Saturday, July 18, 2015

Another Plan B day

The weather forecasters told us that Friday would be relatively rain free so we seized the opportunity and set off on I-70 west.    We've been wanting to get to Breckenridge, about an hour and a half away from us here in Golden so we got a relatively early start.    I knew traffic on I-70 had the potential to be heavy as people start heading to the mountains for the weekend, but I thought that we'd be safe in the morning.    Wrong.

We sat in slowly creeping traffic for about 3/4 of an hour before finally reading the writing on the wall.   Plan B.    We exited the parking lot - oh, I meant to say the highway - onto route 6 (the same route 6 that continues right on east into Provincetown, Massachusets!) intending to head back and try again another day.

   At the last minute I (being the navigator) changed plans and asked Dave to turn north on 6.  We've not been to the mountain/casino towns of Black Hawk and Central City so it seemed the time was right to do so.

We quickly drove through Black Hawk, it seemed to be choked with high rise casinos shoehorned into the narrow canyon.   On into Central City where the scenery seemed quite different at first.   No high rises, no valet parking, no pedestrian bridges from one casino to the other.

The narrow streets were lined with beautifully restored buildings dating from the late 1800's.  Flags were flying in the light breeze, beautiful flowers in pots and hanging from light poles.

We parked on the brick street and decided to walk around and perhaps find a quaint little restaurant to have lunch.

We both had a really creepy feeling as we walked down the streets.   It was a beautiful, sunny day.   The streets were lined with parked cars.    Except, we saw no people out.   No one out strolling and enjoying the day.   No one sitting on the benches,  no one eating ice cream cones, no kids.    Was there a world event we missed?   Was everyone vaporized?   Where was everyone?    Then we "got" it....

This only seemed like a beautiful little town's main street.   Every building housed a casino.  No one was out because everyone was gambling.

Dave went in to one of them, looking for a restaurant and a puff of stale cigarette smoke wafted out as he opened the door.     Everything is not as it appears.   We left Central City post haste.

We backtracked a bit and then followed route 119 into the small mountain town of Nederland (about 17 miles west of Boulder) where we finally found a cafe and lunch.   After a decent lunch (note to self: waffles made at high altitude leave something to be desired) we got back on 119 and continued on into Boulder.

Baker Reservoir in Nederland

The route followed the path of  Boulder Creek and we took a few dirt road detours to get a bit closer to the water in various places along the way.    What a beautiful place, at the bottom of a valley, rushing, tumbling water on one side and fabulous rock formations rising up all around us.

climbers along the way
see the tiny blue spot?

We also encountered the funky little hippy town of Eldorado Springs.   The road in was dirt, dust really.   Some of the homes were pretty nice, others ramshackle.   One had a large courtyard filled with wonderfully whimsical statues.    We passed a packed swimming pool, a pretty large public swimming pool stuck on the side of the canyon between the sheer cliffs and the creek.    Evidently it is filled with the water from an artesian spring - Eldorado Spring -  a cold water spring by the way. (the word "artesian" was highlighted in yellow by the google gods and I cannot persuade them to remove the highlight, so please ignore it...)  I was tired by this time and didn't take any pictures.   Tired and not completely comfortable taking pictures in this narrow little town where I may unintentionally take a shot of someone in their living room or kitchen.  The houses and pool were that close to the road.   I also wasn't sure if the "sculpture garden" was private or open to curiosity seekers like me.  

this cat was on the garden wall, watching,

Another fun and very unplanned day!


  1. Well I thought Central City was going to be such a great find, a real piece of small town Americana - how sad to learn the evil deception! I drove a huge rental truck towing an old station wagon of my MIL's from Sacramento to Nederland. In December. Not a trip I will ever forget! But Nederland is a pretty area even that time of year. I sure we would enjoy a meander through Eldorado Springs as well, being a couple old hippies ourselves :-)))))

  2. As many times as we've talked about visiting Black Hawk and Central City, we always take a pass knowing we'll encounter cigarette smoke. You should've taken Hwy 6 toward Breckenridge for one heck of a scenic drive. Next time! Although the drive thru Boulder Canyon is a pretty one as well.

  3. We went through Eldorado Springs to get to one of our hikes. I could not believe how close people lived to the dusty, busy road! There is a state park out that road that gets tons of traffic!

    Deadwood, SD was about as disappointing as those gambling towns you sort of visited! Ugh!

  4. Oh you will get braver about those photos but still you had a lovely day and who wanted to go where all those other people were going anyway! Sad that the lovingly restored town front was indeed backed by casinos - but alas, they bring the money to do the restorations. :(