Monday, September 7, 2009

Pine Trees, Bikers, and Church Camp

A Labor Day Tradition

Every family establishes its own traditions. Some families have reunions each year at the lake or at the shore.

One of our family traditions is to spend Labor Day in Prescott Arizona at a Church retreat. It is our annual chance to hike Thumb Butte, sleep on narrow wooden bunks, star gaze, and swat a few insects. All the while enjoying the company of great friends in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable (the Episcopal Camp Chapel Rock).

Labor Day Weekend at Chapel Rock

There have been notable exceptions (like last year when a freak storm blew through Phoenix the day before we were supposed to leave, eliminating most of our back fence, messing with the roof, and removing our house from the unbelievably delicate power grid furnished periodically by our local joke of an electrical utility called Arizona Public Service (do I sound bitter?). My kids even joke that losing power at our house as an almost monthly event. But that is another story.

This year we again left Phoenix in a massive deluge of rain that followed us all the way to Prescott at times making it hard to see the road. It gave us a chance to wonder if we were in for a washout, but instead it passed on giving us clean air and clear blue skies.

An End of Summer Storm

For those who have been to Prescott you know it is a gem. Locals can be readily identified as they refer to it as "Press-kit", never "Press-kott".

Prescott enjoys a daily average high temperature of 88° F on even the hottest days of July making it heaven to any Phoenician.

Home to numerous golf courses, the oldest rodeo in the west, and views of Thumb Butte, it enjoys a picture perfect setting on Granite Creek. We love its pine trees and necklace of mountains. It is where we send our kids to camp.

Thumb Butte from Downtown

Unfortunately, the most common way to get to it requires a drive through its hideously ugly stepsister Prescott Valley (which is, in reality, merely an excuse for parking lots, big box development, and a couple of Indian casinos). Not sure who dreamed up the idea of calling this extended blight a "valley", but it is simply too many miles long now to ignore.

Hiking Up Thumb Butte

Prescott itself has quite a history. It served as the first capital of the Arizona Territory. And although the capital was later moved to Tucson, it later returned again to Prescott (before being permanently relocated to Phoenix).

Prescott's tree lined streets claim over 500 buildings on the national register of historic places.

The Historic Hassayampa Inn
(Like Every Other Old Hotel Around it is Supposed to be Haunted)

The most notable building is the stately Yavapai County Courthouse. Everything in Prescott seems to radiate from Courthouse Square (home to a great annual crafts fair over Labor Day weekend).

The Yavapai County Courthouse

The Courthouse is surrounded by larger-than-life cowboy sculptures by Solon Hannibal Borglum.

Cowboy at Rest

Detail of "The Cowboy"

Bucky O'Neill
A Monument to one of Roosevelt's "Rough Rider's"
Who Perished in the Spanish American War

Other great buildings include the Post Office, Carnegie Library, Hassayampa Inn, Hotel St. Michael, and the bars and shops along Prescott's infamous "Whiskey Row".

One of the Bars Along Whiskey Row

The Redlights are Now Gone on Whiskey Row
(It Boasts as Many Crafts Shops as Bars)

On Labor Day Prescott seems to house an eclectic mix of sad yuppie bikers, scary bikers, drunks, families, and old hippies.

Me, I am a big fan of places with old hippies. Lets face it old hippies equal good baked goods, organic pies, and perfect coffee.

The Express Expresso Bar at the St. Michael

Words to Live By

Arrive at 7:00 AM for
The Best Croissants and Scones in AZ

Prescott is the place to go to avoid the hype of Sedona and/or the snow and cold of Flagstaff. It is Arizona's perfect slice of American Pie.

Roadboy's Travels © 2009

1 comment:

IniquitousFish said...

I don't know why, but these pictures really stand out.
Gorgeous as always.