As I left Texas I was engrossed with the changing terrain as it slipped past my car window. Somewhere west of Amarillo I spotted a sloping mound off in the distance. I was instantly enamored with this strange sight, a few hundred miles away I would become embarrassed with the excitement this “hill” incited in me. Flagstaff sits that foot of the San Francisco peaks and Humphrey’s Peak, the highest point in Arizona, elevated 12,637 ft above sea level.
The elevation was a difficult transition for me. I spent the first few days utterly distraught by what I thought was the sudden shift in Time Zones. In fact it was increased dehydration due to the elevation. Sure enough upping my water intake about 300% got rid of my massive headache and fatigue. The other major influence that the mountain has over me is that it is gorgeous. I usually get honked at while sitting at stop lights while I sit and admire the mountains and the skyline they create against the city.
The city itself has a lot of character. A city ordinance keeps national chains from operating within the downtown area. Leaving it over flowing with small shops and galleries that create an atmosphere that seems so foreign compared to the cold corporate streets of downtown Peoria. Every shop, restaurant, and bar has it’s own personality and identity. Colorful mascots and drive-thrus are relegated to the extreme ends of town.
The city follows a section of Route 66. Vintage motels wall paper the sides of the main thoroughfare. The train tracks divide the city into north and south, a bit of an inconvenience as there are approximately 90 trains to pass through town everyday 60% of those occurring during the rush hours.
Luckily, Flagstaff is an amazingly bike friendly city. Every road has a bike lane and there is a network of trails working through town to accomodate both cyclists and pedestrians. There is a bike shop for every micro brewery and more galleries than car dealerships. The city has led with it’s best foot forward and I still have many months worth of exploring to do.