2018 Running Trip – Day 4 – Flagstaff, Arizona

Day 4 started at 5am. Why? I’ve narrowed it down to three options:

  1. My body is still on Central Standard Time
  2. My adrenaline pumps through my blood during the running tip
  3. I actually get sound sleep while on the road without two 70-pound dogs in my bed

I’ll let you make the decision.

After reluctantly leaving Chris’ amazing property in Sedona, our journey to the Flagstaff area began. Before exploring Flagstaff itself, we had a few sights to see on the outskirts. You can ask my running trip mates, my definition of outskirts might be a little different than most! We bypassed Flagstaff and drove east on I-40 to a hidden gem of a landmark – Meteor Crater. On the way, we passed the deserted Twin Arrows Trading Post. You can’t miss it with its two giant arrows sticking into the ground. I thanked my nephew Graham Davidson and pictured him climbing these and flossing at the top.

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Meteor Crater – What can I say? Amazing. It is the world’s best preserved meteorite impact site on Earth. Meteor Crater is the spectacular result of a collision that rocked the American Southwest approximately 50,000 years ago with the energy of more than 20 million tons of TNT. Can you imagine? It’s one of those sites you look at and can’t believe it’s real.

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I thanked Andy Max for his generous donation at Meteor Crater. Andy is a Fraternity brother from Iowa State and one of the funniest guys I know. I have had many memorable times with Andy that I’ll never forget. Thanks for your support Max!

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Our next stop on the “outskirts” was Wupatki National Monument. Wupatki, which means “Tall House” in the Hopi language, is a multi-story pueblo dwelling comprising over 100 rooms, a community room, and a ball court, making it the largest building for nearly 50 miles. Where food and water seem impossible to find, people built pueblos, raised families, farmed, traded, and thrived. The National Monument itself is striking, and its red color is stunning. I thanked Shane & Jenna Omann, Travis’ sister and brother-in-law for their donation. I look forward to meeting their new daughter Olive in the near future!

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Within the same National Parks Service entrance is Sunset Crater Volcano. Before today, I don’t think I had ever been in an area that has been affected by a volcano. In the year 1080, the volcano was formed and left its footprint on the area and the people who inhabited it. On June 5, 2015, a website with satellite images reported steam rising from the crater, leading to fears that Sunset Crater was erupting. The cause of the steam was later determined to be a forest fire, and geologists stated that the volcano was extinct. The lesson to be had? You can’t always trust those satellite images. I thanked good friends and neighbors Bryan & Kristin for their support. I’m really mad at myself for not including Homeboy Connor (their son and my favorite Snapchat subject) on the sign.

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We then ventured into Flagstaff, a town that comes with great fanfare. I predicted to Travis early in the trip that Flagstaff would be the place along our route where I would most likely live. Fun fact – Flagstaff is among the snowiest incorporated cities in the United States. It receives 100 inches of snow on average a year. You’d never guess that about a city in Arizona. Lowell Observatory was the starting point for today’s run, and we kicked things off with a thank you. Through the years, Lowell Observatory has been home to many discoveries, including the first detection of the expanding nature of the universe, the discovery of Pluto, moon mapping for the Apollo program to the moon, the rings of Uranus, atmosphere of Pluto, and scores of others. A quick tip – Don’t ever tell people from Flagstaff that Pluto isn’t a planet. They’ll whoop ya.

My thank you to Brad & Mindy Carlson at Lowell was a special one. Brad lost his father, Lowell, in 2017, a man who was loved by many. A loving father, great Cyclone fan, and the comedian of the century, Lowell lit up a room like nobody I’ve ever seen. This thank you felt great.

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As you can probably imagine, Lowell Observatory sits atop the city to get the views, so we began our run going down a big hill for a few miles. Strategy my friends, strategy. Along the way, we found a wonderful lookout that oversees Flagstaff. I thanked my friends Matt & Kysa Lind. Matt is a Fraternity brother who was by my side during a study abroad experience in Wales, and it’s been nice to run into Matt & Kysa fairly frequently in Ames.

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At the bottom of the hill, we ran to Northern Arizona University (NAU), the home of the Lumberjacks. I have two colleagues (Sam Eastman and Kyle Brown) who graduated from Northern Arizona, so it was fun to see their campus for the first time. I didn’t realize that NAU has nearly 25,000 students. I also didn’t realize that the campus is as long as it was. Woof. We found this fun structure along the way, and I thanked Jason Brannon. If I had a running trip donor wall for consecutive years of sponsoring a landmark, I think Jason might be at the top. Many thanks as always Jason!

