Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Haunted Hamburger and Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Distant Drums RV Resort

Camp Verde, AZ

April 24, 2024  

Monday :

Our destination for Monday was lunch.  Lunch is a destination, isn't it? Our choice was Haunted Hamburger in Jerome.  It has been nine years since we drove the winding road that climbs the mountain to this quirky little town.


The entire town of Jerome is designated a  National Historic Landmark.  Copper was discovered there in the 1880s and during the 70 years they were mining, two copper mines made hundreds of millions of dollars for the investors...just imagine in todays dollars what that would be.  

Back in the day, Jerome was one of the wildest, wickedest mining towns in the west.  Drinking, gambling, brawls, and frolicking with the ladies of the night occurred around the clock in two dozen saloons.  

When the mines closed in 1953, the population of Jerome went from 15,000 to 46 almost overnight.  That along with violent deaths and catastrophic fires have given Jerome new life as the largest ghost town in America.  

Today, this hillside community is recognized for its vibrant and varied art.  

As one might guess, hamburgers loaded with all the fixings is definitely on the menu at Haunted Hamburger.  Choices include the Chili Burger, Ghostly Burger, Haunted Burger and Double Haunted Burger with lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles. Add ons like grilled onions, a fried egg, and guacamole are offered. Joe and I both had beer battered fries with our Ghost Burger...a fun, yummy lunch !  Next time, I'm getting a side of deviled eggs.  Somehow I missed them on the menu and when the waitress set an order on the table next to us, I almost stabbed one with my fork.    

The last stop of the day...

A block of Peanutbutter Chocolate Fudge actually made it all the way home.

Tuesday : 

We were up with the birds and out the door Tuesday morning.  Our destination was an AZ state park new to us...Dead Horse Ranch SP.  I have tried several times (even before we were Arizonians) to snap up a reservation at this beautiful park, but there are never available sites when we are planning to be here.  The next best thing is to spend the morning there.  Our first walk was the Canopy Trail which meanders thru a canopy of Freemont Cottonwood trees.  The canopy provides shelter for nesting birds.  We enjoyed the sounds of singing and chirping birds, but the thick canopy kept them hidden from view.  

The park does not open til 8:00 am which is late for birding.  That would be a huge advantage to staying there...the early bird gets the photos.  

What a beautiful canopy!

Our second walk was along the Verde River.  

The 180 mile long Verde River is a significant resource for Arizona.  It is one of the desert's last free flowing rivers sustaining a large regional wildlife population.  We didn't see any wildlife, but there is  lots of evidence of a large beaver community.  As we were discussing the reasons for all the downed trees, we happened upon the reason why.

The Verde River Gateway is an Arizona State Parks project dedicated to preserve a 35 mile riparian forest along the river.  

We watched this sweet little bird enjoy a morning bath.

Our third walk at the park Tuesday morning was around the two larger lagoons.  

The lagoons offer great fishing.  In the summer, the Arizona Game and Fish Dept. stock the lagoons with catfish and in the winter they stock it with rainbow trout.  There is a naturally reproducing population of largemouth bass and bluegill in the lagoons as well.   

Black Hawks, Great Blue Herons and Eagles have been seen at the lagoons.  We were not so lucky on Tuesday.  We only saw Grackles and Red-Winged Blackbirds.

I was a bit curious about how Dead Horse Ranch got its name.  The ranch was named by the Ireys family.  It seems after several days of viewing ranches in the area, Mr. Ireys  asked his children which ranch they liked the best. The children answered, "The one with the dead horse, dad!".  That was in 1950.  Arizona State Parks purchased the property in 1973 with the condition the name would not be changed.  It's a great park and maybe one day we can snag a reservation there.  

After our walks, we headed straight to the Cottonwood Historic District a short distance away.  Cottonwood had its beginning when settlers in the area farmed and provided goods for the soldiers at Camp Verde and for the miners in Jerome back in the 1870s.  

We were starving !  Our choice was Crema Craft Kitchen... coffee, brunch, and gather are three of my favorite words !

We enjoyed patio style seating in the bar area...very colorful and fun.  And our server, Victoria, was awesome !

I feasted on eggs over easy, sourdough toast, and cheesy hash brown casserole.  Joe had chorizo gravy and biscuits and eggs.  And more than once, our coffee mugs were filled. 

Main Street in Old Town Cottonwood was created in 1908.  A team of mules actually drug tree trunks thru the thick brush to make a dirt trail.  Today, Main Street is home to over 60 businesses that attract visitors and support local residents.  There are wine tasting rooms, local artisan galleries, vintage shops, and restaurants lining both sides of the road.   

The historic building that was once the jail in Old Town is now home to Seeds.  The owner, Sandy has beautiful linen pieces...some she designs and sews herself.  I did purchase a pair of linen pants.  Her cute little fitting room was once a jail cell.    

The County Jail building was built in 1929.  This building is the first known use of river cobbles in Cottonwood.  During the prohibition, there was an overflow of bootleggerers and criminal and elicit acts associated with bootlegging. 

The Yavapai County Justice System at the time was in Prescott, but since Cottonwood had a bigger percentage of these elicit crimes, the jail was built there instead of Prescott. 

