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Is Your Realtor Qualified? Part 3 of 4

by Gary Nelson

AZ Trail Section: Portion of 33

Distance: Approximately 8.1 Miles

Begin Point:  Schultz Creek Parking Area (35.244835, -111.661253)

End Point:  Sinclair Wash Duck Pond (35.183547, -111.631205) or Sam’s Club.

Highlights:  Rocky Ridge Trail, Buffalo Park, The Dale Shewalter Memorial, Switzer Mesa, Flagstaff Urban Trail System

Difficulty: Easy

This is a great, easy hike through the forests in and around Flagstaff!  You will start at a Forest Service parking area, located about ¼ mile north of the intersection of Schultz Pass Road and Mount Elden Lookout Road in rural northwest Flagstaff.  This parking area is extremely popular with the Flagstaff locals as it has access to about 6 trails that head off in 3 or 4 directions from there.  Parking spaces may be a bit limited, but you can head north or south a few hundred yards and be fine.  From the road intersection, proceed north on Schultz Pass Road.  Just after crossing the cattle guard will be a road to the right that leads to the parking area and the trailhead.

Today’s trail will head almost due east.  You will take the aptly named Rocky Ridge Trail which rises slowly in elevation and meanders along the south side of the Dry Lake Hills north of Flagstaff.  You will have great views of rural north Flagstaff off to the south and be surrounded by those tall Ponderosa Pines that make Flagstaff home.

After about the 2 mile point, you will cross Mount Elden Lookout Road.  This road accesses the top of Mount Elden which looms ahead and to your left.  At about 9300 feet in elevation, Mount Elden is a volcanic dome mountain.  It is essentially a giant volcano that burped up, but never erupted in the traditional sense, but lava flowed outward through vents.  Mount Elden is a very popular hiking and training destination and has 5 or 6 great hiking trails that are easily accessed from Flagstaff neighborhoods.  It also features fairly steep elevation changes and is popular for high altitude endurance training.

After crossing Mount Elden Lookout Road, you will meander southwest around the base of Mount Elden and eventually head almost due south into Flagstaff.  At about the 4.3 mile point of today’s hike, you will enter the north end (or back entrance) to Buffalo Park and are now inside Flagstaff city limits.  You are traversing what locals call McMillan Mesa and have moved from a Forest Service trail and are now in the Flagstaff Urban Trail System known commonly as the FUTS Trails. 

Buffalo Park is a City of Flagstaff walking and running park that is known for its sweeping views of the mountains and hills to the north.  It is located about mid-city in the north end of Flagstaff and is very well known to runners and walkers alike.

Buffalo Park started out as a wildlife park and old west town in the early 1960’s and was created by a committee of local business people with help from the City of Flagstaff.  Here is a great blog on the history of Buffalo Park:

The park was the inspiration for the movie “Bless the Beasts and The Children” which came out in 1971: which had a featured song of the same name performed by The Carpenters:

In the late 1960’s, several Buffalo escaped the park and were discovered grazing at Flagstaff’s Sechrist Elementary School, which caused quite a stir with the school kids, including myself!  I still remember the massive piles of Buffalo dung that lingered a few days. And I will never forget the then Principal of the school, Tony Gabeldon, trying to build up the courage to chase off the buffalo and failing.

By 1969, the park had closed and the animals had been sold to other attractions.  The park was basically deserted through the 1970’s and was mostly used by my friends and me to stage BB gun wars and weekly adventures.  I grew up within a mile or so of there and it was basically our side-yard growing up in Flagstaff, AZ.

On your hike south through Buffalo Park, pause near the entrance not only for water at the water fountain, but also to take the time to walk east and visit the memorial to Dale Shewalter, founder of the Arizona Trail.  It was Dale’s idea in 1985 to create a trail that spanned Arizona from north to south traversing the best that the state has to offer.  He passed away at the age of 59 in 2010 after a fight with cancer, and missed the final touches on the Arizona Trail, but knew it would be finished…and it is!

