"The New Mexican Eating Trip"
Day Six, Saturday – A Friend speaks of Jerome:
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Morning in Flagstaff was most interesting for teaching me that even I
can get a little cold running around in shorts. Of course, it was only twenty-five degrees at the time (7:30 am), puddles were still covered in ice, I was walking around outside for thirty, forty minutes or so and the wind was blowing...but it still somewhat surprised me that I got cold.
It was much better a couple of hours later when both I and Dee Dee walked a couple of blocks to the Galaxy Diner
to have breakfast...then, only Dee Dee got cold.
Readers of previous trip reports here will know that I (and later Dee Dee and I) have been stopping at the Galaxy
every time we've been through Flagstaff for the last eight years. Why? Well, the food is good (if not fancy), plentiful and we like the retro-50's decor. This year's visit kept up our tradition - and the Diner kept up their end of the deal too. Heck, if I'd realized just how close it was to our motel the night before (as I first walked out of the motel parking lot earlier that morning I looked across the street, through the gas station parking lot to the other side and went, "Hey, that's the Galaxy Diner!"), we probably would have had dinner there instead of the disappointment that was Wendy's
Anywho, filled with eggs and pancakes, we were now off to Sedona.
We headed down the 17 for a couple of miles, then turned off onto the 89A. The 89A runs down the length of Oak Creek Canyon
, which is a beautiful canyon that stretches nearly the whole way from Flagstaff to Sedona.
High castle-like walls climb on both sides as you drop down the switchbacks at the top of the canyon. Down at the bottom, the road winds alongside the creek (in Southern California this would qualify as a "river." Still, I suspect it's more creek-like most of the time - it has
been a wet year...) between pines and the occasional oak.
As you head down the canyon and get closer to Sedona, those "castle walls" start to redden. A couple of miles above Sedona and the canyon opens out right at a big bridge. As this made for some nicely scenic views, we stopped for a bit at a very
crowded vista site and I got some pictures.
After our vista-ing, we continued down into Sedona. Towering red cliffs are what made Sedona a famous tourist spot, but for years the town itself was small and unimposing, if kinda rustic. Heck, even as recently as seven years ago, when we came through on the "'Round Arizona"
trip the town was still basically an intersection with a 7-11 at one corner and a gas station at another...
...not any more.
Sedona, unfortunately, has become an "in" spot. Tourists come from around the world to visit the place - and they're pretty high-end tourists too. Where once sat a gas station, now sits an entire mall, brimming with expensive shops and art dealers. What was open territory is now condos and big resorts. New construction is everywhere as the city
of Sedona spreads along the highways...
...in other words, the place is pretty much ruined...
Initial plans were that we'd stop in Sedona and eat at a restaurant that we read about in "Westways" which sounded pretty interesting. However, those "initial plans" were dependant upon a Sedona that was still small enough to find
that restaurant and, indeed, dependant on a Sedona that looked more like the "Wild West" and less like Westwood
So instead we continued west on the 89A heading towards Cottonwood. In Cottonwood now lived an old friend of Dee Dee's named Veronica, who she hadn't seen, well, since she moved
out to Cottonwood. Since we were in the, ah-hem, "neighborhood," we of course had to drop by for a visit.
Getting to Veronica's house required some odd twists and turns as we climbed a hill that overlooked Cottonwood's downtown area. Once we got there, we had to wait for her to get back from work. Fortunately, she left the door unlocked for us, so we got to poke around in bedrooms and closets and stuff, checking out her house.
When she got home, we spent the next several hours chatting, seeing her place of work and discussing the trip, our lives and how things were going. Turns out, she's moving again (as the wildly unstructured growth that has screwed up Sedona is happening to Cottonwood too - and she is Not Pleased)...and by an amazing coincidence, she's going to Silver City...
...so we all had
to talk about Diane's
As the afternoon wore on and we were getting ready to leave (which came as a surprise to Veronica - she thought we were staying the night. Sorry, Veronica. Next time...then breakfast at Diane's
...), Veronica mentioned that there was an interesting old mining town called "Jerome" just a couple of miles further down the road - and that there was a very good restaurant in it.
Well, since we'd crossed Sedona off as our dinner site, a "very good restaurant" sounded like a cool idea - and if it was in an interesting place like an old mining town, so much the better! So we made our good-byes and headed west again, soon reaching the turn-off to Jerome.
bills itself as "American's Most Vertical City" and while the "city" descriptive is a wild exaggeration (the whole population is only about five-hundred), the "Most Vertical" part is quite accurate.
Like most old mining towns, Jerome was built as close to the mines (in this case, copper) as possible. At a lot of those towns - for example, Virginia City (as seen last year
) - this can result in said town being built more or less on the hill/mountainside with a street plan that's...less than level.
Well, Jerome carries this concept to extreme - it actually makes Virginia City look like a gently sloping rise. The slope through the town seems to be from thirty to pretty close to forty-five degrees and second stories on one street look up
at sidewalks on the next. The streets themselves are fairly narrow and - naturally - switchback repeatedly as they head through town. Building frequently lean
towards the downslope, occasionally quite severely - though they still may have residents!
Upon arriving, we first went to check out the old mine and the shell of the hotel/mine worker's dormitory that sits near it. The mine area required a state park fee
to enter (which we weren't going to pay with just a half-hour or so of time left before it closed), but the "Little Daisy Hotel's"
concrete shell perched above the road and I could get a few pictures. It must have been nice before it burned - you can still see some of the tile-work.
We headed back "downtown" and stopped to walk about Jerome and - since it was getting dinner timey (and we hadn't eaten since Galaxy
) - look for the Haunted Hamburger
restaurant that Veronica had told us about.
Somehow, we missed it, though. I say "somehow," because this really took quite a bit of work. On our way back to the car later, we passed right by a building that we had spent some time checking out and actually photographing
on the way in. And on one whole side of that building was a big sign that pointed
(up the hill) to the Haunted Hamburger!
That's some serious inobservance, that is.
However, while we missed where we were going, we did
find a place called the Jerome Brewery
just down the street which made up for it.
The first floor of the Brewery
is about half old-west saloon, half bikers-bar, but there's also tables (in rustic picnic-style) for more standard sit-down eating on the second floor (this is how we know second floors look out and up at sidewalks). The place deals mainly in pizzas and sandwiches
, but they're all look good. I heartily
recommend the grilled pastrami sandwich.
The sun was heading towards setting as we finally left Jerome to begin the trip back "home" to Flagstaff. Thanks, Veronica, for the suggestion!
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