Grant McGee: Local Columnist
I make no apologies for feeling the need to get out of Clovis every now and then on a road trip.
I wanted some mountains, I wanted a break from the heat. Flagstaff, Ariz., is known for being cool. It’s directly west of us once you get up on I-40.
So my friend Road Buddy and I rolled out of Clovis one recent Saturday morning.
There was a pack of smokes in the console of Road Buddy’s car. Road Buddy said they belonged to a previous passenger and needed to be tossed.
“Why waste them?” I asked. Road Buddy doesn’t smoke, neither do I. “Let’s leave them at the truck stop in Santa Rosa.”
I wrote on one side of the pack, “HAVE A SMOKE” and right below that “PLEASURE YOURSELF.”
“Nobody will smoke those, they’ll think there’s something in them,” Road Buddy said.
I left the pack in the truck stop game room.
On the interstate, Road Buddy started getting tense and anxious.
“Relax and get into the Zen of the interstate,” I said.
“Zen of the interstate?”
“Regard your vehicle as a surfboard and the interstate as a river, therefore much like life.” I made surfing, wavy motions with my hands.
“Sometimes the river flows smoothly and there are no problems, other times there are giant boulders in the way like that 18 wheeler in front of us and you surf around them. If you expect everyone on the interstate to behave as you feel they should, you will be disappointed.”
Road Buddy uttered some words I can’t reprint here and kept zipping down the road yelling and gnashing teeth.
When Road Buddy and I arrived in Flagstaff, 540 miles from Clovis, there was still snow on the 12,000-foot San Francisco Peaks.
Downtown Flagstaff is an amalgam of clothing shops (new and used), gift shops, bicycle shops, outdoor gear stores, art galleries, eateries and bars. In the center of town there’s Heritage Square where they show outdoor movies, have concerts and such. Many of the events are sponsored by businesses, business groups, doctors or other professionals.
That Saturday evening there was a jazz quintet playing off in the corner, four guys were playing hacky-sack in the center of the square, kids were running around screaming and playing, folks were sitting around eating ice cream from the shop off the square.
Road Buddy and I sat in the square and pondered what it would take to have such an active downtown in Clovis.
I had one of the most relaxing, satisfying road trip weekends ever.
The time came to leave Flagstaff — a town full of bicycles, a town where the waitress at the diner asks if you want white, whole wheat, 12-grain or sourdough toast with your meal; a town with a vibrant downtown; a town of cool air and bright blue skies.
Watching the San Francisco Peaks fade in the rearview mirror, I pondered a Flagstaff life.
“It’s different when you visit compared to living there,” said Road Buddy.
“Yeah, you’re right.”
It was good to be heading home to Clovis.
Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: