We arrived at Janae’s house in Flagstaff around 7 PM on May 16th. I don’t think any of us knew what to expect. Andy had last seen Janae two years ago at their cousin’s wedding at which time he determined that she was cool and they had some similar interests; prior to that it had been about 10 years since he’d seen her.
As soon as we walked in it was immediately apparent that we were in friendly and familiar territory. A Pink Floyd poster hung on the wall adjacent to mounted snowboards and guitars. In one corner stood a drum kit, in the other, a mountain bike. Failed attempts at growing squash and eggplant sat on the windowsill. These observations all came second to the loud and excited greetings of Cheeba, Rio and Pica.
After initial greetings, a pow wow, and a get to know you chat we headed to downtown Flagstaff for dinner and drinks. During dinner we had political, societal and philosophical conversations about socialism, healthcare, the public school system, vegetarianism, and why Flagstaff is the best place to live. The streets were lined with quaint shops, restaurants, and bars set against a backdrop of looming mountain tops. I feel the town is best described as an eclectic mix of college students, hippies, outdoor enthusiasts, or a combination of all of the above.
I couldn’t classify either of the bars we went to if I tried. There were young people, old people, students, bikers, dread heads, blacks, whites, you name it. I loved every second of it. I wish every bar was so diverse and interesting instead of generic or segregated. One bar had a ping pong table and I regret to say that Andy beat me 23 to 21 after I talked a mess about how I was going to redeem myself for the last three times he beat me back home. At one point, after we had consumed about four beers, it was brought to our attention that we might want to take it easy because being over 7000 feet above sea level tends to have an intensifying effect.
We got back to the house around one and passed out quite comfortably in the living room until the next morning at eight when we begrudgingly rose to clean out and reorganize the car for the third or fourth time. Janae and her friends insisted that we go to Fossil Creek avowing that the tumultuous drive, crystal clear water, cliff jumping, scenic views, and lack of tourists made it worth the extra two hours of driving. On the way we went through Sedona by way of highway 89 which was an extraordinarily beautiful mountain drive. The last leg of the journey took place along a rocky dirt road that caused me quite a bit of anxiety; there were no railings and two cars could barely pass one another. My only saving grace was that I was driving otherwise I would have been absolutely terrified.
Although we didn’t get to hike up to the source of the creek, we did take a refreshing swim and jump off of some small cliffs. At parts the current was noticeably strong and I found myself losing my footing and bumping into rocks. I couldn’t help but shudder as I watched little kids playing in the midst of the rushing water apparently unattended. We had to save our energy for the next day’s Grand Canyon hike, so after about an hour we continued on to Tusayan where we would hydrate and rest in preparation for the coming strenuous adventure.