Painted Desert and a French Village

Trip Start May 06, 2007
Trip End Jun 11, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sticking to Interstate 40, heading off onto Route 66 for fun at times, we cross into Arizona and do a detour into the Painted Desert. This is a colorful fantasyland of mesa, buttes, and badlands and  a designated wilderness area. The area is covered by the "Chinle formation", a very soft layer of earth consisting mainly of mud, sandstone, and volcanic ash. The softness allows for fantastic erosion effects as well as colorful staining by mineralized water flows and mineral deposits over the years .. lots of them.
 Stopped at Hollbrook for a drink in a bar 'Ryan's Corral' and then onto Sedona, which is described as a 'new age, alternative' town where we intended staying. A quick overview gave the conclusion it was very like Santa Fe so we decided to push on to Jerome or maybe Prescott. The road wound its way up into the hills, average speed ~ 15mph, and the view in the rear view mirror was breathtaking. 5,500 feet up finds a quaint 'village' carved into the hillside - this is Jerome, an ex-copper mining town where shop fronts and houses spill out onto the street. One can imagine the Wild West days here, a sign in one saloon warns that no loaded weapons are allowed on the premises and an ex-bordello is now a brothel museum. This town is now full of fantastic art ranging from locally and Indian made jewellery, pottery, leather craft, glass blowing, iron works and copper products. At just under the one mile elevation, Jerome overlooks the entire Verde Valley with views equal to that of the Grand Canyon. Jerome would prove to be one of the richest mines in the world, often being called the Billion Dollar Copper Camp. With a population of near 15,000 in 1929, dwindling down to less than 100 in 1955, Jerome now supports its approximately 550 residents through tourism.We found an absolute gem for accommodation - 'The Surgeons House', a bed and breakfast overlooking the town and valley run by Andrea, who is the most fantastic host and hospitality must be her middle name. The house is filled with her life and is 'shabby chic' at its finest. Andrea informs us that we are now on central 'stranded' time - turn our watches back an hour, better still take them off! Our room is decorated with family photos, books, trinkets and is so very 'homey'. Breakfast, at the civilized hour of 8.30am consisted of fresh juices, freshly brewed coffee and ... fresh banana with vanilla yoghurt and granola to start, poached salmon, steamed asparagus, portabello mushrooms, homemade corn bread and an enchilada bake followed by scone (sort of sweet biscuity thing) with a lemon curd sauce. I spent the day browsing the shops (no need to eat for the day, so let's shop!) while Anne caught up on sleep. I mailed some postcards finally and came back to catch up on the journal over a couple of glasses of zinfandel (Christine, this is your new wine!) Went up to the Asylum in the Grand Hotel for dinner (ex-hospital now turned into hotel and restaurant) so Anne could have Maple Leaf Duck. . It was pretty cool and very hospitaly based but funky and has won lots of awards. Back down the hill to the village to check out the local bars, caught a band called 'Dog of the Moon' and who's 'Greatest Hit's' CD we were given - we listened to the CD in the car and it is really quite good - very interesting lyrics!
We watched the sun rise over the over the Verde Valley, missed only what we could assume was another beautuful breakfast, so very hungover and lacking sleep, headed into town for a burger. The streets of Jerome were overflowing with harley's, convertables, family wagons and everything in between and it was probably a good thing we were moving on.
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