Homage to Arizona: 1

Arizona balcony view

(Charles Platt is a guest blogger)

Today I’m going to include some photographs of Northern Arizona, the part of the United States which I find most visually, politically, and socially congenial. This view is from the balcony of a house where I once lived in a former mining town, perched on the side of a mountain about 30 miles from Sedona, which is somewhere amid the red rocks near the horizon.


  1. As someone who lived in and graduated high school from AZ (Tucson, Sabino) I completely agree. Hated moving from there and have missed it ever since. It was a sad day when I realized I had been gone from there longer than I had actually lived there. I keep hoping to get back there one day, but worried I’ll never actually do anything to make that happen.

  2. I’m pretty sure that this is a picture of Jerome Arizona. An old mining town, now a tourist and motorcycle destination. Great shops there and some good food. And of course absolutely beautiful scenery.

  3. Personally, I’ve lived in Tempe (south-ish Phoenix) all of my life and I’m ready to get the hell out of here. But then again, Phoenix is very different from northern AZ. I’ve only been up north a couple of times and it is quite lovely.

  4. Yes, that is a view from Jerome, AZ and it is my favorite place in the state. I’m an AZ native and this photo makes me proud!

  5. Yeah, that’s Jerome. A lot of artists that can no longer afford to live in Sedona moved up there. There’s sp,e great gallery space for cheap, (or used to be cheap anyway.)

    I love the LAND in N. AZ. stunningly beautiful.
    But there’s only one way to leave Sedona with a million dollars, come with three.

  6. As a kid I traveled to AZ a few times and it made quite an impression on me. I often think about moving there someday, but something about 115 degree heat changes my mind quickly. There’s something very alien to me about living in a place where if all technology were to fail, you would die – like on the moon.

  7. People lived there before a.c. and will live there after it. Of course it’s better to be both young and nocturnal. Just take it slow and water yourself like a favorite plant.

  8. If you are an easterner considering a move to AZ, remember that riparian law does not extend to the US West. Water rights are bought and sold under arcane state-specific rules, such as:

    Arizona Water Code 45-175. Chronological preference to water in times of scarcity

    During years when a scarcity of water exists, owners of lands shall have preference to the water for irrigation according to the dates of their appropriation or their occupation of the lands, either by themselves or their grantors. The oldest titles shall have precedence.

    Or, to put it another way, the crops, gardens and livestock of johnny-come-lately carpet-bagging easterners get no water during hard drought.

    Just FYI, no criticism intended. There ain’t always enough water out there for existing uses, so allocation has to be done somehow.


  9. I grew up in Payson, AZ, and have no qualms in saying that not ALL of Northern Arizona is as hospitable as Jerome.

    I’d also like to point out that Bisbee, AZ, is every bit as fabulous as Jerome, and is only an hour or so from Tucson. If I had a portable job, I’d be there in a heartbeat.

    Beautiful photo, btw. :)

  10. Artbot:

    It’s all about elevation in Arizona and other Southwest states: Jerome and Sedona are higher elevation (though Sedona is lower and gets darn warm). Phoenix, where I live, is at 1100 feet, and yes, it gets toasty here.

    Mediocrates: I love Bisbee too!

  11. I second that emotion. Bisbee is amazing. I’m a native Phoenician and moved back after a five year stint in Los Angeles. While I do love Northern and Southern Arizona, Phoenix is great. There’s a pioneer spirit that still exists in this city that constantly blows my mind. Unfortunately, there’s a crab in a barrel mentality here. It’s slowly starting to change with the fairly recent “love Phoenix or leave” movement.

    Anyway, yeah, Bisbee is amazing.

  12. It has nothing to do with ‘North’ Meanderbot. It’s altitude. Four Peaks is an hour’s drive from Tempe, and it’s at 8800 feet elevation. It’s all spruce and fir, alpine environment (what’s left from the fires is). There’s also a ‘sky island’ area next to Tucson, Mt. Lemmon in the Catalina range.

  13. Bisbee is beautiful, Jerome is very nice (quite a cool hippie history as I recall) and Sedona is simply divine. Saguaro National Park in Tuscon is another good place to get with god, if you are into that sort of thing. Go AZ!

  14. “There’s something very alien to me about living in a place where if all technology were to fail, you would die – like on the moon.”

    That’s the southern half of the state. In the northern part, at 5,000 feet (my current elevation), the total temperature range, from lowest overnight winter low to highest noontime summer high, goes from 8F to maybe 105F. The thin air and low humidity allows daytime heat to radiate away very quickly. Needless to say we spend most of our time rather comfortably between those extremes. In the summer, in a well insulated house, very little cooling is needed.

    The problem is, we can go 6 months without rain. There are water holes, though, and we do see deer and elk, and rabbits, and coyotes–and cows, since it’s open grazing country. The prairie dogs (which look very “cute”) seem to have died off, which is not such a bad thing, since they carried bubonic plague, which is curable with antibiotics but often misdiagnosed as influenza…until too late.

    During the Y2K scare and then the SARS scare I was glad to live so far from population centers, but concerned about food. I stocked up on peanut butter and oatmeal (among other staples) at a Costco 50 miles from my house, since these foods offered the highest calorie count per dollar. A local viewed this with amusement. “Haven’t you seen how many cows there are around here?” he said. “And you have a gun, don’t you? If there’s an emergency, no one’s going to go hungry out here for quite a while.”

    Oh, uh, yeah, I guess…

  15. Northern Arizona is the best. Someday I will build a passive solar home on my piece of it. As others have noted, the temperatures are not that extreme. There’s always one part of the day that’s perfect. It gets hot in the summer, but cools down nicely at night, and you can often get away with a t-shirt if you’re out in the sun on a winter day.

    And the stars…

  16. @#16: I’ve got the “someday” dream too. New Mexico or Arizona, though to be fair I’ve only been to the former so far. In NM, I was most surprised at how clean it was, the roads, the citys, etc. Big difference from Chicagoland. And yes, Anti-Light-Pollution laws are a magical thing.

  17. “Northern Arizona, the part of the United States which I find most visually, politically, and socially congenial”

    That raises my hackles. Northern Arizona is beautiful country, but it is awash in small minded rednecks and dipshit libertarians. I moved away from northern AZ last year; I know of what I speak.

  18. I am typing this while sitting in front of a window with a gorgeous view of Bisbee. It really is quite a place. (But no fair, thousands of you moving here all at once! Let some of us die off first.)

  19. Ah yes, the Valley of the Sun does get quite toasty. But having lived in the tropics where it gets just as hot but you have the added “joy” of 1000% humidity, I gotta go with the cliché: “… but it’s a dry heat!”

  20. @#18: Not to derail this thread to far, but if you’re doing the “someday” dreaming thing, I’d suggest you check out Clovis, NM.

    My husband says it’s too far away from the mountains to even consider living there, but if you can stand some flatlands, it’s quite a charming town, and has an old in-need-of-renovation downtown the likes of which one rarely finds anywhere these days.

    My dad and brother moved there a few years ago, and I have dreams of convincing them to open up an old-timey candy or ice cream shop in one of those tile-face storefronts that I can go help them run a couple of months a year. :)

  21. I have been to Jerome many times, and the view is stunning. That being said, there is literally no other reason on earth to go there. If that town was on the ground (so to speak), you would drive 100 miles out of your way to avoid it.

  22. Jerome as a tourist destination sounds very odd to me. I used to go dove hunting there as a kid (50’s, early 60’s), and it was a real ghost town- as in no one but ghosts lived there. Payson was a smoking old fashioned sawmill and one cafe- not much else. Haven’t been back since maybe 1970.

  23. Crap. I hate to have my first post on bb be a negative one but I have to agree with # 21, most of the folks that I encountered in Northern AZ were fairly small minded and not so subtly racists. I guess should be expected in more of the economically depressed areas of the state as it is bordered by the reservations to the north and Mexico to the south. The ones who didn’t fall into that category were usually either new age yuppie flakes visiting their second homes or trust fund college kids. The area surrounding these douchebags was simply gorgeous though, breathtakingly stunning at times. I spent two years there trying to adjust to living there but ended up fleeing the state leaving behind more then I cared to.

