Autumn in Arizona – Part 1

This post covers most of our fall in AZ, including local sites and some fun travel back to the Midwest!

Diamondback Game (Sun, Sept 24), my first Diamondbacks game – interesting to be in a covered ballpark, complete with a pool/party area! An older woman in the stands with a swirling gold ribbon was considered a good luck charm as the Diamondbacks ended up with the wildcard ūüôā

Hall of Flame Museum (Thurs 9/28) Рplayed hooky in the afternoon to go check out the Hall of Flame Museum before dinner in nearby Tempe. Highly recommend a visit here!  Impressive selection of fire fighting trucks, carts, apparatus, and memorabilia.  In addition they have halls honoring firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty as well as a gallery dedicated to wildland firefighting.

Cute check-in desk:

Firemarks – the fire insurance industry began in England after the Great Fire of London in 1666 which burned over half the city.¬† Insurance companies actually pressured city governments in Europe and the ‘colonies’ to organize fire departments, create fire codes, and prosecute arsonists. Firemarks, such as the ones below, identified policyholders. Before 1870, fire departments ONLY responded to insured properties!¬† Yikes!

Apparatus – from hand-held and horse-drawn to motorized and modern:

1900 Fire Alarms Рup until about 1850 cities relied on lookouts in bell towers to spot fires and ring out the location on the bell. The Liberty Bell was purchased in the late 18th century by the city of Philadelphia for this exact purpose!  Smaller communities used rattles gongs, pistol shots, or simple word-of-mouth to get the word out!

Telegraphs were adapted to fire alarm systems – telegraph wires were strung from bell towers to a central fire station or city hall.

The equipment below was in use in 1900 in Wisconsin.

Badges – so cool to look through these, and see some from the Hamptons (no Sag Harbor :(, and from some of our ‘home away from homes’!!!

9/11 firetruck, and a nice tribute to those who lost their lives that horrific day:

Atlas Bistro, Gourmet BYOB (maybe the only BYOB in Scottsdale! (Fri 9/29) Рjoined Jeannie & Joe for fine wine and fine food that could rival many Chicago restaurants!

Freebie Night at the Phoenix Art Museum (Fri, Oct 6)

Took advantage of free admission after 5pm and visited the Phoenix Art Museum before dinner at Mora Italian, one of our favorite Italian spots in town (fantastic homemade gourmet pasta, owned by a Top Chef contestant) The museum is worth a visit, and given its small size it won’t take you long to explore all of its corners!¬† My favorite section was the miniatures!

Asian Collection:

Thorne Miniature Rooms – these rooms were conceived, designed, and mostly created by Narcissa Niblack Thorne (1882-1966). Thorne collected miniature furniture and accessories during her travels to Europe and the Far East. Many rooms even contain period-style rugs Thorne had woven specifically for each space. Her work gained national attention after her original 30 pieces were displayed at the 1933 Chicago Century of Progress Expo.


Galanos Fashion:

Assortment of Cool Paintings:

Outside – the moon pic does not do the view justice – spectacular!:

Jerome (Sat, Oct 7)

When driving to Jerome from Phoenix it’s a great idea to leave very early in the morning!¬† Despite Phoenix and Scottsdale’s plethora of multi-lane roads, there are only 2 lanes heading north and each time we’ve left town we’ve sat in traffic!¬† Leave early and enjoy the desert scenery.

Welcome to Jerome!  Always makes me think of my good friend (and 1996 Australia travel partner Christine Jerome!)  Kind of cool to see it perched in the mountains above the road!

More about Jerome and its colorful history (from a landmark placquard): Mining began here in 1876. Within 20 years Jerome was a billion dollar copper mecca and one of the wildest, wickedest mining towns in the West. Drinking, gambling, brawls and frolicking with ladies of the night occurred around‚Äďthe-clock in two dozen magnificent saloons.¬†By the time mining shut down in 1952, enough copper had been produced to put 13 pounds in the hands of every citizen of the world. Gold and silver production covered mining expenses.¬†Through the efforts of the Historical Society, Jerome became one of the west’s most celebrated ‘Ghost Towns’. Although this image persisted into the 1970’s Jerome’s population grew in the 1960’s. Buildings began to be restored to their graceful pre-1953 conditions, and in 1967 Jerome was designated a National Historic Landmark.¬†Today, Jerome is an arts oriented village of 500. A million tourist a year stroll it’s twisted streets and gape at the 100-mile views.

Around Jerome – quirky bookstore and van, wild west concession stand:

Lunch at Mile High Grill & Inn:

Smallest police station ever – love it!¬† Reminds me of a field trip I had in grade school (I think it was seriously 1st grade) we made to our police station and our tiny jail. The police officers were quite impressed that I knew my Mom’s and my aunt’s Eileen’s license plate #s – I still remember #s (old land line phone #s in particular) and as an only child, I think I just paid attention to what was around me, especially cars and music – I still love old songs way before my time and I do appreciate a good car (especially the one Dave just bought)!¬†Can’t say I have as much attention to these details now – ha ha!

Time for fine wine across the street at Caduceus Cellars/Merkin Vineyards.¬† This winery was started by the lead singer of Tool, Maynard James Keenan, who also serves as the winemaker, . By the way for a bit of a laugh, look up what a merkin is.¬† Their wines do have a sketch of a guy wearing a merkin, shows an interesting sense of humor ūüôā

The wines we enjoyed the most included: white: 2015 Merkin Chupacabra, 2014 Nagual del Marzo (sangiovese and cabernet blend), 2013 Primer Paso (Cote Rotie style blend of syrah, petite syrah, Malvasia Bianca), 2013 Le Cortigiane Oneste (barbera merlot blend from New Mexico grapes), and the 2013 Sancha Tempranillo (AZ grapes). Wines we didn’t enjoy as much included most of their whites and roses: Dos Ladrones, Judith Orange Malvasia, Chupacabra Rosa, Nagual del Marzo rose, Nebbiolo Rose (award winning), and the Paciencia.

We were surprised at how much we liked the wines given our primo California tasting experiences (and we still continue to buy and ship to Chicago wine storage and direct to our bellies in Arizona! he he)

Husbands Alley and Jessie’s Place:

Husbands Alley¬†(lower left) –¬†With Jerome’s rough and tumble early days came the red-light district and prostitutes. Much of the red-light district was located on Hull Avenue, the road below Main Street. In 1913, reformers helped pass an ordinance restricting houses of ill fame from being located downtown. Citizens showed their disdain for the law by naming the alleyway from Main Street to Hull Avenue “Husbands’ Alley”. Red-light district buildings on Hull Avenue included the Cribs, a brick structure that no longer exists. The ladies jail is still currently located on Hull Avenue in the bottom floor of the New State Motor building.

Jessie’s Place (lower right)-¬†This building was originally a brothel known as Jennie’s Place. It was built in 1898 by legendary madam Belgian Jennie Bauters, who came to Jerome from Belgium in 1896.¬†The current building, which featured the first concrete sidewalk in Jerome, is one of the few in the business district that survived the fire of 1899.¬†When Jennie Bauters was murdered in 1905, she was reputed to be the wealthiest woman in the Arizona Territory. After her death, her son sold the building to John M. Sullivan who converted the bordello into the Sullivan Hotel.

Pretty views abound from all over town:

Old Bartlett Hotel:¬†Before the Bartlett Hotel, the Grandview Hotel, a wooden structure built in 1895 stood here as the first two-story building in Jerome. It had rooms for dances, dining and sleeping. In 1898 the structure was destroyed by fire. The Bartlett Hotel was then built of brick in 1901. It had five rooms for stores on the sub-level along First Street. The interior was lavish with each room decorated in a different color. The office of The News, Jerome’s longest running newspaper, was in the Bartlett for 20 years. The building also housed a bank, drug store, offices and shops. The building became unstable with the slides in the 1930’s and was abandoned in the 1940’s. The mining company sold portions of it for salvage in the 1950s removing the entire top floor.¬† What remains is quite sad…

Blast furnace: The blast furnace was in use in 1882 and used coke for fuel. The nearest source of supply was Wales! Small sailing vessels carried the coke across the Atlantic Ocean and around the Horn of South America to San Francisco. From there it was transported by railroad to Ashfork, Arizona where it was loaded into mule drawn freight wagons and hauled 60 miles over the mountains to Jerome. 

Lower part of town – a few offices, Garcia House B&B, and a train wreck of a house:

Jerome is worth a quick visit, it’s an interesting place, though a bit depressing given the number of run-down buildings and homes and empty storefronts. You wouldn’t want to stay overnight there or make it a primary destination on your itinerary – add as a stopover on a Sedona or Prescott trip. It has so much history and is ripe for more development…

Arcosanti (Sat, Oct 6)

We hadn’t planned to visit Arcosanti, but Dave noticed it on the way to Jerome and we decided to check it out if we had time on the way home.¬† We were able to make their last tour of the day where we learned all about this project, community, architecture, and way of life.

