I really didn’t know what to expect of Flagstaff…I’d passed through it once in 1995 when I took an Amtrak train cross country to visit friends when I moved to San Francisco…but I only caught a glimpse of it in the middle of the night from the Southwest Chief…just a railway station, albeit cute.
This time I visited mainly to break up the trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon…and it was a good point to transition from urbanity to complete solitude and from comfortable desert heat to winter cold!
I didn’t do a lot in Flagstaff other than buy some gear for hiking in Grand Canyon and drink good coffee at Macy’s Coffee Shop but it gave me a good opportunity to test Sacajawea for cold weather.
The issue with staying in a trailer in winter is that they’re not always insulated well and you have to take a number of precautions to protect yourself and your gear from the cold. In my case I had to disconnect the water hose because it would freeze overnight and possibly cause issues. Die-hard winter campers can insulate their hose or buy a heated hose but I just disconnected at about 10pm before the freeze and reconnected when the temp went above freezing the next day.
I also had to make sure that the spaces where my tanks are and where pipes run in the trailer were heated so that they wouldn’t freeze and potentially rupture. An electric space heater will not heat those spaces so I had to run the propane furnace that ducts heat to those areas. I have to say, all went well…I was never uncomfortable and everything functioned well. It helped to have electricity at the campsite…in a couple of weeks I will boondock (be off the grid) in Grand Canyon so I’ll rely on the solar panels to charge the batteries and allow me some creature comforts.
One unexpected sight in Flagstaff was The Lowell Observatory. I had no idea it was near here until I got on the internet, Tripadvisor I think, and it was listed as one of the most popular local attractions. The observatory has been around since 1894 and is credited with the discovery of Pluto (now classed as a dwarf planet) and the expansion of the universe. It was located on a hill near Flagstaff due to its altitude and dark sky. In fact, today Flagstaff has various city ordinances to limit the light produced by the town.