Tag: photography (Page 2 of 2)

Backyard Discoveries: Travel Tips for a Jaunt in Jerome, AZ

Greetings, travelers! Knowing our love for ghost towns, it was just a matter of time before we made it to one of Arizona’s most popular historic mining towns, Jerome.

Even though mining in Jerome ended in 1953 (after 77 years!), the town is still a thriving tourist destination and artistic community with plenty of fun things to do and see.

Traveling Tips

The drive: The charming hillside spot is only about a two hour drive up north from Phoenix. There are spots to fuel up and stop along the way, but because the I-17 reduces to two lanes as you head toward Flagstaff (and unfortunately, as you head back) traffic can get kind of hairy, with REALLY long delays depending on what’s happening (holidays, ski/snowboarding season, etc.), so I would recommend filling up to a full tank of gas before you go.


When to visit: Because it’s hopping tourist destination, Jerome stays pretty busy year-round. It helps that even during the hot summer months, it’s a few degrees cooler being farther up north. I know that we always stress getting somewhere in the early a.m., but it’s really true if you want to avoid the crowds and have the run of the town for yourself! Holidays are often the busiest, as well, but I think we lucked out because we got to Jerome just a bit after 10 a.m. – by the time we left around 2 p.m., the place was poppin’.


If you like to hike: We recommend Dead Horse Ranch, a state park just 20 minutes away from Jerome. Don’t let the name throw you off, it’s a pleasant and expansive state park with a lot to offer. There are sites for campers, lagoons for fishing, areas for picnicking, and even a small river with a river walk. There are also, of course, hiking trails – I think we ended up hiking about 3 miles along their Lime Kiln trail. I would say this trail is easy to moderate, depending on your hiking experience – nothing too steep and no climbing required. Just always make sure that you a) have enough water (it doesn’t hurt to bring snacks for energy, either), b) know what trail you’re on and stay on it and c) know your limits.




What to see: This is really traveler’s choice! We basically just walked around the town with no set agenda, but other travelers recommend the Douglas Mansion or Gold King Mine. Just remember that this is a hillside town, so you will be doing a LOT of walking upwards (and then blessedly, downwards).

Notable places we found on our stroll –

Jerome Grand Hotel

It wouldn’t be a ghost town without the ghosts. The Jerome Grand Hotel has a history of haunts – it was originally a hospital during the town’s mining days.


Also fascinating, the hotel still has steam-powered heating and an OTIS elevator from 1926.

Holy Family Catholic Church

This church has been standing for more than 100 years. Visitors are welcome, and though it’s no longer an active parish, they do hold mass every third Saturday of the month.



La Victoria Studio


Even if you’re visiting and the studio isn’t open, it’s still housed in a very cool structure.

From what we could tell and from what I’d heard from a family member, this is a pottery and glassblowing studio. Open hours seem… flexible. If you do manage to catch them when they’re open to the public, apparently they do pottery and glassblowing demos.

Getting your grub on: We ate at the Haunted Hamburger, and no, the burgers aren’t haunted, but the building supposedly is. Also, their outside patio offers a great view of the town below. There are plenty of other food stops to choose from, but they fill up FAST once they open (another reason to get there earlier rather than later).


Anyone who knows us would not be surprised that Rickeldoris Candy and Popcorn Company was our very first stop in Jerome. It’s just as much of a treat for the eyes with a colorful selection of candies in jars, bins, boxes and an old-fashioned feel.


We followed the delicious smell of kettle corn. I bought too much taffy, but I regret nothing.

Certainly, there’s plenty more to explore, but hopefully this will be a good starter guide for you.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

With much affection,
The Nightborn Travel Team


jerome pinterest.png


Adventuring in Haiti: A Photo Essay


As I have mentioned previously, Haiti has alot of bad press that it really doesn’t deserve. I think one of the best ways to share the reality of traveling to this amazing country is through photos, so I wanted to try my hand at a photo essay covering my journey to and from the Land of Many Mountains.


img_2120-copyThis is me when I first got to Haiti. The bus ride was so stressful, but the hotel in Port-au-Prince was a little paradise, and I couldn’t believe that I was actually there, in the country I had read about for so long.



