Dear Papa Erickson, A couple weeks ago you recommended going to see Central City & Black Hawk. You told me about how the old mountain mi...

Family Outing No. 1 1/2: Black Hawk

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 , ,

Dear Papa Erickson,

A couple weeks ago you recommended going to see Central City & Black Hawk. You told me about how the old mountain mining town had turned into a mini-Vegas with mega hotels and that it was really a sight to see.

In fact, you said, "Go up there some afternoon just to look around and get an ice cream." Those were your exact words.

So today we did just that, promising ourselves & Eisley an ice cream. We got to see the aspen starting to turn on our way...
Central City was still quaint and had that Old West feel that so many Colorado mountain towns do, Black Hawk {literally down the street} was another story. Mostly thanks to the new & huge Ameristar hotel. It is a Goliath of a hotel/casino, springing up unnaturally from the Rocky Mountains. 33 stories.
We parked in the 10 story parking garage {upon exiting the car, I could smell the $5.99 prime rib every hotel advertises on billboards for miles before town} and wandered the hotel, Eisley was not allowed on the gaming floor. It was a grand hotel. We went to the 32nd floor to look out a window.
It is like Vegas, only a lot classier with less smut {does that make it better or not as good as Vegas? Honestly, I'm not sure... the vulgarity being part of Vegas's charm, you know. If you don't understand that, you haven't been there.}

Having seen that, and not willing to lose any money on gambling, we headed back up the street to Central City, here is the courtyard at the Central City Opera House. There were definitely some pretty sites worth seeing here.
But two things bothered us about our day trip.
1. There was no ice cream to be found. This town is 100% casinos & saloon style restaurants. Even the clerk at the grand Ameristar hotel didn't know where to direct us when we asked her to recommend a place. She asked 5 co-workers and finally told us to go to Cook's Palace - a saloon style bar. For ice cream. We were told there would be ice cream. Papa, you owe us an ice cream.

2. This town is devoid of children. It actually gave us a weird feeling. We were freaks that stood out toting our two year-old along. We saw three teenagers walking home from school - does that count? You don't realize how strange it feels to be in a place with zero children until you find yourself there and realize how unearthly it is. I kid you not, it made us a little depressed, and we came to the conclusion that a world without goofy, silly, whiny, excitable, stinky, smiley children is no place we could ever call home.

What's usually the demographic that fawns over Eisley the most - the retirees & elderly, who were all out gambling on a Tuesday afternoon - passed her by as if she was a common houseplant. At Great-Grandma Sander's retirement community we practically have to pry them off of her - they act as if they haven't seen a child in 1,000 years and she is the Chosen One, surrounding her like vultures and making all three of our heads swell. It was probably good for us to be humbled this way, actually. We're sort of jaded by how much attention she gets in public sometimes... What do you mean she's not the center of your universe? Go figure.

But seriously, Black Hawk made Vegas look like Kiddie Land.
Here is the only sign of any family friendliness we saw in the entire town. Yes, Dostal Alley actually went so far as to post it on their window - they have pizza, beer, and also allow children! Wow. In spite of the warm welcome, there were still no children in there. {I imagined walking in with Eisley and the bartender eyeing her and saying in a gruff voice, "We don't take kindly to your types 'round here."}
In fact, it was so eerie, so strange to us - the way people looked at us & Eisley and the way we stood out in her presence - that I seriously would not have been at all surprised to see this guy come around the corner. I was pretty much expecting to see him at any moment:

Creepiest. Guy. Ever.

And I'm fairly certain Black Hawk hires him to keep the kids out of their casino town.

Anyway, it was still a good time, just to finally see Central City where - despite being a 4th generation Colorado native {or is it 3rd? I always forget about great-grandpa Erickson...} - I have never been before. We left hungry and feeling guilty that Eisley hadn't been at all entertained. So we sought solace in Idaho Springs at a little place dear to my heart: Beau Jo's. There they had a kiddie menu, a booster seat & crayons waiting for us. Along with other children also dining nearby, we breathed a sigh of relief.

Thanks for the tip, Papa Erickson! We did enjoy. But don't think we're letting you out of an ice cream date...


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  1. H, we went to Central City a long time ago. To see the Central City opera house, so we could remember how it was before the casinos . . .

    . . . remember?

    Papa totes owes you ice cream. That makes five of us.

  2. Are you sure??? I have absolutely no memory of that.

    In my mind, if I can't remember it then it didn't happen. ...even if it did.

  3. Yeah--that's right, Britt! (Was that the "We'll tip 'ya!" adventure?)


  4. Now I want to go there - how long was the drive? Totally laughed outloud at the child catcher. YIIII!!!

  5. It was probably just under an hour - maybe 50 minutes? - from our house.

    You should go! Especially now while the leaves are turning...


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