Steve and I decided we were due a weekend getaway by the end of September. We were three quarters of the way through 2019; a year that saw A LOT of changes in our lives. We were SO ready to go somewhere to relax, see some sights, and unwind the stress that has been a part of this hectic year so far. Don’t get me wrong. 2019 is nearing a close with our family in a very good place. But gosh, we had our fair share of worry and hard work along the way.
Why Prescott, AZ
Shortly after settling into our new home in Arizona, we saw a social media post by some old neighbors. They spent a weekend away at a bed and breakfast in Prescott and commented on what a relaxing time it was. I researched the bed and breakfast. And guess what? The owners’ story intrigued me. Prescott is somewhere Steve and I have discussed over the years as a place we wanted to visit so, we did.
Watson Lake Inn is owned and operated by Master Chef Peter Gebauer, AAC, WCMC, GMC, and his wife Aimé. He is a seasoned professional chef with extensive international experience. She has extensive experience in training and administration for the lodging, retail and manufacturing industries in the U.S. and Mexico. The web site showed a quaint and charming inn, and there was an option to include a private 4-course meal, cooked by Chef Gebauer.
That hooked me. So, I made reservations. Only 1 hour and 15 minutes from home, it was the perfect getaway.
We booked our reservation for dinner with Chef Gebauer for Saturday. Because we needed to find a place to eat Friday night, we asked our host for recommendations for dinner that night. He asked us what kind of food we liked, and when he heard small bites and tapas, he recommended El Gato Azul in Prescott. He warned us that there might be a wait for a table, so we decided to head out and try to get there early.
Friday night at El Gato Azul
Luckily for us, that was a good strategy. The place was packed when we arrived at 5:30 PM, and they did not have a single preferred table open for hours. However, there was a table for two, tucked into a corner right in front of the open bar and kitchen area. The young man at the host booth told us he could let us have it if we could be done with it within 1 1/2 hours because then even that table was reserved. We assured him we would make sure to give him back his table well within the time allotted. So, just like that, we were in!
Steve and I way overdid dinner. We were SO full by the time we left. But the tapas menu was so extensive and unique, we could not resist trying more than we probably should have.
It was a little dark for pictures, but I did the best I could with my phone.
We started with the baked brie nachos, made with Jezebel sauce, baked brie, pickled onions and a balsamic reduction. It was amazing.
And we should have stopped after the beef and garlic in sherry sauce, the tequila scallops, and the parmesan mussels, all of which were super delicious. But nooooo…. we each had a hankering for one more thing on the menu, so we both got another order in.
Goat cheese with roasted garlic and fig preserves for Steve. Fried green tomatoes with aioli and fried capers for me.
Tapas plates are small, but they still add up. Please don’t shame us. We could not possibly feel any worse for our gluttony. It tasted so good! We highly recommend El Gato Azul in Prescott. But make reservations in advance! Maybe then you can get outdoor seating in the beautifully verdant and secluded back patio.
Steve and I walked back to the car with very full bellies, returned to the inn, and sat on the back porch with a glass of wine each until we felt the meal had been digested enough to allow us to sleep without food coma nightmares.
Saturday and the sights
Watson Lake is literally 2 minutes from the Inn, so Steve and I made that our first stop Saturday morning after sharing a delicious and healthy breakfast with our fellow bed and breakfast lodgers.
From Watson Lake, we went to Prescott Square, where they were hosting Hope Fest Arizona. Hope Fest is an annual event dedicated to serve veterans, active military, first responders, and the vulnerable of Yavapai County. There were lots of booths and tents, and live music, although we arrived too early for the music.
The square is very picturesque and includes the county courthouse and many dedicated statues and memorials.
This is a replica statue of Cowboy at Rest created by Solon Borglum in 1903 and recognizes the ranching heritage of Yavapai county.
Steve and I were very impressed to have seen a display with the actual uniform of corporal Desmond Doss, the true-life hero who inspired the movie Hacksaw Ridge.
