Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Geronimo, Winona, Walnut Canyon and Orchestra in Flagstaff

It was hot and sunny when I woke up in Holbrook. Just taking River out for his morning walk left me sweating and him panting.

I loaded up the car and took off for Flagstaff, my next stop, only 90 miles away.  Since I had so much time to go such a short distance, I took as much of Route 66 as I could today.

Which wasn't much. Most of the time it was concurrent with I-40. Whenever I got the signal, I took off and rode through town on the "Highway That's the Best."

The first place I stopped was at a ... I'm not sure if it's a town or an Indian reservation, but a place called Geronimo that claimed to have the world's largest petrified tree. Since I was jonesing for a petrified tree after my Painted Desert experience at the Petrified Forest, I had to stop and check it out.


I got back on the highway until I came to Winslow, AZ. I would swear that in some versions of the Route 66 song, they replace Flagstaff with Winslow in the lyrics, so I wanted to check it out. This town was very proud of its Route 66 connection and had all the eponymous motels, coin laundries and markets as well as a generous dose of street signage.

The temperature suddenly began to drop. Whereas it was in the high 90's this morning, it was now in the mid 80's.  Last night, I saw that the prediction for today was 109 by 5pm!

Back on I-40 I next noticed I was approaching the town of Winona and recalled from the song the advice not to forget it, so I pulled off. I also saw a sign for a Shell gas station so I was going to fill up.
I don't understand it when this happens: I followed a Route 66 marker indicating to get off the highway, but when I reach the top of the off-ramp there is no guidance of whether to turn right, turn left or go straight. I chose right since there was a sign saying Winona was that way. But after a few yards, without seeing a marker, I doubted my choice. I also noticed that the Shell station was getting further away, so I turned around and attempted a left from the off-ramp.  That was an even more desolate option as it led to a dirt road to a shooting range. So back to the off-ramp to go straight.

Oddly, that choice is the ramp to get back on I-40 and that's where I found the Shell station. I've never seen such an awkward approach to a gas station. ON the on ramp. So someone on the highway wanting gas would have to know to get off the highway at that exit and then immediately right back on. Otherwise the highway skips that Shell station altogether. I didn't end up getting gas, anyway because the highest octane they had was 89. I never saw any signs indicating Route 66 nor did I see much of Winona anyway. So in my mind the next time I hear that song saying "Don't forget Winona" I'm going to ignore the word "don't".

As soon as I got to Winona, it started to rain. Big drops but not many of them.

I was almost to Flagstaff when I saw a sign for Walnut Canyon National Monument. I know that my annual park pass includes admission to National Monuments, but I'm not quite sure what they are, so I pulled off and made a slight detour.

It was an $8 admission per person, so I was happy to flash my card and get in 'free'.


We had a picnic and explored the canyon, which was an unexpected surprise. I'm still not sure how a National Monument is different from a National Park; they seem the same to me.
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I still had plenty of time before the class I was scheduled to teach in Flagstaff at 4:15pm. And since I was only a few minutes from Flagstaff, I took that opportunity to fill up my gas tank, buy River's food and check in early to my motel room.  By that time the temperature had dropped to a chilly 68 degrees with rain.

Today's class was at Flagstaff Athletic Club West. It's the first and I believe the only place I'll be teaching on this whole trip with an address on Route 66. I taught the Orchestra routine and it was dynamite. There was a guy who was really doing his own thing. Before class, he was free dancing beautifully to the classical music I was playing, but during class, when I started getting specific with the movements, he didn't. He kept it loose and was really all over the place. I have to admit I was a little distracted by it, but I did my best to embrace it and stay focused. Once I let it go, I was able to focus and all of us had a good time.

I love this routine so much. And one of the students said something afterwards that I always think, "It went by so fast." I wonder if it has to do with the fact that there are only six pieces in the whole routine. The first half hour is only Bolero and 1812 Overture, so maybe it makes it seem like we're not doing as much when there aren't as many new songs.

At one point during class, actually several points, I was short of breath. It was a reminder that I'm well over a mile above sea level and I'm not used to it.  But I pulled back on my intensity and recovered very quickly.

After class, I was chatting with Stephanie, my producer. We were outside the club and I had River sitting on a low brick wall. People would come by and want to engage with him and usually, I discouraged them. But this one guy seemed really sweet and he approached River with a big smile. River seemed to be taking it all in stride until suddenly, I saw the warning signs and gave a quick yank on the leash, pulling him away before he could make contact with the guy. I was just in the process of explaining to him why I don't let people pet him, so River helped make it perfectly clear. He didn't connect and everyone was OK.  But River seemed extra riled up. For whatever unknown reason, he reacted to several guys walking by.

Then, a woman who was in my class came out. She had her two little girls with her. One was crying and in her arms and the other looked like she had just woken up. She was holding her hand. The standing child saw River and was attracted to him. The wise mother encouraged her to enjoy the dog from a distance but I could see that the girl was still drawn to him.  So I shook my fist right near my chest as a signal to River, which he took beautifully and let out a loud, deep bark.  This visibly changed the girl's demeanor. What I wanted to happen was for her to see the dog in a different way. And I could tell by the change in her expression that it worked. She was no longer interested in petting him, even though the bark was controlled and not directed at her. It was still strong and loud, and perfectly effective.

I'm so glad to be back in society after my night in Holbrook. Tonight I had plenty of options for food, and I have a nice, quick internet connection. Ah the things we take for granted until we no longer have them.

For dinner, I asked Siri for a burger recommendation and he suggested Diablo Burger. It took me into old town Flagstaff, which was hopping for a Tuesday night. The town looks really cute, maybe a bit too cutsie-touristy for me, but I was surprised, as I didn't think Flagstaff had much going on.

I blogged about the burger here.

I'm going to be staying in Flagstaff for two more nights while I have some classes and workshops in Sedona.

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