Creede, CO: The Silver Lining in a Silver Mining Town That Went Bust

Jun 1, 2010 by

We’ve all heard the old saying, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  In a town that until 1985 was a bustling silver mining operation, Creede, Colorado, has done just that and found it’s silver lining, when the silver came to an end.  Their new claim to fame?  Art galleries.

Friday afternoon, I sat in the gallery of Stephen Quiller, a recognized watercolor artist, and he was talking about the plight of Creede.  When the silver mines closed in the mid 1980s, it hit the town hard. Much of it closed and many left.  But as time has passed, just like a wooded area after a fire, new life has sprung and the departure of the old has led the way to a new growth.

Quiller opened his gallery in 1970.  You walk in the door and you’re most likely greeted by his wife, Marta.  She’s one of the kindest people I’ve met in a long time.  Along the walls of the gallery are featured pieces painted by Steve.  There are three to the immediate left of Yosemite and if I had the money, I’d have bought one in a snap.  In the heart of the gallery are two brown leather sofas.  It’s there that Steve and I sat and talked for about an hour Friday.  We talked about my late grandfather, we talked about Steve’s travels, his work, and then we talked about the formation of the Taste of Creede.

He said the early years of the event were pretty lean.  But as time has passed, the annual Memorial Day Weekend event has grown in size and stature.  This past weekend, the streets on Saturday were reasonably crowded with fokes of all ages enjoying different activities, foods, shops and of course, art work.

If you’ve never been to Creede, (and unless you’re going there, you probably haven’t) I highly recommend this weekend event for 2011 and the years to come.

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Carly from Indiana and the thrill and passion of adventure

May 30, 2010 by

There are some people in this world who you almost never meet and when you do, you spend every possible second absorbing their story.

Carly, from Indiana, 24 (and I got it on the first/second guess) is one of those people.  In the previous post here, I made mention of her, but tonight I caught her heading back to the ranch where she works.

What I’ve come in contact the most on this trip to Creede, CO is a different breed of American, one that’s still very in touch with itself and the land in which we live.

That’s what one does when they’re here in Creede.  Or at least that’s how Carly (There’s more about her and others in Creede, here) has chosen to live, giving up the corporate world and finding her own personal level of solitude, warmth and happiness in something most in this world of hustle and bustle couldn’t stand for a day.

She lost her cell phone yesterday, possibly while walking around the Taste of Creede.  She said tonight that’s “almost something to celebrate.”   If I’d lost the iPhone yesterday, I’d be using the locater on iTunes to try to help find it.

But Carly has braved the stereotypes, the cultural mores of “you must work in an office” and found an inner peace that most of us only can dream of.   She said tonight that so much of her time is spent walking, hiking, and doing things in smaller groups out here in Creede, far away from the 9-5 demands of the work week.

I asked her about Timothy Ferriss’ book The Four-Hour Workweek and if she’d read it, because it seems she’s found the courage to do what Ferriss has figured out and that men like me at 44 sit back like Shrek does in Shrek IV and wonder what happened to the adventures of life.

She said she’s found God in these hills around Creede.  “If you live here and are surrounded by all of this and don’t find yourself believing in God, you’re a fool!” she said as her blue eyes’ size doubled.

This is a woman in search of passion, and for the moment, she’s living it.  She’s working with others, she’s where she feels she’s called to be, and she’s full of passion about it.

She said it was hard for her parents for her to come to CO from IN.  She has a passport and is ready to travel, but she’s comfortable where she is.  She’s thrilled about it.  Can you say that about what you’re doing and where you’re living?

Clearly, I’m struggling with it, but not Carly.  No, there’s a smile on her face as big as Texas and you can see the passion in her eyes.

