Jerome

I passed my exam. Hooray. I am now a certified therapeutic recreation therapist which means, I am a professional now. Be proud.

Since I now have my life back and no longer have to spend my weekends studying, I decided to treat myself to a day trip. I’ve already been to Sedona and Flagstaff on multiple occasions, so I decided to select some place new.  I set my sights on trying to make it to Jerome again.  After throughly checking a map, I decided to cancel my plans with a few friends and have a well deserved introvert day.

Party of one? Yes PLEASE!!!

I’ve decided that every time I take a solo day trip, I’m taking my mothers ashes along. I’ve had them for about two years now and figure it’s time to start spreading them.  My mother came to AZ a few times, and really liked Sedona, so I decided to make that the first place to drop some of her ashes.

This has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

It’s been a while since I’ve opened her ashes. The first time I opened them, I had no idea how much was actually in the urn. It was at least two 5lb flour bags of my mother in that thing, not to mention the five mini urns we sent out to family members. The main urn was huge it’s self, but I had no idea that my mothers remains would almost fill the urn completely.

At the time, my sister and I thought it was a good idea to share the big urn between the two of us. On my mom’s first trip post-mortem to Fresno…the urn broke. There were ashes everywhere: my bed room carpet, my bed, her suitcase, EVERYWHERE.  My sister and I managed to get her ashes into two containers: one an old antique pot that my mom loved to keep her jewels in and a basket a friend sent her from India. What we couldn’t pick up, I had to vacuum up. It was not our finest moment. I’m pretty certain my mother never wanted parts of her to end up in a Bissell.

Sorry Mom…

I ended up keeping both containers since we were now afraid to screw up again.  Somehow, I even managed to screw that up. I accidentally left the basket containing half of her remains in Fresno at a friends house when I moved to Arizona. At this point, you’re probably thinking that we are pretty awful children, but my mother has always loved California. In a way, I kind of respected wishes by accidentally leaving her there. Okay, there really is no excuse for that. I plan to pick the rest of her up the next time I visit.

So, since both of those extreme goof ups, I have not touched her ashes since. I’m even afraid to look at them, as if by doing so I might cause something else to happen. They have remained on my bookshelf in my living room, out of my clumsy reach.

I was a little nervous about bringing her along. My original plan was to bring the entire container of her remains with me, but given my track record with her remains in the past, I figured that it would just be safer for me to take a little of her ashes out of the pot and place those in a ziplock bag. I managed to get the ashes out of the “urn” without incident into a ziplock bag. I carefully placed the ashes in my purse and took off for Jerome.

If you read this thing regularly, you may remember my first attempt to go to Jerome landed me somewhere else.   I learned why it’s important to follow what the road signs tell you to do. The outcome from my first attempt wasn’t terrible, and I got to discover the awesomeness that is Flagstaff.

I would love to live here.

So from what I know about Jerome,  it used to be a booming cooper mining town from the late 1880’s til the 1920’s. It was a legit wild west town, filled with salons, prostitution, gambling and vice. Around 1917, the mining workers started to strike, people were forced to leave town by threat of death and there were a bunch of fires. Eventually the town just kind of died out and became a ghost town. Hippies moved into the town, and turned it into an artsy spot. That is the town today. There’s a rumor that the town is haunted, and that sparked my interest in the town. I’m also a huge nerd when it comes to historic places of the west, so I’ve been dying to go.

It really is beautiful.

After two or so hours, I shouted in glee as I saw signs welcoming me to the ghost town of Jerome.  I had made it! That glee was soon replaced by uncertainty and fear when I rolled up to this place:

Ummm…

As curious as I was as to what this place could be, I refused to get out of my car to check it out as I was convinced that Leather-face would come charging out, chain saw in hand. So I took this photo from my car, and sped away as soon as I heard a strange shuffling noise from the bushes next to this place. Squirrel or serial killer? I was not hanging around to find out.

As I traveled into Jerome, my uncertainty did not fade. Jerome is entirely in the mountains so the way into town is really curvy. At each turn and curve, there was another creepy ramshackle building or abandoned car on the side of the road. I started to question my decision to venture to this town alone as the deeper I went in, the more creeped out I got.

Why do I like to venture to strange places alone?

Signs like this weren’t really comforting either:

Well, at least they warn you…

And my favorite:

Alrighty then…

I was ready to react to my snap judgments about the place, turn around and head to Sedona.  I remembered that Jerome is known for being a haunted ghost town, and all of the weird buildings and signs are there to create an eerie atmosphere. Despite the creepiness, I ventured on. I finally reached the residential section of Jerome and found it to be still creepy, but strangely beautiful.

I so wanted to play in their yard. How cool!

I ended up loving Jerome. The town is primarily artists and hippies now. Everyone was very friendly and directed me to a ton of cool places to visit.  A lot of the old buildings remain intact, so I was thrilled to get the chance to see and walk inside some of those. A few of the places that I really wanted to visit were locked up due to being condemned. However, they were open enough that I could get some good pictures of the remains of the old buildings.

Sorry, I’m not the best photographer. I thought this was a pretty cool building.

I practically geeked out as I hiked around the town snapping photos. The buildings and the old remains of the original town are beautiful. My grandfather was an architect and a history buff so he poured out a lot his love for history and architecture on me. I really love old places like this and could spend hours roaming around, which I did.

I totally trespassed to get this photo. I’m sure I am not the only one.

I visited a mining/ Jerome museum, ventured inside old buildings, got ice cream, and ate probably one of the best hamburgers I’ve eaten in Arizona. Seriously everyone, go to the Haunted Hamburger. Best food ever.

Everyone put this on your bucket list. Best food ever!

Jerome is filled with beautiful gardens, so I spent a lot of time exploring them. In one of the gardens, I found honeysuckles! I tapped into my inner southern child and started sucking the honey out of them. It brought back memories of my mom teaching us how to pick the good honeysuckles from the bad ones and how to avoid getting stung by all the bees that hung around the bushes.

Honeysuckles: Mother Natures Lolly Pop 🙂

There were so many more places that I wanted to visit, but the town closes down around five. Sadly, it was time to leave Jerome. As I was leaving, I crossed a large rock that had what I thought to be a tarantula on it. Despite my fear of spiders, I wanted a photo. When I got a second look, I realized that it was a freaking hornet! Never in my life had I seen a hornet that big, and on that note, I decided it was time to go home.

Mother nature, you scary!

As I was leaving for home, I realized that I still needed to spread my mother’s ashes. I considered spreading them in Jerome, but there were a lot of people around and I am not really sure about the rules when it comes to spreading human remains. I also considered opening my car window as I drove through Sedona. However, not only would that cause some unwanted attention, I’d also run the risk of getting some of my mom on other cars and having her possibly blowing back into my car.

No matter how I explain it, this is not going to end well.

I decided that a big open empty space would be best. I found a secluded spot on the outskirts of Sedona with a beautiful view. I walked out into the desert, opened the bag and let her go.

Overall, I had an awesome trip. I definitely plan to go back, as I want to explore a few more of the buildings, catch the other big museum, explore the old mine and possibly visit the giant hotel that sits on the hill. It used to be an old hospital, and it’s said to be the most haunted place in Jerome.

Looks harmless enough…

Well, maybe I’ll bring friends along for that trip. 🙂

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