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

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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.)

What’s Your Prison?

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Alcatraz Island at night. San Francisco.

Walls all around us, inside us. Some built of fear, some of strength.

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A typical Alcatraz prison cell.

What’s it like inside your walls? Cozy? Snug? Cold? Dark? Rotten?

Are they keeping your heart safe, or are they keeping it lonely? Are they keeping others safe?

Whispers filter through the chinks. Come out, come out and play, they say.

The voices won’t wait forever. Someone else will grasp their warm hand and walk them toward the grassy dunes, open in the ocean wind.

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Alcatraz Lighthouse

The Cream Puff of Happiness


I meandered over the San Francisco for a work conference and found the best concept for an eatery near my hotel. All they sell is cream puffs. A whole store devoted to the ultimate in decadence!

While growing up, I had heard about cream puffs on television, but had never eaten one. They were not sold in my city at that time. Once I was old enough to cook, I happened upon a recipe in my mother’s Betty Crocker cookbook and promptly went about making them. I was in heaven with the eggy, creamy, fluffy result.

Now cream puffs are less of a rarity. But never in my wildest “I’m a hick from Minnesota” dreams did I imagine an entire franchise devoted to the sweet.

002Beard Papa’s offers several varieties of cream puff shells. At the store I visited, these included original, chocolate-covered and green tea-covered. Filling choices were vanilla, peanut butter, and green tea. (I suppose the green tea ones are for people who are trying to trick themselves into thinking they are eating something healthy.)

I ordered an original shell with peanut butter filling, and a chocolate shell with vanilla filling. Both were divine. The shells were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The filling was cold and custardy. I preferred the vanilla filling over the peanut butter slightly, but only because it’s more classic.

With everything that’s going on in the world today, it makes me happy that cream puffs have their own store. If I’m 20 pounds heavier once I return home, you’ll know why.

Hemingway’s Cats


A descendant of Hemingway’s polydactyl (many-toed) cats sits sleepily in a box on the front porch. My son took this photo.

I read in the New York Times recently that the multi-toed descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s cats at his house in Key West, Florida, all survived Hurricane Irma. The house fared well, too.


Hemingway’s home in Key West, Florida.

My youngest son and I visited Hemingway’s house about five years ago. We delighted in seeing the cats, which lounged around in the yard and in the house. One was even sleeping on Hemingway’s bed, below a painting on the wall that depicted the house surrounded by cats.



I am glad to hear that everything is okay there.


Hemingway’s writing studio above the pool house.


Thinking of St. Martin Island . . .


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Children in a Carnival Parade on St. Martin Island, 2012.

According to the New York Times, 95% of buildings on St. Martin Island have been damaged by Hurricane Irma. This is such a tragedy, I can’t even begin to imagine it. The island is such a magical place. Please see my post about my trip there five years ago.

My thoughts are with the tourists and residents there, and on all the other islands affected by the storm.

Crossing Death’s Door on Lake Michigan

On the Robert Noble ferry to Washington Island.

My coworkers and I crossed Death’s Door not one, but two times last week. And we lived to tell about it!

Death’s Door is a treacherous crossing of water off the tip of the Door Peninsula on Lake Michigan. Many a ship and many a life have been lost to its currents and weather. Our goal was to visit Washington Island, a six-mile-by-five-mile piece of land about a half-hour ferry ride from the mainland. We were on a field trip to check out some Sea Grant projects in the area and to interview a commercial fisherman to learn more about his trade.

While waiting for the ferry, we checked out a historical shipwreck sign our agency produced. After a gray and rainy crossing, we landed on the island and drove to our lunch destination, the KK Fiske Restaurant, where we heard you can eat fresh lawyers. No, we are not cannibals; lawyers are one of the nicknames for burbot, a cod-like fish caught in local waters.

A stuffed lawyer.

Appetites at the ready, we were disappointed to find they had no luck catching lawyers that day, so we’d have to make do with whitefish. That was pretty tasty, in any event.

We only had a couple of hours to spend on the island before we needed to head back to the mainland to interview the fisherman. Besides eating, we spent it driving to a state natural area on the end of the island, called Little Lake. There is indeed a lake there, along with a museum that features artifacts from people who used to live in the area.

Little Lake State Natural Area, Washington Island.

After a coffee stop and an unsuccessful search for the island’s lavender farm, we were back on the ferry. Once we landed, breathing a metaphorical sigh of relief that we survived the crossings, we headed toward Bailey’s Harbor.

We found Bailey’s Harbor Fish Company off the beaten path, where we interviewed Tate Stuth, one of the new generation of commercial fishermen in the area. He explained how this fourth-generation family business works, and shared some of the frustrations and unique aspects of their operation. I wrote a story based on the interview and you can read it here: I left the interview thinking that the industry is in good hands.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the trip for me was roaming around the fish yard after the interview was over. It held old net buoys and floats, rusty trucks, dry docked boats, nets drying on racks. I hope you enjoy the pictures!