Where in the World is Brandon Coots?: Flagstaff, Arizona
After a fun tuesday night with great friends like Matt Glenn, Justin Golson, Syd the Kyd, Kira Morris, Mikala Salmeron, Megan Pieper, Aly Moor, Jim…errrr…Jim, and a dash of Rowdy Rachael Kolbensvik, I finally got some sleep. And, considering both the amount of cherry-flavored whiskey in my system and the amount of travel I knew I’d have to do the next day, it was a good sleep.
When I rose from my “bed” on the morning of Wednesday, September 14, I took a shower, and while swaying back and forth a bit, planned out my day a bit. I decided to wear my Nike Dri-fit “running” shorts, because they would be comfortable, and wouldn’t require a belt that I’d have to take off while going through security. My new orange running shoes would be the most comfortable while walking through the numerous terminals and facilities. And of course, anything more than a t-shirt would be over-dressing. With my clothes on, my effects packed up, and a dull headache slowly replacing my swim-head, I departed the home of Justin Golson, Matt Glenn, Curtis Kelsey, and their unofficial 4th roommate Sydney Allen, and made for my home-away-from home, the legendary City Parc at Fry Street.
But of course, I stopped and got doughnuts and kolaches first.
An hour or so later, after saying bye to some folks, and with the much-prayed-for rain starting to roll in, I jumped in my (free) rental and headed for DFW airport. It’s always very sobering leaving a safe-haven full of friends and fun to go to a place you’ve never been to before, so my ride to the airport was quiet. It was drizzling. I listened to Bon Iver, and by the time I reached the rental car facility, I had my game-face on. I was ready to board. Ready to make my way out west.
What do you think of when you think “Arizona?” Heat? Desert? Perhaps the Saguaro? All of those things are accurate, but not necessarily what you’d find at my destination. Oh no, Flagstaff, Arizona is much, much different.
Flagstaff, a city of about 65,000 people and home to Northern Arizona University (and the fightin’ Lumberjacks!). It’s geography differs greatly from the Valley of the Sun, as Flagstaff sits on the edge of the San Francisco Peaks, in the shadow of Humphreys Peak, which at over 12,000 feet, is the highest point in Arizona. The NAU Lumberjacks are well-named, because the city is absolutely covered in ponderosa pine trees, a far cry from the desert shrubbery down south. In all, it’s amazing.
When I landed in Phoenix, it was rather warm. But it was a dry heat. After taking the bus to the rental station and scooping up my (weak-ass) Jeep Compass, I made my way through the Phoenix area, where I eventually found Highway 17 and headed North, to my destination.
Just outside the city, most hints of civilization disappeared. It was, in more ways than one, a desert.
As I travelled North, the highway became less crowded, and cities were far and few in between. I literally drove for upwards of 20 miles at times without seeing a town. The terrain was rocky, treacherous even. “This is some tough country,” I remember thinking.
And as I neared the middle of the state, a sharp plateau rose in front of me, the edge of it flat like the hair of that one guy from Kid N’ Play. And later, as I came down on the north side of Mingus Mountain, I had an exceptional view of Verde Valley:
As I crossed through the valley and neared Sedona, something weird happened. It began raining. I didn’t think it rained too much in Arizona, anywhere. But yes, on my first trip to Arizona, it was raining on me. And, as I headed further North, out of Verde Valley and into another range of mountains, under cover of rain and black clouds, the terrain around me began to change. It was less harsh and craggy, more sloped. And the flora became different. Pine trees. And then, as I passed a sign that told me I had reached an elevation of 5,000 feet, the rain broke, and a rainbow shone brightly. Nay, not a rainbow, but a mythical Double Rainbow.
And as the clouds continued to dissipate, the sun peeked his flaming head out.
Pine trees!!! A forest of Pine!!!
And then, before I knew it, I had finally arrived in Flagstaff. I rolled down the windows as I cruised into town, and still being in my “running” shorts and t-shirt, I was shocked at how incredibly chilly it was. It was in the 50’s, with the sun still partially up. And then I looked around and there sat, just north of the city with its peak shrouded in clouds, Humphreys Peak:
“Mountains, Gandalf! Mountains!”
But, there was no time to sit and marvel, no rest for the weary and travelled. I headed directly to our leasing office on the NAU campus, where I worked with various people in my company (most of whom I had never met) until deep in the night.
That was a few days ago, and since then, I’ve been able to explore the city a little bit better, and take a few photos of things under clear skies.
Here’s a better view the mountain:
And here’s the view from the fifth floor of the Springwood Suites:
And here’s the view at the end of the hallway:
And here’s where I’ve been working, at our temporary leasing office next to the construction site:
And here’s the forested area right across the street:
And here’s me looking bewildered by the two TV’s in my hotel room:
So far, Flagstaff is pretty damn cool. Literally and figuratively. Which is good, because I might be here until November, maybe December.
So keep in touch!!!