Day 3 was a day that I had been looking forward to for a long time. Sedona, Arizona has been high on my bucket list for many years now, and I frequently find myself perusing Instagram for the many photos taken in the area. To add to the excitement of arriving in Sedona, we had amazing drives and intriguing towns to stop at along the way. Let’s go!
Our first stop of the day was Wickenburg, Arizona. Wickenburg prides itself as being the “most western town” in Arizona. It definitely isn’t the furthest town west in the state, but I don’t think that’s what they mean. We figured that out quickly driving into town. Everything is western themed and the downtown has the flare to match. I thanked Rob & Julie Waltz again for their donation. The storefronts were great!
Our next stop would be Prescott, Arizona. Travis and I were quickly corrected earlier in trip when we pronounced the town’s name incorrectly. Phonetic spellings are completely outside the scope of my blogging abilities, so I’ll leave it at, they pronounce it wrong, but whatever. On the way to Prescott, we drove through the incredible Prescott National Forest. Man, that was a fun drive. Tillie will tell you that I love a good hilly and curvy drive. Like Tillie, I caught Travis grabbing the door handle a few times.
We enjoyed driving through Prescott, and I can see why so many people flock to the town. We were on a mission to reach the Granite Dells for a hike. I do a lot of research in advance of these running trips, and I stumbled upon the Granite Dells within the Arizona tourism guide. I was completely drawn to them, and I knew that a stop here was a must. It did not disappoint. They provided a sight unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The Dells consist of exposed bedrock and large boulders of granite that have eroded into an unusual lumpy, rippled appearance. I could have spent the entire day here exploring.
Prior to our hike, I thanked my mom and dad again for their donation. Dad worked for Phi Kappa Psi following college, and Ralph “Dud” Daniels became one of his mentors. Dud retired to Prescott, and I remember my dad talking about visiting him during his final years. They were excited to sponsor this stop, and I was proud to thank them here.
The colors at Granite Dells were absolutely stunning, and the two of us enjoyed every minute of the hike.
A lucky tree growing out of one of the rocks.
Following our hike, we jumped back in the car and came upon more rugged driving. You always have to be careful on long stretches of mountainous road. Besides the obvious risk of the terrain, I’m always cautious of my fuel level, the state of my vehicle, and the fill level of my bladder. Many times, there are very few signs of civilization during these stretches, but we came upon an outlier – Jerome, Arizona.
Jerome is truly a unique town. Besides its awesome name, it will leave you in awe as it sits on a hillside. The town is completely vertical and relies on three main roads that snake through town.
We parked on a VERY steep road, put the parking brake to use for the first time, and walked down the hill for lunch. We were both starving as we didn’t have much luck finding food when we needed it a few hours earlier. (Reference a few paragraphs above – Always be prepared)
So we ate, at the awesome Haunted Hamburger restaurant atop Jerome. The reasoning of the restaurant’s name comes with a fantastic story.
It all started years ago when Michelle and Eric Jurisin acquired the restaurant. The building, old and abandoned, was in need of great repair before it could be opened for your dining pleasure. This is when the funny business began. As with all old buildings, when inhabitants take initial occupation, from its walls come the spirits to observe, and sometimes greet the newcomers. The Haunted Hamburger spirits were no different. Not only were these spirits curious but possibly frustrated tradesmen from long ago as it was tools that these spirits liked to take. More specifically, hammers. Yes, hammers. One hammer, then two, then three hammers had disappeared. Was this a case of memory loss? At first it was thought so until a prior owner asked the Jurisins if they had met the ghosts yet and to beware…they liked hammers! Shortly after this confirmation the hammers began to reappear showing up in the most conspicuous places.
What followed next was literally too ‘in your face’ to ignore, says Eric. One day, in the middle of repairs, he remembered he needed to go upstairs to finish a project. Just as he reached the top floor a door that he was standing next to slammed, nearly smashing him in the face. You could argue a cross breeze is strong enough to slam a door, and that would be true. Except, Eric had just sealed up all of the building’s windows with thick plastic and tape to keep the cold winter air out. He knew there was no air current in the house.
As we left Jerome, we found a great overlook where I thanked Dean & Carla Breneman. My dad and I stayed with Dean & Carla in Davenport, Iowa a few years back when we navigated the Mississippi River. Carla and my mom have been friends since their childhood in Eldon, Iowa.
Just up the road from Jerome is Cottonwood, Arizona, another interesting town. We drove main street in search of a fun landmark, and what do you know, I found the Iron Horse Inn. Lou Gehrig was known as the Iron Horse, so this was perfect. I thanked Tom & Kae Roti at the Inn. I was accompanied by their son, Ross, on last year’s running trip, and I love seeing the Rotis on game day in Ames. They consistently provide great advice on how to deal with Ross.
Our final destination for the day was our next stop – Sedona, Arizona. As mentioned earlier, I was quite excited to experience Sedona for the first time, and we had a perfect 70-degree day to enjoy it. A bit south and west of town is Red Rocks State Park that is filled with hikers and amazing views. We had a few other hikes in front of us, so we stopped for a quick picture to thank Luke Benfield. Luke is one of my former colleagues, and he is an avid outdoors man. He was quick to scoop up this landmark, and I can picture Luke in heaven in Sedona, hammock strung and feet up.
In Sedona, we first stopped to explore the Chapel of the Holy Cross. You probably won’t find a more striking chapel in this country. Wow! The chapel was inspired and commissioned by local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude, who had been inspired in 1932 by the newly constructed Empire State Building to build such a church. After an attempt to do so in Budapest, Hungary (with the help of Lloyd Wright, son of architect Frank Lloyd Wright), it was aborted due to the outbreak of World War II. Staude decided to build the church in her native region. I thanked my colleague Steve Bloomer for his donation. I had promised him that this would be one of the better landmarks on the trip, and I stand by my prediction. Thanks Steve!
The picture above is obviously at the bottom of the chapel, but up above, the real magic happened. The chapel’s grounds provided incredible views of Sedona.
Because the views were so great, I decided to pull a fast one, switch up one of my landmarks, and thank Ryan and Nicole Galles. I promised Ryan that I would wear three hats today after yesterday’s fashion statement, and I think I came through – Driver, runner, hiker. I look forward to seeing Ryan & Nicole next Saturday in the parking lots of Jack Trice Stadium. I should be in good shape for our 11am game after a 11:45pm arrival in Des Moines the night before.
Ten years ago, I married a Bell – figuratively and literally. Tillie Bell and I spent the first two years of our working lives away from each other. As I traveled the country for Phi Delt, I found great joy in finding Bell-inspired things along the way. Well, today was one of those days. We discovered Bell Rock and obviously had to hike it. As I mention every year on this trip, I am blessed to have a wife who gives me the freedom to do this trip each year. I always like to thank her along the way, and with two kids in tow, Cal and Tess were added to the sign. I love you guys, and I truly consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.
I also thanked Mike “Scar” Scarlatelli again at Bell Rock, the original sponsor of the landmark. I won’t get as sappy about him. No offense Scar.
Did I mention Sedona is beautiful? Seriously, put it on your list.
We enjoyed our first hike so much that we did another one! This time, the majestic Cathedral Rock. Unbelievable! Sundays are a busy day of the week in Sedona, and I always enjoy the variety of hikers on any trail. It’s inspiring to be quite honest. We saw a couple hiking to the top of this, suit and dress bags in hand, to take their wedding photos. Early into hiking Cathedral Rock, I thanked my old pal Sparky Reardon. I realized in the moment that I should have thanked Sparky when I ran into Sparky the mascot at Arizona State, but hindsight is 2020. Sparky, I appreciate your ever-consistent mentorship, friendship, and support!
Travis and I with THE ROCK.
If you’ve followed my travels over the years, you know that I love me some Airbnb. The platform has provided me with so many memorable lodging experiences, and each stay is always exciting. My main man Chris in Sedona was kind enough to put up two weary travelers in his amazing home in Sedona. Chris calls his house “Sedona’s Oceanfront.” It is literally next door to the rocks. A trail head parking lot sits across the street, and the view is out of this world.
In addition to the view, the house is so well done and homey. Travis and I arrived just before sunset and didn’t even want to leave for dinner. It’s one of those experiences that you wish lasted for about a week.
The highlight of property for us was the Adirondack chairs looking out into the terrain. We spent some time relaxing on the chairs, listening to some great music, and enjoying a refreshing beverage. Absolute heaven. We even had a friendly tarantula pay us a visit to see what’s up.
I had to use the moment to thank Rob & Julie Waltz again. As you’ve probably gathered by now, Rob and Julie sponsored a ton of stops this trip, so I have tried to make each one very special. Our kids love going to “The Farm” to visit, and they have Adirondacks with amazing views of Madison County farmland in the distance. This reminded me of the farm, but with a little different view!
Despite our desire to order pizza in, Travis and I made our way to Oak Creek Brewery and Grill for a pizza and a drink. Per usual, I thanked Taylor & Haley Abel as I enjoyed a local Sedonian beer.
Before heading out of town in the morning, I thanked my moose-loving nephew Will for his support. It’s not a running trip with a moose-spotting and Will-thanking moment. Love you Will!
Still want to support my trip with a donation? Visit my Iron Phi page, and I’ll do my best to thank you along the way!