By Jeff and Suzie Dunn
|A delightful buffet is spread for the caboose passengers on the Verde Canyon RR.|
|Kenna, a personal valet on the Verde Canyon RR caboose, welcomes you aboard.|
|Bites and Sips|
|• Check out Cork and Catch, a new restaurant in Cottonwood that takes even Saturday night reservations. Rosalie of Rosalie’s of Sedona has opened a full service lunch and dining room in the former Sweet Jill’s, 1750 E. Villa Dr.. 928-649-2675. Our family ate there after the Verde Canyon caboose ride. Remember -- we had two strapping teenagers with us. Steak, shrimp, prime rib, red trout. Medoc wine. All good. |
• Quince at 363 Main Street, Jerome. 928-634-7087. Many friends have asked us to write about Quince. We used our coupon from Money in the Mail for its Wild Wednesday’s El Nuevo Mexico Cheeseburger and Margarita special ($5, including fries). Note: the special is only known to those who use the coupon. It is not announced by servers nor is it noted on the menu. Suzie enjoyed the special and Jeff raved about his Green Chile Tres, a combination of fire-roasted Hatch chiles, Crimini mushrooms and pork.
• While we were in Jerome, we decided to stop into a place we had never been. The Bitter Creek Winery Tasting Room is located in the Jerome Gallery, 240 Hull Street. 928-634-7033. Wines from its sister business, The Jerome Winery, are also poured here. Interesting tarot card inspired labels by a Cottonwood tattoo artist designate each bottle. We enjoyed the reasonably priced red blend, “Tower” and the quite pricey Bordeaux style “Death” from Bitter Creek along with Jerome Winery’s Pinot Noir.
• For those of you who like to learn from chefs, our village instructor, Kathy Nelms, of Taste Buds, is opening her studio for themed dinners throughout the fall. Contact her either by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 928-284-2143.
In February 2012, we rode the Verde Canyon Railroad for the first time during its AZ Centennial celebration.
Along with snowbird Milwaukee friends and our oldest son, Patrick, we purchased coach seats, had a special lunch on the station patio, by foot toured the rail yard and all the passenger cars, and then sat out on the open-air gondola for the four hour tour. It was a fun and informative day.
On our return, and we got the idea of renting the caboose to celebrate our grandson, Kendall’s, high school graduation. Once home, we checked the VCR website, and discovered we could book the caboose for a night ride in June.
The caboose is made for six people, which would be perfect for our son’s family and us. The cost would be approximately $100 per person, prepaid. A conflict arose, so we had to change the reservation to late August. Only an afternoon ride was available, but the date and time fit everyone’s schedule. In addition to celebrating his graduation, we also celebrated his 18th birthday and a partial swimming scholarship to Cal Poly. What a day we had!
When we arrived at the station, the conductor was waiting just for us. The always hungry Kendall and Miles were ready to order something from the station grill, but the conductor stated we would have plenty of food provided for us during the ride and we should get going.
In his golf cart, he drove us to the caboose, the last of many cars and fairly far from the station. There we were greeted by our personal valet, Kenna. We took pictures, she took pictures, and then she led us into the palatial car, past the wet bar, past the personal and beautifully appointed bathroom to six leather upholstered swivel barrel chairs.
Snacks and bottled water were at our fingertips. Kenna told us we were welcome to use the caboose’s front and rear porches and the cupolas (the vaulted ceiling on either side reached by ladder) for observation throughout the ride.
Once we left the station, Kenna popped a bottle of champagne for the adults and sparkling cider for the boys. We toasted Kendall, listened to the music and accompanying rail inspired songs and took in the scenery.
Soon Kenna had a sumptuous buffet ready for us: BBQ chicken wings, an assortment of vegetables and dip, Caesar salad, another platter with cheeses, another with cold cuts and sausages, a variety of crackers, and to everyone’s delight, a plate of rich dessert bars. Plenty for six including two hungry teenagers!
Kenna attended to our every need. When she wasn’t refreshing our “pop and pretzels” as we at The Dunnery like to refer to happy hour, she shared her enthusiasm of the railroad through photographs and experience.
As our faithful readers know, Jeff is a train buff. Happily, grandson Kendall takes after him in that respect. On this trip, at the turn-around point, Perkinsville, both were thrilled to view up close from the back porch of the caboose, the turnaround and recoupling of the locomotive.
The engines’s new position was practically an arm’s length in front of them for the return to Clarkdale. They also shared detailed knowledge of the engine with Kenna for the benefit of her future customers.
The initial champagne and sparkling cider, as well as soft drinks and water, along with the buffet, coffee and ice cream bars were included in the ticket price. So was all the personal service. We were “stylin”. Without a doubt, we would choose this means of travel on the VCR in the future.
Thanks to the marketing department of the VCR we have two photos to share with readers. You may contact the Verde Canyon Railroad at 800-293-7245 or www.verdecanyonrr.com.
To your Health and Happiness, Jeff and Suzie at The Dunnery.