On A Good Day
I have driven through Flagstaff, Arizona close to 15 times on my way to Phoenix, and in all honesty, I dislike the place. It doesn’t help that I usually travel through in the winter, and being up in the mountains, Flagstaff is a snowy, frozen, uninviting place.
I am willing to accept that most of the problem lies with me. I have my mind set, but the dislike is irrational. I’ve never had a negative encounter with anyone living in the town. I’ve not been involved in any snow related accidents, though I have seen several messy ones. Yet, my disdain remains. It has become a running family joke, the awfulness of any sojourn through the frozen waste. If there were a faster route, I would surely take it.
I thought nothing in the world could change my opinion of Flagstaff.
A band I love was doing a small, six city tour, which didn’t include mine. The best place to catch them was in Flagstaff. Ugh. I was not thrilled at the prospect, but as I was determined to see the band, I booked a cheap hotel, found a friend to go with me, and secured tickets.
It is just over 7 hours from my front door to the Flagstaff city limits. I think I complained at least seven times each hour, and the drive into town on an overcrowded and stoplight ridden Route 66 didn’t alter my perception.
The hotel was just as I’d expected, room doors facing out on a oil stained parking lot, two beds, no fan in the bathroom. Strange enough, I was surprised at how comfortable it was, and how after a quick walk around the area, I was not displeased with the location.
My friend and I drank a few beers, laughed at really stupid jokes, then walked the mile distance from our room towards the historic downtown area.
It was easy to ignore the beauty of Flagstaff when I was traveling through cold and snow, but walking towards the town center, I could not help but be struck by the landscape. The hills surrounding town were just turning green with spring growth and the breeze, though still chilly, was welcoming.
We walked to a local ramen place (never eat at chain restaurants, especially on vacation), and had some of the most delicious food I’ve eaten in quite a while. The place was tiny inside, but the atmosphere was friendly and inviting as were the staff.
I ordered a bowl called the Mic Drop. The flavors (udon noodles, various cuts of pork, house made red kimchi, amazing broth), were succulent. Each bite was as good as the first.
Vegans should avert their eyes.
The three or four streets making up the historic downtown were lively, filled with people out walking and shopping. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, and all the people we encountered at stores and shops were nothing but nice.
I kept trying to tell myself I hated it here, but as we walked to the bar where the show was being held, I had to stop lying. I was having a great time—in Flagstaff. I didn’t think that was possible.
On a good day, it seems anything can change. I can’t believe I’m writing this, but given the chance, I’d go back, stay the night again, maybe two.
The show was excellent. Boris blew me away. I did encounter some odd ducks at the venue who seemed to be trapped in an 1986 time warp. They were head banging like Megadeath were on the stage. I wanted to get video, but it was too dark and smokey.