Thursday, May 24, 2007

Flagstaff, Arizona

Now that the power company has raised our rates, summer is officially here! Over the next few months, droves of Las Vegans will drive to nearby lakes and mountains in efforts to escape the heat. Flagstaff, Arizona, is about four hours southeast on US93 and I40. Northern Arizona’s biggest city is at a 7,000 foot altitude in the middle of the largest stand of ponderosa pine trees in the U.S. Route 66 passes right through downtown, as do the trains. And they’ve got a lot of trains. If you think the noise from the Right Turn is obnoxious, try listening to train horns all night long. I liked Flagstaff, but I wanted to hurt someone by the time daylight arrived. The city’s historic homes, museums, arboretum, and observatory offer plenty of things to do, but if you’re a light sleeper you might want to find out how close you’re staying to the train tracks (or bring earplugs).

On the day after our sleepless night, we drove through Sedona and never stopped. Back in the prehistoric 1970’s, my family discovered the canyon on a trip back from Texas. My dad took a tip from someone he met at a roadside diner, and we took a detour through Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. We were rewarded with beautiful, eclectic, and stunning scenery. One roadside stop was an artist who sculpted sandstone. He’d done The Last Supper and shaded it under a green plastic patio cover. The place was amazing and magical, and it’s all gone now. I was surprised we didn’t find a Starbucks.

Jerome, perched on Cleopatra Hill outside Sedona, hasn’t lost an ounce of charm. In fact, the people here have posted plaques everywhere to tell visitors about the original purposes of the restored homes that the artists and merchants converted into shops. Salons and brothels were very popular.

Many people are surprised to find that Arizona contains beautiful mountains. It ain’t all desert, folks! Grab a road atlas and check the country around Flagstaff. Both Prescott and Payson are nearby mountain communities (Prescott is about four hours from Vegas, Payson almost six).
Photos from top to bottom: Downtown Flagstaff, as seen from the Lowell Observatory's grounds on Mars Hill; Oak Creek Canyon Vista; Jerome Plaque. Double-click on any image to enlarge.

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