When me and my brother were young, my parents took us to visit my Aunt Maggie in Flagstaff. 25 years later, I returned there with Edd!
In the afternoon on Sunday, July 2nd, we went straight to the bar where Maggie works, which the locals lovingly call “The 2-Bar”.
And that’s as far as we needed to go for the reunion! My cousin Alexis and her friend Bianca were working too, during their summer off from college. Alexis’s boyfriend Shaun and his family were there, and later my cousin Dan came with his girlfriend, Lakin. It was unexpected and really nice to see everyone there.
The bar put on a pre-Fourth of July karaoke shindig. There was barbecued pork and chicken. The regulars begged Maggie to sing. And she did amazing! And we won 50 bucks in the raffle!
Later, we were all invited to a party. A couple of cowboys there tried to egg Edd on a little, calling him “Australian” and constantly saying “G’day, mate!” Maggie was angry but Edd’s gotten that from other drunks too. He just kept being polite to them.
Maggie is housesitting for a woman who only comes a few weeks every year, and that’s where we crashed all week. She called it “The Commune” because Alexis, Bianca, Shaun, Edd, me, five dogs and a cat were staying there, everyone coming and going as they pleased! While we were there, Lakin, who works at an animal shelter, even brought over a baby kitten for Maggie to foster! She loves all animals, human or otherwise.
But the comaraderie level is high here. Just down the street, their friends Randy and Pam were letting Alexis keep her three horses (and goat) at their place! They have a pool that is open to anyone anytime. Bianca’s friend Aaron lent us his tools so we could work on the van. Maggie’s boss brought her free farm fresh chicken eggs almost every day.
They share their toys too, and on Monday we got a turn taking them for a spin! Edd rode a quad bike for his first time, Shaun on a dirt bike, Alexis, Dan and me in “side by sides”, big off-road four wheelers.
We took off in a convoy down a maze of red dirt public forest trails, swinging around pine trees and shrubs. Dan drove me, steering with one hand while he had a casual beer in the other.
He started off slowly then hit that gas. When we hit 45 miles an hour I felt like I wasn’t even in my seat and I swore we were going to fly into a tree. Dan laughed and said that that was a slow ride! I think he took it easy on me after that!
Alexis and Edd both took turns on the dirt bike. It was a lot harder for Edd to start than his Royal Enfield back at home! They also got a turn riding next to Mad Dan!
Back in our formation, we went up a near-vertical trail to the top of Turkey Tank Hill. Dan pushed hard to prevent us from slipping back down! Everyone stopped at the top to admire the views and the beer.
The next day was the Fourth of July! Alexis, Shaun, Bianca and us went to Meteor Crater, the site of a meteorite impact and one of the most intact on Earth. Maggie’s friend Kat, who is a tour guide there, had told us at the 2-Bar that she could get us in for free. We joined her tour group in the morning.
Afterwards we joined Alexis when she went to feed her horses: Cherokee, the oldest at 27, Pocket, who wanted to be center of attention, and Princess, who gave me a big whiskery kiss on the lips! The goat, Butters, didn’t seem to care about all the drama. Alexis does an amazing job balancing work, school and her animals.
The typical Independence Day festivities were a bit tricky in the Southwest summer. All of Arizona was on a “Stage 2” fire alert: there was such a high risk of fire that even smoking cigarettes in public was banned. Naturally, so were personal fireworks.
However, the pyrotechnics at the nearby Navajo casino proceeded. We had to find a free spot to watch them. Alexis drove Edd, me and her Staffordshire Pitt, Random, and joined the rest of the gang in a spot off old Route 66. The show went off without a hitch.
And from the dry to the wet. On Thursday Edd and I joined Maggie at Randy and Pam’s pool. We made Mexican-style Micheladas and Bianca made homemade shrimp ceviche.
But that little fiesta was just the beginning. We all went to the 2-Bar where Alexis was finishing her shift. A few of us may have been dancing on the bar top (Pam started it). Bianca later told us that Rick, the owner of the 2-Bar, found the footprints and camera footage to confirm it was us.
We didn’t feel too well the next morning. After hours of drinking a coffee/Ibuprofen blend, Edd and I drove to Beaver Creek Day Use Area where three is a free swimming hole. It felt refreshing on our achy heads.
We took 89A, the narrow scenic drive, through the flat-roofed, pueblo-style suburbs of Sedona. The road from there to Flagstaff was possibly the prettiest we’ve seen. It runs next to a river which you can’t really see because the trees are too thick. The forest opens up sporadically and cafes and inns are tucked in among the trees.
Dan had offered to help us change our transmission fluid and we found out he could do it that night. So we drove to Flagstaff but didn’t get there until 8pm or so. Maggie ordered pizza to the garage, and some cold Coor’s Light wasn’t too far out of reach.
Dan had been working all day, but he got to work and swapped out the filter, gasket, and 6.45 quarts of fluid. He also put in a new air filter. He did a huge job for us.
Later on, Alexis and Maggie surprised me with a new hiking pack! I had mentioned that Edd had been bearing the brunt of the pack weight on our hikes because I had no backpack. Alexis told me she was going to get me one and told me I couldn’t refuse. That girl is determined! So now I have a new fancy backpack and a water bladder!
I tested it out on Saturday morning when we cycled to Picture Canyon, around the corner from the house. You can see 1000- year-old Native American petroglyphs.
The signs said the tail represents man’s link to the underworld… Well that’s one way to put it
On our last night in town we went to a party at a large ranch home in the country. We danced to a local band, drank mixed drinks made by a Margaritaville drink mix machine, and ate roughly five kinds of barbecued meat. It was a true American cookout!
Do I need to say that we weren’t feeling too well the next morning? And we were also sad about leaving. But the summer parties undoubtedly continued well after we left.
We had a great time in Flagstaff and I’m so glad I went back after so many years. I can’t thank you all enough for the food, the memories and love! XOXO