?
Our tower room was a little tight, but the high ceilings made it feel less cramped. We had a desk and even a TV. The closet held a fan and a portable heater. I was very curious about the ladder in the closet, that obviously led up to the clock. But the trapdoor was locked.
Since we couldn't explore the upper tower and examine the clock, we took off to explore the grounds. The swimming pool was closed for renovation. That worked for us, since we hadn't planned on swimming... and the hotel offered a $25. food voucher to compensate.
The area between the lobby and dining room was charming, with leather sofas, chessboard and a great fireplace... if only it had been colder. But the lights were off and I didn't wanted to ask the desk woman, who seemed cranky. Maybe she was just having a bad day.
There was a brighter area on the other side of the lobby that looked more welcoming. There were books and there was another great fireplace... if it had been colder.
Balcony with a View
Don and I wandered outside and noticed the outdoor sitting areas on the first and second floor. No one seemed to be making proper use of these wonderful lounging areas, so we searched for an entrance to the second floor veranda. It was through a little sitting room, in the tower, beneath our room.
We had to dust the pollen (or something) off the chairs before sitting. But once we were seated in our wicker, we had a lovely mountain view. We made a toast, while the Nikon's auto-timer beeped away.
We were again disappointed that the main dining room was closed. It was summer, but still only open on weekends. Luckily the grill was open again, since the Redstone community is very isolated, with no other dining options that night.
Relaxing in the Bar & Grill
In fact Bruce shared the book with this friendly fellow, who helped prepare our food. Both were good sports about posing for me! What an enjoyable evening on a Monday night.
One of the interesting things Bruce shared, was about the reproduced murals in the hotel. In the 1940's, Frank Mechau was a nationally renowned muralist and resident of the small Redstone community.
If you love horses, this image is a little disturbing. But I was drawn right away to the fluid style of all the artist's work that was displayed in the hotel.
While we talked about the art, our artistic meals arrived. The phyllo & elk appetizer and enchiladas were as tasty as they looked.
Sleeping in the Tower
Exploring in the Morning
Since our inn was just steps away from the village of Redstone, we needed to experience the whole community.
We grabbed complimentary hotel coffee and some food from the car and headed for a marble table, beside the Crystal River. After our breakfast picnic, we peeked across the highway to see the old coking ovens that were part of Mr. Osgood's mining company.
Planned Company Town
We wandered down the only road in town, to see a few homes and shops that are left from Osgood's old company town. In the early 1900's, the miners who had families, lived in the cottages, just down the road from the dormitories (now hotel) that held the unmarried miners. About 130 residents live in the area, today.
We slept in the same Tudor Revival style building, where miners once slept. That's pretty notable right there.
It's hard to picture this place abandoned and in disrepair, after the mines closed in 1909. Much of the town was dismantled or demolished, but luckily the old dormitory was turned into a lodge in the 1950's. Selfishly, I'm glad the inn didn't have a grand, resort feel. It was nice having much of the place to ourselves. But I so hope others will come and enjoy, to help preserve this hotel and community. Sweet little place!
Beautiful Boulder in June
Don and I pulled up to the corner of 13th and Spruce, on Sunday afternoon. We lucked into free street parking and headed for the entrance.
The 110 year old building was impressive. You've got to love the combined Italian Renaissance and Spanish Revival styles. I did, even if I'm not exactly sure what that means!
I'll bet the folks who attended the 1908 opening gala on New Year's Eve, were impressed. Then again, they might have been too busy socializing, like the crowd enjoying the Corner Bar.
The inside was actually more stunning than the outside. We had a quick and easy check in, at a newer reception area. (not pictured) Then we headed into the spacious open court area.
How to Capture?
The open court lobby was impossible to capture in one photo. My picture shows off the stained glass, canopy ceiling and the spectacular stairway... that Don and I climbed many times!
Don and I didn't manage to pull off any posing photos on the stairs, but these folks did.
Staying at the Boulderado was a splurge for us. We booked the cheapest, historic room we could get. But when we approached our door in the north corner of the top floor, Don and I grinned. It was right at the top of the grand stairs and it had its own mini hall. Sometimes we just luck out.
I Love Corner Rooms
What a fabulous surprise to open the door to our lovely corner room. We had 6 windows, plus another in the bathroom. Later, when I looked up from the street, I could spot our room easily. The top vines looked like they were pointing 2 fingers at us!
