Through Phoenix to Flagstaff and Beyond

On the Thursday before the last weekend in June, our family traveled to Flagstaff for our friend Damon’s wedding. We woke early Thursday morning for our 9:55am flight to Phoenix. The flight was on time and, thankfully, the boys were much better travelers than they were on our first flight to Chicago when they were 13 months old. This may have to do with the fact that we let them watch Toy Story on some iPads and I also fed them gummy bears to keep them happy. Worked pretty well, they seemed to enjoy themselves.

Ansel & Coco on DinoPhoenix was crazy hot, 108 degrees F or so. Boy, I don’t think I could ever live in that sort of heat. After Dan got our rental car and we loaded up all our gear, we stopped at a typical Arizonan Mexican restaurant (Manuel’s) for a lunch just like Dan remembered. Then we got on the road to Flagstaff. It was a surprisingly scenic drive. We ascended what I assumed would be a mountain pass, but as we got to the top it was absolutely flat! It was my first mesa. I just kept looking around in disbelief, my whole experience is that if you go uphill what you find at the top will be bumpy– not flat as a pancake.

Looking East from Citadel Pueblo

Looking East from Citadel Pueblo

Our rental house was located in the Mountainaire/Kachina Village community, 10 or so miles south of Flagstaff proper and very near to our friend Damon’s house (and wedding location.) It was a nice little house, not too dangerous for the kids, but anytime you stay somewhere without childproofing, it requires a lot more oversight. As we unpacked I realized I really hadn’t brought any toys for them. Oops! Luckily we found some in some random drawers in the house, a doll, a pink, purple, plaid My Little Pony with wings and a unicorn horn, a hacky sack and a Simpsons ball. Good thing our guys aren’t too picky what they play with! Dan’s brother, Kevin, arrived after driving in from Colorado.

Friday we drove through campus (Kevin had attend Northern Arizona University for a year as a freshmen) and walked around Flagstaff. A nicely historic downtown.  We made our way to Route 66 (not much to see at this stretch really) and visited the train tracks. Flagstaff’s train tracks were very busy, with 3-4 freight trains coming through during the 45 minutes we were near them. Goodness! Ansel got a huge kick out of them and after they were gone, like he did with the planes, he would sign for “more”. Reminds me of this Onion piece about a toddler train junkie. :) Cormac, on the other hand, found the trains too loud and intimidating (even though they weren’t using their horns at the crossings) and wanted to go away from them or be held.

After a trip to the grocery store and a park, I left Kevin and Dan in Flagstaff to have lunch with Damon while I took the boys back to the house for a nap. Which didn’t happen, really, and caused me (and them) to have a slight nervous breakdown. Turns out I really appreciate the mental time off from the kids when they nap! That night they went to bed early (thank goodness) and Dan & Kevin went out for drinks with Damon, Renee and other wedding guests at the local tavern.

Saturday morning we had a yummy breakfast at Macy’s before we drove North to do the 34 mile scenic loop drive from Sunset Crater Volcano to Wupatki to see the Citadel Pueblo ruins. The scenic drive was incredible and though I was between the kids in the back seat, I just kept saying “wow”. Recently Cormac has learned how to say “wow” too and likes to imitate so it was as if I had a little echo in the back seat with me. :) We saw the Painted Desert at a distance and the sagebrush, cinder, black volcanic rock and red sandstone (?) make a striking and gorgeous landscape that I cannot wait to see again. Next time hopefully the boys will be a bit older and we’ll be able to stop and get some pictures! As it was we did stop at the Citadel Pueblo and walked up the trail. Quite the vista and amazing to think of the natives who lived there and built the citadel and other pueblos.

After the boys’ nap we got everyone dressed to go to the wedding. Dan and Kevin were employed to hand out directions from Damon’s house to the wedding site (at a nearby trailhead) so I strolled the kids from our rental to the wedding site down some side streets to a wildflower filled meadow next to a big rock. Quite scenic. The wedding was beautiful and short. Congratulations Damon & Renee! Everyone filed out and drove to Damon & Renee’s house for the reception in their newly redone back yard. It was a great party and the boys had a good time, running around, finding balls to play with and charming the guests. They found the ice in the ice buckets of beer, wine and water bottles fascinating, wanting to eat it, then put it back, then drop it on the ground, then put it back… Ansel also spent some time carefully removing all of the water bottles from the ice bucket and setting them on the ground. Both Coco & Ansel (Ansel more so) enjoyed climbing the brick walls in the terraced yard. Coco focused on gorging on strawberries and picking up the travel-sized bottles of alcohol that were part of the wedding favors and trying to unscrew them. Wait just a minute there! They were pretty tuckered by the time we went home.

Sunday we drove back from Flagstaff on scenic Oak Canyon Drive to Sedona. A beautiful drive, though I would be hard-pressed to pick which I enjoyed more– the Sunset Crater drive or the Oak Canyon drive. Another place worth returning to. The contrast between the bright green of the trees lining the canyon and the red rocks was spectacular. We ate lunch in Sedona and got back on the road to Phoenix, driving through mountainous desert and plenty of Saguaro on the way. The flight home wasn’t quite as smooth as the flight there, but we managed.

A lovely trip but we really appreciated coming home too.