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Barefoot Book Festival, Flagstaff-style

September 14, 2015

Last weekend I was privileged to be a part of the Northern Arizona Book Festival (in conjunction with Colorado River Days).

On the way to Flagstaff, I camped at Lynx Lake outside of Prescott (where I was part of a slide show/poetry presentation at an event at Peregrine Books . . . a wonderful book store!).

On an afternoon wander around Lynx Lake, I saw this inspiring “young” lady:

lady with walker reflected in lake

Here’s the view in the other direction that we were enjoying:

Lynx Lake reflection

Also–in downtown Prescott: the biggest, loudest cicadas I’d ever come across:

big cicada

Yikes! Then if was off to Flagstaff, and a fine pre-book-festival dinner with some of the poets of Going Down Grand: Poems from the Canyon (at MartAnne’s Cafe on Route 66).

Going Down Grand authors

The next day, I did some hiking at Buffalo Park at the edge of town; I was stoked to discover they had old-school “fitness stations” (that seems to have been more of a “thing” in California about 20 years ago). My favorite: the “hand ring bridge” . . . sort of what I’ve been practicing the last few months. I was pleased to discover that my ability to do it 2+ times qualified me for “advanced status” (because with several other challenges on the loop–especially the vertical rope climb–I did note even make novice status; note to self: find a fat vertical rope locally and get to work).


hand ring bridge

Then it was time for the extremely fun poetry reading: I joined seven of the 61 authors from the brand-new anthology of Grand Canyon poetry (mentioned above: Going Down Grand) at the Orpheum in downtown Flag (that’s what the locals call it) for a word-packed hour of Grand Canyon delight.

thea barefoot at orpheum

I got the luck of the draw and went first–shoelessly, of course–and to my utter delight five of the seven readers who followed  kicked off their sandals and took the stage barefoot as well. Here’s Danny Rosen, owner of Lithic Press (the book’s publisher), reading some of his fine work.

danny rosen reading

Still more Book Festival fun: Sunday’s reading at the Whyld Ass Coffee Shop, also in downtown Flag.

whyld ass cafe sign

On the lovely rooftop patio, three of us read from our essays in On Foot: Grand Canyon Backpacking Stories . . . and what an honor it was to share the stage with such experienced canyon veterans as Nathaniel Brodie and Wayne Ranney. My story about hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim . . . without shoes! . . . seemed a bit out of place in this gathering of experienced hikers who “know” that to hike the Canyon one must, no really, MUST! wear the “proper” footwear. Oh well . . . maybe I gave them a reason to question conventional wisdom . . . always my goal . . .

barefoot reading in flagstaff

(Oops . . . I guess the nice lady I asked to take my picture didn’t realize how necessary it was to include my bare feet for the purposes of blog documentation.)

Under fabulous clouds, here’s Wayne reading his helpful “On Being a Trail Guide in Grand Canyon” . . . I definitely learned a few tips to keep in mind as I continue my WFR-ways . . .

wayne ranney at whyld ass cafe

Not to be missed when you’re in Flagstaff: the Museum of Northern Arizona. I was especially interested (of course!) in the Native American “Sandals” exhibit:

Native American sandal exhibit

early southwest sandals at MNA

While I was “OK” with wearing my sandals in the museum–and around town–my feel definitely felt happiest when they were free.

And . . . speaking of happy feet . . .  this morning’s run, back on Santiago Oaks’ familiar dusty trails (for some geological reason all the Flagstaff trails seem overly speckled with tiny sharp gravely rock-ettes) was: exquisite.

bare footprint

Happy happy barefoot trails . . .

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