Sunday, 11 September 2011
From the foggy wonders of the City of San Francisco, we left our hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf and headed across the Bay Bridge for a week with our friends in Berkeley. We had met Brian and Susanna in Oaxaca back in 2009 and it was fantastic to see them again. It was great to renew and strengthen our friendship and also to get to know their wonderful children, Ruby and Arlo. Big, big thanks to you guys!
They made us so welcome and gave us room in their newly converted guest room, the old garage which was known as the ‘Ping-Pong Palace’ and now has been re-named ‘Mas Afuera’. We had a relaxing week there and mostly just hung out and walked around Berkeley and the ‘Cal’ university campus sampling the splendid bookstores and coffee shops in the downtown area.
Fran has been suffering with a bad chesty cough and I had injured my shoulder lifting heavy luggage so it was a good place for us to relax and heal a bit too.
30,000 students descend on Berkeley every September and this was just starting to happen when we were there. The entrance to the campus was full of stalls advertising societies and clubs, there was even a chance to be photographed with giant bees!
Brian and Susanna were great hosts and we had some fine evenings with some fine food and conversation and even a chance to jam with Brian’s band which was great fun too.
After a week in Berkeley we said our emotional goodbyes and Brian kindly took us to San Francisco Airport for our trip to Flagstaff. I spent ages on the internet checking in and printing off our boarding passes and paying for luggage (pah!) I thought I was very efficient and marvellous… We were up at 6.30am and arrived at the airport in good time only for me to realise that I’d got the time wrong on the tickets and our flight was not 9.45am, but 12.10pm! Oh how we laughed, only 3 hours unnecessarily hanging about in an airport (idiot).
Eventually we made the flight (including v. small ‘Dash 8’ turboprop plane from Phoenix which sounded like a lawnmower), arrived in Flagstaff, Arizona and installed ourselves at our lodgings for the next five days. The Weatherford Hotel is a charming, well restored old style ‘Victorian’ place and we had a room on the 2nd floor by the balcony (see pic above) and right next door to the bar and free popcorn machine – the cheapest room in the house…
Being right in the heart of downtown Flagstaff, the Weatherford is a very popular place and the bar got pretty busy, so by Friday night the place was hummin’. Outside our window and door we were surrounded by revellers until 2am , something we would usually have joined in with but F was feeling pretty rough with her cough and we thought we’d have a quiet night, Hah!
We liked Flagstaff a lot, it is high (7000 feet) and has seasons and sun and spectacular thunderstorms and snow in the winter. Even though we were only there for a few days it became very appealing. There are a lot of interesting galleries, live music and good quality shops and the place has a relaxed and friendly vibe. Fran did a lot of exploring and talking to people, enjoying the hippy cowgirl feel of the place, whilst I got down to a bit of work which came in from London.
On the day of our departure we were rudely awoken at 6am by a flotilla of classic American cars flooding square square blocks for a weekend rally. When we finally made it down to breakfast after a pretty sleepless night (see above), we were greeted by the sight of all these fantastic shiny automobiles and their proud owners prowling about checking under the hoods and feeling the upholstery of their rivals. It was quite a sight and a good way to leave Flagstaff and drive off in our new hire car up to the magnificence that is the Grand Canyon…
See you soon