Saturday, July 28, 2012


Jerome is one of the most interesting places we've visited so far in Arizona.  It's a fascinating old restored mining town located 90 miles north of Phoenix.  It is called "America's Most Vertical City" and "Largest Ghost Town in America".  It is located on top of Cleopatra Hill (5,200 feet), reached by driving up a switchback road with amazing views.  It also had the claim to the title "Wickedest Town in the West".  That refers to it's heyday, in the early 1900s, as a mining town when it was full of brothels and bars and rowdy citizens.  It was mainly a copper mining town, but silver and gold were also mined nearby.

The population of Jerome peaked at 15,000 in the 1920's and declined to one person (Father John) in 1954.  It is now designated a National Historic District by the federal government and is a thriving tourist and artist community with a population of about 450.

It's a fascinating place to visit - most of the buildings are the original ones, fixed up and renovated but retaining their original look.  Some buildings have slid a bit on the 30 degree incline the city is built on and these broken buildings, including the old jail, have been left where they slid.

The rest of this building has long since disappeared.  A glass
blowing studio has been built behind it.

This is the old jail which gravity pulled down the 30 degree slope,
making it totally unusable since the walls pulled apart in the shift.

The town itself is built on a series of four or five streets on switchbacks up the mountain.  It's a wonder more of them didn't succumb to the pull of gravity.

Emily and Allan on one of the lower roads.

The houses were built close together almost as if they were holding one
another up.  Its strange to see the late model cars on the narrow roads,
but the motorcycle in the foreground looks like it belongs there.

This is a small yard down a flight of stairs between two houses.  The artisan who maintains it
collects all manner of interesting sculptures, antiques, and junk for passersby
to look at from the street level.

I love this picture of a tree growing up through the window
of a deserted building and finally reaching street level above.
There are a lot of lovely shops displaying the art created by the artisans who live in Jerome, as well as museums, gift shops, restaurants, etc.  I would have taken pictures of them too but I forgot to recharge my camera's battery so it died in Jerome - very appropriate somehow.

The following pictures are ones Emily took as we drove up Mingus Mountain behind Jerome - beautiful red cliffs. can you not love it!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Isn't It Grand!

Emily and Allan took a day trip on their own the other day.  They packed a lunch, took plenty of water and headed out before 9 am, returning just after 10 that night.  They had a Grand time!  Who wouldn't, exploring the Grand Canyon for the first time.  She said I could blog her pictures so here we go....

It makes me nervous to see my baby girl standing so close to the railings.  She said there were lots of anxious parents there yelling at their kids to stay away from the edge.  I would have been one of them.   

The canyon seems to go on forever and is full of shadows

They went partway down one of the trails

and found nice people to take their pictures.

On the trail

Resting on the trail

Looking down .  Em complained that the photos don't give a sense of how very deep the canyon really is.

Staying close to the inside of the trail

Approaching the hole in the canyon wall

big enough for Emily to stand on with another Emily standing on her shoulders.

The shadows come early when you're inside the canyon walls

And a final look at the Canyon...incredibly large and beautiful.
The kids had a good day there.  When Lloyd and I did the Canyon sky walk last year we were on the opposite side of the Canyon to where Emily and Allan were.  When flying into and out of the Phoenix area, the  pilot always tells us when to look down and see the Grand Canyon.  It's easily visible from so far up. 

Lots of interesting things to see here in the Grand Canyon State.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Crazy Heat

I'm the first to admit it.  I just can't take it.  This incessant heat!  How foolish of me to come to Arizona in the summer!  I'm a total heat wimp.  I can't be outside more than five minutes without turning into a red blotchy sweat-soaked puddle of goo.  At home in Alberta I can barely tolerate temperatures higher than 25C (high 70s F).  Ever since we've been here the thermometer has been hovering around 40C - sometimes higher, rarely lower into the high 30s.  That's over 100F people! Inhuman.  Even sitting here in my air conditioned home I'm pouring sweat just thinking about it.

So when Lloyd and Allan suggested we go to a Major League Baseball game, Arizona Diamondbacks vs the Colorado Rockies, I was less than enthusiastic.  The thought of sitting for hours in a hot ball field in 40+ temperatures was more than I could take.  But when Lloyd convinced me that the ball field was enclosed and air conditioned, although somewhat skeptical, I agreed to go to Chase Field for my first Major League ball game.

Me, Allan and Emily outside Chase Field after the game

And he was right.  It was an enclosed field, complete with walls and roof, and it was air conditioned.  After I cooled down from the hot walk from the parkade to the field, I settled in to enjoy the game.

