It has been a busy month here at Grand Canyon! We were short-staffed at work, so my parents pitched in and worked some extra shifts. Fortunately, my parents have always subscribed to the philosophy of “work hard, play hard”. So despite them being exhausted, they still pushed on, combining running errands with fun times exploring new and interesting places. Hence our recent visit to Prescott, Prescott Valley and Jerome.
Prescott and Prescott Valley are beautiful areas! I touched on Prescott during a prior blog (April 12, 2017). Quite a bustling area with its malls, Wal-marts, and big box stores (which we visited to complete our errands), Prescott Valley maintains its charm and beauty. It is nestled within the Bradshaw and Mingus Mountains. Despite being so far removed geographically from the 2001 tragedy, we were touched by the area's observance of 9/11. One highway was lined with flags on both sides, and all the businesses had their flags at half staff.
Highway 89A, a section of which is also known as Mingus Mountain Scenic Road, hugs the 1.25 million acre Prescott National Forest. This is a really cool road, with lots of twists and turns—wish we were traversing it with the motorcycles rather than Big Boomer!
Clarkdale, Cottonwood Historic Road. Overlooking the Verde River Valley, this stretch of road connects three mining/smelter sites which are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Our destination was Jerome. Situated on Cleopatra Hill within the Black Hills of Yavapai County, it started as a small mining tent camp and flourished into one of Arizona’s largest towns (population 10,000+) with the discovery of copper and an infusion of cash bestowed by Eugene Jerome, the town's namesake. Like most mining towns past their prime, it now is home to less than 500 people, but has re-emerged as a cultural and arts community surviving on tourism.
We were warned NOT to bring Big Boomer here due to narrow streets and difficult parking. However, since it was a Monday and after peak summer season, we took a gamble. Fortunately, we had no problems. In fact, there is a huge parking lot specifically for RVs and over-sized vehicles. It is a little out of the way, but there is no better way to discover a small town than by walking it!
Our first stop was at the fire house, where the public restrooms are located. Not ones to use public restrooms with any frequency, we were amazed at how clean they were! Outside we met a local resident. He was a pistol-packing pastor at a local church (I nicknamed him Triple P) who also runs a beekeeping business! He had just finished removing a colony of bees from The House of Joy, one of the historic buildings in Jerome. He came out pretty unscathed—only 12 stings!
It is always fun to talk to the locals, hear their perspectives on life, and learn from them about small town living. They are also a great source for scouting out the best places to eat! Triple P's restaurant recommendation was the Haunted Hamburger. No town is complete without its local hangout for poltergeists, and the Haunted Hamburger is one of several Jerome locations that holds the distinction. They don’t disclose WHOSE spirits roam its halls, but seemingly these spirits like hammers. Built in 1908, it was originally an apartment complex to board miners. Three miners would share a room during their 8 hour rotating shifts. In the 1970s, it converted to a restaurant under the name Jerome Palace. The current owners took over in 1994, and did a great job at renovating. They kept many wonderful features of the building, while playing up the “haunted” theme. For instance, just look up at the dining room ceiling. You will see an upside down hutch, cool spider-webbed chandeliers, and even photos capturing the “spirits.”
Dad pigged out on the Double Haunted Burger—two huge Angus beef patties topped with double helpings of bacon, cheese, mushrooms, green chilies, grilled onions, and guacamole! To die for! Mom and I had just a normal Angus cheeseburger, but enjoyed a very nice feature at the Haunted Hamburger—a free burger fixings bar! It had everything from lettuce to banana peppers to homemade relish. We all shared a basket of beer-battered onion rings and ate happily and heartily.
Time to walk off some of those calories, so we gathered our Jerome Historical Society brochure and did the walking tour. Known as the “Wickedest Town in the West”, it housed many alcohol, gambling, and prostitution establishments, serving its predominantly male-based population. I was amazed at how the buildings rose right out of the hills. Unfortunately, many buildings did not survive the movement of the earth from mine blasts, erosion, etc.
Originally Mrs. Garcia's Boarding House in 1898
Old Miner's Cottage circa 1886
Remains of the Bartlett Hotel, Circa 1901
Once the Little Daisy Hotel which housed miners from the Little Daisy Mine, the abandoned property was purchased by a private investor and renovated into a personal residence
As a stuffed rat, I like the fact that Jerome takes pet care very seriously. Throughout the town were signs warning about leaving pets in the car, giving a correlating temperature to the inside of a vehicle versus air temperature—it is a sweltering hot house inside a car! We witnessed a citation being issued to some morons who left their dog in the car. Kudos to the Jerome Police for giving these people cause to think about their stupidity!
Well, another weekend ends and work week begins. Now my parents work only 4 days a week, but have 10-hour shifts rather than 8. While difficult for them to deal with people for 10 hours, I like the fact they now get 3 full days off to take me places!
On another note, there are some strange things happening to Big Boomer. Dad’s been getting lots of deliveries, cutting/drilling all sorts of stuff, and working on Big Boomer’s garage. Wonder what that’s about? I’ll keep you posted.