Cross Country 2005 - First Stop, Flagstaff

Reprinted from West Meets East

Morning on the second day of my cross-country drive. I'm sitting in bed in the overpriced fleabag motel room I rented last night after arriving in Flagstaff, Arizona. Despite the bare-bones accommodations, this motel has a great location, within walking distance of Flagstaff's historic old town district. It's also within walking distance of Flagstaff's train depot, which I was reminded of about every 15 minutes throughout the night. This town must be some kind of major railroad hub. Fortunately, I was so tired that the frequent train whistles didn't disturb my sleep much.

I like Flagstaff. In fact, I like northern Arizona in general. Much of the state is arid desert, but the northern portion is mountainous and scenic. Flagstaff itself sits at 7,000 feet, which means it gets plenty of snow in the winter. Pine-covered mountains surround it, and world-class destinations like the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert and Lake Powell can be reached within an hour or two. Flagstaff's historic district consists of several blocks of charming old buildings filled with unique bars, restaurants and shops. You'll also find the historic and upscale Hotel Monte Vista and Hotel Weatherford right in the heart of old town. Fortunately, the restaurant in the latter stayed open late, so I was able to have dinner last night.

Today, I'm going to make for Amarillo, Texas—at 600 miles, a long driving day—unless I decide to dawdle at Petrified Forest National Park. I'm only about one-sixth of the way to my destination, but already I'm impatient, so I may just plow on through to the Texas Panhandle. After all, I've seen quite a few sights in the Southwest before. I'd rather move fast now and slow down as I get further east, into unfamiliar territory.

And if I'm to move fast, I have to drive instead of write!

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