Downhill slope: Crooked Creek Saloon

It's a Monday night in Fraser, and the Crooked Creek Saloon looks like the place to be an hour after the lifts close at Winter Park. The crowd is a nearly ideal mix of blue-collar locals and younger ski-bum types who combine to outnumber tourists by an approximate ratio of seven to one.

Plus there are $2 PBR cans and $2 Rolling Rock drafts. The bumper stickers above the hard stuff include a few good ones -- "Drink Naked" among them. There's also a kitchen shared by the adjacent restaurant. The steak-scented air smells pretty good, but I don't look at a menu. I just order a PBR and watch the Nuggets game.

Local street signs hang above the pictures of their namesakes (i.e. Eisenhower Drive above black-and-whites of Ike and Mamie) on the other walls, as does a "Hunter Headquarters" sign above the main entrance. Locals roll dice for the jackpot and free drinks. A bald drunk croaks something to the guy three barstools down en route back from the men's room.

I look at the window and sip on my PBR. A Rockies flag flops around in the breeze outside the front window. The sun is still up, and it must be 6:30 or something. Wow. Summer is coming. But I'm not exactly sure what time it is. I don't have a watch.

Crooked Creek Saloon, 401 Zerex St., Fraser, 970-721-9250.


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