In our previous post, Headed West, we mentioned that my parents drove our extra car to Phoenix for storage during our trip. While we still had insurance and current registration, we left Phoenix headed for Flagstaff with all weather reports indicating winter storm warnings and significant snowfall ahead of us.
Our plan to visit Flagstaff before visiting Payson was to drive Laughlin’s brother, James, back to school and save her parents a trip. The weather reports were correct as snow began falling on the high mountain passes and snow packed roads became increasingly icy. We both found it odd that we would see falling snow for the first time in Arizona.
Laughin was excited to see Flagstaff as we pulled into town with light snow just before dark. She hadn’t been back to visit since finishing school two and a half years ago so the three of us toured the Northern Arizona University campus and it was instantly clear to me why she loved it and misses it so much.
During the snowstorm.
Clear view over NAU campus.
While in Flagstaff, we met up with our friends Hannah, Nichole, and Haylie. Our late night dinners and drinks quickly reminded me that I have been out of college for far longer than them! We shared some great meals, great stories, and ran into some interesting folks at the bar waiting for the next passenger train to arrive.
We decided to do some sightseeing around the area during our second day in town. Around noon, we left overcast Flagstaff and headed east towards Meteor Crater. The wind was howling once we left the shadow of the mountains and made us reminisce about how we loathed the Wyoming wind. According to the numerous signs along the road, Meteor Crater is one of the best preserved craters in the world and is a major roadside attraction. Once we arrived, we discovered that the entry fee was $18 per person and the guided tour wasn’t being offered due to the wind and cold weather. Being on a budget and bummed about the tour, we turned back towards Flagstaff, saving the tour for another time.
Heading back to Flagstaff, we took a quick detour and checked out the Twin Arrows Trading Post which Hannah explained was featured in Forest Gump. There was a hole in the top of one of the arrowheads and provided just enough room to read the story of the arrows written in pencil. We discovered that only the telephone poles remained after the post was abandoned and left to rot, but were rebuilt in 2008. It wasn’t an overly exciting stop but fun to get out and take some photos.
When we arrived back in town, we picked up Haylie and headed to Sedona. Once again, snow started falling as we began our decent down Oak Creek Canyon. The clouds were low, but the sun was bright enough for us to see the beautiful red rock outcroppings that hung high on the canyon walls. The first stop in Sedona was the Chapel of the Holy Cross which is a simple, yet beautiful, Roman Catholic chapel built into the red rocks. Leaving the chapel, we headed back to downtown to explore. The rain began to pick up and quickly turned to large snowflakes so we decided to cut our visit short, grabbed a quick beer at the local brewery and headed back up the canyon towards Flagstaff with another night full of shenanigans ahead of us!
The weather finally cracked on our last day providing us excellent views of the mountains surrounding the town. Finally, I was able to experience the hype that I’ve been hearing for so long about the beauty of the mountains and pines of Flagstaff, which did not disappoint. We will certainly be back to visit, but it will have to wait until after our grand adventure!