Along one side of the plaza lies Montezuma Street. We had to make a few stops, although not only because it is called Whiskey Row!
I had to capture Steve with the actors in period costume at the Palace Restaurant and Saloon. And from there, we had to make an afternoon cocktail stop at the establishment. After all, we were on vacation!
After indulging in some liquid refreshment, we walked to Hotel St. Michael through their hallway of shops. Built in 1901 after the previous hotel in the same location burned down, it boasts historical features with rooms containing modern amenities.
The Sharlot Hall Museum and the Territorial Capital
Steve and I left downtown Prescott and just a few streets over, we visited the Sharlot Hall Museum. If I were to document all the amazing things we learned at the museum about Arizona, Prescott’s history as the territorial capital, as well as the amazing woman who was Sharlot Hall, we’d be here for days.
Instead, I will share pictures of some of the museum exhibits and STRONGLY encourage you to take a trip to visit this amazing attraction in person. We learned SO much about what life was like in the mid to late 1800s in Arizona! It was captivating.
To give you a taste, Wikipedia offers the following description:
The Sharlot Hall Museum is an open-air museum and heritage site located in Prescott, Arizona. Opened in 1928 by Sharlot M. Hall as the Gubernatorial Mansion Museum, the museum that now bears her name is dedicated to preserving the history and culture of the Central Highlands of Arizona.
Don’t be fooled by the quaint buildings. There are several relatively large exhibits that contain a treasure trove of educational material on the history of Prescott.
The governor’s mansion. Followed by various historical buildings of the time.
Fremont House. One of the interesting things about this house is that every room has a door to the outside.
The Bashford House, built in 1877 and bought by merchant William Coles Bashford. It currently houses the museum gift shop.
Although not nearly as extensive as the Sharlot Hall Museum, the Fort Whipple museum tells an important and compelling story of the evolution of a military fort to a now very active VA hospital. The museum has received new funding that will allow it to expand on the site, and I look forward to returning and seeing how they expand their story.
Dinner at watson lake inn
I am so sorry for what I am about to do to my readers.
Here’s the deal…because we were SO excited about Chef Gebauer’s four course dinner, Steve and I skipped lunch on Saturday. By the time we sat down to eat, we were very hungry. And given the very personal experience of the private meal being served, we were able to talk and learn about our hosts while they gifted us with a most delicious meal.
So, full disclosure? No pictures. Well, none after the opening course. Once we started eating, we were all in with the food, each other, and learning about Peter and Aimé.
I took this picture with a phone. I did not do it justice. It was SO scrumptious!
First course: mini falafel with tzatziki sauce, hummus, garnished with sweet mini peppers and drizzled with a Queen Creek, AZ boutique extra virgin olive oil.
Second course: tomato soup with basil, chickpeas, and shrimp.
Third course: pork tenderloin slices, on top of creamy polenta, on a bed of ratatouille, garnished with a parsley pesto.
Fourth course: panna cotta with berries and syrup.
sunday – the end of a beautiful weekend getaway
The next morning, we enjoyed another delicious and healthy breakfast courtesy of our hosts. Then we left and went straight home. Steve is a road warrior. I wanted to make sure he got some quality time in his own bed before flying out again the following week.
In summary, here’s what I loved about this weekend:
- The drive was long enough for us to feel that we got away, but short enough to be effortless.
- Invest in the time and cost to visit Watson Lake Inn. The Gebauers are excellent hosts, the food is amazing, the property has a rustic feel with all the comforts of home.
- Prescott is an important and truly fascinating part of Arizona history. If you’ve never been, go. It is totally worth it.
- Finding time to explore with the one you love is always worth the investment. Short, inexpensive trips or long travel plans…it doesn’t matter. Adding to your shared memories is priceless.
We had an amazing weekend getaway in Prescott Arizona and we highly recommend Watson Lake Inn. We encourage you to explore the area and visit the Gebauers!