I opened a side window and looked out. I could see the brown trim and the half pillars!
The bathroom was charming with its dresser-vanity and pleasant smelling Aveda products. The window had a pretty view, of a church and mountains.
Don and I didn't have a need for the desk, but we made good use of the marble sink, refrigerator and coffee maker, in the corner.
We also made use of the sitting area and enjoyed a little snacking. It was nice to take in the Victorian decor... without the vintage smells, that usually come with older hotels.
Back to the Lobby
There were lots of decent sitting areas in the lobby. Bonus points for that. I wondered about the famous people who have enjoyed these areas. Louis Armstrong, Clarence Darrow and Helen Keller are some of the famous, past guests.
I found a number of unusual chairs. I would love to know the story behind the wooden chairs near the fireplace. I found no info, but they made me think of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Keeping Time and Making Calls
I loved these reminders of the past. The classic grandfather clock and marble column, framed the 2 phones quite well!
The swastika was a symbol of divinity and spirituality, in Indian religions, long before it became associated with hatred.
Fire and Water
There were other things we noticed while wandering, that were less worrisome. I had to grin when I noticed the fire extinguishers below the mirror, where you might expect to see some canes or umbrellas. The water fountain was quite a fun feature. I can't believe I didn't attempt a drink, of Pure Cold Water!
Happy Hour Time
Don and I were especially excited to share a little of our Boulderado experience with our nephew and wife, who live in Boulder. We met them in the lobby at 4 and headed for the Corner Bar. It was actually crowded, unlike my photo. So we headed to the patio.
It was pretty fabulous sitting outside, catching up over drinks. The air was perfect and the crowds were just lively enough. We had a good table for people watching. There was lots of activity since we were in the heart of downtown, just a block from Pearl Street.
Continuing the Fun
Andy and Casey picked a delicious Nepali restaurant, a few blocks away for dinner. When we returned to the hotel, it was time to have another peek at the bar in the basement.
License No. 1 Liquor Bar
There were no passwords needed, but there was definitely a speakeasy feel, to bar in the basement. Luckily I had taken some photos earlier. The bar was hopping at 8 pm and my flash would have been obnoxious.
The basement was a maze of cozy rooms. Each one was different. I liked the shoeshine throne, in this one.
Serving Since 1909
Evidently this bar has one of the oldest liquor licenses in Boulder. The sign at the door announced, "Serving since 1909... Legally since 1969"
It was easy to picture a little alcohol being served down here, during prohibition.
It was a totally different experience exploring at 8:30 when the rooms were buzzing with guests.
Morning at Boulderado
In the morning I made use of the hotel's fitness room, then grabbed some coffee from the Boxcar window, before showering.
Don and I were dressed and back down to the hotel's Spruce Farm & Fish Restaurant, to make use of our food voucher.
We sat in a sunny, enclosed area that had once been the hotel's porch. Don's omelet with bacon and goat cheese was pretty scrumptious. I ordered fresh fruit, knowing that's often a risky order. I was pleasantly surprised with every mouthwatering bite.
This time, I felt like we needed a couple more days. I wanted to lounge more... enjoy more of the excellent food & drink... relax more in our comfy and luxurious room... visit more with our Andy and Casey!
We obviously need to return.
Idaho Springs, Colorado
Soda Creek Road
We arrived in Idaho Springs on a cool morning. We drove through the cute little town and turned onto Soda Creek Road.
We'd been warned about the congestion and road work. At least the dusty, dirt road was quiet, before 9 on a Saturday.
We parked near the sign and briefly studied the rambling building. We could see the enclosed dome at the end. I was reminded of a few comical, Holidome experiences in my youth.
Don and I always appreciate a little history with our overnights and the hot springs history goes way back. Long before the Westward Expansion, these healing spring waters were discovered by Native Americans.
We crossed the walkway, to the entrance. The center section of the complex was built in 1869, as a bath house. Now it holds the lobby.
The lobby was quiet at 8:45 am, but the staff behind the big corner counter rushed around like they were expecting weekend crowds. Hours later, we would see day guests lined up, between the black poles.
Waiting for Friends
Don and I studied the wall decor while we waited for Martha and Bill to arrive from Denver.