As the town grew in the 1890s and early 1900s, the women who lived there yearned for a Community Club large enough for celebrations, weddings, and civic meetings.   So in 1938, the ladies hired the firm of Lester and Mahoney who were considered second only to Frank Loyd Wright for the uniqueness of their designs.  It serves the same purpose today as it did all those years ago.  

This face pretty much sums up our spring vacation.  What a great time we have had exploring new Arizona favorites and revisiting old ones.  

Today has been a cleaning day, a packing up the outside patio day, a blogging day, a snuggle with Sally day, and a napping day. Tomorrow is travel day.  We sure do love the rolling home...and we sure do love the sticks and stucco home.  So fortunate to be able to call them both home.  Home is really wherever we all are together. 

Until next time,  hugs and 


Sunday, April 21, 2024

Yavapai Point and Montezuma Well National Monument

Distant Drums RV Resort

Camp Verde, AZ

April 21, 2024 

Our last two days at LDSP were spent staying put and just enjoying doing nothing...well unless you call walking, sitting, grilling and taking in the beauty something to do.  Late afternoon walks to capture the sunsetting is magical at LDSP.  The well known Superstition Mountains that grace the park all day turn from a dull brown/gray color to a beautiful orange/red color right before you eyes.  

Morning walks with Sally...

Late afternoon magic... 

Thursday was travel day.  

Sally settled in under my foot stool...

I enjoyed watching the beautiful scenery...

and Joe did his thing managing the ups and downs, twists and turns of the highway.

We are now all settled in at Distant Drums with a nice pull-in site.  We face west...I am happy ! 

And Sally is happy...she has grass.

The down side...the afternoon breeze has blown the Cottonwood tree's fluffy white seeds everywhere.  The tree is huge and about three sites down from us.

It looks like it is snowing.  The seeds stick to our clothes and in our...well, my hair and Sally's nose and the AC intake.    

It's very much worth the mess.

So, what have we done the past couple of days.  Friday was errands to restock veggies and dairy products, but not without a stop for maps at the Ranger Station/Visitor Center and a fun stop at Son-Silver first...both located on State Route 179.   Even though we have visited Camp Verde several times during the past years, we have not stopped by the VC since April 2014...our first visit to the area.  We took a few minutes to study the exhibits.  

This was my favorite display.  

It began with the footprints of a tiny field mouse and ended with these of the bear. When you flip the card there is lots of info about the animal.  And yes, that is the bear's poop!  

A favorite scenic drive is Red Rock Scenic Byway...also known as State Route 179. This byway is less than 8 miles from the interstate and ends within the Sedona city limits. There are many hiking/biking trails and parking areas along the road.  There are also beautiful up close and personal red rocks.  

Bell Rock and The Courthouse

Son-Silver is just fun and I can not imagine coming here and not going there.  

Saturday was hiking day.  Our choice for parking was Yavapai Point.  We combined the Yavapai Vista, Basalt, and Slim Shady Trails for a nice 2.5 miles.  

Lots of big views to take in along the trail...


And lots of little things too.

The creamy color of cliff rose...

Blue/gray Juniper berries...

Red and green Manzanita bushes

And dainty little daisies that put a smile on my face.

On the way home we made a stop at Montezuma Well National Monument.  It's a new stop for us and just like Montezuma Castle, which we visited for the first time in the fall of 2022, we were glad we did.  

The first POI is the ruins of a pithouse that was discovered here in 1958.  It took three weeks to excavate this site. 



The two larger holes in the middle of the dirt floor held the main roof support timbers and the smaller holes around the edge reveal the outline of the house where the wall posts were placed in the ground.  The entry is the  small extended section on the right. 

The pithouse was built around 1050 AD by farming families who used the resources on hand for either a multi family home or a community structure. 

Montezuma Well is really not a well and Montezuma was never here so why it is called Montezuma Well is a mystery to me.  None the less, it is an amazing piece of history from years gone by.  It's a nice paved walk up to the well.  As with he castle we did not know what to expect and were quite surprised.  The "well" is a limestone sinkhole that is continuously fed with water from an underground spring.  

The "well" measures 386 feet in diameter from rim to rim and measures 55 feet deep.   More than a million gallons of water a day flow into the well.  To date, the source of the water has not been discovered.  The "well" with its unique geology and primordial origins provides refuge to species of animals and plants found nowhere else in the world.   

Near the top of the ridge is a cliff dwelling...

A downhill spur trail close by has two POIs.   

The water in the "well" exits thru an underground side cave.   First, you can see the spring that flows from the well.  The water from the well that exits here has been used for many, many years by the people who lived here for irrigation and is still used for that today.  

A few more steps down the second POI is another dwelling site.  

The graffiti you see in the photo was by a photographer who left his advertisement for business there in 1818.  He was a photographer...go figure!  

The graffiti in the photo was left in 1896 by Duke Heflin...

Further along the main trail is one more spur trail that goes to the creek, the outlet, and the canal used for irrigation by the early inhabitants who lived here.  

The narrow walk that hugged the cliff made it difficult to get a photo of the creek, but the sound of the running water was music to my ears.

Wet Beaver Creek is a tributary of the Verde River.

The outlet flows into Wet Beaver Creek.

The man-made canal for irrigating.

The up shot by the creek...

The down shot by the small canal...

Today was a stay at home with Sally day, reading, napping, and blogging kind of a day.  

Hope you have a great week.  Until next time, 

Yavapai Vista Trail

One of the spur trails at Montezuma Well