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Can it Snow in the Desert?

I moved frequently growing up and one of the pro’s of constant moving was seeing different areas of the states, the landscapes, weather and culture of each city.  I loved living in Los Angeles as a child, bringing my boogie board to class on Fridays to learn how to become a jr. lifeguard equally as much as I did in Twin Falls, Idaho and taking a bus nightly to Pomerelle mountain to learn how to snowboard in my teens.

In high school, we moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, where I was expecting a dry, sandy, desert oasis and found myself in an unexpected winter wonderland.  After arriving in early January, I was expected to start school shortly after, but classes and schools were canceled for two weeks due to the snowfall.  I was quickly learning Flagstaff had more to offer than what I thought.

Location Location Location

One thing you quickly learn and feel when traveling north to Flagstaff is the elevation.  The city sits at about 7,000 feet above sea level and is next to Mount Elden, just south of the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountain range in all of Arizona.  It doesn’t take long to get adjusted to the elevation but it’s literally quite breathtaking…and fresh!  Being in this smaller populated city (139K) and at a higher elevation you are able to see stars brighter than you may have ever experienced before.  It’s also only a 20 minute drive to Oak Creek Caynon, better known as Sedona. 

Sedona is regularly described as one of America’s most beautiful places. Nowhere else will you find a landscape as dramatically colorful. The towering red rocks and jagged sandstone buttes matched against an almost always blue sky have beckoned to professional and budding artists for years. Plus, filmmakers have chosen these fiery rock formations in north-central Arizona as the backdrop for such box-office hits as “3:10 to Yuma,” “Broken Arrow” and “Midnight Run.”

Get your kicks…on Route 66

Not only do you get to experience 4 seasons in Flagstaff, but another main attraction and landmark is the Historic Route 66.

A Seilgaman-based small business owner named Angel Delgadillo had observed the impact that the decline of US 667 and the establishment of the I-40 bypass had on his town.  The number of cars decreased from thousands per day to only a handful.  He pulled up his bootstraps and organized a meeting of business owners with establishments along the old US 66 and formed the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona.  Their efforts, after years of work, paid off in 1987, when the Arizona State Transportation Board designated several sections of old US 66 as Historic Route 66.  Since then Route 66 continues to collect enthusiasts and tourists and puts on several annual events every year at multiple locations.

Hub for the Stars

This city is small but mighty as it is a hub for many companies such as Nestle Purina PetCare and is home to the US Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station (NOFS).  The NOFS is the national dark-sky observing facility under the United States Naval Observatory.  NOFS and USNO combine as the Celestial Reference Frame manager for the U.S. Secretary of Defense.  NOFS science supports every aspect of positional astronomy to some level, providing national support and beyond.  OFS remains active in supporting regional dark skies, both to support its national protection mission and to promote and protect a national resource legacy for generations of humans to come.  Long story short the NOFS is a pretty big deal.

Thriving and Surviving

Does it snow in the desert, yes and then some?!  Winter to summer, Flagstaff is great to visit any season.  It has a booming tourism industry that stems from the early 1900’s from its proximity to the Grand Canyon National Park and other natural wonders, giving it the nickname ‘City of Seven Wonders’.  And if you need a break from perfect weather and local shopping you can travel south to Phoenix and Tucson and experience the desert I was expecting in my youth!

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