|Not Babbitt as in Sinclair Lewis, but Babbitt as in Bruce.|
Last time I went to Flagstaff, in the summer of 2009, downtown was rife with vacancies and slowly being taken over by Thai restaurants. This year, it's full, it's lively, and its main products are pizza, beer, and Route 66 memorabilia. It should be possible to stay for a long weekend in Flagstaff without ever tasting the same microbrew twice, and that's including having beer with breakfast. I did not take this challenge, but with the Northern Arizona University campus right there, somebody probably has.
Really, I'm distracted from any sort of reasoning by the cornice of the Babbitt Brothers building. It's the most over-the-top piece of Eastlake frippery I can recall seeing -- and Eastlake frippery ought to be a contradiction in terms, since that was a simplification and reform movement, but it's not -- and combining it with a neon sign of a much later era is all sorts of awesome. (The current business is not run by actual Babbitts but is named for the building.)
|You may find yourself with a fancy cornice...|
So I googled more generally for Kinlani, and it turns out to come up a lot locally. It's the historic name of the Flagstaff High School yearbook, the name of a dorm on the Northern Arizona University campus, and the name of an archaeological research firm. Desperate, I took a look at the dorm.
The dorm turns out to be a residence hall for Navajo students studying at Flagstaff High School. I'd figured "Indian schools" like the one in my neighborhood were long gone -- but the real answer is "no and yes." Mandatory indoctrination of the native peoples is no longer officially done, but northern Arizona is so sparsely settled that teenagers who want to be at a "big city" high school that offers college-prep courses will come board in Flagstaff.
Kinlani might be a Navajo word, so I went looking for that. The first translation I found says that it means "place of many buildings" and is thus the Navajo way of indicating Flagstaff. So these apartments would be the Flagstaff Apartments, with a hint of regionalized exoticism and Beaux Arts ornamentation... that practically runs a flag up a staff *cough* proclaiming it's from the 1910s or 1920s, an era defined by romanticizing earlier styles and the local past.
|Come, let us have beer...|
|Where Smokey the Bear waits for the bus.|
|Signs, signs, everywhere a sign.|
The bungalow court it straddles turns out to be the Motel Dubeau, which answers the question of where I'm staying the next time I come to Flagstaff, since what I really want to do is stay overnight and either have a longer trip or take the Flagstaff-Sedona shuttle and see Sedona. (My homeward driver also revealed the secret of switching from a Flagstaff-Phoenix shuttle to a Phoenix-Prescott shuttle at Camp Verde, so there's that option, too.)
|Three sausage types, no waiting.|
|Where Smokey the Bear buys guitar strings.|
So I went to a downtown arts fair in the rain -- yes, I brought an umbrella, because although my skewed definition of "sensible" allows me to just vaguely hope the bus system will rescue me, it does include packing an umbrella and a sweater -- and then decided that the only thing better than an arts festival in a rainstorm would be the Coconino County Fair in a rainstorm.
The county fair is hidden deep in the woods... but there's a free shuttle from NAU. I love fairs of all sizes, both with and without pig-racing, and will happily slosh through the mud to go to all the livestock barns. So, it seems, does everybody in Coconino County, as the barns were packed body-to-body like a bus at rush hour in Rome. The rabbits seemed a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing.
|Flemish Giant Rabbit.|
|Who ya callin' SPECKLED?|
|Fried Reese's peanut butter cups on a stick.|
I sat in the rain with my fried treats and listened to a traditional country band.
|The truck we're singing about is a Ford Model TT.|
|Three-locomotive train heading west.|
Here, Alexis demonstrates how I felt upon waking up on Sunday morning.
|There ain't enough coffee, Fitzroy.|
|Musical instruments for the very small.|
Now, things get perhaps too exciting. My Phoenix-Flagstaff driver turned out to also build dollhouses (way better than I do), and the conversation sort of veered into sort of talking me into sort of considering taking one more shot at a tab-and-slot kit, maaaaayyyyyybeeeee a Corona Concepts Primrose, which has the advantage that it's too small to get oneself into a lot of trouble. (Best shuttle ride ever. Seriously.)
I had no idea what I'd do with a one-room kit, since it is drilled into my DNA that a dollhouse must have a kitchen and bathroom, which rules out single-room dioramas (and yet, I shrug off staircases).
|Manuel and Abigail check out their new dining set.|
With the furniture in hand, I went back to the really cute tchotchke store that had handmade paper and bought gleefully over-scaled wallpaper to match. That kind of 1970s Victorian-revival-on-LSD pattern is very Flagstaff.
|Yes, the shop owner wondered what the heck I was doing.|
So Manuel and Abigail are going to have a trendy standalone dining, craft, and games hut for no really good reason other than that Arizonans get really excited about sheds. I have promised myself to have this done in time for the 2016 State Fair.
My Flagstaff-Phoenix driver and I talked about intellectual curiosity, since she'd figured out, in high school, that she could learn Spanish more easily by listening to Spanish-language music. I should really, therefore, close with a ranchero or mariachi song, but it's almost impossible to read about Flagstaff without being ear-wormed by the Route 66 song, and it's time to get that out of our collective systems.