Russ and I wanted to escape Minnesota’s snowy winter and cold. We also wanted to visit my son who’s in college in Tucson, so we hoofed it south a couple of weeks ago.
Our first stop was Prescott, a small historic town in north western Arizona roughly between Phoenix and Flagstaff. I’d visited the town as a child. The tall pines and bright sun (due to the 5,000-foot elevation) had piqued my interest.
I must convey the correct pronunciation for Prescott. The locals say “Preskitt.” If you call it Press-Scott, they might shoot you with their open carry pistols.
We drove up the mountains from Phoenix at night, missing views of the saguaro cacti that stand as sentinels on the landscape. As we neared Prescott, a light rain began to fall. We checked into the Hassayampa Inn, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. We chose it for this reason and because it’s within easy walking distance of the town’s many attractions. Also, it has a coffee shop, bar, and art deco restaurant (the Peacock Room).
The inn’s name is derived from Apache and is named for a nearby river. Hassayampa means “the river that loses itself”— fitting for a mysterious stream that often disappears beneath the earth and reappears elsewhere. The inn’s promotional language says that the inn has the same effect on its guests, “who often come for a chance to lose the tensions of hectic urban life and emerge restored.”
Our plane got delayed, so we didn’t arrive at the Hassayampa until near midnight. A cheery fire in the lobby welcomed us and did the night clerk, who gave us (and our luggage) a ride in an old-fashioned cage elevator up to our floor.
When we awoke in the morning, the rain had turned cold. The view out our window included about four inches of snow covering the land. So much for our grand plan to escape the white stuff!
After breakfast in the Peacock Room (excellent, plus friendly staff), we walked around town picking up supplies. The historic district was only a couple of blocks away. Alas, the museums (the Sharlot Museum was one) we had hoped to visit were all closed due to snow, but many stores were open as were the saloons and restaurants on Whiskey Row. This historic district developed after a fire in 1900. When rebuilt, the area featured an “inordinate” number of bars (40), built to quench the thirst of gold miners and settlers drawn to the town.
For supper that first day, we ate at one of the original saloons: The Palace. In addition to imbibing scotch whisky (how could we visit Whiskey Row without it?), I had a scrumptious burger called “the beast,” which is made from a mix of meats including boar and elk. I heartily recommend it!
Unlike in our hometown of Duluth, MN, the snow in Prescott melted fast. Most of the streets were clear by the afternoon.
We spent our second day hiking around Watson Lake and visiting the Heritage Park Zoo, which is in the same vicinity. Watson Lake was especially dramatic, with rocky dells rising straight out of the water. We saw lots of Canada Geese and other waterfowl there.
While on our hike, we also saw an interesting warning sign. It alerted us to the presence of flying discs, since the lake has its own disc golf course. That’s not a sign we see every day!
We had intended to stay in Preskitt for another day, but an impending snowstorm, which was supposed to drop a foot of the vile white stuff on the town, chased us out early. The hotel manager was supremely understanding and promised to refund our aborted night’s stay. So, the next day we headed out of the mountains for the historic mining town of Jerome, and then Phoenix.
But before we left Prescott, we had one more adventure planned: past life regression sessions with a local psychic. More about that in my next post!