Jerome – A Counterculture and Bohemian Mecca: Adventures in Northern Arizona, Part 2

Sedona 2017 041

Jerome, Arizona.

While I was standing in line to rent a car at the Phoenix Airport, the man in front of me asked where my friend and I were staying. He was from Philadelphia and vacationed in Arizona frequently. When I told him Sedona, he said that we had to go visit the nearby town of Jerome. “It’s an old mining town with shops run by a bunch of hippies,” he said.

That’s all it took to convince me that we needed to go there. I’ve found that some pre-planning is fine for vacations, but that the best advice often comes from people you meet along the way. This trip was no exception.

The day we journeyed to Jerome dawned bright and mild, like so many other mornings during our Arizona stay. Linda and I hopped in our rented Nissan Versa, which dutifully took us up and down the northern Arizona mountains (even though the rental agency clerk tried to talk us into getting a larger car to handle the elevation changes).

20171205_111326A large “J” on a mountaintop was the first thing we noticed about Jerome. Then came the hairpin turns as we wound our way up to the town, which is situated precariously on the mountainside that used to yield its copper to miners. We parked in an area close to stores and hopped out to explore.

We purchased some goodies from the Connor Hotel gift shop, marveled at a poster that proclaimed the existence of a Jerome Ukulele Orchestra, and partook of a wine tasting at the Dragoon Mountain/Cellar 433 Winery outlet, which is simply called “Winery” on the outside. We had also visited their tasting room in Sedona, and were interested to see what different varieties of Arizona wine they offered here.

We sampled a flight of whites served by Barry, who wore a bandanna around his head and whose ears sported many heavy earrings. Our favorite was called “Sun.” Like the name implies, it was honey-colored with the warm flavor of roasted nuts. Hints of honeydew melon, white peaches and ginger topped it off. Unlike the Sedona winery, no guitarist serenaded our tasting. But like the Sedona winery, the view was fantastic, plus local artwork graced the walls.


The view from the winery. The impressive building on the left used to be a hotel, but is now a private home.

Lest we walk around the perilous Jerome pathways in a stupor, we decided to cross the street to the English Kitchen Restaurant to eat lunch to cut the alcohol. That turned out to be an excellent and otherworldly choice.

Sedona 2017 038We sat in an inviting booth and learned about the history of the place from the back of the menu while the smell of hickory barbecue drifted in from the restaurant’s smoker out back. The English Ktichen, also known as Bobby D’s BBQ is the oldest restaurant in northern Arizona. It was built in 1899 by Charley Hong after his original restaurant in the Connor Hotel (where we had just been buying gifts) burned down when the hotel burned. Oh, and by the way, there used to be an opium den in the basement of the English Kitchen.


The counter in the English Kitchen/Bobby D’s BBQ.

Charley died in booth #3 of the restaurant, where he frequently slept. Apparently, he is still hanging around, his presence manifested by flying salt shakers and misplaced items. The restaurant turned into the BBQ joint it is today in 2011.

When our waitress came to take our order, I asked her where booth #3 was. She pointed to the booth where we sat. “Do you want to know what side he died on?” she said, with the ghost of a smile. I could guess, but asked anyway. She pointed to the side where I sat.


But that did not make me lose my appetite. I ordered the BBQ bacon cheeseburger with fries. Oh man, oh man, oh man. That was good! It came with four different barbecue sauce choices. My tastebuds grew up in Minnesota, so that means I chose the non-spicy sweet one. Sorry, I can’t recall the name, but the sauce complemented the meat perfectly.

After lunch, we waddled around town for another hour or so. We found a shop that specialized in kaleidoscopes. Don’t see that every day.

We could have easily spent several days looking through all the shops, but the Sedona hiking trails were calling us, and we had to answer. And besides, we needed to walk off all the barbecue.


I Left My Sole on Little Sugarloaf Mountain: Adventures in Northern Arizona, Part 1


Chimney Rock, Sedona, AZ.

I meandered down to Arizona last week with a friend. Our goals were to commune with the sun and the rocks, and to meet a member of our writers group who had moved to Flagstaff. Our home base for the week was Sedona. I’d driven through the town two or three times over the years — each time sparking a desire to stay longer. I was glad to finally have my chance.

