Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back from Cripple Creek

What I'm reading: Whiplash by Catherine Coulter

We're back. And why does going away for 24 hours put you three days behind?

For anyone who doesn't know Cripple Creek, it's an old mining town that's turned into a tourist attraction. Some history, but mostly gaming. Hubster and I are anything but gamblers, but we wanted to check out the place. Hubster IS into history, mining, and trains, so he tolerated the fact that just about every establishment there was there for gambling.

We arrived shortly before noon, so our first stop was the Cripple Creek and Victor Railroad. The next train departed at noon, so we bought tickets for that trip. It's about a 45 minute ride, from Cripple Creek to Anaconda, and then back (in reverse). It's a steam-powered engine, and runs on a narrow gauge track (which was more meaningful to Hubster than myself). But it was interesting to watch the engineer shovel coal to keep the fire stoked, and made you wonder what it would have been like living back then with all the smoke and cinders in the air.We had a bonus on our trip, as there was a small tree threatening to fall on the tracks. A second crewman was aboard to that point, and he jumped off to deal with it. On the return, "dealing with it" meant using the locomotive to pull the tree down. No chain saws, nothing but some rope and "train muscle."

The scenery was striking, and the remains of all the mining excavations still abound. There's one "million dollar landfill" shoring up the tracks. Estimates are that there's about a million dollar's worth of gold in the rocks—but it would cost two million to get it out.

After the ride, we checked into our hotel. We got the geezer discount, plus, because it was our anniversary, a coupon for a small bottle of champagne. Then we signed up for the "Premiere Club" which was a hotel incentive to gamble. You put your card into the machine, and it racks up points based on how much you spend. The clerk gave us another anniversary bonus—he started us off with 250 points AND he gave each of us cards in my name, so we'd be accumulating points together rather than separately.

But the next stop was lunch. We walked to the other end of town to a Cajun restaurant Husbter had found out about on one of his fishing trips—from the Divide mortician. Food wasn't bad (although I think their chef is still learning about how to cook rice at altitude). After lunch, it was the mining museum complex. Lots of history and plenty of old, rusty mining equipment to keep Hubster happy.

Back at the hotel, we figured we might as well try our luck with the slots. Most of the people take advantage of the 'credit' system, which is to the casino's advantage, because it doesn't feel like "real" money. You feed your cash—let's say a $10 bill—into the slot, and then you have credits based on the denomination of the machine. Being non-gamblers, we stuck to the quarter, nickel or penny machines. Because it IS real money. So, $10 in quarters gives you 40 credits. You decide how much to bet, and press a button. If you lose, your total goes down by that amount; if you win, your number of credits goes up. Thus, it's far too easy to play until you're out of credits. On the cruise ship, you used tokens, so you got the rewarding clink and clatter if you won. My strategy there was to feed in the original number of tokens. When they were gone, I'd collect what was in the tray and that would be the next night's entertainment.

Actually Hubster turned out to be far more lucky than I was. His credits lasted longer, and he even got some fancy bells and whistles for free spins, which had us staring at the machine wondering what the heck was going on as it took total control.

When we'd spent our allotted 'entertainment' budget, we took our Premiere Card back to the desk to see if we'd earned anything worthwhile. Turned out, we got our hotel room comped, a free breakfast and $10 off our dinner if we ate in the hotel. Which we did, because we had that free bottle of champagne. (Operative word: Free. Not necessarily good, or even real champagne) We spent the rest of the night in our room. Enough said.

Now, before you think we were high rollers—the hotel/casino wants you to stay there, not go to any of the myriad other places in town. I think between us, we put about $35 into the slots, and even though we didn't win any cash per-se, we definitely came out ahead of what we'd expected to spend on our getaway.

Tomorrow, I'll share more pictures, and we'll get back to writing next week. Of course, there was plenty of fodder for scenes and characters on this trip—including another passenger on the train who had the most gorgeous eyes and the longest eyelashes—why are these attributes wasted on the guys!


Mason Canyon said...

Sounds like a great place to visit. Love the photos.

Thoughts in Progress

Terry Odell said...

Mason - the REAL pictures will go up tomorrow. Hubster had his good camera. The weather wasn't great, but he still got some decent shots.

Randall LaBranche said...

Such a Riverboat Gambler Terry! Fun stuff!

Carol Kilgore said...

You guys got a great deal! Who would guess you'd find Cajun food in a Colorado mining town?

Terry Odell said...

Randall- good to see you here. We had a great time.

Carol - who would guess that Hubster would run into the town undertaker while fishing (not a lot of business for him, which is probably a good thing). As to the deal--yeah, they want you at the tables. We had a beer at the bar--two beers, under $6.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Wasn't there a song about Cripple Creek back in the 60s/70s?

Great pics!

Terry Odell said...

Elizabeth, yes,

And I'm old enough to remember it. :-)

As I said to Mason, come back tomorrow for more pictures.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great photos - looks like a great place to visit! :)

Wynter said...

Never heard of Cripple Creek before - looks like fun. I am with you on the gambling - rarely touch the stuff.

Terry Odell said...

Wynter - it's a tiny place. Not surprised you hadn't heard of it. Except for the song, (and road signs) I wouldn't have known where it was.