We had a 5-minute history lesson, as we studied the old photos. I loved seeing the black and white image of Indian Springs in 1915, after construction was completed.
Showing Us Around!
Martha and Bill arrived at 9. Martha and I did some squealing and gabbing in the parking lot, then we 4 headed for the stairs. Martha kept pointing to different things and gasping. Her last visit was years ago and the place had changed. We headed down the stairs towards the locker rooms.
Women's Locker Room
The air in the locker room felt warm and steamy. Luckily there were no sulphur smells!
Martha laughed to see how spiffed up the decor was, compared to her last visit many years ago.
The air became more moist and tropical as we headed towards the "translucent dome". We paused to look at the old gazebo, which was actually built, in 1869.
Don asked an employee if the gazebo had ever been a tiki bar. The man nodded and laughed and hinted at the wilder days, when there were fewer rules at the lodge. Alcohol is not allowed today, although one employee winked and reminded us that he wouldn't know what we had in our thermal mugs.
The pool had just opened when we arrived. We were glad to get in before the indoor paradise filled with families and floaty toys.
Posing With Props
Before soaking in the therapeutic waters, I insisted we do a little posing with our Hawaiian leis! Then, I let Martha show me how to "take the waters" as they say in Spa Speak. Martha has a dramatic flair with everything she does!
Luckily Martha and Bill already knew that I sometimes pack or purchase a few props for travel adventures. Two years ago, we met up in nearby Georgetown, CO. We had some fun that day, posing with candy cigarettes and necklaces!
We soaked and gabbed until we were only slightly prune-y. Then we wandered a bit, studying the flowers and palms and banana trees. The humongous rubber tree plant was over 130 years old. Bill said he'd never seen one that big... even in Vietnam.
On our way out of the pool area, we took some time to read the rules that we'd missed earlier. There were no signs telling us to whisper, like we'd seen at a recent Hot Springs Hotel in New Mexico. In fact our Indian Springs experience had little in common with the NM Hot Springs experience... except hot water.
Before heading off to town for a bite of lunch, Martha showed us around, pointing out things she remembered. She was impressed with some of the renovations and disappointed to learn of some changes. The lodge no longer has a restaurant or a bar. And in the evening, they no longer have live music.
The Historic Main Resort
After lunch, Don and I were on our own. We got our key for a room in the Historic Main Resort... not the inn or lodge or cabin. We insisted we wanted to be in the original 1915 building, just off the lobby.
Upstairs, to Room 208
Who knows what the halls and rooms looked like in those early years. The people who visited for health benefits, probably didn't expect luxury.
However, I read that the Vanderbilts and Roosevelts were guests at one time. Clint Eastwood is the only still-living celebrity guest, I saw mentioned. He probably was not as demanding as those wealthy guests from the east, but I'm not sure he would have put up with our lumpy mattress and 3 flat pillows. It was sort of comical.
Fine For a Night
Don and I did chuckle a little at our accommodations. For $128. we had a half bath only. We may not have had luxurious robes, but we did have free all-day use of the soaking pool, on the days we checked in and out.
We were given a room facing the steep hill behind. Much better than the parking lot!
There was no a.c. and no need for one. However, the room was a little stuffy and we wanted some of that mountain air. Luckily, someone left a rock on the windowsill, which came in handy for window propping. The bathroom window was better. I love open windows.
It was kind of crazy that we couldn't even buy a cup of coffee at the hotel. But luckily the walk to town was easy... at least on a construction free weekend. We ate at The Buffalo, in the evening and I had a pleasant jog through town, the next morning.
I grabbed my things and headed to a different area of the basement,where two caves were carved out of the rock, 100+ years ago. I didn't dare use my flash when I snuck a photo in the eerie, "gender specific, clothing optional" soaking cave! I was too hot for the 104-112 temps, anyway. I just grabbed a shower and then Don and I hit the road.
If we'd stayed another night, I would have wanted a full bathroom and a better pillow. But mostly, it was fun to experience the camp-like feel... showering in the basement... open windows... My only regret is that we didn't head back to the pool at 8 pm, to experience the Saturday night, local crowd. That would have added to the fun!
Motel at 8,000 Feet
This winter, we started planning our June road trip to Colorado. We included a stop in Granby, just because of the motel.
