Monday, September 19, 2011

A Day in Flagstaff

We awoke this morning with only a few goals in mind, but with a host of backup options. We planned to go first to the Flagstaff Visitor Center and then on the Red Mountain Hike, followed by a caffeinated drink and a tour of the Arboretum. We managed to do all that, but nothing more. Maybe another time...

Claire at the start of the Red Mountain Hike.

Trail sign: Pretty much says it all.

There was a 30 mile drive from town to the start of the hike--the information we received from several sources all underestimated the distance. But, it was worth it. The drive took about 45 minutes.

Along the Trail

We felt the guidebook undersold the trail--a blessing. We were quite thrilled with the sights along the way. We had expected more of a cinder cone with a rim over which we would peer. We did not get that; but, we got much more.

What a Great Trail

Climbing the Stairway to Heaven

Wildflowers in September

Red Mountain Cone


"In a canyon, in a cavern..."

The cone into which we hiked is open on the west side and eventually ends when you go as far in an easterly direction as the trail and the cone allow.

In the Cone


Volcanic Creations

The entire hike took about 1.5 hours, but this includes stopping to admire the scenery and take lots of pictures. It is a mild hike; even I did not complain. We regard this scenic hike as a highlight of the trip.


Returning to town we headed straight for the Rendezvous Cafe and its famous hot drink--for famously cool Flagstaff mornings: The Hot Monte. It is basically a cappuccino, with chocolate and cayenne pepper. We enjoyed it, despite a pleasant (not cool) day. But, Claire thought she would not want it on a daily basis.

Hot Monte at the Rendezvous Cafe in the Monte Vista Hotel

Inside View of the Hotel Monte Vista

Downtown Flagstaff, Old Town

Solar Compactor--Why don't we have these?

Walking around Old Town, we noticed batches of sponsorship bricks embedded in the plaza. There were four large groups with of bricks with the name 'Babbitt' on them. Also, we noticed a number of 'Babbit' stores in the area--covering all kinds of enterprises.

Heritage Plaza

Next, we drove about 5 miles to the Arboretum. Claire loves trees and flowers and walks the UC Davis Arboretum almost every day at home. Our docent, Karen, was excellent; she had been here only four years, but had done lots of paid and volunteer work that prepared her for this volunteer position in her retirement. She mentioned at the end that she and her husband moved here because her daughter is the Director of Research and two of her grandchildren are here. Also, she found the climate milder than in New Hampshire, her prior home.

The Arboretum

There is a species of squirrel that is found only here and on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon--the Abert Squirrel. You may recall that there is a similar situation for the Kaibab squirrel on the North Rim.

Abert Squirrel

We had scouted out eateries earlier in the day and decided to return to Criollo Latin Kitchen: They had a varied menu and Happy Hour specials. Remembering that Happy Hour began at 3pm, and not having eaten since 7am this morning, we drove directly to Criollo's for a late lunch-early dinner. The food was great, the server--Alexandra--pleasant and helpful, and the Margaritas were most welcome after a strenuous day of enjoying ourselves; besides, we were tired by now.

Criollo Latin Kitchen


Claire and her second Margarita

Claire's burrito was so good that while she was moaning over it I heard the woman at the next table tell the waitress: "I'll have what she's having!" It was a roasted mushroom burrito with sweet corn, chevre, rice, black beans, herb crema and mixed greens.

Claire's Dinner: Roasted Mushroom Burrito

I was not very hungry and wanted to try the Happy Hour fish taco appetizer and a Margarita. The mole sauce was delicious and the taco, though small, was quite good. Besides, I knew I would follow up with a slice of cherry pie a la mode at a cafe I had scoped out earlier in the day.

Chuck's Snack: Fish Taco Appetizer

We both agree that Flagstaff, at 8,000 feet, is a fun, comfortable place to visit. They have a great variety of restaurants and plenty to do. They also have seasons and a great climate, not to mention a university atmosphere (Northern Arizona University) and lots of culture.

Returning to the motel and both ready to collapse, Claire generously offered to go through the pictures with me and then to edit and reformat them for the blog. I napped. Then I was able to upload and label them for publication. Now, I am ready to join her in reading. Failing that, I expect to sleep very soundly, tonight.

Expenses for the day: $148. This represents a downward trend, for the moment, even though gas, food and lodging are included.

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see. ~ John Burroughs