I asked if she’s saving all of these thoughts or blogging.  The answer was a resounding, “No.  Donny, you can do the social media stuff so that I don’t have to.  I don’t do Facebook.  If someone I know needs a photo of me, I can email it to them. “

And so she’s off to the ranch tonight.  There’s going to be a bonfire.  And it’s a clear night.  And Carly knows where her priorities are, what her passion is, and seeing that has been one of the most refreshing things about this trip.

If more of us could chase our passions like she’s doing, oh how different our world would be.

I posted this photo yesterday saying I thought it described how I’ve been feeling, recovering from the mental agony of what’s happened to me over the past year.   Tonight I rededicate it to the passion of life I’m getting closer and closer to finding.  Thanks, Carly, for taking the time to say hi.  There are so many of us reading who are jealous of you.  Please keep the fire of passion you have burning going like the embers of tonight’s bonfire.

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Shirt of the Day: Life’s too short to live in Dallas

May 30, 2010 by

You probably wouldn’t believe I saw a shirt yesterday here in Creede, CO that said, “Life’s too short to live in Dallas,” unless I posted the photo to go along with it, so here goes. Maybe it’s just a funny shirt, but the message has so much added meaning to me. The past 36 hours in Creede really have changed my perspectives on a lot of things in life. 

Our plan this morning was to head back toward Dallas. But God had another plan. Last night a fuse blew in my car. It took half the morning to find it, and by the time we found it, well, it just made sense to stay another day in Creede. After all, what’s the rush in getting back to 96 degree temps when I can hang out in 70 degree weather?

This weekend has really become a lesson in learning patience, learning to be disconnected, and learning to leave so much of the past in the past.

There have been attempts to draw me back into the goings on in Dallas this weekend, and there have been my own efforts to remain involved. But with each second away, those feelings, notions or what have you are fading. There’s too much here in the middle of what I first felt was little.

My New Friends in Creede

I’ve met some great new friends here in Creede. The foreign exchange students working here in The Old Firehouse Restaurant have been cool to get to know. Marsha is from Mongolia. That’s not really her name, but the way it’s pronounced, that’s the closest I can get to saying it.

Vera is 22 and from Russia. She and Marsha both speak great English as well as their native tongues. Vera smiles all the time. Today she’s decked out in a black The Old Firehouse Restaurant shirt and a scarf. Desiree is the half-sister of TOFR owner, Charles, and his wife, Brenda. Brenda makes soaps and candles. Desiree always wears a happy smile. She is a Christian at heart and is the only person I’ve seen the whole trip who has prayed before eating a meal.  (And she didn’t know anyone was watching.)

Saturday I also met Carly from Indiana who is working at the 4UR Ranch. Carly does housekeeping this year but was a youth counselor at the ranch last year. She’s tall, has the prettiest smile and the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen on someone who hasn’t been Photoshopped. Carly likes the lifestyle that Creede offers. She has a degree in Marketing, which she said she left for a while and to do a “real job,” but her calling was to come back and be here.

Then there’s Cat/Kat who works over at the Tommy Knocker. She and I met the other night when she’d biked up to the front of The Old Firehouse Restaurant to try to piggyback off their WiFi after the restaurant had closed. At the time, I was trying to do the same thing.

Today I passed by Liz, the winner of yesterday’s Taste of Creede Silver Chef Competition, and her friend Ben. (The photo to the right is Liz in action.)

Last night Mom, my uncle Johnny and his girlfriend, Jane, and I went to Steve and Marta Quiller’s on our way to dinner at the home of Cathy and Richie. They’re the former owners of The Creede Hotel and out aways, they’ve built an adobe style home and it’s just breathtaking.

At their house was a former friend of my grandpa’s, artist Larry Basky. I got to meet Lana Woodruff and her husband. Lana is an artist, he used to own car dealerships in this area of Colorado. I got to hear some great stories about life in these parts. The stories were funny, full of color and fascinating to hear.

And then today when the car wouldn’t start, I got to meet two deputies from the local sheriff’s office, David and Fred.   I learned bonus material about things that happened here in town last night. The big party in town last night was the band at Tommy Knocker. (David left me a business card after helping with my car earlier today.  It said if we run into trouble between here and Altamosa, CO, to call him.)