  24. My family homesteaded Oak Creek Canyon, I cant go back there without cringing. Sedona is crass commercialism and tacky greed’s abject victory over natural beauty. Sedona’s cancer spreads to far and too fast to avoid.

    Grouchy Monkey. Sadly, much of what you say is true, Navajo County is the poorest county in the nation. But Flagstaff is still an island of sanity.

  25. MRMaps – Funny, I thought I was describing Flagstaff. Tell me, do the paramedics still drop off drunks behind the mall there rather then admitting them into the hospital? Are the locals still pissed about not being able to use grey water for fake snow on Mount Humphrys because the local tribes feel that it desecrates their holy land? I do miss the disc golf course on snow bowl though, nothing like playing 18 holes at above 10000 feet.

  26. #26, I totally disagree, I go hundreds of miles out of my way to go there.*

    Now in the spirit of full disclosure I ride a motorcycle. Jerome is a popular destination for those that do, having a lot to do with the twisty, beautiful roads that go there.

    The most scenic route is to head out of Phoenix on the 60 like you are going to Vegas and just past Wickenburg take the exit for Yarnell. Take that road through Yarnell (stop for breakfast yum) and continue to Prescott. From Prescott take 89a to Jerome over Mingus Mountain. The scenery is spectacular.

    (*not that there is any choice, Jerome is about a hundred miles from the middle of nowhere)

  27. 69A is one of my favorite scenic drives ever. From Prescott to Jerome down to Sedona and back up Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff. That 90 mile drive is well worth a long weekend or even week of vacation.

  28. I took this picture from an otherwise mundane parking lot in Jerome:


    What an amazing place. You can love Arizona, but it can only be loved on its own terms.

    Phoenix has always been an enigma to me however. I’ve generously described it to others as “millions of identical intersections”. Outside of the cities, though, you can find a lot of space and beauty and peacefulness. And yes, you’ll want to take some water with you.

  29. I’ve lived in different places through out Arizona for my entire life. I must say, I’m positively digging this exposé you’ve been posting. Fantastic! Thank you!

  30. Northern AZ is a really mixed bag. I lived there for over a decade. The mentions of bigotry are only too true. As for Jerome, it’s got to be one of the few places I know that had a good percentage of the city council arrested for growing marijuana. The french speaking farmer they hired to grow the stuff nearby had a friend of mine to intrepret for him when questioned by the FBI. Meanwhile, a few miles away in Cornville, you had a newsletter for various militia- black helicopter types being published by a reclusive transexual. You also had an outpost of The Order, you know the folks who killed a talk radio host up in Colorado? This doesn’t even begin to mention the monied folks in Sedona a few miles north making yet more cash by hijacking Hopi mythology. Don’t get me wrong: Mingus mountain is beautiful. Slide rock, in Oak Creek Canyon is beautiful, heck, most of the Verde Valley is interesting at least, but the combination of yuppies, and poverty and far right splinter groups make the area a little less than totally desirable. I had some great times (like watching movies with an intermission because there was only one projector in Clarkdale and discussing the Gaia hypothesis with english Rockstars at a cafe in Sedona) but I’m glad i’m no longer there.

  31. “I am typing this while sitting in front of a window with a gorgeous view of Bisbee. It really is quite a place. (But no fair, thousands of you moving here all at once! Let some of us die off first.)”

    Are you at the Old Timers? I love Bisbee on a motorcycle!

  32. I lived in Tucson in the ’70’s and early ’80’s and we used to ride our motorcycles up though Phoenix and spend the night in Prescott and then roam around the area. In those days Jereome was just becoming hippiefied, but it featured a truly great resturant, The House of Joy, which only had about 6 tables and had a reservation waiting list of 6 months. Installed if a reputed ex-whore house from the mining boom era, it was ran by an ex-east coast chef and his wife who had decided to slow down a bit. As I recall there were only two or three choices for each course on the menu, but even today 30 years later I remeber that meal as one of the best I ever had.

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