I called up months before and made reservations. Mike sounded very pleasant and laid back on the phone. When we arrived and saw the NO Vacancy sign, I wished that I had asked for an email confirmation.
Mike and Max
We parked and headed toward the office in the corner. Inside, we were greeted by Mike and the sweetest dog ever. Mike gently reprimanded Max for jumping up, but I begged for a photo. Mike did indeed have our reservations and gave us one of the original motel rooms, that I requested months earlier.
Changes Since 1950
Mike said that he and his partner bought the motel a couple years ago, from a wonderful couple who had fixed the place up in the 1990's. Before their ownership, the parking lot had been gravel. They added the second story apartment and a new wing. Our room was in the older section, below the apartment.
Zig Zag Motel
I liked the zig zag style of the newer wing. I've seen this in a few vintage motels and I'm curious if there's a name for it. The shutters and pine tree decor added a little homey touch. Colorado had a very long 2019 winter, so the flower boxes held melted snow instead of flowers.
Our entrance had no zig zag, but we did have chairs. If you looked over the parking lot and Highway 40... there were mountains!
Inside, our sweet motel room was filled with knotty pine! Don and I are big fans of the stuff. It must have something to do with happy childhoods, spent in 1960's family rooms.
I'm so glad that Jack and Donna Kolin remodeled carefully, when they rescued the motel nearly 30 years ago. They updated just enough and didn't mess with the retro radiators and pine walls. They added special touches, like lace doilies under glass!
The little L-shaped room functioned very well, for travelers with lots of stuff. There was a desk, a bench and a large counter for organizing. The closet held a fan, which I used to cool down the room... after I cranked the radiators too high.
Some Modern Conveniences
I hardly expected to have a microwave and fridge and coffee maker. I totally expected to have a big fat TV, instead of a flat screen. I must admit, the paper towel holder was incredibly useful.
Cool Green Bathroom
Our bathroom was spotless. I was delighted with the shiny green, wall tiles and the retro linoleum floor. The glass block window, sturdy sink and teeny tiny Dial soap were fun, fun, fun!
I happily took it all in, from the glass door knob, to the plastic info guide, mounted on the door. "Have you left anything? Thank You. Come Again."
We were "moved in" within minutes. Motels are such a treat, when you can park at the door and your car acts as a closet.
Don and I put a few things in the room and headed off to a nearby Brewery. I made sure to admire the grounds before we crossed the street. The little cottage was really just for storage, but it made the little picnic area feel homey.
I checked out the motel decor facing the highway. The big red letters made a proud announcement, in case you missed the neon sign.
There was a day when I didn't think the word MOTEL was much to brag about. But today, a good motel is hard to come by. I'm glad this one has a spotlight!
The yellow sign reminded me of our good fortune to have run across this place! I feel lucky that we had a chance to spend a night in a charming, 1950's motel!
There are quite a few write-ups about vintage motels, scattered on this blog. Most of those motels were a little worn, or sketchy. Trail Riders Motel allowed us to step back in time, but it also felt clean, comfy and safe. Yay for motels!
When Don and I last stayed in Durango, we were just down the street at the iconic Strater Hotel. But we had our eye on this hotel, for the next time.
Who Was General Palmer?
The Victorian hotel on Main avenue, was once called The Palace Hotel. It was later named for the Civil War general, who established the hotel in 1898. The corner hotel didn't look too palatial on the front, but it was interesting to realize, the hotel wasn't just named for a general, but built by one.
Walking from the parking lot, we had a good view of the hotel's many terraces. It's not often that I feel more welcomed by the back of a hotel. It's also not often that we are offered free parking, with a downtown hotel. Yea for that!
I was actually very intrigued by all the terrace space, for this 39 room hotel. I didn't have any luck coming up with old hotel photos to find out how much of this was original.
The rear entrance was attractive with lots of wood and stained glass... and lots of steps. Why do we always lug so much stuff?
I was hoping there would be some elderly guy checking us in, who just happened to be a history buff. The young staff didn't have many answers for my questions, but they were cheery.
Lots of Coffee
Between the door and front desk, I took notice of a grand piece of furniture that held many options for coffee and tea, as well as a tray of fresh cookies. That set up came in handy later!
It began to rain after we checked in, so I was eager to check out the cozy lounging areas. There wasn't much of a "lobby" feel, but there were numerous sitting spots.
