After we emerged from the bottom of the Grand Canyon we took a brief glance around the village and decided we were off. The number of people and the lack of a decent meal were our main driving forces, but temperatures were falling and we only had a tent. Two days of hiking had left our muscles aching and our skin uncomfortably burnt. A proper bed was calling our name.
Consequently we found ourselves in Flagstaff Arizona, a small town with a railway and Historic Route 66 running through the middle of it. Here we were met with a real bed and incredible Thai and Mexican food. Our explorations of the town were perhaps not as thorough as we might have been, had we not adopted the ‘Canyon shuffle’! The local’s name for the interesting style of stiff walk adopted by those who have been walking up and down a cliff. It looks ridiculous and is quite uncomfortable. You also loose the ability to stand or sit down without making some involuntary noise. Consequently, we didn’t manage to hike to many of the fascinating natural landscapes that surround the town. I can however attest that the old town is pretty with lots of interesting murals adorning the wall and traditional signs hanging from store fronts, this I was able to witness from my window seat in a coffee shop.
We did however, manage to squeeze in a wee bit of culture paying a visit to the Riordian House. Built by the Riordian brothers in 1904 the houses, which are actually mansions, are connected by a recreational room where the children came together to play and the adults to party. The houses were built in a traditional American Arts and Crafts style and have to a large extent been restored to appear the way they would have in 1904. The Riordian brothers made their fortune in logging, although they were instrumental in putting Flagstaff on the map, creating banks, stores and railways in order to develop their logging business. Visiting the houses was interesting, all visitors are given a tour so were learned so much more about the family, the history of Arizona and Flagstaff and the architectural style of the house, than we would have done had we just visited alone. However, I will always struggle with the North American attitude to old though, coming from Europe, these houses were almost as well equipped as some of the flats I’ve lived in.
From Flagstaff we set off along historic route 66 towards the final stop on our trip – Las Vegas.