Arcosanti is an experimental community to test the arcology (combination of architecture and ecology) design concepts of Italian architect Paolo Soleri, who was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright.¬† Soleri didn’t buy into the whole concept of prairie design where most homes were built with ample acreage around it – he was against the idea of urban and suburban sprawl – perhaps one of the reasons he chose Phoenix, the queen of sprawl, to base this project!¬† This architect was truly ahead of his time, his ideas were focused on creating self-contained communities where people live, work, get entertained, and send their children to school. We now see these concepts being employed in micro-communities around the US – even in larger cities such as Chicago where communities and housing are being built around the ‘el’ to at least make commuting easier – apartments and condos are being built on top of shops, restaurants, and cinemas, etc.

Interesting quote from Soleri that sums up his approach:

The problem I am confronting is the present design of cities only a few stories high, stretching outward in unwieldy sprawl for miles. As a result, they literally transform the earth, turn farms into parking lots, wasting¬†enormous amounts of time and energy transporting people, goods, & services over their expanses. My solution is urban implosion rather than explosion.‚Ä̬†‚ÄďPaolo Soleri, 1977

Arcosanti supports itself primarily through seling bronze and ceramic bells and chimes. They also rent out units to architecture students, residents, as well as to airbnb customers.¬† It’s an interesting and strange place, a bit commune-y, and not very inspiring – the architecture reminds me of the SUNY Albany main campus (all concrete, modern, and ugly.) It looks like a space age experiment that was left behind.¬† The theme for today is things that had potential but that were not given TLC!

Entrance to Arcosanti – the drive off the highway was extremely bumpy and long:

Bells for sale in the visitor center:

Ceramic studio and apse:

Vaults – a meeting, gathering, and social center of the community.¬†Most of the complex’s structures were built using “earthcasting,” in which concrete was poured over shaped earthen forms.¬†¬†We learned how Soleri moderated the temperatures inside the desert complex by using thermal cooling, solar orientation and swamp coolers.

Amazing views:

Residences and guest quarters –¬† not the most luxurious, but I understand that their airbnb rates are about $50 a night!

Around the ampitheater:

Original model and decorative panels

Bronze foundry and artifacts:

Read more at their website.

Virtu restaurant (Fri, Oct 13) – great dinner after flying back from a Tampa work trip, gorgeous patio complete with pretty lighting, great food, and company!

LDV Winery (Sun, Oct 15 – check date)

Initially heard about LDV from Jeannie and Trisha as the owners hosted a DePaul alumni event there and they really enjoyed it.¬† Dave and I decided to check it out on a Sun afternoon.¬† The owner was super friendly and told us a bit about their history – she and her husband had successful consulting businesses and were ready to retire early.¬† They had a passion for wine and decided to jump in hook line and sinker into their own vineyard and winery business. They produce only 2,500-3,000 cases per year – Dave and I love the small micro producers that you can’t buy in every grocery and liquor store!¬† We really liked their petite sirah (2012 and 2013 Signature, I preferred the 2012 over the 2013) as well as the 2013 Syrah.¬† Didn’t enjoy the 2012 Grenache or the 2014 Viognier as much.


Chicago and St Louis trip (Tues Oct 17 – Wed Oct 25)

We made a very quick trip to Chicago for doctor/dentist appointments.¬† We were treated to nicer weather than our summer trips! ūüėČ

16th floor bar at Trump Tower – enjoying summer-like temps!

Drinks, including a work of art Dave had!

Walk with Sheila in Lincoln Park Zoo and along lakefront, capped off with a nice lunch and rose!:

Really miss walking around these neighborhoods, all decked out for Halloween:

We stayed at the Langham – amazing breakfast, great location, welcome gifts from our friend/travel agent Tom, and free rides with the house car, not bad!!

Great views:

St Louis (Fri 10/20-Wed 10/25)

We had a great visit to St Louis, for the annual fall clambake, catching up with the family, and enjoying great food and company!

Cupcake competition – it was a tough job sampling so many great cupcakes.¬† The winner – Beth’s yummy lemon cupcake!

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St Louis Art Museum Рvery impressed with the size and selection of the pieces here.  Definitely some competition with the Art Institute in Chicago!

Ancient Chinese Art:

Selection of favorite paintings:

Contemporary Art:

Our next post will include:  Scottsdale Grand Prix (vintage mini racers), Bentley Scottsdale Polo event, Ancient Chinese Musical Treasures Exhibit at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), and Thanksgiving in Vegas!






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