The next morning we were up very early as usual. We never really adapted to Arizona’s three hour difference. Even though the state is in Mountain Time, they do not observe daylight savings time in the state, and therefore they are on the same time as California. Our first activity was to drive up to the airport and see the morning light shining on the valley below us and the surrounding red rocks. We found the airport parking lot surprisingly empty and after taking some photographs we strolled over to the nearby Sky Top Hotel which overlooks the valley. Once finished we headed down the mountain road, drove north into Upper Sedona and then turned east to Tlaquepaque, which is an enclosed Spanish-style shopping district on Route 179. We had been there before. It was a wonderful place to relax and take pictures, but it was way too pricey for us.
Next on our agenda was a trip to the old mining village of Jerome, which is 27 miles southwest of Sedona and seven miles up a very steep mountain from Cottonwood. Jerome used to be a copper-mining town, whose population peaked at about 15,000 in the late 1880’s. The mining operation was finally abandoned in 1953, and Jerome is now a quaint area populated by about 450 individuals. It serves as a jewelry and antique center. There are numerous restaurants atop the 5200 foot precipice and one has to take a steep winding road once inside the municipal limits. The old Hotel Connor, which was built in 1896, still serves as a structure that holds many storefronts at 164 Main Street. It is a block or so from the post office, which stays open until 2 pm. It was there that I had all my post cards and letters hand cancelled by a most accommodating postal clerk. We had lunch at the Mile High Café, which is also known as Grapes Restaurant and Bar. Linda had soup and salad, and I had a patti melt, which was a hamburger with delicious melted cheese, meat and onions cooked together and served on rye toast.
Nelly Bly II is also a terrific store that is one of the many that overlooks the valley, the old abandoned Daisy Hotel and the sprawling town of Cottonwood. So after walking around and sticking our heads into almost every little emporium we said goodbye to Jerome for another year. We then made our way down the mountain and headed off to Cottonwood, and their Old Town section. It’s pretty quiet in the sprawling City Cottonwood, where about 12,000 people live. Once on Main Street in Old Town we did find an interesting book store, named Adventures Unlimited Books and I picked up a biography of the famous WWII, Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist, Bill Mauldin and a book on the WPA. A Life Up Front, by Todd DePastino is a wonderful biography of a remarkable and unique man. Bill Mauldin was an original and he was the most important editorial news source (through his Willie and Joe cartoons) from the battlefields of Italy and France. One May 9th, the day after VE Day was declared; Bill Mauldin opened the Stars and Stripes and read that he had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, “for distinguished service as a cartoonist.” He even incurred the wrath of General George S. Patton, whose “spit and polish” attitude was offended by the realistic and battle weary figures Willie and Joe embodied.
Once finished with Cottonwood, we were back on 89A north to Sedona. After we reached our rooms, rested and got refreshed, we headed back out to Airport Road to see the sunset at one of the best vantage points in Sedona. Unlike the morning, the airport parking lot was quite full. It seems that people from all over knew what we knew. We met some nice folks, took some pictures and as darkness enveloped the valley we headed back down the mountain to the main drag.
We bought a little food for dinner at Basha’s a local supermarket, headed back to Sedona Pines and hunkered down for the evening with the World Series. (Even though I always root for the American League, I could never root for the Texas Rangers because of their association with George W. Bush. My father was a loyal Giant fan whose rooting went back to Christy Mathewson and Iron Man Joe McGinnity. In retrospect, I was very happy with the Giants winning the World Series. It brought back warm memories of their remarkable victory over the favored Cleveland Indians in 1954.)
The next day, we went to a time-sharing meeting at the beautiful, well-located, Hyatt, and learned that we didn’t need to buy a week in Sedona for $35,000. But we received a nice gift for our time, which we immediately blew at the local Hyatt shops. The Hyatt at Sedona is truly beautiful, but we have never found a problem finding time-sharing days in Sedona. We had lunch right there at the Wildflower Bread Company. We also bought a terrific seeded rye there. It was almost as good as any one could get in the five boroughs!
Before we headed off to Scottsdale, we drove through Oak Creek Canyon, found a rest stop with a Dairy Queen, bathrooms, and a number of Native Americans selling their silver pins and turquoise jewelry. Ten years before, I had gotten a silver eagle for my western hat from a similar type dealer on our way to Flagstaff, which is only about 30 miles north of Sedona. After a few more photos, it was back into Sedona, and south to Scottsdale.
Within a few hours, we were back in Scottsdale, at the pool in the 90 degree sun, and finally after sunset, back in the room for dinner, rest, and more baseball. The next day, our last full one, we got in another few sets of tennis and headed off to tour some of the more interesting hotel-resorts that surround the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. We stopped by the Hyatt Regency, had lunch at the JW Marriot-Camelback, walked the Cactus Garden of the Phoenician and finished our excursion at the remarkable Arizona Biltmore, which was built in the late 1920’s with the help and inspiration of the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright. Years ago we visited his Taliesin West which was Wright’s home, studios and school for architects. It’s worth a visit for any newcomer to Arizona. When Wright first built his home in 1937, it was 25 miles into the desert and Scottsdale had 200 inhabitants. Now it is not far from the middle of Scottsdale which has a population of over 450,000 souls. We were able to get back to the pool as the afternoon heat reached 100 degrees. We spent another few hours outside before going up to the room, finished our packing and found a reasonable Asian-Fusion restaurant named Flo’s not far from the Westin.
Saturday found us finishing our packing, having a little breakfast, and heading to the airport. With all the news about bombs found on board airplanes coming out of Yemen, we expected a higher level of concern at the airport check in. We dropped off the car at Avis, headed to the airport; we were there early, breezed through the security and boarded Jet Blue right on schedule. The trip was very fast, smooth and helped by an over-active jet stream. We were in NYC air space 25 minutes early, we circled for a while awaiting a landing slot, and finally touched down. What a difference a day made. Now its back to the real world, the consequences of the election and the real world that faces us all.