I like the idea of Victorian history, but Victorian furniture isn't actually the most comfortable.
Keeping an Eye Out Front
This little area facing Main Avenue had good windows for watching the rain. But it was dim and the low couches made me feel weary.
Along the back of the hotel was a long parlor with windows. This actually looked more comfortable, but a grumpy-looking couple had kind of taken over the comfiest chairs. They glanced up with a "Don't you dare." expression. I waited till much later for this photo!
A Wet Terrace
I took a quick peek at the largest terrace. At this point the rain was really blowing, so we headed for our room.
I was actually very excited about riding in the oldest operating elevator in the state.
Yea for Stairs!
"Hmm." I thought. "Do you think you might want to give your guests some elevator tips, sometime?"
Our room wasn't large, but it had all we needed. I was sad that our only window was blocked by the bed, but I was able to crawl up and peek at the view.
Chocolates and a View
When I lifted the fringed shade I could see a nice mural of Durango, on the building across the street. Behind, I could see The Strater Hotel, where we'd stayed before.
There were a couple of treats from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, resting on the bed. On the vanity, I found a small bar of blood orange soap, made for the hotel. Very flavorful surprises.
TV, Desk and a Funny Red Chair
I'm pretty sure that red chair was not Victorian...but neither was the TV. The modern chair sort of amused me, though. It was a lot more comfortable than the desk chair.
Vanity, Mirror and Tub
I appreciate it when historic hotels renovate without modernizing. I prefer the look of a pedestal sink and chain pull toilet. But secretly I was okay with the vanity and giant mirror and the working tub. Sometimes I'm okay with cheating, especially if I'm a little tired.
So while the rain did its thing outside, we enjoyed a coffee and cookie break. We even had a china, cup & saucer option. Nice.
Our hotel didn't have a bar or restaurant, but it was within walking distance to The Strater's options as well as numerous others. We had a drink at the Strater's saloon, then wandered back towards our hotel
The street was blocked off in front of our hotel and a pie auction was in full swing! We heard one pie go for over $700.00! The charity event continued, while we headed back to our hotel.
Relaxing on the Porch
Since the rain had dried up, we decided to make use of the hotel's porches.
We grabbed food and wine from the car and glasses from our room. We were the only guests who seemed inclined to sit outdoors. Cheers to Durango! Cheers to porches!
This and That Lobby
We entered and walked through the cluttered lobby/gift shop to the desk. A woman wearing a costume-dress, that didn't match her glasses and hair, checked us in.
We said we needed no help with our 2 backpacks, but a young man, who seemed to be new on the job, stared at us with sad eyes. I gave in and handed him my backpack, which weighed a ton. He huffed and puffed up the stairs (no elevator) and stood awkwardly as I fumbled with the key and a tip. I didn't know what was more unsettling, his strained assistance, or the decor of the lobby. I didn't have this blog at the time, or I would have gotten photos of the tacky little antique-ish doodads and crafty delights that were for sale all over the lobby.
I still remember Don and I trying to hold back laughs until our young lad went off with his tip. The tiny room was cramped, even with the tall windows letting in light. The hefty mounted TV looked out of place and there was a worn, dusty smell. But I look at this photo now and laugh at how new to the world of retro, vintage and historic travel we were. Yes, the place had an odd feel, but there was a lot more that we should have appreciated. Don and I've come a long way in 4 years.
The best part of the hotel, was the location. We were just steps away fromTabor Opera House and the Silver Dollar Saloon.
Leadville was once one of the largest and richest silver camps in the U.S. There were 25,000 living here at its peak. Luckily they weren't all trying to fit inside the Silver Dollar Saloon. There were 64 saloons at one time and plenty of bordellos, as well.
By the time these nifty neon signs came into town, Leadville was past its peak. I peeked in the Manhattan Bar, right across from our hotel. I liked the glowing martini above the A and R. I liked less, the crowd of workmen that had gathered inside on Friday evening. Instead, we checked out the Pastime, which was quiet at 5:00. We had a nice chat with a few inside, but later learned there had been a stabbing recently. Living on the edge in Leadville!
Bright Blue and Yellow
The cute little golden burro on top of the cafe sign, was very welcoming and just a couple of doors down from our hotel. We were surrounded by intriguing buildings and storefronts!
