Our New Way of Life
After a few dusty and sandy days camping in Death Valley, we had planned a short drive east of Las Vegas for another night of tent living at Valley of Fire State Park. Over a beer at Big Dog’s Brewing in Vegas, we made the executive decision to keep the tent packed in the car and drive four hours further in search of a shower in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Our new life is full of random daily decisions, most of them focused around where we’ll stay the night and where we’ll eat or drink. Armed with the Great American Ale Trail book and The Celebrator magazine, we’re covered when it comes to searching out local breweries. Lodging becomes a little more difficult, but we’ve relied on the iPhone to search as we drive from one location to the next. While it’s a blessing to have the capability to search for lodging as we drive, it almost becomes too overwhelming given all the information we can find. We’ve tried to narrow things down by price (under $100), location (near the city centers so we can park and then walk to everything), trying to avoid big chains, and a place with free wi-fi and parking that is close to our room (so we can keep a better eye on our fully stocked car).
We hit the jackpot in Flagstaff.
Flag – as the locals refer to it – has an up and coming beer scene. Most of the breweries are located walking distance from each other and from the historic downtown area and have been branded with the Flagstaff Ale Trail.
We rolled into town at 7 p.m. still wearing our shorts and t-shirts from Death Valley and stepped outside to meet the crisp 40 degree air. Flagstaff sits at nearly 7,000 feet elevation in Northern Arizona and is one of the gateways to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. It’s part mountain and college town, home to Northern Arizona University. We immediately felt at home.
We had driven quickly to get into town so we could make it to Mother Road Brewing’s Tap Room before they closed at 8 p.m. The warm tap room / microbrewery welcomed us in immediately and we had the chance to grab a sampler and half pint before they closed. I was loving the Spiced Porter that chilly night.
Our hotel situation was not yet determined, but we lucked out by finding The Hotel Monte Vista right in the historic district and a three block walk from the ale trail. The hotel staff was friendly, lively and welcoming. We found a great deal and were given the Debbie Reynolds room, which the staff assured us was the best room in the hotel. Bright pink walls were the highlight of this room along with a framed note from Debbie herself asking for a room named after her in the hotel. It was the perfect, quirky place we had been looking for.
After settling in and cleaning up, we headed back to the ale trail in search of other local suds.
We weren’t as thrilled with the beer at Lumberyard or Beaver Street (they had the same beers on tap) so we went in search of Hops on Birch which we had been told had one of the better beer selections in town.
What we found was a great beer bar with a small town coffeehouse feel. Open mic night brought in a few local singers and the selection of both local and other domestic brews was impressive. I stuck with locals and tried a Belgian and a Stout from Wanderlust Brewing, whose tap room is only open on Thursdays and unavailable the day we visited. Could a name be anymore relevant for us?
Traveling has been incredibly rewarding so far. While we’re visiting places for a short time, we feel like we’re getting a taste of local life in many of the locations. Finding a place to stay has been the biggest time commitment and often the most frustrating. I’m just looking at is as practice for our travels to come.
I’m a few days behind in my posts given our pace of travel. If you want to keep up with where we are now, head over to the map!