My first dinner in Haiti. This fish was unbelievable; and the plantains were the best I have ever had.


The tiny plane that we took to Cap-Haitien. I love tiny planes.

Port-au-Prince from the air (c) ABR 2016



My first introduction to Cap-Haitien, and the realization that Haiti has so much to offer, if only the government services and infrastructure were improved for the locals.


Once known as the Venice of the Caribbean, Cap-Haitien has lost some of its flare, but there was still something elegant and beautiful about the way it stretched over the hills.


There was intricate art everywhere in Cap-Haitien (and all around Haiti).



You rarely see pictures of Haiti’s beaches, but they are just as much “paradise” as anywhere else in the Caribbean.



Of course, there were reality checks while we were there. Unfortunately, Haiti’s government wasn’t taking care of the trash in Cap-Haitien. The Haitian people deserve better, and so does their lovely country.


I had dreamed about seeing Le Citadelle ever since I read about it, and there it was, standing watch over the coast from out of the mist.



Few people ever mention that Haiti is home to come of the most spectacular historic structures in the region. Here is San Souci Palace; its beauty once rivaled Versailles. Personally, I think it maintains its mystique and charm.


Some of the best rum in the world comes from Haiti, and much of it in small places similar to this.


This beautiful mosaic was made by the local kids!



A post office in Jacmel!


Bassin Bleu! One of the top attractions in the Land of Many Mountains. It did get busy here, so I had to snap this picture from around the corner before people jumped in.


Heading out from Bassin Bleu, we had to drive through the river, following the precise directions of our guide. Unfortunately, Creole and Spanish are similar in that their terms for “right” and “straight” sound alike.



The gate protecting the Grotto of Marie-Jeanne.



Climbing down into the cavern. Alot of caves on Hispanola have openings like this one.



The menu at a Haitian fast food restaurant in Port-au-Prince, complete with an add for the national beer, Prestige.



I captured this beautiful scene in Port-au-Prince from inside a gallery that we visited on our last day.



The beautiful Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince. Supposedly, this is called gingerbread architecture- I’ll buy it.



The city from the observatoire in Port-au-Prince.



Driving back over the border into the Dominican Republic; these pictures stress me out because I hated the border so much.

Good-bye, Haiti!
Note: All pictures above (c) ABR (Nightborn Travels), please do not use without permission.

hello, neighbor.

greetings and salutations, dear readers!


kartchner caverns, benson, az: CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? GOOD.

my name is katie, and i plan to be a regular contributor around these parts. i’m an almost arizona native with a penchant for movie theater popcorn and photography.


kaleidoscope, lowell observatory, flagstaff, az: a universe within a universe

what you can expect from me:

local flavor (events, food and other fun stuff)
art and architecture (artitecture?)
weird blog and hash tags


mission san xavier del bac, tucson, az

and much more! so stick around and explore with me.


Off Traveling- No Post, But Have Some Pictures!

I am currently in Puerto Rico, doing a Spanish immersion. So, I will not be posting my normal blog post this July 15th. Instead, please enjoy a link to my travel photography Tumblr: http://nightborntravels.tumblr.com/

There will be more pictures posted there soon, but right now there is lots from Japan for everyone to enjoy. 🙂

Danger, Nature, and Social Conflict in the Desert: Organ Pipe National Monument

Map of the Organ Pipe National Monument

In 1937 President Franklin D. Roosevelt created Organ Pipe National Monument in order to protect its namesake, and the rugged Sonoran ecology of the Ajo, Puerto Blanco, and Sonoyta Mountains. Early on, the park struggled to balance its protective duties with the needs of miners and ranchers, both of which continued using the land there until the 1970s. These competing needs were eventually decided by the declaration of the United Nations in 1976 that designated the national monument as an International Biosphere Reserve, at which point alternative uses of the park ended (Reference).

The peace in Organ Pipe National Monument was short lived, however, as the park became the stage of drug and border conflicts between the United States and Mexico beginning in the mid-1990s. During this time, US policies concerning illegal immigration and drugs were tightened, and smuggling systems of varying complexity for both people and drugs have developed along the US-Mexican border. Popular border crossings along this border have experienced increasing security measures since this time, and these developments forced smugglers to look to the wilderness for ways in the United States. (See Back Again Cait’s No More Deaths post to learn more about the US border issues).


