I have a thing for Flagstaff, Arizona. When I was in sixth grade, I was in something called Olympics of the Mind (more creativity based thing than what it sounds). We won many levels of competitions and got to go to the finals, in Flagstaff, Arizona. It was a huge deal, and we spent a week staying at Northern Arizona University. Years later, on a road trip in 96, I spent a night in Flagstaff. We stayed in a hotel downtown, walking around all evening to the restaurants and bars. It reminded me a bit of my own college town, New Paltz, but bigger. The next morning I got the top part of my ear pierced before leaving town. (This was the mid-90s before everyone pierced everything, so it was memorable.) When I realized we needed to drive south this time, to avoid too much snow, I immediately told hubby we had to go through Flagstaff.
Day 3 started waking up in a slightly bigger hotel room, a Super 8, with it’s own coffee pot… much better start. We had the car loading much more organized but with a toddler and cats, there will always be lots of stuff! For my daughter alone, we brought in her diaper bag, sleeping bag, her Dora backpack, a play carrier filled with toys, and of course clothing. The car was pretty far from the room. By 10am we were sitting in the parking lot of McDonald’s waiting for hubby to bring us breakfast out. Then the driving began.
We finally had our walkie talkies charged, so we could easily chat with each other. We headed towards Bakersfield, and first thing got lost trying to find the road out towards Barstow. After a couple of hours driving through the desert, I was having high hopes of what might be in Barstow. Maybe a store that would sell a road atlas? Maybe a drug store? Maybe a real place to eat? Turns out it took two long gas station stops to manage to fill our tanks, and we headed out with yet another gas station sandwich for lunch. I’ve been on many road trips before (as you know), and I’ve never eaten as many gas station sandwiches as I did in the first three days of this trip.
Everyone was in good spirits. I chatted with my mom on the phone for a short bit. When I told her about Barstow she reminded me of an old story from when she drove cross country in the 70s with my father, and their car broke down, in Barstow.
Still another long driving day, as the sun set we started heading up into the mountains. Snow started falling lightly. We had been warned by a friend that a storm was supposed to hit Flagstaff the next morning. When we pulled off in Flagstaff, we didn’t have a hotel in mind yet, and wasted an hour driving in circles stopping at places to ask if they had a room. Eventually hubby, reading the AAA book, mentioned the Days Inn by the college. Happily they had a room, and we had amazing Chinese food delivered. Turned out to be the same hotel my mom stayed in on that 1980s trip to Flagstaff for my competition.
Road trip rule #8: Book hotels a day in advance if possible, or at least have an idea where you are going.
Road trip rule #9: Don’t count on a town being big, just because it is the largest around
Road trip rule #10 If you are ever in Flagstaff, at the Days Inn, order the Chinese food! (Okay, not really road trip advice but it was some of the best I’ve had, and I’ve eaten a lot of Chinese food from NYC’s China Town to Seattle to San Fran.)
Continue to Part 4 – Flagstaff to Santa Rosa