The Old Miner’s Inn, run by my new friends Ed and Trisha, had another very good band, and they have great pizza.  Today I had ribs at Tommy Knocker and they were fantastic. Now, what to do for dinner tonight? UPDATE: I had a calzone at OMI served by my friend Juliet, who has been here in Creede for three days now from AZ.  Juliet is another like Carly, who dares to defy the traditional work role and grabs adventure by the horns and wills it to go her own way.  (If you go to Old Miner’s Inn this summer, be sure to ask for Juliet, you’ll be glad you did.)

I’m sure I’m falling into the trap of having started naming names, I’m leaving some important ones off.  But when you get down to it, the people here in Creede wouldn’t mind.

You pass someone on the street here and they do something that people in most places of the world won’t; they look you in the eye and say “Hi.”  And then they follow it up with, “I’m….”

Try to find that in Dallas.  Vera says it really doesn’t happen in her home town in Russia.  And so it goes.

Am I in a rush to get back to Dallas? Life’s too short to be in such a hurry.  Oh, and remember the full moon last night? Yes, at 12:30 a.m. on a tripod on Main Street in the mountains with a 200 mm lens and a fast shutter speed and small aperture.   You can’t do this in Dallas on any night.

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The Taste of Creede, CO Silver Chef Cookoff

May 30, 2010 by


Saturday was the first day of the 2010 Taste of Creede, a two-day street festival on Main Street of Creede, CO, and it was a day full of great food, good art, and an ambiance you just can’t find in a big-town event anywhere, for instance in the South–in part because the high yesterday was 70 degrees–but more so because of the friendliness of the people.

Creede is apparently a town one comes to in order to get as far away from the rest of the world as possible.  And it’s a sanctuary of peace.

Yesterday I had a fantastic breakfast at The Old Firehouse Restaurant, which doubles as a Bed and Breakfast, and the Creede Soap and Candle Co.  The owner, Charles, says that the soap/candle part of his business probably is the sole Made In Creede product production short of the art that’s inspired here.

I highly recommend staying at The Old Firehouse Restaurant B&B.


One of the highlights of the day in Creede, yesterday was the local Silver Chef Cook Off Competition.  

They get local chef’s from the primary restaurants in town together in the middle of Main Street.  There are tables set up for each chef to use as a cooking station.  Each has a grill and access to the same ingredients.  Then as the cook off begins, they’re told what they’re to make and given 45 minutes in which to do so.

The smells from the roasting vegetables and the meats grilling with their own blend of flavors and spices just makes one hungry.

Who won?  You’ll have to watch the video!

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Alone on a hilltop, ever feel like you’re sitting up there with this tree

May 29, 2010 by

I took this photo last night near sunset in Creede, CO while walking back to my place from Kip’s Grill located on Main Street and really see a lot of symbolism in it.

At this point in my life, in many ways, I feel like I’m that lone tree, casting something of a shadow, but all by myself in a clearing high atop a hill at the foot of steep mountains.  A late-night dig from someone didn’t help that feeling either.

The past two months of separation and impending divorce have given me the distance from many comforts, but more needed distance from the pains of what once was.  By the days of the week, last night marked two months since I moved into my new apartment and set myself free of that which was.  Dust is starting to settle in my life like shelves of books filled with the stories of life.

This trip to Colorado is a symbolic way of taking a dust cloth and brushing away what doesn’t belong.  That’s not exactly easy to do, because like dusting, it stirs up some of the old dust and allowing for more to settle.

Now it’s time for new adventures.

I need to find my direction.  There are so many opportunities on the horizon, and yet for the moment, sitting in that field high above Creede, feels comfortable, feels safe, and feels like maybe I need to climb up there tonight and just breathe in the quiet and fresh air.

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