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Friday, July 22, 2011

Hungry After James Ray Trial?

Question: where to eat after a hard afternoon of watching famous motivational speakers on trial? [a taste of the eerie and unique locale where the sweat lodge trial is taking place]

The Beverly Hills barristers going up against the don't-tread-on-me country gal is one unique rodeo. Sprinkled as it is with recordings of a person whose wisdom is so profound he can call himself "god" and get people to pay him to do so, well, it can make one's head spin after a few hours. And all that head-spinning works up an appetite.

Ray defense atty Truc Do ignoring media after James Ray's conviction
Photo by Camille Kimball

Camp Verde, Arizona, home of the James Ray sweat lodge trial, is a tiny, tiny place. Right off the interstate there is what the locals call "Drive-thru Alley." This is where you find the big chains crammed together--McDonald's, Taco Bell and so forth. This is spittin' distance from the off-ramp.

But if you want something better, something both home-grown and spectacular all at once, drive on down the hill, turn left at Finnie Flat and before you can say "Montezuma's Castle" three times fast, you will see the Valley View Restaurant rising above you on a small escarpment to your right. Don't let the unpaved parking lot and fade-into-the-hill exterior fool you: inside is a gem.

As you walk in, you're likely to find owner John Perhne carefully polishing the bar--it's all copper and looks wonderful, shiny and unique when he's done. Then you'll notice the copper hood over the fireplace in the center of the bar and soon the copper collection around an upper shelf rimming the room. Copper, you see, is very important in the history of the Verde Valley and the entire state of Arizona (look for the miner on the state seal--his pickaxe is aimin' for copper).Author on the terrace, but not really much of the panorama...couldn't point the camera into the sun where most of the view was at that time of day!

Have a few friendly words, and then pass on through to the lower deck where the dance floor is. You'll be surrounded by panoramic windows as you eat your entree. You'll want this, because beyond is a vista you'll find hard to stop staring at. Step out onto the terrace for awhile. Look out to the San Francisco peaks, nearly a hundred miles away. Bring your binoculars and try to spot the Lowell Observatory white domed telescope where they're watching the expanding universe or the Naval Observatory's where they're looking for, um, bad guys in the sky. Breathe in air that that's been carrying hawks and condors, not factory exhaust.

The food on the menu at Valley View is solid down-home in heaping helpings, from liver to pot roast to chef salad and home-made soups. Bread pudding. Carrot cake. The prices more than reasonable. Way more than reasonable. You could easily spend more at Drive-thru Alley up the hill. But you won't be nearly as happy.

At the Valley View, you will feel you have stepped back fifty years in time, where innkeepers were glad to see you and served mom's recipes from mom's own pots and pans, not reconstituted pre-paks from corporate HQ.

Of course, step onto the terrace with its vast expanse of geology, maybe spot a very large raptor gliding on a thermal, and you'll feel you've stepped back 50 million.

Disclaimer: NO DISCLAIMER! Nobody comped me anything, I just had a great time and really think it's special!


  1. It's intersting that you are willing to tell so much about where you went to eat, but you failed to reveal who the alleged "traditional" sweat lodge leader was that you bragged about going to in San Diego. Why is that?

  2. I beg your pardon? I've never been to a sweat lodge, traditional or otherwise.

    This post is about the locale surrounding the James Arthur Ray sweat lodge trial. There are quite a few posts about his trial on this blog.

    I am a professional journalist and I write crime books published by a major New York house. I am not a follower of any sweat lodge leader. I've been in a few saunas in my life, but never a sweat lodge. I hope this helps?

  3. heh Strident Savage, not even a sorry for the mistaken identity, or a boy am I stupid comment? Pretty fast trigger, just a slow brain.