For the entire week leading up to the trip, I had jammed out to the road-trip playlist that my new friends and I made together on Spotify. A good road-trip playlist is VITAL so I diligently spent hours digging through my music/recent taste + my friends' playlists to see what they like to listen to. I was meeting one person for the first time on this trip and had only gotten closer to the other person on the trip within the last two months. Honestly, the process of spending time to actively listen to music and sitting attentively helped me process some feelings that I've been letting sit on the backburner for a bit too long. 
Some would say I cared way too much for just honestly adding a bunch of random songs but this is my little way of self-expression and putting effort in my friends' and I's new relationships. 
I collected the last bits and bobs of my packing + snack combo, pining about what we would possibly be doing or even how the next morning would go to the minutia. It was a combination of excitement + anxiety thinking about staying with this new close friend and someone I've only heard of briefly. Little thoughts pop into my head: "Did I overpack? What if I forget something I really need?" 
I ended up just trying to close my eyes and sleeping as best as I could at 7:30pm to avoid being late for the early morning travels to Flagstaff (2.5hr drive). 
(10/22/23) ~9:15 am
Lo and behold - I was indeed late to our scheduled 9 am. Not only late - but ALSO double-charged for my Waymo because I misread the pick-up location and had to jaywalk across a 3 lane street. I had barely missed the Waymo - literally seeing it drive away in my face (minus another 27 dollars + 6 dollars for the missed fee). After hauling ass and sweatin' up a storm booking it from my neighborhood because I live outside the border of Waymo and sitting in the slow-ass automated vehicle for an hour only built up more anxiety for the trip. Thankfully, my friends reassured me that it was all good (multiple multiple times - sorry, guys). Meeting Adrienne for the first time was easy-breezy and eased a lot of my concerns for the trip + honestly, they're just a very considerate person in general. 
We're all packed up ready to fucking rock - it's time to enter the MILF MOBILE. 
At the time, I had already been in a car for the past hour but was looking at another 2.5 hour mountain-y drive to Flagstaff. The questions, convo, and jams however just filled the big van. The time, suddenly, didn't really matter to me as much drumming along to The Strokes and MCR throughout the ride and hearing my new friends catch up and tell stories. Big part of my personal journey is about showing other people who I am and jamming/singing in front of other people. I've always been massively insecure about my nasally ass voice and singing out of tune does not help in the court of public opinion. But who fucking cares? I like these songs and I spent time choosing them - i'm going to sing them (really quietly though~)
(10/22/23) ~11:30 am
Our landscape zooming past us changed from desert to short greens to tall trees with their leaves starting to change colors - it was fucking gorgeous. Quoting Adrienne, "The Flagstaff air is about to be crisper than a Taco Bell Sierra Mist." Queue in the Baja Blast vs Sierra Mist vs Diet Sodas discussion. The nearly 25 degree temp difference from Phoenix to Flagstaff was enough to cool off what felt like an everlasting 100 degree Summer. I also didn't really have AC for the first half of the trip so the cool air was welcomed. 
We were off to our first mission of the day and a half trip: FOOD. Josephine's was selected because it had a great brunch menu (not crazy pricy :)) but also would be a nicer restaurant we could actually fit in our schedule. Liv and the gang needed to be in the venue by 6 pm to soundcheck and we had a big list of things we needed to checkmark before we called it in for the night. 
Besides being kind of a cute photo spot, our food was delicious and we got to talkin' about our lives and challenges we've been facing. We also needed a little rendezvous spot to plan out the rest of our day now that our big drive was officially over. 
 (10/22/23) ~1:30 pm - 5:00pm
Our planning was successful with a little bit of playing by ear to round it out:
1. Shop to we drop (thrift like a buncha goons) 
We had a couple of goodwills in the area (we got baited by the NICEST looking goodwill I've ever seen - it was under construction still) to hit as Liv swears by the thrifting scene up there in Flagstaff. After our hits, I would have to agree even though I wasn't able to find any good fall skirts. Funnily enough, in the shoe/dress aisle, two members of the headlining band for that night's show were shopping!! Hot people think alike. We would eventually reconvene from our first escapade: I picked up a windowpane beige button-down and a pair of white pants, Adrienne coping a sick winter jacket, Liv grabbing a gorgeous velvet dress + a photo of Tucson and more. That was clearly not enough so we hit up ABC Antiques and Collectibles - which Knick knacks and goodies kept us entertained for quite a bit. I snuck in a little gift for Liv and her obsession with velvet (still not sure if that shirt even fits but who knows). 
2. Shop for snackies + drinkies for the impending crazy night
Liv was running on empty with absolutely no sleep and driving the entire time from Phoenix and escorting us around Flagstaff the entire day so I took the wheel. The very big clunky wheel but we made it to the next part of our plan relatively safe. Another big part of our festivities was some liquor - possibly one of the nicest liquor stores I've ever been in. 3 bottles of soju + twisted tea should be enough for us light drinkers. 
3. Hotel Check-in + relax for a hot minute
FINALLY, we made it to the hotel after nearly biffing it (sorry guys for the bad driving). After some tribulations, we got checked in to our mildly stinky room (?). Whatever - there's beds and a shower and a bathroom and we can finally shut our eyes for a bit. Oh wait just kidding - Liv immediately had to get ready for the show (one of my favorite show outfits!). The night was just starting but we were all running out of gas. 
(10/22/23) 6:00pm - 10:00pm
This was honestly make it or break it for us at the moment. Liv needed to literally go on stage and perform after all of the day's festivities (the band's first performance since their EP Release more than a month ago). But not only did she fucking killed it - she brought the energy of the room up and killed it in these photos. Unsurprisingly, I loved dancing my little heart out to Viridian perform. Two of the members were leaving with their respective families IMMEDIATELY after the show (a 2.5hr drive in the dark) but thankfully, we planned to stay the night at the very least for as much rest as possible. 
After the show, there were a bunch of little social events occurring kind of all at the same time - really pushing our social batteries until we were able to take a step away from the venue to where we parked our MILF MOBILE. The air was extremely crisp after dancing + standing in the warm venue and the stars were shining clearly in the night sky. Perching on the trunk of the van, we all sat next to each other sharing the moment together. One thing to note about Flagstaff - there's a fuckload of trains. No hyperbole but there was one every 10-20 minutes. As our car was parked next to the tracks, there were the screeches and hustle of trains pushing behind us - thinking about whether or not we could freighthop on one of these bad boys. 
Our little quest for the night was to enter the Hotel Monte Vista - a haunted hotel in the middle of downtown Flagstaff. The huge neon sign was visible from miles and the bar on the first floor bustling on a Sunday night. We left behind the stars and van for a second to ploy our tactics on how to get in. The entrance and reception seemed clear enough. Honestly, this was one of the highlights of the night. Seeing my friend, Liv, beam at the sight of the hotel and being able to pass by the haunted room was something she had dreamt of doing (unfortunately not working out the last couple of times she was here). This is where I ended up taking up all of my favorite photos of the trip and something that I hope to never forget. 
I loved it. 
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