Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Third leg of my trip [Part I]: Arizona--

So I drove out of Los Angeles and found myself once again in the desert. At one point, I checked the weather on my phone and it said it was 115 degrees. As I crossed the California/Arizona border, it started to get dark. I continued driving, listening to the Counting Crows and Gregory Alan Isakov, both of whom sing about home and being lost and driving and leaving and California and the desert and the stars.

I pulled into Flagstaff, Arizona around 11pm local time and opened the car door only to find that it was no more than 60 degrees, it was damp, and it smelled like summer camp. I thought Arizona was entirely desert, but my senses immediately told me I'd left the desert quite awhile back. When I checked into the Hotel Monte Vista, I had a hilarious conversation with the check in clerk who informed me that I was not in the desert, but in a mountain town where it gets cold enough at night to snow at his house just 300 feet up the mountain. No wonder it smelled like Colorado.

The hotel was the weirdest hotel I've ever seen. It is an historic hotel in downtown Flagstaff and it boasts of ghost stories in many of its unique, celebrity themed rooms. There was a warning plaque in my room telling me of the dangers of alcohol in conjunction with pregnancy. The cocktail lounge on the first floor was hopping at midnight on a Monday. Seeing the town the next morning did nothing to sort out my confusion. But it's an amazing town, filled with tiny local restaurants and shops and tons of graffiti, which is all I can really ask of any town.

My first day in Arizona took me to the Grand Canyon, a place I've wanted to visit my entire life. It's one of the seven wonders of the world, and I always felt myself dying to know exactly what that kind of enormity felt like. And well... it feels enormous. The 1.5 hour drive up there from Flagstaff was beautiful. The Canyon was beyond words. I spent all day mostly in the same spot, perpetually in awe. I met two Norwegian guys who were traveling Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. We hung out all day and traded stories about our lives and countries, then found a beautiful spot from which to watch the sunset. They told me a lot of crazy [mostly untrue but hilarious] stuff about Norway. For instance, when the sun went down, they said to make a wish. I asked if that's something people do in Norway. They said yes and that people in Norway make wishes for everything. They make them when they order pizza, when they go to the McDonald's drive through, when they finish a coke, when they're filling up their gas tank, and when they make babies. I said that I always learned to hold my breath and make a wish when going through a tunnel. They said, oh, we don't do that. I almost peed myself. They also said that every Sunday is Flamethrower day from 10 to 2 where they shoot chickens with flamethrowers. They also said that everyone in Norway is a rapper and one of them said his rap name is Little Big Middle. They told me the Macarena is the national dance and when I said, "you're a liar!" they said, "that's our national thing! Lying." 

And some final graffiti/mural art on my way out of one of the strangest towns I've ever visited...

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