Our first outing was meant to be an easy hike. My friend Linda and I had never traveled together before and she is ten years my senior, so a hike of just a couple miles with little elevation change would be a good test run. We chose a trail around Chimney Rock, which is basically right in town, and doesn’t require any special permits, at least not from the trailhead where we parked.

The morning sun soaked some much-needed Vitamin D into our pasty white Minnesota faces, which felt divine. The air at this elevation (4,300 feet) was cool, but much warmer than the snowy atmosphere back home.

The first part of the hike around Chimney Rock went as planned. The walking was easy and scenic. With lots of energy left, we chose a side trip around Little Sugarloaf Mountain, a formation as squat and square as Chimney Rock is vertical and finger-y.

Sedona 2017 013Then we came to the sign marked “Summit.” I asked Linda if she wanted to try it. She made the mistake of shrugging and saying, “Sure.”

By way of explanation, I must say that neither of us did any research on the trail beforehand, other than looking at the general guide we had, which listed distances and elevation changes. So we embarked on the summit trail in oblivious innocence.

I figured that since it was an official trail, it must be safe and relatively easy. I was about to get an education. The path quickly became a vertical scramble up loose rocks and dirt — no railings to grab onto, no cautionary signs.

Our lungs worked hard in the thin air and we stopped several times to rest, but also to enjoy the view that was unfolding below. As we neared the summit, the trail got worse. At one point we stopped and debated turning around. Then another hiker approached us, coming down from the summit, and he told us the 360-degree view was worth the climb.


Little Sugarloaf Mountain. We climbed this sucker!

Linda and I looked at each other and decided to slog our way up the remaining twenty-five feet or so. The man was right — with the city spread below us and the red rock mountains in the distance, the view was amazing!

While we rested, we realized we would have to hike down the slippery rocks and loose gravel we came up. Linda was not wearing her best shoes because we hadn’t intended such a challenging climb. I told her we’d be okay as long as we went slowly and carefully. Her gaze was skeptical.

Nevertheless, after having our fill of the view, we headed down. It wasn’t as bad as we had feared. We just picked our way cautiously through the rocks, sometimes sliding on our butts, sometimes holding onto rocks or twisty juniper trees. On the way down, I noticed part of my tennis shoe sole had torn loose and lay mingled with the dust on the trail.

Once we reached the bottom, we congratulated each other for surviving. I asked Linda if I had any red sand on my butt that needed brushing off, sticking out my derriere for good measure. She spanked it much harder than required to remove a bit of sand.

I probably deserved that.

But I knew right then that I had a spunky travelling partner and that this was going to be a good trip.

My shoe

What my shoe looked like after the hike. (It’s missing a few pieces in the heel.)

Photo Caption Contest!



My family celebrated Thanksgiving early this year. This is my favorite photo from the memorable occasion. My dog Buddy is looking longingly at the turkey carcass.

It begs a photo caption. Suggest your best one by commenting below. I (the sole judge) will send the winner a free copy of my novel, Plover Landing. I will ship it anywhere in the world, so put your creativity caps on, people!

The contest will be open through Saturday, November 25. I will contact the winner privately for their address.

How My Dog Got Me Out of a Traffic Ticket


Buddy. Image by Amanda Jo Dahl Sales.

Two springs ago, I decided to go to Duluth’s (Bob) Dylan Fest musical gathering at a bar downtown. I wanted to arrive early to ensure nabbing a chair to sit on. I had hurt my foot or hip or something, I don’t recall now, and knew there was no way I could stand up and listen to music for several hours without pain.

I rushed out of the house and made it to the bar in plenty of time. As I walked from the parking lot to the building, I realized that I had left my Dylan Fest tickets at home. Cursing, I got back in my car and raced home.

Apparently, I raced a little too fast, because a cop stopped me a few blocks from my house.

“Do you know how fast you were going?” he asked.

“Um, about 43 mph?” I admitted.

“Yep. This is a 30 mph zone and you were going over the speed limit.”

