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[If I spring a leak, she mends me....
Thanks, Cheryl - and for all of you who had the song running through your head since yesterday, well, let's keep it going.]
I know that a lot of people think of a hotel as just a place to dump their stuff and their carcasses at the end of a long day of vacation. I am not one of them. I do not need the whole 5-star treatment (though I must say that when I’ve had it, I’ve enjoyed it). But I do like to stay in comfortable, interesting, non-traditional places.
This has led to sojourns in bug-infested rooms with cold-water showers.
And overnights in rooms so frilly you’d think you were going to be smothered in your sleep by a rogue ruffle.
Up in Cripple Creek (yes, you can start singing again if you need to), I’ve found a gem of a place in Carr Manor. The town has several in-casino hotels, but as I don’t gamble, they are totally not my style. And the reviews on TripAdvisor for such places are not particularly stellar (I know we can’t always rely on TripAdvisor, but even taken with an appropriate number of grains of salt, these are pretty bad.) The B&Bs rate much better, and Carr Manor is the best.
Carr Manor is the former Cripple Creek High School. Its current owners, Gary and Wini, are a wonderful couple who moved here from California, though Wini has roots in Cripple Creek of which she was barely aware when they chose to buy the Manor. They have fixed it up, retaining many of the original features of the building, including the original chalkboards from the school in quite a few of the 14 guest rooms.
Two large upstairs rooms are used for meetings and special events. A lovely lounge area offers a big screen TV and books. Complimentary homemade cookies, sodas and water are always available. Several of the guest rooms are themed for personages who spent some time in the area (Lowell Thomas and Jack Dempsey, for example), and one is dedicated to one of the penultimate cowboys, Roy Rogers, who was Gary’s neighbor back in his days in California.
The suites, particularly the two spa suites are exceptionally luxurious. Perhaps someday I’ll have the pleasure of staying in one.
I’ve stayed in two of the rooms now – once this past weekend and once in February. We were in the Corner Queen this time, which was spacious with lots of light and a comfortable bed. It was a bit noisy, as we could hear people conversing on the street outside the room in the morning. The Standard Queen that I had on the 2nd floor in February was lovely as well – though the old fashioned keyholes can be a bit challenging after a cocktail or two.
Breakfast is fabulous, in a sunny room off an open kitchen filled with pictures of Wini and Gary and their large family, and images of the town. Our surrogate innkeepers this trip, Rex and Carla, were equally charming and exceptionally knowledgeable about local lore, to-dos, and trivia. And Carla’s a marvelous cook.
The only thing missing from Carr Manor (at least in my opinion) is a ghost, but either you have one or you don’t, so I don’t hold that against this lovely place. Besides, Gary and Wini have bought the old Imperial Hotel and are fixing it up to be another fantastic guest house (the casino downstairs is leased and operated by another party). The hotel also was (and will be again) the home of a theatre troupe in an intimate setting down in the basement.
Gary was kind enough to give a few of us a tour of the areas under construction in the Imperial back in February. And for the so-minded, believe me, there are several ghosts there.
I know Gary had hoped to have some rooms open by now, but the best laid plans… he’s confident he’ll have six rooms open sometime this season.
The good news is that the restaurant is open and that’s where we had dinner. That’s the unfortunate thing about casino towns – it’s hard to find a place to eat with your teenager. The Midland Depot fulfills this need nicely, with simple Italian food that will likely appeal to both children and adults.
This evening, we were serenaded by a handsome baritone playing an acoustic guitar, who was actually an almost-opera singer living here for the summer. We provided him with applause and even did the wave for him (just the two of us.) Unfortunately, we did that when he was drinking a glass of water and we made him choke.
Kelsea was spooked in the ladies room, and by an unfortunate woman who came around the corner when she was telling me about being spooked. I think Kelsea jumped two feet and the woman was equally startled.
We weren’t ready to go home after dinner, so we thought we’d try to find a place to shoot pool. We love shooting pool together, and for some reason, we only do so out-of-town. I think the last time we did so was up in Cheyenne last Labor Day. We found Ralf’s which boasted that it was a family friendly place – perfect! There were arcade games and shuffleboard in the front, and pool tables in the back near the small stage and the bar. The waitress said Kelsea was welcome in the bar area as long as food was being served, which was until 11:00. Well, we shot with some of the boys in the bar, who were miners and cowboys starting their weekends, until after midnight and had a fabulous time. The boys were buying me wine, dancing with both of us, and being really very jovial and gentlemanly. But as I said before, I berated myself for not being a paragon of motherhood by taking my 14-year old to a bar to shoot pool. She loved it. She said it was so comfortable and relaxing. The people were nice. She wasn’t interested in drinking or flirting. She just liked being at ease. And I think I set a good example of how to handle one’s womanly self appropriately in such a setting.
Our other dining experiences in Cripple Creek consisted of street food at the Donkey Derby (and no, no one was cooking donkey) - while there were many delicious sounding items, we settled for hot dogs -
and of pizza at The Creek, a local restaurant that served only pizza and burgers. It was so busy in there, filled with folks in historical dress carb-loading after the parade.
The cool juke box was signed by numerous celebrities, and the pizza lunch lasted us two days, which was helpful.
One place I wish we’d had the hunger to try is a little spot called Crawdaddies, which I think is only a summer place. It’s out of a little house up the hill, and serves three homemade Cajun dishes daily. If you’re going up, look for it!
So, now you have the summary of how to sleep and sup in this little town. I am planning a return trip for the Cruise Above the Clouds Car Show in the Fall, and perhaps an overnight ghost investigation visit to the old jail next month. As you can tell, I really like this Cripple Creek.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the down and dirty on the Donkey Derby!