In and Around Sedona


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In and Around Sedona

Times used to be. that like most artists, I needed to have a “day job” to get by.  For a time I was a trust officer for the Northern Trust Company of Arizona  responsible for business development in Arizona.  My territory was Phoenix and north.  I loved it.



Being a westerner I like to drive and I like grand vistas and open land.  That pretty much describes northern Arizona.

At the beginning of my employment, I would spend a day a week in Prescott, Arizona.  Prescott was the first capital of the Arizona territory and is a significant community.  The first rodeo in what is now the United States  was held in Prescott, 1888,  and rodeo continues to be popular in the town.  Unfortunately, in years past, whoever was empowered to make the decision decided not to be part of the rodeo circuit because it offered prize money and promoted gambling.  So today, Prescott is not an important rodeo circuit town.  But, rodeo is still popular and the town holds a big rodeo over the Fourth of July, during Frontier Days.



Back then, some time ago, the week before the rodeo  my lady friend and I decided we wanted to go but we discovered all the motels and hotels required at least a three-day stay.  I didn’t want to commit to that.  Fortuitously, at just this time I was talking by phone with a friend of mine, Jim, and grousing about not being able to get accommodations.  Jim said,

Well, why don’t you come out to Paulden?  I bought the town and I got a  motel.”
“Wadda you mean you bought the town?”
“Well, I did.  I own the whole town now.”
“Well, where in the hell is Paulden?  Never heard of it.”
“Its about 25 miles north of Prescott, north of Chino Valley.”
“You have a motel?”
“You have a room available?”
“Well, Lemme go see”, and he had me on hold about ten minutes.  When he came back on the line he confirmed that he did indeed have a room available and I booked it.

I figured 25 miles was close enough and we weren’t committed to three days.  So everything was copacetic.

Paulden AZ

Paulden AZ

The day we drove into Paulden I figured I might have misjudged.  Here is a view of downtown. The town consisted of two buildings, a general store-cafe-gas station combination and a motel.  The motel had four rooms, one of which had a door.  Hah “Lemmee go see” indeed!  What he was likely checking was if any room had a door.  That was my buddy Jim.  Had a good time just the same.

To the north east of Prescott is the town of Sedona and the red rock country.  When I was working the area it was less populated than today, but we had several affluent client’s there and would meet with them periodically.

One week I was taking with me our investment officer, Dick.  He had just moved to Arizona from Chicago.  We only had one appointment for the day so we had extra time.  I asked him if he would like me to take the back roads and let he see some of the countryside.  He said that would be fine.

So, first I took him to Prescott and gave him a mini-tour.  Then we headed out Prescott Valley toward Jerome, an old mining town, which is considered to be a ghost town.  About 100 people lived there at the time, but in its heyday the population topped 28,000.  The road from Prescott to there winds along the edge of Mingus Mountain and offers terrific views of valleys and wide vistas.

As we went along Dick looked green and very uncomfortable.  Finally, he said he was not used to mountains.  Chicago is flat.  He wasn’t much enjoying the ride.  Ho hum, when you are half way down the mountain you have to go the rest of the way.

jerome hotel

jerome hotel

We saw a bit of Jerome.  Most of the abandoned buildings have been torn down because they were unsafe, but there remain a significant number of places to hold one’s interest.

The old high school remained.  My grandmother taught there in 1906.  When I was last in Jerome the school had been turned into artist’s studios, really nice space.  You can just see it in the upper right section of the photograph.  Notice, too, the panoramic view of the Verde Valley below.

jerome high school on far point of land

Jerome high school on far point of land

After Jerome we headed for Sedona and our client via the Black Canyon Highway.  This avoided the more winding mountain roads.  It also allowed us to take two short side trips.

About half a mile off the highway is Montezuma Castle. Built by the Sinagua, northern cousins of the Hohokam, Montezuma Castle is a significant ruin between Phoenix and Flagstaff. It is  well preserved and has an interesting museum.  When I was a child, people were allowed to go through the ruin.  They cannot do that today because the complex is too fragile.  Still it is worth seeing.

At the base of Montezuma Castle

At the base of Montezuma Castle

At the base of the cliff there is a river winding its way south.  It supplied the people life giving water.

montezuma well

Montezuma well

Then eleven miles up the road there is another ancient site, Montezuma Well.   Formed long ago by the collapse of a limestone cavern, over one million gallons of water a day flows continuously into the Well.



The ancient people built dwellings under the rim and they also built a large complex, now collapsed, on the level ground surrounding the well.

Both of these sites, Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well are easily accessible, being just a short distance off the Black Canyon Highway.



Incidentally, these sites have nothing to do with the Aztec ruler.  His name actually was Moctezuma.   Some early settler just named them as such, assuming they were part of the Aztec Empire.

schnebly hill road

schnebly hill road

Eventually we met with our client in Sedona.  This area is one of the more spectacular in the State.  If you go there you should take a tour up Schnebly Hill Road.  This was a private road built by a farmer, Schnebly.  He wanted a shorter route to Flagstaff where he sold his produce.  The views are stunning.  When I was living in Arizona it was possible to take your car up it, dangerous but possible.  I believe that passage is restricted now and only licensed tours can use it.



On our way home we passed a young woman walking along the road carrying two sacks of groceries.  She was miles from a town out in the middle of nowhere.  As we flew past,  we decided to turn around and offer her a ride.  We were not pressed for time.  So we made a u-turn.

She said she was going to Cornville.  Man, that was five or six miles up the road and she was walking, carrying groceries!  When we got to Cornville I could see it consisted of a gas station and a convenience store.  No homes close by.  I said

“You don’t live here.  Where do you live?  We can take you there”

“Well its up this way.”, she said pointing ahead to a dirt road.  Her house was back there about two miles!  As we went we were talking about the Indian ruins and how interesting it was.  When we reached her house she said, “If you are interested in indian ruins I heard there is one on top of that hill”.

She pointed across the road to a small hill, maybe seven stories high.    We decided to check it out before heading home to Phoenix.  So there we were, Dick and I, in three-piece suits and wingtips scrambling up this gravel covered dusty path to the top of the hill.

hilltop ruin

hilltop ruin

On top there was a ruin, mostly collapsed.  It looked something like this.  This was on someones property.  It was not part of a park system.  It was just there.  As we worked our way down the hill I reached down and picked up a handful of the gravel.  There was something strange about it.  Then I saw.  It was all pottery shards.  The whole path was strewn with broken pottery.


Books by Thomas L. Tribby Available
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Works on Paper

On The Waterfront

Impressions of Florida

Tribbyart’s Boutique


Original Paintings available


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Late Summer Nantucket
Late Summer Nantucket

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About Thomas L. Tribby

Professional artist: painter, sculptor, print maker. Maintains a studio in West Palm Beach, Florida
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