And so did Emily and Allan

It was an interesting experience.  As it turns out, going to a ball game isn't about watching players pitch the ball, bat it, get home runs, etc.  No indeed.  Going to a ball game is about people watching, and visiting, and eating and participating in all the off-field fun.  Quite an experience.

Emily and Allan enjoying their first ball park hot dogs

The field, pre-game, with a giant headed mascot entertaining the crowd

The score board, which didn't figure prominently in our enjoyment of the game

Another giant headed mascot, pre-game

Inside Chase field (a building, remember, not an actual field) there were dozens of booths - like a giant food court - designed to separate the game goer from his hard earned money...souvenirs, t-shirts,hats, food of every kind, drinks, and much much more.

Then, in the bleachers there were the food vendors - walking up and down the stairs in the bleachers these people carried peanuts, popcorn, cotton candy, beer, water, nuts, rice krispie squares, cookies, hot dogs, and anything else you can imagine, shouting out their wares and keeping the people in the stands from perishing from hunger and thirst.

This guy has a tray full of drinks, rice krispie squares and candy

This one walked the bleachers with soft drinks and bags of cotton candy

This one had bags of popcorn and  cinnamon toasted almonds

And this most popular of men carried a barrel of tequila or margueritas (I can't
remember which) on his back and kept everyone's cups refilled...for a cost of course.

The ball field is a great place for people watching.  The crowd consisted of everyone from elderly grandparents to tiny babies.  This baby's father stood up with the baby in his arms and caught a foul ball in his other hand.  Incredible. 

Everyone watches and hopes for a stray ball to come into the bleachers so they can take home a souvenir from the game.

And lets not forget the game itself.  Baseball is a fairly slow game with bursts of excitements.  We  managed to witness a couple of exciting home runs, one even by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Pitcher

And the batter

And another batter

I don't follow baseball so I don't know any of the Diamondback team members or their stats.  They all looked pretty good to me.

So overall I enjoyed my first Major League Baseball experience.  I appreciated the air conditioned field too.  Without it I never would have attempted to sit through a game.  Good call guys!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Las Vegas and Beyond

Our last night on the road was spent in Las Vegas.  We had been planning on having dinner at the best hamburger place in the country in Caesar's Palace, but when we got there we were told that  four of the resort's restaurants were without power in their kitchens.  Imagine!  No power in Las Vegas!  We noticed that the casinos were running full tilt - I guess the power is diverted to the 'important' parts of the resorts at times like that ;)  Anyway, never ones to go hungry, we wandered around until we found one of the famous Vegas buffets, also in Caesar's Palace, and had a plentiful meal there.

The last time Lloyd and I had been in Las Vegas we went to a show at Planet Hollywood.  It was a Beatles tribute band and we enjoyed it immensely.  So we decided to go again so Emily and Allan could learn to appreciate the early Beatles as much as we do.  It was great!  If anything, the show was better than the last time we saw it.  Ed Sullivan was there, Austin Powers put in an appearance, and of course there were 60's style go-go dancers.  But the singing was amazing..totally their own voices, no lip synching.  The 'lads' even slightly resembled the fab four. We weren't allowed to take pictures during the show so the only one I got was an after-the-show meet and greet.

Singers portraying ringo, George, Paul and John, with half of Ed Sullivan as well.

We walked on the Strip for awhile, stopping at the Bellagio to see the famous dancing waters performance.

Lloyd and I on the Strip
Emily and Allan with the Bellagio in the background

Then, because the strip is so long, we drove down it and back again so we could see all the neon lights and happy people, wedding chaples and neon lights.  It's an amazing place.

Emily on a pedway

Lloyd's favorite neon sign on the older part of the strip

A bit blurry taken from the moving car

In the morning we headed out, stopping at the Hoover Dam where we got out and walked across the dam before getting in the car and driving over the new bridge which bypasses the dam and cuts off at least half an  hour of travel time between Nevada and Arizona. The dam used to be part of the highway, with all traffic between Arizona and Nevada in this part of the state having to drive across the dam.  After 9/11 though with the threat of terrorism so real, the new bridge was designed and built to keep traffic away from the dam itself.  The dam's destruction would have catastrophic consequences in the the western US.

Allan, Emily and Lloyd on the dam with the new bridge in the background

Downstream from the dam - the Colorado River which was dammed and
created Lake Mead

Emily and Allan with Arizona and Lake Mead in the background.
It's an enormous lake spanning miles of Nevada desert.  The white mark all
around the lake where it meets the land, indicates the level the lake used to be.
It has been shrinking over the years, creating some concern.
Looking the other direction - toward Nevada - Lake Mead in the background

Looking down the dam

Me, on the top of the dam

We finally arrived at our destination in Surprise, AZ in the late afternoon, bringing an end to our adventurous three day drive down from Alberta.