We were originally supposed to go to Arizona in 2013, but it got postponed. The main reason we went is so Mike and our friend Rob could hike the Grand Canyon. I never intended to hike it, but I did want to see it. Mike had been there several times, not just to the Canyon, but to one of his favorite towns, Flagstaff. Neither Rob nor I had ever been there.
We ended up flying out on Sept. 11, 2014, and the airport was much less crowded than usual.
We arrived a few days in advance of Rob and the Canyon hike, so Mike and I spent a few days in Flagstaff by ourselves. On our first full day there, we visited Wupatki National Monument, a 900-year-old Native American pueblo. There are supposed to be at least 100 rooms in the pueblo, but the rooms seemed tiny. You can’t go inside the pueblo, but you can see some of the interior where the walls have crumbled away. The sun was so bright I could barely see without my sunglasses due to squinting.
Wupatki also feature an enclosed ball court, where some kind of game used to be played, although no one is quite sure what.
On the second day, we drove out to the Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert. I remember being fascinated by the idea of a petrified forest when I was a child, although the idea I had if it was completely different from what it actually there. I think I had pictured something out of a fairy tale, a forest made of stone. It doesn’t look much like a forest, but there is petrified wood everywhere and it is beautiful.
The Painted Desert was a short drive away. We had lunch at the visitor’s center, where Mike had a vegetarian Navajo fry bread taco that was a big hit.
On the way back to Flagstaff, we stopped at the meteor crater featured in Star Man. It is privately owned, so a little overpriced and over-commercialized. And there is not much to do there other than look at the big hole in the ground. It was not nearly as interesting as the other big hole in the ground we saw several days later.
We spent a lot of the time visiting places Mike knew and remembered from his earlier trips to Flagstaff. Some of these places I had been hearing about for more than ten years, and finally got to see for myself.
Restaurants in Flagstaff that got our seal of approval: