When my girls were younger, we loved heading into Tempe on weekend mornings to hit a little creperie that used to live on Mill Avenue. They loved watching folks pour the batter for paper-thin crepes they’d later eat with warm butter, cinnamon and sugar as we sat on a comfy couch playing board games or reading from an odd assortment of local papers.
I recalled those board game days while driving to Flagstaff last weekend with Lizabeth and two of her friends from high school. One recently celebrated a birthday and Lizabeth had chosen a board game as her birthday gift. They unwrapped it in the car and played for most of what should have been a trip to Prescott.
Instead, we ended up missing the turn off and heading farther north for what we’ve affectionately dubbed our “eight hour drive to Prescott.” I like to think that the Pokemon made me do it. Somehow a “smart phone” blasting the Pokemon theme song in five languages, plus rap, made it to the center console of the car we’d borrowed from James’ parents for the trip.
It all went horribly wrong somewhere between Hebrew and Portugese – but we made the best of it. Like me, one of Lizabeth’s friends finds the sight of trees intoxicating. The higher our elevation, the more spellbinding the green. And so I decided to push ahead instead of turning around.
The girls called a friend at NAU and suggested an IHOP rendezvous, but she’d just paid for Wi-Fi elsewhere and didn’t want the cash to be for naught. Just another sign I was traveling with a generation experiencing the world in sometimes tough to translate ways. Still, the trip to Flagstaff proved a delicious detour when I stumbled on a creperie well worth the drive.
I chose a crepe with bananas, strawberries and chocolate chips – which melted into chocolate heaven when placed in a delicate crepe crafted by the “thumbs up guy” in one of my photos below. I like to think of him as the food artisan who got my visit to Flagstaff during “Artists’ Open Studio” weekend off to a delicious start.
I hit several outdoor courtyards sporting colorful wall murals, unique combinations of sculpture and seating, and shops filled with artisan wares of the non-edible variety. The caramel apples dipped in coconut or M & M candies displayed in a storefront window don’t quality as art, but I was pleased to stumble on them – drawing inspiration for future adventures in home “cooking.”
I enjoyed the photography of Steve Barth, a Jersey-born Air Force veteran who recently relocated from Salt Lake City to Flagstaff. And jewelry by ceramic artist Karen Myers – both spotted at The Artists’ Gallery in historic downtown Flagstaff. It’s full of fun finds for folks seeking unique holiday, birthday or teacher gifts.
A shop called The Rainbow’s End beckoned me with vintage clothing and a hip assortment of shoes and handbags akin to The Shoe Mill in Tempe – including the mustard-colored satchel I bought to replace a new tote Jennifer took to ASU before I had a chance to use it.
A place called Crystal Magic, which describes itself as a “resource center for discovery and personal growth” — with its many offerings related to Eastern religions and philosophy — reminded me at once of both Jennifer and my mother. Shelves full of fairies reminded me of all those Shakespeare works enjoyed with Lizabeth.
I explored a local bookshop and music store too — something I try to do in every town I visit, an homage of sorts to our own Hoodlums Music and Movies and Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe and a way to support the local folks who keep print and music treasures alive.
Soon it was time for the trip back to Prescott so I headed to Late for the Train, where I found both espresso and counters faced with corrigated aluminum covered in loads of liberal bumber stickers quoting everyone from John Lennon to Napoleon. Also The Rendezvous, where we got directions on finding our way back to the freeway.
I’d asked the girls find directions on their cell phones, forgetting for a time that it’s still possible to simply ask another person, face to face, for assistance — cementing in my mind something I’ve long suspected. I’ll never be cut out for “The Amazing Race.”
Note: The colorful cat sculpture included in this slide show is part of the Coconino Coalition for Children and Youth “Promoting Assets with Sculpture” (PAWS) program. Learn more at www.coconinokids.org. Find Old Town Creperie at www.oldtowncreperie.net and The Artists’ Gallery at www.flagstaffartistsgallery.com.
Coming up: Zoo tales & curious critters