First Day in AZ

This morning the sky was all blue, the air was clear, I had few responsibilities, and life was just about as good as it can get. My objectives for today were: get my MMR immunization shot, find a good coffee shop, and maybe assemble my bike. I drove into town and wasted ten bucks at the Village Inn for breakfast –the last time I was in Flagstaff I did the same and wished I hadn’t then. I found the Staples store and Kohl’s and Best Buy and bought some laundry soap at Target. I was tired of trying to drive my car in town; there are so many one ways, and a lot of the streets have four or six lanes making it hard to turn off when I need to. And driving around campus is daunting because so many roads are closed to car traffic and it’s not legal to park anywhere. I kept getting lost anyway. So I went back to my house and decided to bite the bullet, so to speak, and unload the car and get my bike out of the bottom of the trunk. I’ll face the challenge of fitting everything back in when that time comes.

After assembling the bike I rode over to campus and found the health center where they gave me a shot. I don’t remember when I last had one, but it’s been a while. I had to stay in the building for 15 minutes afterward, so that if I had a seizure or fell over dead they would be around to watch it. I wrapped up business at the post office and financial office. I’m very impressed with how laid back and friendly everybody is here. I haven’t met one person yet who wouldn’t gladly answer my questions. Often it’s hard to leave because they get started on other topics and won’t shut down. So I guess I’m the one who is the problem. I must work on that.

I’m glad I unpacked the bike. I rode over 20 miles today around town and campus. I only got stopped by a cop once for running a red light on my bike. It was a warning, but come on, give me a break. If I really ride hard I think I can feel the effects of the elevation a little. It seems like I breathe a little harder sooner, but it’s pretty hard to judge because I’ve been sitting the last three days. The elevation here is 7,000 feet, and at the edge of town the mountains start and go nearly straight up to 13,000 feet high. When I am brave and acclimatized I will take on the peaks, but not now. I respect elevation and will let it hobble me for a week or two. The thunder storms here scare me a little. They roll in fast and then they’re gone and the sun is out again. I wouldn’t want to be on the mountain during one. It’s amazing to watch the lightning pound the side of the mountain when it storms, but to be on the mountain would be terror. The boom of the thunder is much bigger than at home, I suppose because of the rock face of the mountains and the clear air.

Flagstaff is a biking city. Every business has big bike racks in front. There are lots and lots of bikers on the streets and on the bike paths that run beside the main streets. There are many well stocked bike shops in town, and some even have espresso lounges. I’ve put flat pedals back on my bike and am getting to be a pro at locking and unlocking it from bike racks. Soon it will be ‘raw metal’ color from all the encounters with bike racks and chains. I don’t see any good quality bike locks of the kind we have in the east; only one bike shop I checked out had ‘the real deal Kryptonite ox chain’ for sale, and he only had one in stock. I haven’t seen any good locks on the street either, so I feel pretty comfortable using a lesser lock and leaving seat and pedals attached to the bike while it’s unattended.

Macy’s is one really neat café I found today. It’s small and has outdoor stools as well as indoor tables. They have ‘wiffy’, espresso, flatbread, vegan pizza, and hummus sandwiches. There’s always a line at the counter and a full bike rack outside (a good sign). There are shade trees across the street with tables under them, and shade is at a premium in this part of Arizona. I could spend all day there. It’s in the historic district a close walk from campus, as is Primo’s, a little basement hot dog seller. I’ll probably eat a good bit of junk food from Primo’s, too. Tonight though, I found an authentic Mexican taco shop close to my ‘house’ which has real Mexican tacos at dirt cheap prices. They’ve got a fresh salsa bar with jalapeños and other good stuff. Two cheap tacos are a meal for the hungriest person. I will eat here often.

And that’s a day in my life. I won’t bore you with my daily doings very often; I have the time now so I will post this for whoever can get through it. I love Flagstaff, and I think NAU will be an outstanding college to attend. I already feel right at home, and oh, yes, my ‘house’ is a motel room along old Route 66. There are three sets of train tracks across the road and the big western freight trains come roaring through here a few times every hour, but I don’t notice them because this motel is set back far enough and there’s no whistle crossing within hearing distance. The last time I stayed in Flagstaff, we had a room right by a crossing and I hardly slept at all because as soon as one train was gone, another would come screaming through. This time I made my choice based on the train situation. My house has a desk and a nice office chair and a big refrigerator and a microwave and a good air conditioner and a king size bed. I have no permanent neighbors, of which I am fortunate. I’m pretty settled in here, but I plan to move on Thursday sometime to a real apartment. That’s about all the plans I have at this point.