We planned to stop in Flagstaff because it was the right distance, but we had no idea what to do there. As we researched we quickly discovered there was more to do than we had time. I guess we will have to stop again on another trip!
We stayed at the Fort Tuthill County Park. We had made reservations because online it looked like the park was almost full. To our surprise the park was almost empty for the entire time we were there. Camping at Fort Tuthill is dry camping, in that there are no hookups. You fill your fresh water tank when you arrive and use the dump station when you leave. You provide electricity from your batteries and generators. This wasn’t anything new to us and we were prepared. That afternoon and evening I did some geocaching and we finalized our plans.
Our first stop was the Flagstaff Visitor Center. Here we learned a bit more of the city’s history and how it was affected by the development of the railroad. We also picked up a self-guided tour for the historical district. I love history and architecture; old buildings just fascinate me, especially when there is a good story involved. Why is the city named Flagstaff? In 1876 a group of men, known as the Boston Party, were traveling to Prescott, AZ and camped at the site on Independence Day. Being patriotic they stripped a pine tree and hung Old Glory at the top. From then on the stripped tree became a landmark for other travelers, eventually the area became known as Flag Staff and then Flagstaff. In 1881 it was officially named Flagstaff.
We wandered through the town and could see the history of old Flagstaff families by the buildings they owned and businesses they operated. Of course the best stop was for lunch at Collins Irish Pub & Grill in the old Aubineau building. This was the fourth building on this site and was constructed in 1912.
Not everything is fun and games on the road. We aren’t on vacation, this is our normal life and day-to-day activities must be done. We took some time to take the truck into the local Chevrolet dealer to get the oil changed.
After that we headed to Walnut Canyon National Monument. This is the site of ancient cliff dwellings. The first permanent residents inhabited the area from 600 to 1400 AD. They began by farming the lands around the canyon rim and in the 1100’s developed the dwellings in the alcoves of the cliffs inside the canyon. The cliff dwellings gave them protection from the weather as well as hostile tribes. We had seen the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde and the Walnut Canyon dwellings were as, if not more, impressive than those in Mesa Verde.
Today more than 100,000 people a year visit Walnut Canyon. We should all be thankful to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the National Park Service for preserving this monument for us and future generations.
Enroute to Albuquerque we stopped in Winslow, AZ to go to the corner of Kingsley Avenue and Second Street (Old Highway 66). This intersection is the “Standin’ on the Corner Park,” and is the famous “Corner” highlighted in the song by the country-rock band, the Eagles – “Take It Easy.”
This corner has joined the ranks of many famous corners. There is a mural of the girl in the flat-bed Ford, bronze statues of “a relaxed dude with a guitar” and Eagles’ Glenn Frey, and an actual flat-bed Ford at the curb. It is the ultimate photo op for any music lover.
But why Winslow, AZ? Jackson Browne started writing this song for his first album, but he didn’t know how to finish it. At the time, his upstairs neighbor was Glenn Frey, who needed songs for his new band – the Eagles. Browne told Frey he was having trouble completing the song, and played what he had of it. When he got to the second verse, Frey came up with a key lyric: “It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowing down to take a look at me.”
The real-life auto-breakdown incident that inspired the second verse actually happened to Browne in Flagstaff, but it was changed to Winslow. Why? Because in the songwriting Winslow fit better in the lyrics. By the way, neither Browne or Frey had been to Winslow when they wrote the song.
Next stop – Albuquerque, NM and the International Balloon Fiesta!