High-altitude training in Flagstaff

May 16, 2007 21:01 UTC

altitudetraining4.jpgLocated at an altitude of nearly 7,000 feet, Flagstaff, Arizona draws world-class athletes from around the world, who come here to train. The reason? Because there’s less oxygen up here, exercising is a lot harder. The athletes believe the high-altitude training gives them an edge in terms of speed, strength and  endurance when they return to lower altitudes to compete — though the scientific evidence on the subject is mixed. Still, many endurance athletes believe in the magic powers of thin air, and so The Center for High Altitude Training at the University of Northern Arizona is an official training site for the U.S. Olympic Team.

Flagstaff battles forest fire

May 16, 2007 20:53 UTC

Joe Haughey needs no time to think about what this mountain Arizona towns biggest worry is.

We live in an island surrounded by trees, the Flagstaff city council member said. The single most deadly threat we face here is forest fire.


(Listen to Fire Dept.’s Mark Shiery on the dry conditions in Flagstaff)

Like much of the U.S. Southwest, Flagstaff has been experiencing a drought since 1999. Upper Mary Lake, a reservoir that provides much of the towns water, is now down to 18 percent of its capacity. Trees not only surround Flagstaff, they are all over town.

From Zane Grey to Karl May: Germans on Route 66

May 16, 2007 20:38 UTC

For many Americans RoGermans.jpgute 66 is the ultimate road trip, but the 2,500 mile highways appeal goes well beyond the borders of the United States and nowhere more apparently than Germany.

We get a lot of people passing through here who want to trace the heritage of Route 66 and surprisingly large number of them are Germans, said Dan Lutzick, a partner at La Posada, a former railroad hotel and restaurant in Winslow that once served rail crews and passengers. Lutzick and his business partner Allan Affeldt are in the process of renovating.

The Germans have surprisingly detailed and well-organized guide books and they love to find out more about the history of the places they visit along the way, Lutzivk added.

Following the Santa Fe main line

May 16, 2007 20:30 UTC

Desert-train.jpgOut here, youre never far from a freight train.

For most of the journey so far from Santa Monica, California all the way here to Gallup, New Mexico, trains up to a mile long and more have been our constant companions.

Around every bend in the round it seems there is a freight train heading east or west. This is the transcontinental main line of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe only ever referred in these parts as the Santa Fe which the company simply calls the Transcon.

Trains hauling consumer goods, ethanol, lumber, automobiles, or coal, you can see them all in a short stretch of time wending their way through the desert, up through the mountains and down again.

Road signs on Route 66

May 16, 2007 20:24 UTC


Photos: James Kelleher/Nick Carey… May 14-15, 2007

Best bar in Flagstaff, or so they say

May 16, 2007 20:05 UTC

MuseumClub2.jpgLocals — including a top fire department official — insist the Museum Club on E. Route 66 on Flagstaff’s east side is the city’s best bar. MuseumClub1.jpg

We were running late for an appointment in Winslow, so couldn’t they stop in. But it looked groovy on the outside and the interior is known as a vision of hell for anyone with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals-type sensibilities, featuring, as it does, dozens and dozens of taxidermied critters. 
Photos: Nick Carey/May 15, 2007 in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Not standing on a corner in Winslow, Ariz

May 16, 2007 19:35 UTC

The lyrics seem to leave little room for debate. In “Take It Easy,” the 1970s country-rock song written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey that The Eagles recorded as their first singlTakeItEasy.JPGe, the second verse is… 

Well, Im a standing on a corner
In Winslow, Arizona
And such a fine sight to see
Its a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford
Slowin down to take a look at me


So where exactly was the corner that Jackson Browne was standing on when he wrote “Take It Easy”?

Cannes opener a risky business

May 16, 2007 16:21 UTC

As far as opening films to the Cannes Film Festival go, Chinese director Wong Kar Wai’s “My Blueberry Nights” was a risky business all round. Wong was directing in English for thJude Law, Norah Jones and Wong Kar Wai in Cannese first time, and set his story in the United States, unfamiliar territory. He also cast singer Norah Jones as the central character, an ambitious screen debut if ever I saw one. She took the plunge having seen only his acclaimed “In The Mood For Love”, and seems to have just about pulled it off. For the organisers, there was also the worry of getting the film to Cannes in time for the grand opening ceremony tonight. In 2004, Wong had them sweating in their tuxedos with “2046″, which he only just got to the Riviera resort in time. This time it was not much better. The director, wearing his trademark dark shades and close-cropped hair, told reporters he was in LA two days ago finishing the mix. Little wonder neither Jones nor co-star Jude Law have seen it yet. They get their first view at the opening tonight on a giant screen on which any flaws in their performances will be painfully exposed to a large, expectant and knowledgable audience. Rather them than me.

The ripple of polite applause after this morning’s screening was an indication that, while not exactly blowing away the press, “My Blueberry Nights”, a touching love story, will at least not be the critical turkey that was “The Da Vinci Code”, last year’s opening film. In fact, in response to yesterday’s blog entry, a reader was asking about the impact a poor reception at Cannes could have on a movie. My feeling is that if it is a blockbuster, with so many other channels of promotion and hype at its disposal, then often not much. “The Da Vinci Code”, for example, went on to gross $760 million at the box office, making it the world’s second biggest film in 2006, according to A big budget movie will certainly use good press in Cannes to generate buzz, but can usually survive without it. For smaller films, the festival can play a much more important role.

Musing on America in the Zane Grey Bar

May 16, 2007 16:10 UTC

WeatherfordHotel2.jpgA trip down Route 66 provides travelers with a rose-colored view of the early automobile era, an age that also consisted of institutionalized discrimination against blacks and anti-Communist hysteria. A reading of Zane Grey’s works connects readers with the Old West an Old West that is often free from ambiguity.

In Flagstaff, just off Route 66, the two come together at the Weatherford Hotel, where Grey wrote Call of the Canyon while he was a guest in the early 1920s.

Today, his room and several others on the second floor have been transformed into the Zane Grey Bar, as enough a place to have a drink in Flagstaff as youll find.

One of the more appealing mysteries along Route 66…

May 16, 2007 15:55 UTC

Dino2.jpgIf you take the trip along old Route 66 in Arizona, you will inevitably come across old business ventures that once enticed tourists to visit and break up the monotony of a long journey.

These are always somewhat mysterious experiences. Just why and when did the Indian trading post go under? What were those tumbledown buildings part of? What else was there besides the sign that declares Route 66 Mountain Lions?

Just east of Holbrook, Arizona, for a distance of some two miles, large plastic dinosaurs appear on eithDino.jpger side of the road in the thin desert scrub and red dirt.