Showing posts with label Americas Wild West. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Americas Wild West. Show all posts

Monday, November 26, 2012

High Plains Drifters: A Thanksgiving Jackpot

The High Plains Drifters (our Southwestern nom de blog) brought the song lyrics, “Over the river and through the woods. . .” to life on Thanksgiving morning. 

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Tossing aside the traditional holiday falderal, we set out – for the first time ever - on a winter road trip. We headed for America’s Southwest on a 1,628 mile route that would take us from Washington State, across Oregon and a tip of Idaho, into Nevada, Utah and to our destination, Arizona.

AZroadtrip2012 007Winter road trips through this area of the country require bi-polar packing: flip-flops, shorts, and suntan lotion in the suitcases that sit next to tire chains, snow boots, gloves and window scrapers in the car’s trunk.

We were prepared for winter’s potentially worst driving conditions and were pleasantly surprised to find the only ‘snowy conditions’ were on the trees and roadside on Washington’s Snoqualmie Pass (top photo).

It was sunshine and blue skies as we crossed the Columbia River and entered Oregon country.

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Crossing Oregon’s Blue Mountains (this photo at the summit) was a snap. Traveling on Thanksgiving Day made for virtually no traffic. . .we did pass a group of wild turkeys standing along the roadside, showing off, we think,  for having avoided the platter for another year.

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Our route through central Oregon was flanked with the Wallowa Mountain range in the distance to our left and the Blue Mountains (pictured) to our right.

Day 1: Was a bottom-buster:  11 hours and 693 miles.  Subsequent days we allowed ourselves a bit more sightseeing, fewer miles and less hours in the car. 

We reached our destination: Jackpot, Nevada – a wide spot in the road just south of the Idaho border, with four casinos, three hotels and a service station at 6:45 p.m. our time; 7:45 p.m. by the Mountain Time they follow here.The casino/hotel we’d hoped to stay in was sold out – luckily the place across the street, Barton’s Club 93  had rooms ($57 a night)and food. 

We could have had the traditional turkey either as a plated meal or from the buffet.  But we’d already thrown tradition aside. . .

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. . . so we opted to hit the Thanksgiving Jackpot with chicken fried steak platters!

Hope you’ll come back for Day II of the winter road trip – we’ll be leaving early tomorrow so pack your bag and join us!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

TPThursday: The Wickedest Town in the West

Wickedest? So they say.
Ghosts among its residents? So they claim.
A ‘Must See’ for Arizona travelers? Without a doubt!

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Just 100 miles from Phoenix, Arizona we hit the mother lode of tourist stops: Jerome, the old copper mining town on the slope of Cleopatra Hill

Remnants of those good old mining days are visible along the twisty, turning drive that leads to the tiny town - like the slag heap below:

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In its heyday – 15,000 residents in the 1920’s – Jerome was Arizona’s fourth largest city.  Today’s population is 445 (not sure if that includes the ghosts) and its pay load is tourism.  It’s a paranormal paradise for those of that persuasion.

And this welcoming little place, according to their tourism folks, was once, ‘the wickedest town in the west’.

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Souvenir shops, restaurants, art galleries, B and B’s and hotels are housed in restored buildings. And some buildings like the old theatre simply offer an open door to imagination: What was it like in its heyday?

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Other buildings simply gave way to the passing of time.

Arizona2012pt1 027Jerome began as a frontier tent city in the late 1880’s.  The copper mine that gave it life was the largest in Arizona, at one time producing three million tons a month.

The last mine shut down in  1953.

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We’d considered staying at -- and perhaps ghost hunting -- at the Jerome Grand Hotel.  It’s prominent profile towers above the town and can be seen for miles. It’s address – no joke - Hill Street. Guests can join in “Ghost Hunting” tours ($20 per person)  on selected week day evenings.  Participants are taken into ‘off limits areas’ of the hotel and are provided ghost hunting equipment as part of the hotel’s efforts to document its paranormal activities.

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The hotel is housed in a 5-story Spanish Mission style building that when built in 1926 was the United Verde Hospital. It was considered the most modern hospital of its time, serving all of Northern Arizona. The hospital closed in the 1950’s and remained vacant (well, aside from the ghosts, I guess) until 1996 when renovation began. It opened as a hotel in 1996.  It’s restaurant, The Asylum, has the sign above posted at its entry.

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We’d also considered staying at another place on Hill Street, near the old hospital, The Surgeon’s House Bed and Breakfast. It was built for the hospital’s Chief Surgeon and has been on the National Historic Register since 1966.

Arizona2012pt1 029 One reason we didn’t stay in this gem of a town (and are kicking ourselves for not doing so now) was our concern that it might be a bit dead – no pun intended – when the day trippers left and stores closed. 

We shouldn’t have worried. The number of restaurants and watering holes alone would have kept us busy hiking up and down the steep streets bar hopping.

Or we could have taken in a movie at the 1918 Liberty Theatre, the oldest operating silent movie theatre in Arizona.  They now show silent  films and ‘talkies’  for $3 a person.

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The road to Jerome is a paved highway, Arizona 89A, that turns and twists up over the 7,000 foot summit of Mingus Mountain before looping through Jerome on its way to the valley floor.  If you don’t like road trips or heights this isn’t for you, but if you want to take a trip back into America’s Wild West, this place shouldn’t be missed.

For more information: or

This is TravelnWrite’s contribution to Travel Photo Thursday. To take a few more photographic journey’s click on Budget Travelers Sandbox.  If this is your first visit here, thanks for stopping by. Come back again – soon!


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