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At the south end of campus, we ran around the Skydome, an impressive structure and home to the NAU Lumberjack football team. Who wouldn’t want to play in the Skydome? Such a great name! When you think about football stadiums at high elevation, most think of Mile High Stadium in Denver, the home of the Broncos. Well, let me tell you, Mile High (at 5,280 feet) doesn’t hold an oxygen mask to the Skydome (at 7,000 feet). Talk about home field advantage! Travis and I felt like the opposing players trying to run through this city. I thanked Rob & Julie Waltz again for their donation!

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In front of the stadium stands the lovable Louie the Lumberjack. I don’t know what it is, but I find Lumberjacks awesome. It may go back to attending Lumberjack shows as a kid in Northern Wisconsin. I need a bobblehead for sure. I thanked Scott Lynch again for his donation. Scott’s new beard is lumberjack-like, so it made sense.

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We ran back through NAU’s campus on the way to Downtown Flagstaff, and en route, I thanked Mario Villa again for his donation. Mario sponsored a few campuses on this trip that he was fortunate enough to visit during his time as a Leadership Consultant for Phi Delta Theta.

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A fun aspect of Flagstaff is the fact that it sits on Route 66. It has a fun travel culture to it with trains and tourists journeying through the middle of town all day long. We enjoyed a nice break at the Visitor Center to pick up up some postcards. I suggested taking the Amtrak home to Travis on Friday, but he didn’t bite.

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We then ventured into Downtown, where we would spend the next few hours. I love old signs, and Flagstaff had a few that caught my attention. How cool is this sign?! I thanked my high school friend Kristen (Stitt) Morrison for her donation. I’ve become pretty good at taking pictures in the middle of streets. You can ask Travis, or any of my past running trip partners, it’s a risky venture being my photographer for the week.

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We hadn’t had much to eat up to this point, and this was for a good reason. We were preparing our appetite for the Diablo Burger. I can tell you from experience that half the battle of the running trip is managing intake. I can also tell you that while typing this, I just noticed the DB in the burger bun. That’s fun. My goodness, this was a great burger. Four thumbs up from Travis and me. I thanked Taylor and Haley Abel once again while taking in calories.

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As we walked off the burger, I spotted a fun mural on the side of the Orpheum Theatre.

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I love meeting new people on these trips who are passionate about their work and city. Travis and I planned to spend an hour or two with Nick Irvine of Dark Sky Brewing. The name Dark Sky pays homage to the fact that Flagstaff is a Dark Sky Community. A Dark Sky Community is a town, city, municipality or other legally organized community that has shown exceptional dedication to the preservation of the night sky through the implementation and enforcement of a quality outdoor lighting ordinance, dark sky education and citizen support of dark skies. As you can tell, the skies are very important in Flagstaff.

Nick, a native Oklahoman, former high school science teacher, and fellow runner, was kind enough to show us around, tell us about Dark Sky and Flagstaff, and let us sample of a few of their brews.

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When I say a few of their brews, we tasted 3-4 of the 365 recipes that they have created during their first three years in business! That’s incredible. I had a beer with beets in it, which was definitely an amazing first and made me feel better about my week’s diet.

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Nick and I have a number of things in common. First, we enjoy beer. Second, we both undertake somewhat crazy running ventures to make us feel younger. Nick was going to run with us that day, but he was recovering from a sore IT band after scaling 40 rocks and running 40 miles in one day to celebrate his 40th birthday. You guys thought I was crazy! Third, we like raising money for great causes. Check out this fun “thermometer.” Each color is a different cause in the Flagstaff community as they attempt to raise $20,000 in 2018. Quite commendable.

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If you’re hangry, Dark Sky also has a food truck out back….

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In the barrel room, they have some great art….

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And in the coolers, a wide variety of canned pickles awaits!

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Nick, you’re the man. Keep doing your thing brother, and thanks for treating the two of us like kings during our quick stop through Flagstaff.

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Our stay in Flagstaff brought with it another amazing Airbnb stay. When perusing Airbnb offerings in Flagstaff, there was only one option in my mind – Maresh’s A-Frame Mountain View Cabin in a National Forest. After we unpacked our bags, I thanked my good friend and fellow Phi Delt Fred Reimer for his donation. Fred, please excuse your name in Sharpie. Unfortunately, I had already printed my signs before your donation, but luckily I brought blank ones to use.

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A neat fact about this A-Frame is that it was featured in an American Eagle Outfitters worldwide campaign. Check it out.

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Check out this awesome property!

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Onward to the Grand Canyon!

Still want to support my trip with a donation? Visit my Iron Phi page, and I’ll do my best to thank you along the way!

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