During pilot training we were warned about the light-headedness created by hypoxia, so maybe this is just my distorted perception, but I’ve gradually come to the conclusion that, all other things being equal, happiness is proportional to altitude.
Flagstaff is at 7,000 feet and is therefore a happy place. Everyone wears old-fashioned baseball hats and hooded jackets, and stands in the street chatting. The air is cool, dry and crystal clear. There are sidewalks and people actually use them. You can hear birds singing in the middle of downtown, and the park I’m sitting in has mains power sockets. There seems to be a slightly worrying number of neurologists’ and psychologists’ offices but apart from that I quite like this town. Check it out on Google Street View.
All I’ve done today is walk around downtown, sit in a park doing some writing, go for a little light shopping and wash my clothes. I won’t admit to having spent ages looking for a laundromat, only to discover when I got back that my motel had a laundry anyway, because that would be embarrassing.
Since I haven’t seen any wonders of the world today and Google is providing the pictures for me, I’ll tell you a little about Flagstaff.
It’s a university town, which is always a good thing. The university is on “the wrong side of the tracks” from downtown, if that means anything. The tracks in question belong to the Santa Fe railroad, and carry Amtrak trains from Los Angeles to somewhere. The trains blow their horns continuously as they pass through the city, and believe me, there are trains running ALL night. There are 12,000-foot mountains just to the north of town, and mountain biking, camping, hiking, skiiing and climbing all feature strongly in the culture. The general atmosphere reminds me of the Pacific Northwest. Up on the hill is the Lowell Observatory, where Pluto was discovered (erk, before Ann corrects me, I mean “from which Pluto was discovered” – I didn’t mean Pluto was actually found lurking inside the observatory). I picked up a little pamphlet that tells me the Apollo astronauts trained around here too, because of the closeness of Meteor Crater and other moonlike locations, and the fact that Eugene Shoemaker had moved the Astrogeologic Studies Unit here from Menlo Park, back in 1960.
So now you know.
Damn, I feel bad about not having any photos today, so here are some petroglyphs:
A few days ago I bought a cheap tent, so I’m hoping to go camping for a couple of days tomorrow. That’ll give me a chance to think, write and play at being a mountain man (do mountain men carry laptops?). Whether I’ll be able to find a hotspot anywhere to update my blog I really don’t know, so if I go silent for a while don’t be alarmed! After this bit of solitude I’m off to the Grand Canyon, which is only 70-odd miles from here.
Coordinates: same as yesterday
Today’s sensations: Reawakened memories of being bullied in school. Feelings of joy when I get emails from family and dear friends. The heady smell of soap powder and poor people.