It's sad to think there are only about 2,500 residents today and I don't think any of them are famous. Years ago, you could have bumped into a number of celebrity guests or residents...Doc Holiday, Unsinkable Molly Brown, John Phillips Sousa and even Houdini. Movie star, Rudolph Valentino was even born here!
Breakfast in the Library
We were given a complimentary breakfast in the "library" the next morning. There was nothing special about the cereal selection or the table decor with plastic placemats. Our fellow guests whispered and avoided eye contact as if the whole B n B atmosphere was more than they could handle. Don and I checked out with a whole new set of costumed staff.
Durango, Colorado in Fall
December of 2011
The weather was very different when I stayed with my brother and sister, three years earlier. We were in town to attend our half brother's funeral, so my memories are not fun and festive. But what I do remember, is the warmth and comfort of that grand hotel on two snowy nights. The Christmas decorations and celebrating guests could have had an opposite effect. But somehow, the hotel seemed to soothe.
No Snow in September
We arrived on a lovely, warm afternoon just as couple tour buses stopped to unload their middle aged tourists and luggage. Oh joy. I wasn't ready for crowds. The night before we had been the only guests at the Creede Hotel. Of course there were only 4 guest rooms at The Creede... and 93 at The Strater.
Remembering the Lobby
Once the bus crowds moved on to their rooms, I was able to look around the quiet lobby and remember how it once looked in December, with wreaths and ribbons, Christmas music and the fireplace glowing.
But it was more fun imagining the hotel 128 years ago, when a pharmacist named Henry Strater built the spectacular, red brick hotel. He ran his pharmacy in part of the building and attracted guests by filling the hotel with parlors and pianos and wood-burning stoves in each room. It even became a winter retreat for many locals, who closed up their homes to move in.
When I wandered around it was clear that someone (besides a company) was taking great pride in this hotel. Everything from the Victorian walnut furniture to the sweet old phone booths, looked well tended.
There were a lot of complications with ownership, when Mr. Strater ran the hotel for only about 12 years. But, since 1926 the Barker family has been involved in the ownership. Rod Barker is the current president/CEO of the Strater. It would be fun to know what he remembers. His parents ran the hotel for 30 years, modernizing with TVs and phones and heating. I wonder if Rod knew his grandfather, who bought the property in 1926, when the hotel was 39 years old.
So Many Patterns!
have my efforts rewarded with some stylish columns and railings and maybe a skylight!
Thick drapes, dark woods, heavy furniture... But when it's done well, I love it. Don is a foot taller than me and he didn't even complain about the small bed.
Wall & Ceiling Paper!
I never had wallpaper next to my bed as a child, but I did love finding images in drippy layers of paint, on the walls next to my childhood bed. As I kid, I don't think I ever could have gone to sleep if I'd had such wonderful designs above my bed!
As always, I'm grateful to have a bathroom in an old hotel. When the Strater was built, every guest room had its own washstand and a cabinet, which stored the bed pan! There was also a 3-story privy. I assume that was outside. I can't quite visualize that!
Food and Entertainment
The Diamond Belle Saloon was one option in the hotel, for food and drink. Yes, it was a little touristy. There were servers dressed like dance hall girls and there was a honky tonk piano player. But the tourists brought their money, which is why the hotel is still here. Besides, the piano player was fun. And I could imagine Room 222 right above us. That was the room author, Louis L'Amour always requested. He said the honky tonk music from the saloon below, inspired his western writing.
Later in the evening, Don and I sat up on the second level of the other hotel lounge, to enjoy some of the live entertainment. We couldn't see the performer from there, but we could keep an eye on the woman by the fireplace who was whooping it up after numerous martinis. She had a piercing whistle and she told the singer she'd pay him 20 dollars, if he could guess how many divorces she and her husband had between them. The singer's guess of 10, was too low. The correct answer was 11. Maybe there would have been fewer divorces for this woman, if she laid off the martinis!
An Old Phone
I missed seeing the snow this time. And I didn't hear the Polar Express whistling behind the hotel. But everything else was how I remembered it. Yes, it is touristy. But that's why there's money to maintain and renovate as needed. We have seen so many neglected historic hotels. It's nice to see one that's filled with happy guests.
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!