From Historic Flagstaff to Symbolic Cacti: A Sublime Beauty

A classic Arizona desert scene: blue sky, saguaro cacti, and sagebrush

Sunday morning, 11:00, in front of a hotel in Flagstaff. Sunny weather with a blue sky, 74°F, fresh with a gentle breeze. The green tree leaves are swaying softly. Mountain views in the near distance with fluffy white clouds draw our eyes to them. The SUSI 2022 group of the Cronkite School is ready for our last day of the weekend trip. We board the AZLiMO vehicle, and the bus heads towards historic old town Flagstaff.

Historic Downtown Blends with a Modern Look

Having a bit of rich historical background of Flagstaff’s geography, people, culture, and development, we reach the historic downtown at around 11:20. The city looks very different with its green trees, nice weather with a moderate temperature, and structure of single- and two-storied buildings. We find all the trappings of a modern lifestyle in downtown Flagstaff: People gather at burger shops and fashion and jewelry emporia. The electric bike shop runs its business in the town. People can easily find pubs, hotels, restaurants, general stores, coffee shops, candy and ice cream shops, antiques and curios, outdoor clothing and gear, barbecue, and any fancy items nearby. There are also some corporate offices, including banks and financial institutions, along with federal buildings, the municipal courts, schools, Northern Arizona University, parking areas, and parks in or near downtown. A couple of temples and churches (including an Indian Bible Church) are also there.

Against this backdrop, a street musician performs, strumming his guitar and singing along.

A Flagstaff street singer sings along as he strums his guitar.
A Flagstaff street singer sings along as he strums his guitar. Photo credit: Bruno Pedrosa Nogueira

We find an art gallery, murals, a playhouse, public library, and book shops in different areas, which present the opulent artistic traditions of downtown Flagstaff. Meanwhile, the city looks very vibrant in the midst of a summer day. A large gathering is seen in the street market, which takes place every Sunday. People are eating street foods and buying artisanal items. Some bring their family along, including children. We also enjoy our lunch of street food. With all the insightful experiences of Flagstaff, we move to the bus for the next plan.   

People gather at a Sunday street market in downtown Flagstaff
People gather at a Sunday street market in downtown Flagstaff. Photo credit: Md. Asraful Alam

“Life is Short, Eat the FUDGE”

On the way back from Flagstaff to Phoenix, we experience mountain peaks with amazing natural scenery lining both sides of the road. At one point, we stop at the Rock Springs Café and Bakery, which is famous for its delicious pies. A huge variety of pies⏤apple, cherry, blueberry, peach, lemon meringue, banana cream, coconut cream, and chocolate cream among many others⏤can be found at Rock Springs. Interestingly, the café also has the slogan, “Life is short, eat the FUDGE.” It sells fresh fudge, made with cream and butter. Accordingly, we taste some of the flavors of pies and fudge.

The iconic Rock Springs Cafe (and now Pie Box) in Rock City, Arizona
Delicious pie at Rocks Springs. Photo credit: Md. Asraful Alam

Arizona’s Symbolic Cactus

The first weekend of the 2022 SUSI program ends with a photography session featuring none other but the cactus. The cactus is widely perceived as the symbol of Arizona, commonly seen even on car license plates. As we have a long-cherished dream of seeing Arizona’s most attractive cacti, we could not wait to get off the bus to take snaps of them. We become overwhelmed by seeing various species, from the tall saguaros to the small, flowering barrel cacti.

Our bus finally heads toward Taylor Place. We are feeling the blistering heat of summer… a weekend ends with a trip of great memories.