I explained about leaving my tickets at home and not wanting to be late to the event. (I didn’t get into my medical reasons, though.)

The policeman took my license and went back to his patrol car to run a check. When he returned to my driver’s window a few minutes later, he said, “Hey, aren’t you Buddy’s mom?”

I looked at him, dumbfounded for a few seconds. Then I realized he must be the cop who lives in my neighborhood. I had spoken to him and his wife a few times while I was out walking my goldendoodle, Buddy. They LOVE goldendoodles.

I smiled and answered in the affirmative. I told him it was nice to see him again.

“Buddy’s a great dog,” he said. “I’ll let you off with a warning.”

I drove to my house, thankful, yet a little chagrined that I got let off from a ticket not because the cop knew me and thought I was a great person, or even because I am a world-famous blogger, but because of my dog, who is way more famous than I am. 🙂

The Story of the Target Credit Card


I was in the checkout line at Target the other day, about to pay for my purchases. The cashier was trying to interest me in applying for a Target credit card. This is our brief exchange, which left both of us laughing:

Cashier: “Can I tell you the story of the Target credit card?”
Me: “Sorry, no. I’ve been told it many times . . . and it doesn’t end well.”

A Bunch of Cool Things I Learned at the World Conference of Science Journalists


About a week ago, I returned from the World Conference of Science Journalists, which was held in San Francisco. Although the coolest thing was seeing that there are so many of us doing science journalism in so many countries (more than 1,300 attended from seventy-three countries) — some of whom are the type who wear DNA double helix earrings — I learned many other interesting things during the five days of sessions.

Here are the highlights:

  • In writing a profile about a scientific woman, remember that, “If you wouldn’t say it about a male scientist, don’t say it about a woman scientist.” This applies to factors like cooking prowess, childcare arrangements, familial relationships, etc. This should go without saying, but apparently, some journalists don’t know this yet!
  • The current anti-science political climate makes our profession more important than ever. (Ron Winslow, National Association of Science Writers).
  • The term “climate disruption” is preferable to the term “climate change.” (John Holdren, Harvard).
  • “I love science because it can improve the human condition. The current absence of trust in science threatens this.” (Susan Desomond-Hellmann, Gates Foundation). She also said that skepticism of science is okay. Denialism is not. Science journalists and scientists need to re-establish confidence by being credible.
  • “Our oceans are our lives.” (Rashid Sumaila, University of British Columbia). Sixty percent of the world population lives within sixty km of the coast. Fifty percent of the oxygen we breathe is generated by the ocean.
  • Most of the extra heat generated by climate change is going into the ocean (93%). (Malin Pinsky, Rugters University). He also said that ocean animals are moving ten times faster than land animals to new areas in response to climate changes.
  • Some solutions to overfishing: use algal oil in animal feed instead of fish oil. Consume lower on the food chain. (Julie Thayer, Farallon Institute).
  • The arctic is a hotspot for ocean acidification. Unfortunately, with climate disruption, it’s also where most of the fish are moving in general. (Rashid Sumaila, University of British Columbia).
  • There’s a relationship between climate disruption and human violence. (Solomon Hsiang, Berkeley). It can take fifteen years for economic recovery to start happening after only twelve hours of a hurricane. Hurricane Maria undid twenty-six years of economic development in Puerto Rico. “The only thing more destructive is a nuclear bomb.”
  • It would only take three hours for the water supply for the reservation near Standing Rock in the Dakotas to be impacted by an oil spill, given the current location of the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Phil McKenna, InsideClimate).
  • UC Berkeley has twenty-nine libraries, and some have interesting specialties. There’s a “no-technology” one (put those phones away!) There’s one where it’s okay to talk. There’s one for meditation. There’s even a “food-is-okay” one.
  • There’s a way to verify carbon dioxide emission levels of different countries. It’s called the Orbiting Carbon Observatory. (Inez Fung, UC Berkeley). The levels of U.S. emissions are lower than those of China and Europe.
  • A lack of wild fish can have harmful impacts on us humans, including slavery and an increase in HIV. See the full story on my work blog, here. (Justin Brashares, UC Berkeley).