This is part 2 in our southwest vacation recap!

Ellie and I travelled to the southwest a couple of weeks ago for a much needed vacation. I recapped the first few days of the trip in last weeks post (found here!), and today I wanted to follow up and tell the rest of our story!

Once leaving the Grand Canyon, which was absolutely beautiful and we highly recommend it, we made our way down to Flagstaff. We had reservations at our first ever AirBnB, and were able to check in anytime after 3pm. I think we were both a little bit nervous about using AirBnB, as the idea of staying at some random person's home is a little... well intimidating, so we opted to get to the house before dark. We left the Canyon a little ahead of schedule, so we decided to check out downtown Flagstaff on our way. It turned out to be an awesome decision, because we stumbled directly into an Art and Wine Festival! Unfortunately we got there a little on the late side, so some of the impatient vendors were already closing down, but we came across an artist who specializes in anthropomorphic prints, one of which we took a liking to!

Our first impression of Flagstaff was extremely positive, so we took off toward our AirBnB with a positive attitude to meet Teresa. Teresa is a semi-retired, holistic medicine, natural healing, one-with-nature and down to earth kind of person who we immediately felt comfortable staying with. Her in-law-suite was set up with a TON of maps of the area, highlighted trail guides, restaurant suggestions, protein bars, and seltzers in the fridge. It was FAR better than any hotel we've ever stayed at, for half the cost. The bar was set so impossibly high for all future AirBnb's that we were actually more nervous for the next place, because we knew it wouldn't live up to her standard.

We got up early the next day, and made the hour and a half drive to the Petrified Forest. Ellie had always wanted to see it, and I had no idea what to expect, so we were super excited. Turns out, the petrified forest is more of a desert, and extremely hot, but pretty cool nevertheless!

I do want to point out one source of amusement Ellie and I shared. Everything in the Petrified forest has pretty grandiose names, like the Agate house, Agate Bridge, Crystal Forest etc. Having now visited, I think I would use the term agate, and crystal a little bit differently. It was largely just more large petrified trees on the ground. The crystal forest had a couple of petrified logs that shimmered . . . but using the word crystal was a little overboard. Aside from that, the painted desert was gorgeous! We decided not to do a full hike around the painted desert, because temperatures were quickly getting up into the 100+ range again, but the drive was pretty.

We stopped at several overlooks, saw a dust devil in the distance, some petroglyphs on rocks, and had a pretty fun time soaking in the strange terrain. All in all, the Petrified Forest was a pretty unique place, and well worth the drive from Flagstaff.

After checking out the gift shop, (because Ellie's second favorite thing about travel besides the travel part, is shopping for souvenirs), we made our way back towards Flagstaff to the third major destination of our trip. The Meteor Crater!

About 50,000 years ago, the earth was walloped by a space rock, and it left quite a mark. The crater is privately owned by the Barringer Family (this fact amazes me, that a private family owns a crater), who has owned the property since 1903, who first purchased it to mine the land for what they thought would rich in iron from the meteorite. It turns out that most of it was destroyed upon impact, making it a failed business for mining, however it has become a pretty successful tourist attraction.

The crater itself was spectacular. Ellie and I walked up to it not quite knowing what to expect, but were absolutely blown away by its scale. The only some-what disappointing thing was that we weren't allowed to go down into the center, because they are working to preserve the scientific integrity of the locaton. I can understand this argument, except for the fact that they tried to mine in it for decades, and have used it for NASA training. But whatever. It was still cool.

Once we felt like we got our moneys worth (it cost a bit of money to get in), we made our way back into Flagstaff to clean up and get dinner. We went to MartAnnes, by the suggestion of Suz and our local guide Teresa, who both stated it was fantastic and one of the best spots in Flagstaff. We were not disappointed!

We also made a stop at Dark Sky Brewing, a relatively new brewery in Flagstaff. We ordered a flight of beer, and quickly made small talk with the bartenders. We were happily delighted by their offerings of local-flare beers with jalapeno, and also their fantastic New England style IPA, which they did very well. We were also given a private brewery tour, because, who knows they must have liked us! It was an awesome couple of hours out, and we bought some swag to remember them.

In my opinion, Flagstaff turned out to be the highlight of our trip. We could have stayed for a few more days for sure. We did not get a chance to hike the area itself, try a Diablo Burger, or really get to do any local flagstaff attractions. I guess we have to go back!

So! I was originally trying to do our whole vacation in two posts, but this became a longer post. I think I will write one more to summarize Sedona, Phoenix and our night in Vegas on Wednesday or Thursday, and wrap it up! Stay tuned for part 3!