We have returned and so ends another adventure. This odyssey was quite unique in that we had no agenda or business with the exception of taking a break from mortally wounded new computers, work issues, writing issues, tax preparation, and the celebration of a momentous occasion that occurred in 1959, an event that transformed my life.
I can’t remember the last time this happened. We travel a great deal and enjoy each adventure but they are always linked to work – book promotion, company business, photographic needs, research, speaking engagements, interviews, and similar endeavors.
As a result, a weekend (actually 24 hours plus one) with nothing to do but relax and enjoy the company of my dearest friend in one of our favorite places seemed strange. Wonderful and enjoyable, but strange.
We have a very long association with Prescott and the surrounding area that includes early dates, a lengthy pen pal correspondence when I was working east of Paulden, and even our honeymoon as our anemic budget allowed for but one weekend away provided we cut every corner imaginable. It is this association and the resultant memories that enable us to look beyond the dramatic transition of the area in recent years and strive toward making new memories.
I finished up at the office on time and by 1:00 on Saturday afternoon, the Jeep was loaded, lunch was finished and we were rolling east on legendary Route 66. The delightful weather enhanced the holiday feel of our little outing but we were both quite concerned by the dry landscapes that looked more like June than late winter.
The sea of suburbia and its generic flotsam that has engulfed Prescott Valley (where I used to watch herds of antelope flow across the vast cedar studded grasslands) and Chino Valley (once a charming little farming community where I would do laundry and enjoy a fresh beef steak in the local cafe) now stretches almost to Paulden. Undaunted by the traffic circles and strip malls, interchanges and traffic lights that have replaced feed stores, cafes, and general stores, we continued on our quest to seek old memories and to make new ones.
Our destination was the lovely and historic Hassaymapa Inn that dates to 1927. Here is a photo taken last year in January.
As the rates had doubled since our last stay, it was a bit difficult to justify the cost but this was a celebration. As always our visit was most delightful.
The only fly in the ointment during our stay were a few rude guests who decided 1:00 in the morning was an ideal time for discussing sports teams – loudly and with ample use of the “F” word – in the hall.
Prescott is a very rare and unique little gem in that is historic district is not a recreation, someplace where a rediscovery of the architectural treasures lend people to refurbish the buildings as loft apartments or galleries. There are lots of these in the historic district here, but there are also a wide array of original businesses that allow for an exciting vibrancy tinged with historic continuity.
A year or so ago, True West magazine proclaimed the Palace across from the courthouse square to be the most authentic territorial era saloon in the state of Arizona. There is not one but three historic hotels that have been meeting the needs of guests for decades.
After checking in at the Hassayampa Inn, we replayed our early dates by strolling hand in hand around the square and along historic Whiskey Row looking in the windows of shops and galleries just like that time so long ago when my pockets were full of empty. Within walking distance of the square there are restaurants for every budget and taste including a staggering array of authentic international options.
We settled on what has become a favorite of our, Prescott Brewing Company. A wonderful burger, and an excellent glass of their Petrified Porter, followed by the simple pleasure of watching the throngs of people ebb and flow among the shops, restaurants, and bars from the gazebo on the courthouse square until the evening chill chased us back to the hotel rounded out a pleasant evening and a near perfect day.
Sunday, today, was our big day. An excellent breakfast in the Peacock Dining Room with its vintage flourishes at the Hassayampa Inn, topping off the tank in the Jeep (6.5 gallons for the 166 mile trip justifying my discovery that 60 miles per hour is the optimum speed for the Jeep), some picnic supplies, and a pleasant drive to Seligman along the Williamson Valley Road through the Prescott National Forest.
As it turned out, we were a bit premature in our rush for a picnic. The temperature hovered around fifty degrees and the breeze was still. So, we settled into the back seat and made use of the center console.
With the last leg of the trip made along Route 66, we completed what constitutes a near perfect weekend in my book. And is often the case in my world, our magical weekend getaway lasted exactly one day and one hour. Now, its back to the grindstone and jousting at windmills.