Sunday, October 12, 2008

Flagstaff, AZ Part One

My niece, Krystal, is a sophomore at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. This past weekend was parent’s weekend and my sister-in-law invited me to go along with her on the trip. Having never been to Arizona, in the need of a mental break from life in general and always up for an adventure I said yes.

I have not had the opportunity to really get to know my niece or my sister-in-law for that matter because up until this past May they have lived in West Virginia, Utah and Arizona. My sister-in-law Loretta is Jeff’s brother’s wife. The few times I had met her prior to their moving to St. Louis, I felt that we could be close friends. Since moving to St. Louis, my feelings were justified. She and I have so many things in common (other than that our husbands are brothers)---we both love to cook/bake, we love the simple things in life and we can both appreciate the beauty found in nature. We both like organization and finding a good bargain.

Krystal is her niece that they adopted when Krystal was eleven, I believe. This weekend was the first opportunity that I really got a chance to spend time with her. She is a great girl with a fun personality, hardworking, very caring/kind and someone who anyone would be lucky to have as a friend. She has these beautiful eyes that are like blue pools, thick straight brown hair with blonde highlights and confidence not regularly found in today’s young adults.

Our flight left St. Louis at 6:15AM Saturday morning. Loretta picked me up at 10PM on Friday night, we met Jeff at their loft so I could see him before we left, I helped Loretta pack, and we crashed around midnight. 4AM came very quickly Saturday morning but Loretta and I were up and on our way to the airport by 4:30AM. We parked the car, caught the shuttle, printed out our boarding passes and made the decision to carry on our luggage after finding out that Northwest charged $15 a bag to check it. At security, we hastily repacked our toiletries into clear plastic bags and crossed our fingers that we wouldn’t have to surrender anything. I had to give up my hairspray, but oh well.

Airport security rules no longer allow outside food or drink past the security checkpoint. So once we made it through, we grabbed some breakfast and drinks. We flew from St. Louis to St. Paul, MN and then from St. Paul to Phoenix. Arizona is two hours behind us so we landed in Phoenix around 10:30AM (12:30 our time). Krystal met us and our adventure began.

Loretta and I were starving!!!! It was lunch time for us, so we stopped at Pepe’s Taco’s outside of Phoenix for lunch. I was introduced to Cheese Crisp which I absolutely adored---it’s a tortilla that has been fried and then smothered in cheese and baked. After lunch, it was back in the car and on the road to Flagstaff which is about a two hour driver from Phoenix.

Phoenix is very open, very flat, very brown and very bright. Along the drive we passed cactus, cactus and more cactus and in the background these gorgeous cliffs, peaks and rock formations in variations of red and browns. Loretta explained to me that the Saguaro cactus is a protected plant because it takes so long for them to grown and that if someone is found with one in their truck for example, they receive huge fines. The urban sprawl that we drove through outside of Phoenix was built around these cacti because of this reason. Krystal explained that we would reach a point where there would be a distinct change in the landscape from the flat openness to a hillier, woodsy area on our drive. I didn’t see this change though because I fell asleep---which if you know me is no big surprise.

Flagstaff sits at an elevation of 7000 feet so this was a new experience for me and my lungs but they responded very well :>)

The weather in Flagstaff was rainy and the temperature was brisk (in the 40’s or 50's if I had to guess). Loretta was looking for a down coat and Crocs without holes, I was comfortable in my long sleeve thermal shirt but would have been happy for a pair of gloves. We drove to the NAU campus and Krystal’s dorm first. The campus is so beautiful, very peaceful and calm. It feels and looks like the buildings magically appeared among the trees and you feel as if you are out in the middle of the forest at times. There are hiking trails through campus and the walk is quite often up and down hill.

We met Krystal’s roommate, Kristin, and her suite-mates Rachel and Ellen. The suites are two dorm rooms connected by a bathroom in the middle. Each room has two twin beds, two desks, two closets, two dressers, a book case and a small refrigerator. The bathroom consists of a counter with a double sink, a walk-in shower and a stall for the toilet. Loretta and I were staying in Krystal’s room so we dropped off our luggage and took off on a walking tour of the south campus.

Krystal took us to the DuBois Center or the “Dub” as the students call it. This building is sort of like their student union—it houses their cafeteria, an Einstein Brother’s Bagel restaurant, a small market type store, and a lounge. We took in the cafeteria (yes we were still hungry) where Loretta tried out the biscuits/gravy and some peas. I headed to the ice cream machine and grabbed a twist cone. From there we walked over to the Sky Dome to take in a Lumberjack (school mascot) football game.

I had never been to a college game and both Loretta and Krystal said that this was not a typical game. However, we did have a good time. There was not much fan excitement but we did come back with a great memory---whenever the Lumberjacks score a first down the announcer says in a very monotone voice “Move those chains…….that’s a LUMBER (slight emphasis on this)Jack…..and the crowd replies “first down”. One would think there would be some excitement in the announcers’ voice but there wasn’t.

We left at half-time because we were all three so tired we could barely sit up. We went back to the dorm and crashed HARD. We had talked about going to Sedona for dinner, then we talked about going into downtown Flagstaff for dinner, and once we hit the beds in the dorm we decided that pizza delivered was the best option. Krystal ordered the pizza, fixed Loretta and I a plate when it arrived and cleaned up afterwards which was great since neither Loretta or I had enough energy to move out of bed. To be honest I barely remember eating, that’s how tired I was.

That was day one. I will post day two for you tomorrow.
Momma goes in for her platlet transfusion tomorrow. She is VERY tired today and has the usual nose bleed. I made a German Apple Cake last night which turned out VERY yummy. We had that for breakfast this morning, Momma went back to bed, Jeff went to work and I watched football. I cannot believe that the Rams actually won a game!!!! My beloved Bucs pulled it off again this weekend---GO TAMPA BAY!.
I hope you have had a blessed day as well.

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