(c) AB Raschke

Organ Pipe became an increasingly frequented highway for these activities, as its borders were protected only by flimsy chain-linked fences, or concrete walls that could be destroyed by smugglers with relative ease. Impromptu roads began to crop up in the desert, trash and trails from trekking immigrants cracked the ancient bacterial crust of the Sonora, and reports of illegal activities grew in numbers, as did the armed conflicts between smugglers and the National Monument personnel.

This struggle culminated in the death of ranger Kris Eggle in 2002, when he was shot to death while pursuing drug cartel members through the park, attempting to protect his country from criminals that were already known to have murdered several victims in Mexico. At this time, the inadequacies of the Organ Pipe border were realized, and the dangerous nature of the situation that had developed there was finally grasped. Organ Pipe was dubbed “the most dangerous park in America,” and more than half of the National Monument was closed to visitors for their own safety. Plans were also drafted for the building a stronger border wall to replace the failing barriers, and the visitor center was renamed in honored of the park’s fallen ranger (Reference One; Reference Two.


(c) AB Raschke

As for me, I didn’t know about the real history of the park until I was thinking about visiting. I was aware, however, about its danger through stories that I heard from other Phoenicians. One in particular, involved a friend of a friend who was out hiking in the park, and just so happened to see smugglers dropping off contraband in a camouflaged, underground stash. According to the story, or the version that I remember, this particular friend of a friend ended up being pursued by the criminals, but I think that the general reputation of Organ Pipe may have created some embellishment in my mind.

At any rate, in 2014 the park reopened much of the area that had been closed after Eggle’s death, and I figured that this indicated that things had improved, and in fact, things had. The US government had expanded its border wall across the park’s boundary, and increased its patrols in the area. With this in mind, I thought it would be good to pair a trip down to Puerto Penasco with some exploration of Organ Pipe.


The Arch (c) AB Raschke

The most friendly, helpful rangers that I have ever met manned the visitor center here. There was also a great gift shop where I scored some prickly pear candy and mesquite flour (which made some great scones, by the way), and a nice little museum. Of course, the gift shop wasn’t the draw, and after learning about the lay of the park from the rangers, we decided to explore the Ajo Mountain Drive.

As its name suggests, this road runs right up to the Ajo Mountains, which had made for some of the most stunning landscapes on the drive from Phoenix to Rocky Point for the several years that I had been driving that way. I was giddy with the thought of seeing the mountains up close and hiking them. The drive didn’t disappoint, but I was surprised that the road was mostly unpaved. Luckily we were in a Honda Element, and the track was nice enough for us to travel it easily.


A hill covered in Organ pipes (c) AB Raschke

The desert here was breathtaking. I’ve lived in Arizona my entire life in both Phoenix and Tucson, and I have driven through much of the state. Even so, the rugged cliffs of the Ajo Mountains and the brilliant mix of Sonoran plants here seemed particularly perfect. We couldn’t help ourselves and kept stopping on the way to take pictures. About half way down the road we stopped at the Arch Canyon Trail, and hiked for about an hour. Much of the trail, as its name suggested, ran along the southern edge of a canyon in the shadow of a great stone arch that was formed along the side mountain cliffs. This path was just slightly inclined, and well maintained. Besides stopping to snap pictures of the arch all down the trail, we also spotted a centipede and plenty of beautiful desert birds among the varied plants that gathered along the path. Towards the end of the trail, where we turned around, the path twined its way of the stone side of the mountain and lost much of its demarcation. By the looks of it, it worked its way up to the arch, but we didn’t have the proper footwear to check it out.

At any rate, between the drive, the hike, and the friendly rangers, I wasn’t at all disappointed in our stop at the park, and it definitely felt like Organ Pipe had made good progress since being labeled the most dangerous park in the United States.

And if you have any questions about Organ Pipe or my travels feel free to leave me a comment. 🙂

My next update will be on December 15th, about the Torrey Pines State Reserve in San Deigo, CA!

Page 2 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén