Our Lady of the Blue Highways

Our Lady of the Blue Highways
Portrait in oils by Jackie Poutasse

Monday, April 5, 2010

Jerome and Sedona

We have bright, sunny 60 degree weather, and are headed for Jerome (about 100 miles from here) which is an old copper mining town perched on steep hillsides. Once out of the metro area, we travelled north climbing through the desert from 1072’ to about 6,700’. At first we saw saguaro, Cholla cactus - regular, Grampa (bearded), and Jumping Cholla (which, if you bump up against it, will throw it’s spines at you – much like a porcupine. We saw Agave = that wonderful sweet nectared plant. Mesquite and creosote bushes, and Palo Verde trees. In the fall, you can collect beans from the mesquite bushes, when they are all dried out, and put them in your Bar-B-Q for flavoring your steaks.

As we started climbing, we left the cactus behind and saw more and more wild flowers – the yellow of wild mustard, the lavender of Lupine, and even some snapdragons. We moved through Jack Pine country – Short, squat, bushy pines.

Early spring green is dressing the hills. The colors, and shades of greens and wildflowers are awesome.

Now we can see the Mesas. They are buttes in Montana, but Mesa’s here.
There are layers of colors on the mesas – we’re seeing more and more red rocks.

We are on a high desert plateau. All you can see is the tops of the mountains surrounding us. – looks like we’re growing rocks and sagebrush – little else in vegetation.

We’ve just been passed by a Tribal Police car.

OK we’re headed down into the Verde Valley – on a 6% grade. The valley opening up below us is absolutely breathtaking.

We’re just entering Cottonwood, AZ, but I don’t see any Cottonwood trees. The town was founded in 1879, as either a railroad or stagecoach stop. We stopped for lunch at a little Greek restaurant. I had a delicious sandwich – grilled avocado and provolone – it was so good! We also had Baklava because Kit said she didn’t like it - the only time she tried it, it was all dried out. The waitress explained that theirs was made the traditional way – not with honey, but with a simple syrup made with rosewater. It was really good. Kit decided it was good, too.

When we got back on the road, we were talking about my Mom and her ability to pack so neatly and organized, and to use every square inch of space. One year, Mom drove her VW super beetle from California to Montana with Kit and her 4 children – ranging in age from 18 months to 12 years. The little one rode in the lap of whichever adult not driving. Now, just think about that for a minute!!!! 3 pre-teens in the back seat, and not enough room to keep from touching each other as they rode along. But wait,………..wait for the punchline!!! When they arrived in Montana – they picked up my older two – at 14 and 12, and proceeded to drive the 600 miles to Seattle, WA. Kit says whenever they stopped at a gas station, heads would swivel and start counting as children swarmed out of the car. (Remember, this was a VW Beetle!) Not only did she have all the children, but somehow, she managed to pack everything they needed, including food. Trust me, my Mom could pack! And, no, it didn’t rub off on me.
They have Lilacs Here! Oh, I love Lilacs.

We’re traveling down a brand-new road, 89A towards Jerome, and instead of intersections with traffic lights, they have traffic circles which seem very effective at slowing down speeders.

As we are approaching Jerome National Park, we are winding up the mountain side. I feel like I’m on the first upgrade on a Rollercoaster. OMG is it steep. I don’t think Madame would even make it up here. It’s a very winding road, twists and turns everywhere. Buildings are actually built into the hillside, on the upside, and on the downside, the first floor is on street level, and the back of the buildings are on stilts.

Its about 70, with fairly clear skies, - a little haze in the distance, and a slight breeze blowing. At the top, we are at about 6700’ The view is something to write home about. In the distance is a snow capped mountain. And behind the “Jerome” mountain is a not so distant mesa with a dusting of snow. It’s the day before Easter, and looks like a lot of people had the same idea we did. We finally found a parking space, and allowed ourselves just 30 minutes to wander – as we had to get on to Tuzagoot.

Well, we had to stop and see what the “House of Joy” was all about – with the pig on the porch, all dressed up with no where to go. Well, as it’s name implies – it began life as a brothel. Now it is, what shall I call it???? A lot of art – crammed with this and that as well. In the back room are black mesh stockings and sequined and tasseled pasties (Made by a grandmother in the Midwest, we are told).

Lots of art galleries. We wandered in and out of a few before our time was up. I bought 2 postcards – but they were special ones. Prints of local art. They were out of the postcards of the Native American in braids, Stetson and western chaps, straddling a red “Indian” motorcycle.

If we were going to make it to Sedona, we had to get back on that winding road – downhill this time.

Oh, look at the Flamingos! Plastic ones sitting on the fence with flowers on their heads, but no where to pull off for a photo.


The ruins of an ancient pueblo on a ridge in the Verde Valley. Construction began over 1000 years ago, and it was occupied for about 400 years. Speculation is that a very long drought caused the Sinagua people to leave the area seeking better farming land.

There is quite a nice museum in the visitors center. I “paid” our way in with my America the Beautiful pass. We walked up to the ruins – able to look right into some of the rooms. Some have been reconstructed so you can really see how they lived. We climbed up to the very top room. The view, well, it was really something! The dwellings were limestone and mortar, with trunks of cypress and sycamore trees holding up the roofs.

The moment we left the visitors center and headed up the ridge, my camera batteries died. Luckily Kit had her camera and took photos for me.

We left Tuzagoot, and finally saw the cottonwood trees shading the meandering river.

I’m wearing my pedometer today. When I was in San Antonio and we went to New Braunfuls, Sue was wearing a pedometer on her shoe. It was provided by the company she works for, and the employees actually get cash rewards for walking!!! That day, we got in our 10,000 steps.


Oh Gosh, If I thought I was in beautiful country before, we are in red rock country, and the hills are vibrant. Stratas of reds and yellows and other colors.

We are entering Sedona. First thing I spotted, of course, was a quilt store. Wonderful southwest designed fabric, and before leaving I mentioned the Australian quilt I have to make, and by gosh if they didn‘t have quite a large selection of Aboriginal prints. I only bought a piece that will work great in Angie and Amanda’s quilt.

We’re driving through Sedona, taking photos and looking for a fudge shop. “I don’t see any fudge yet, Kit. You promised me fudge!!!”

The town is totally ringed by red rock formations. We parked, and got out and walked around town a bit. I was awestruck. Wouldn’t you love to wake up each morning to the beauty of the mountains surrounding Sedona?

Oh, shoot, I dropped my tape recorder somewhere. Oh, never mind, it’s in my hand. Can you tell how distracted by the natural beauty I was?

When we were finished walking about town, and after we found the fudge shop, stopped for a glass of Chai tea, enjoying the 2nd story view. We then returned to the car to go to the airport. The airport is on top of a mesa, and there is an area where you can watch the sun set over Sedona. We took quite a few photos there, and ended up leaving before full sunset because of the haze – figuring the color would not get much more brilliant.

On the way down the mesa, there was a pulloff for a Vortex, unfortunately, there was no where to part, and traffic was trying to climb through our tail pipe.

On the way out of town, we stopped at the Chapel rock. Awesome! While there, I turned around and took a photo of a beautiful mansion across the road. We later found it belonged to Nicholas Cage. Absolutely fantastic – waterfall in yard, and observatory on roof!

I’m telling you this country is fantastic! The stucco homes are colored to meld right into the landscape – they are traditional tan, taupe, grey, green – all soft colors that fit right in with the mountains. Even commercial buildings take advantage of the natural colorscape.

Whats in a name?

Ghost City Inn
Dead Man’s Draw
Bloody Canyon Road
Horse Thief Basin
Coffee Pot Road
Mountain Shadows Drive
Dead Horse Ranch
Wild Horse Pass
Skull Valley

Until next time,
Bear Hugs,

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