Rarefied Air at The Haunted Hamburger

Greetings my beloved Droppings aficionados. These Droppings come to you from my recent travels to Jerome Arizona. Lately I have been wondering and pondering, sometimes out loud, “Where did all the hippies go?”  You can imagine the stares I get when I opine that out loud in the local Denney’s.  I miss those good old hippie days. I used to be one ya know and then suddenly one day I wasn’t one anymore.  Not sure how that happened but then if you are a former hippie you totally understand how pieces of your life and the ability to recollect much of that time period fades into, well — fuzziness.  I was a damn good hippie too, not one of those regrettable pretentious types who didn’t know a Zig from a Zag or insisted on Perrier in their bong water — good Lord.  You know who you are and I still don’t like you.

So, on occasion I  do wonder where did all the hippies go?  Up until a couple of weeks ago I was convinced they simply became instinct.  No trace, just gone.  It is a matter of scientific record where the dinosaurs went and how.  Now that was a bad day, huh?  You are grazing, you look up, here is this giant ball of fire from the sky, and kaboom — you are toast.  But hippies?  Did they go the way of the dinosaurs and the bifurcated tri-peckered possum?  Hippies are not extinct my friends. I am delighted to report they are alive and living in Jerome, Arizona.   Moreover, as best I can tell, they all working at the Haunted Hamburger.  I know this because  I have been there and witnessed it.

The Haunted Hamburger is a must stop if you find yourself heading south on 89A just outside Sedona.  I hit the city limits of the most vertical city in America just as the streets were rolling up at about 5:00 PM.   As is my custom, I found a local street-walker, rolled down the window and said, “Where is the best burger in town?”  The incoherence was palpable but the response clear, “Haunted Hamburger at the top of the hill.” Having just climbed a switch-back road straight up 4K feet in my Hertz Rent-A-Wreck, I figured I was fully atop the hill.  But I learned long ago to avoid the blindingly obvious smart-ass response and simply said, “Top of the hill, really?

The joint is literally embedded on the side of a cliff and the view defies the description. Inside I found a Rastafarian gentleman who, by the way has never sipped a Perrier in his life, was serving as the maître d. He is also the chef and hand-mashes a hamburger into a one-toke-over-the-line-sweet-Jesus experience. The waitress was slow-thinking and slower-acting lass,  but nonetheless determined to make my time there memorable as she regaled me with tall tales about the history of Jerome and the glory of consuming red meat at high altitude.

Jerome, once a thriving community,  is now simply a place filled with shops and communities of artisans, mostly good old hippies and a hamburger joint named the Haunted Hamburger. With the sun setting across the Verde Valley, watching the flickering lights of Sedona 30 miles away, I found myself on the side of a mountain enjoying a wonderful two-fisted burger, breathing that rarefied air and wondering how could it get much better…..Haunted Hamburger, really? I’ll be back.

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