I was lucky enough to have actually known Dale Shewalter as he was good friends with my older brother, John Nelson of local Forest Service fame.  I have a hand carved walking stick that Dale gave me as a thank you for helping him move his father into a retirement community in Sedona.  Dale’s father made the walking stick and Dale finished it for me and carved my initial “G” at the top of it.  To this day I use it (although sparingly so that I never lose it) and it is my goal to be using that walking stick when I hike to both ends of the Arizona trail, Mexico and Utah.  Here is some info on Dale: and also

After thinking on this great man a bit, head south and out the front entrance of Buffalo Park.  After about a half mile, you will take a magnificent bridge over Cedar Avenue in north Flagstaff.  This bridge was funded by Flagstaff voters and is another great tribute to the Arizona Trail and its founder.  From the bridge you will hike south on the FUTS trail through and around Switzer Mesa and will have great views of a lot of Flagstaff and it’s neighborhoods with hills and mountains mostly to the north.  At the south end of the mesa, you will drop down through Ponderosa Paine and Gambel Oak groves to Route 66 at mile point 7.1.  Pause for a moment as you wait for the crossing signal and wonder that this is truly Route 66, the Mother Road, and the heart of America.  You only get to cross it once on the Arizona Trail, and this is the spot!

As you head south across Route 66 and the railroad tracks almost immediately you will come to the Trails underpass underneath one of Flagstaff’s busiest intersections.  This is another big investment that the people of Flagstaff have made in the Arizona Trail!  Continue west on Butler Avenue for a block or 2, turn south on Babbitt Way and the end of today’s hike is near!   You will either stop at that Sam’s Club parking lot where your car is parked or will continue following the markers to the actual end for today, the pond of reclaimed water at Sinclair Wash in South Flagstaff.  Although treated to as high a quality as the City of Flagstaff can make it, it is treated effluent and the water behind you at any mini-mart or fast food restaurant will serve you much better!  

Flagstaff's Top 3: Best Places For Boys Night Out

by Gary Nelson

Flagstaff's Top 3: Best Places For Girls Night Out

by Gary Nelson

Cuvee 928


​Vino Loco



Flagstaff's Top 3: Pizzerias

by Gary Nelson


The Best Pizza I Have Ever Had

The best pizza I have ever had in my life was in Long Island, New York, hands down.  Not Manhattan, not Chicago...Long Island.  My good friends Kenny and Phyllis Nelson (not related to me, but should be) were wrong about it, though.  Kenny said if you have a slice of Grandmas pizza at Umberto's (not King Umberto's) in New Hyde Park, NY that it will be the best pizza you have ever had in your life.  And by the way, a slice of Grandmas Pizza from Umberto's was featured on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the Food Network.  Additionally, it is the official and favorite pizza of the lowly New York Giants of the NFL.  But, my friend Kenny was wrong. And the reason he is wrong is...because the pizza with vodka sauce is better!  Here is a link to the best pizza you will ever have:

Click Here For A Link To The Real Deal!

But, we don't live in New York, we live in Flagstaff, AZ.  And by the way, New York doesn't have very good Navajo Tacos.  So there, New York.  However, you can get some pretty good pizza here.  By my friends standards, I am not sure how they would rank against New York or Chicago. Or if it would compare to Pizzaria Bianco in Scottsdale, which many food blogs and food networks think is the undisputed best Pizza in the US. It's not as good as Umbertos in Long Island, but it is delicious.

But, let's get to it.  Here are 3 pizza joints in Flagstaff that will not disappoint (Unless your last name is Nelson and you live in Long Island):



Click Here For A Link To Fratelli's Website!

Click Here For A Link To The Tripadvisor Review Of Fratelli's! 

​Fratelli's Pizza has 2 locations in Flagstaff and will soon have another!  Early in 2017 (or maybe midway, since they are taking their sweet time), we will see Fratelli's expand to a third location at 1850 N. Fort. Valley Road (Highway 180 to you flat landers), next to Late For The Train.  This location has been several restaurants that haven't made it, but Fratelli's will succeed there. Northwest Flagstaff needs a good pizza place and the locals, skiers and tourists alike should make it a go.

Fratelli's is what I would classify as a good pizza parlor.  It's not as dynamic as the next 2 on this list, but it is a good solid choice, won't break your wallet and is better than everything else in Flagstaff!  But don't get that last sentence wrong, you can get very good pizza at Fratelli's.  If you are a little adventurous with the menu, it gets very good.  I love the Route 66, which is a spicy BBQ Chicken pizza.  As a few of you know, I love BBQ and wish they had a better sauce, but this is one fine pizza!

Fratelli's Rout 66

Give Fratelli's a shot at either location and support the new one when it is open.  The owners always support local charities and schools and also have Mama Burger, down the road.


Fat Ol​ives

Fat Olives is an offering by the owners of Salsa Brava which is a long-time Mexican restaurant here in Flagstaff.  Fat Olives has been in business around 4 years now, and has gathered quite the following, it seems.  I know that when I am there, the place seems very busy.  Located at 2308 East Route 66 in Flagstaff, it serves thin crust Neopolitan style pizza that is wood fired.

The pizza is very good and the crust has that salty, chewy, crunchy and charred flavor that makes this style of pizza irresistible​.  As for me, I order the Arrabiata which has Marzano tomato sauce, mozarella, basil and a spicy sausage.  It has a pretty good kick, but I like spicy food.  The Margherita pizza is also very good, and you can judge a good pizza place by how well they can make a Margherita pizza.  In New York, a pizza place can be judged by how good your Grandma's Pizza is.  Out here, maybe a Margherita.

Click Here For A Link To The Fat Olives Website

Click Here For A Review On Tripadvisor!

And by the way, this is another restaurant in Flagstaff that supports charities.  You will always see their support of Special Olympics and other causes and it makes me want to support then as well!




This is another high temperature, Neapolitan style pizza restaurant that is smaller than Fat Olives and pretty much sticks to pizza.  In the pizza wars of Flagstaff (if there were any), I would personally give the nod to Pizzicletta. I think that many others would as well, as they have a cult following here in the Northland.  I will point out that they are across the street from Fratelli's south side location and both are surviving, so that is a testament to both places, I would think.  Totally different styles of pizza, but they do survive!

Click Here For A Link To Pizziclettas Website!

Click Here For A Link To A 10 Best In Arizona Blog That Includes Pizzicletta!  

Click Here For A Link To A Tripadvisor Review!

As I said above, you can judge a pizza place by how good there Margherita pizza is.  On my most recent visit (last night), that is exactly what I did.  It was chewy with that perfect salty char that balances with the tang of the pure tomato sauce and the creaminess of the house made mozzarella.  It was very good!  

Pizzicletta Oven

So, in the grand scheme of things, you really can get good pizza in Flagstaff!  And before my friends start squeaking about why a certain place known for their slices isn't on this list, it's because the slices are just OK, and not great.  The above are much better no matter how you "slice" it!

And the same can be said for a place known for a different style of east coast pizza.  It's good, but not great and I think it's obvious that the employees love to party a little too hard for me. 

Next up will probably be a blog dedicated to the top 3 burgers in town which may be followed by the top 3 places for girls night out and then boys night out! Stay tuned!


Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at

The Arizona Trail

by Gary Nelson

The name is reminiscent of an old western.  Tex Ritter starred in the 1943 movie of the same name. It was the story of a man and his sidekick returning home to rescue the family ranch from unseen forces. Today, The Arizona Trail is a meandering 800 mile hiking and horseback riding trail that stretches from Mexico in the south all the way to Utah at Arizona’s northern border.

Arizona Trail Sign

 And what a trail it is.  It traverses the state and takes the adventurous into what Arizona is all about. Vast open spaces and a diverse ecology that is uniquely Arizona. From the rolling oak covered hills and canyons of Arizona’s border with Mexico, through the rugged southern deserts, up along the Mogollon Rim and into Arizona’s alpine highlands. From here it circles Arizona’s highest vistas, crosses wind-swept high desert plains, travels deep into the Grand Canyon and then crosses the forested hills of the Arizona Strip until finally finishing at the Utah border.

The trail was the brainchild of the late Dale Shewalter, a Flagstaff grade school teacher who traversed the route in 1985 and dreamed of an interconnecting trail system that would stretch the distance of the entire state. His vision eventually did become The Arizona Trail.  I had the honor of knowing Dale quite well, as he was good friends with my brother.  I have a walking stick that his father made.  Dale carved the initial “G” into the top and gave it to me when I helped him move once.

Here is a great article on Dale in Flagstaff's Arizona Daily Sun

Started in the late 1980’s, the Arizona Trail is finished now and only small portions have yet to be improved even more.  Through National Forests, National Parks, State Trust lands and BLM lands, the Arizona Trail has been going for 25+ years and 800+ miles.

2 parts of the trail run right through the heart of Flagstaff and it also wanders through its nearby forests as part of Flagstaff’s Urban Trail system.  Many Flagstaff residents utilize sections of the Arizona Trail as part of walking their dog or teaching their children to ride a bike.

Perhaps you will get a chance to hike some of its grandeur or set a life-goal of walking the entire length in stages. The Arizona Trail will reward you with a deep understanding of what Arizona truly is: A rugged landscape of beauty and adventure. To gather information on a passage of the trail near you, visit the Arizona Trail Passages page.  For more information and current trail conditions, check out The Arizona Trail Associations website.

As for me, it is now one of my life goals, a bucket-list item, if you will.  I have set a goal of wandering the entire length and have about 40 miles of it complete as of this writing.  I will be using that walking stick that Dale Shewalter gave me decades ago as I finish this goal.  It may take me years to do, but it has been a blast so far!  I will be writing about each leg of my journey from the viewpoint of someone hiking the trail in “day hikes”, shorter 7 to 15 mile legs of this wonderful Arizona Trail.  Stay tuned and I will update you on our progress on this blog!

 Happy wandering!


Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at

The Arizona Trail For Day Hikers: An Introduction

by Gary Nelson

This is my second blog in a series on the Arizona Trail that I will write as I hike the entire length of Arizona, top to bottom, from Utah to Mexico.  If you have not read my previous blog post on an introduction to the Arizona Trail, you can find it here.

The Arizona Trail North To Utah

I will write as I go from the perspective of someone who is experiencing almost all of it for the first time and also from the perspective of a day hiker.  To hike all 809 miles of this awesome trek all at once, or even in passages would be…amazing to do. It would be very reminiscent of the movie, “Wild” where Reese Witherspoon’s character traverses the length of the Pacific Coast Trail banishing her inner-demons along the way.  But no, I don’t have time for that nor does my right knee relish its old high school track injuries.  Maybe you don’t have that kind of time either and that is why you are still reading this.  Regardless, for many people, breaking up an 809 mile hike makes sense, I am sure.

I also am lucky in that I don’t have any inner demons to purge like Reese Witherspoon’s character in “Wild” had and therefore, I won’t subject any of you to very much drama.  I will do this in stages and it may take a while, but as of this my first writing…I am about 40 miles along the way after a little over a month of weekend hikes.  Most “legs” or “Stages” that I will write about will be 7 to 13 miles in length.  That is a fairly good morning hike for most people or…it is for me!  As time goes on, I know that I will need to plan some multi-day back packing trips to explore the remote parts of the State that is traversed by the Trail, but for now, it is great to be able to do this huge goal in small bites.

The Arizona Trail near Flagstaff

Also, I am very lucky to live in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Flagstaff is a day hiker’s dream location. The Arizona Trail runs right through the heart of Flagstaff and utilizes the Flagstaff Urban Trails System (FUTS Trails) which features spectacular scenery in Flagstaff on a very nice trail surface.  Here is some great info on Flagstaff’s FUTS trail.

Therefore, I will be using Flagstaff as a center for these writings as most of the people that might read my blogs live there too.  If you live somewhere else, just search through my blogs for a Stage of the trail that appeals to you and start there.  Also, I would recommend the official Arizona Trail website for Passages. 

However, the Passages section on is broken down into 30 to 50 mile sections, which is very hard for a day hiker to do.  So what I will concentrate on is to try to convey the easiest way to use the AZ Trail in smaller, more manageable legs that I will call Stages.  This will include information on where I started, where I stopped and where I left a car.  This will be extremely important, of course, when it comes time to come back home again!  A turn around spot, a place to drop a car for pickup or a place to be picked up by a friend will be very, very important to the success of your hike, so plan accordingly! At the end of each blog I will also give you an added bonus:  A recommendation for a great place to grab a bite to eat!  After hiking all morning, a great restaurant is a very welcome reward for yourself, and I know some great places.

I would be remiss if I did not remind you to BE PREPARED for hiking anywhere and everywhere.  Maybe it’s the old Boy Scout in me that spent so much time hiking the Grand Canyon, Havasupai and other parts of Arizona that makes me try to be prepared for ANYTHING that comes my way.  My Camelpack is loaded and quite heavy even for a day hike.  I prepare for maybe getting lost or being stuck in the wilderness for several days, even if I am only gone for a few hours.  Prepare for the worst.  I use my Camelpack as a “bug-out bag” and make sure it is loaded for almost any emergency I can think of.  From a first aid kit, to a survival kit it is loaded.  When I hike, I am not only trying to be prepared for a blister on my foot, but also a change in the weather I didn’t know about or even personal safety.  You never know who else might be on the trail.

So…first make sure that you are healthy and fit enough to do the hike at all.  Get a physical if you haven’t had one recently.  Talk to your doctor about your health.  From there, here is a great resource for hints on how to be prepared for hiking and back packing:

That’s it for this blog. My next will be about my first Stage of the Arizona Trail:  Flagstaff.  That first hike was in August of 2015, so hopefully future blogs from me will explore other sections of the AZ Trail both north and south from Flagstaff, and in the order I did them.  At this writing, I have at least 5 Stages of the trail to talk about, so be patient with me and you will see some great photos of what I have seen on the trail along with some information that might help you with your own trek along Arizona’s great trail.


Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at

Flagstaff's Top 3: Small Plate Restaurants

by Gary Nelson

My last blog on Flagstaff Top 3:  Fine Dining caused a bit of a stir, as did a blog I wrote Flagstaff Top 3:  Mexican Restaurants For Breakfast Or Lunch a couple of months ago.  So, I thought I would appease a few people by taking a few of their suggestions and write a new blog on Small Plate Restaurants.  Now, strictly speaking, at least one (if not 2) of these are not really in a "Small Plate" category, but...they are good restaurants and don't quite fit under "Fine Dining" or anything else I can think of.  So, maybe this blog should be Flagstaff Top 3:  Places You Should Try From This Blog!

So, here goes:


Tinderbox is one of those places that is very good, but you don't really know where to categorize them.  Excellent food, but not quite "fine dining" as the atmosphere is much more casual.  "Flagstaff casual", as many of my friends would say.  But, as I said, it is very good.  So...that is why I am putting it in this blog.


Tinderbox describes itself as American comfort food and that pretty much sums it up.  I had the duck last time I was there and it was great.  Next door is Tinderbox Annex and the burger special of the day is what you want to have there.  But, order early as they typically sell out quickly.  The locals pretty much buy up the burgers at Annex.

Tinderbox Kitchen is grouped with Tinderbox Annex and the Tourist Home and provides 3 great places on South San Francisco Street in south Downtown Flagstaff. All 3 are fun places to grab a bite to eat.  Tinderbox Kitchen for dinner, Annex for drinks or happy hour with friends and Tourist Home for deli items, lunch or to go food.  Give any of them a shot!

Here is a link to their menu:  Tinderbox Kitchen Menu

Here is a link to Yelp's Review of Tinderbox Kitchen.

And a review on Tripadvisor of Tinderbox Kitchen


Coppa Cafe

This is another very good (OK, it is actually great) restaurant in Flagstaff that is hard to categorize.  It is very, very good, has strong French and continental influences but is casual.  So, I am putting here in a blog on small plate restaurants in Flagstaff.

Coppa Cafe

Honestly, I think I like it better for brunch on a Sunday morning than for Dinner.  Don't get me wrong, because dinner is excellent, but there is something to be said for a nice, relaxing Sunday brunch that is done well.

Coppa Interior

Some people call it "coppa", that sounds like a Brooklyn version of copper.  Others call it "coppa" like copa cabana.  But whatever you call it, you will enjoy it.  From excellent coffee drinks to hand made pastries as this is one of Flagstaff's best restaurants, hands down.

Here is Coppa Cafe's review on Yelp. 

Here is the review on

And here is the menu from their own website,


Shift Kitchen and Bar

Brand new to Downtown Flagstaff is Shift the sign says, Sh/ft.  It is another Flagstaff restaurant located on San Francisco Street, this time at 107 North.  It occupies a space that was formerly Flag Buzz coffee shop and Late For The Train before that.


It is getting very popular, very quickly as it is quite good.  I went there a few weeks ago in a group of about 8 friends celebrating birthdays and it was perfect.  We pretty much fought over the pork belly which was the special that night.  It was excellent.

Now, a word of caution:  This truly is a small plate restaurant, so do what we did, and order a bunch of plates and enjoy tasting each others picks.  Otherwise, prepare for an expensive meal as you order multiple plates just for yourself.

Here is a link to Shift on Open Table.

And here is the Menu at

And a review from Yelp of Shift Kitchen.


You won't go wrong at any of these 3 above places to grab a bite in Flagstaff.  Each is great in it's own way, but different from each other in menu, atmosphere and presentation.  Enjoy!

Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at

Is Your Realtor Qualified? Part 2 of 4

by Gary Nelson

As I stated in my last blog (Part 1 of this subject) I believe that unfortunately there may be a majority of Realtors who are not qualified to represent your best interests in a real estate transaction.  You can read that earlier blog here:  Is Your Realtor Qualified? (Part 1).   I have come to this conclusion by rubbing elbows with the best in the industry and also having experience with agents that are…less than stellar in their business practices.  It is my opinion that a Realtors “professionalism” can be measured by experience, dedication, adoption of technology and trends and finally education.  We will look at education in this blog.


I would divide this category into two sections, really. Those would be continuing education and also Realtor designations.  When it comes to “continuing education”, a Realtor has many choices, but the choices they make can be very telling.  What I mean is this: Is your agent dedicated to getting the best, most current education there is…or are they skating by, and only taking the minimum in continuing education hours because it is required by the Arizona Department of Real Estate?

A significant number of Realtors learn about changes to the industry by trial and error.  Scary, isn't it?  Name another profession where the "School Of Hard Knocks" is the most attended school for continuing education. 

In Arizona, a real estate agent needs 24 hours of continuing education in a 2 year period.  That is a pitifully low number of hours required.  That’s 12 hours of classroom time per year. But, the State also allows online education, webinars and live feeds.  So, your Realtor can actually be “educated” by sitting in front of a computer, take an online class, never interact with an instructor and move on.  But the worst part is, many real estate agents have learned how to cheat the online system, by not actually being at the computer while the timer is going!  Ultimately who they are cheating is themselves, but unfortunately that means they are cheating you too.

Additionally, many agents wait until the last few days of that 2 year period to take their classes and then scramble to find a live class or just take all their online renewal classes at once.  There are real estate classes called “renew-athons” where the agent can just take all 24 hours needed over a fun-filled weekend.  Many times these are online classes, but some of these classes are offered live in Mexico or on a cruise ship!  Now that is dedication to an industry.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some multi-day conferences in Arizona that give your Realtor a tremendous education.  2 dear friends of mine are Realtors and educators.  They have 1 ½ day conferences that provide wonderful education, discussion and insight into trends.  These classes are both fun and informative.  Also, some Realtor designations require multiple day classes and also provide the best education possible to a Realtor in today's market.

Another way that a Realtor can continue their dedication to educating themselves is by earning designations and certifications.  For a list of recognized designations and certifications, look to  This is not, which advertises homes for sale. is the website for the National Association of Realtors and the part dedicated to explaining designations is here:

As you can see, there are many ways a Realtor can extend their knowledge base and these are the programs that are recognized by the National Association of Realtors.  If your Realtor’s “designation” isn’t listed here, then chances are it took them an afternoon to earn.  It may be a private certification class to teach them how to “negotiate” with the big dogs.  When it comes to designations for a residential Realtor, the CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) is the top designation one can get on a national level and the GRI (Graduate of the Realtor Institute) is the top state specific designation in most, but not all states.  In Arizona, the GRI program is regarded as one of the best nationwide and the classes and therefore the designation, is top notch.

So, when I started this blog in Part 1, I suggested that you ask your Realtor a series of questions specifically geared toward discovering what they do to stay educated.   My first suggestion would be to search for your Realtor here:

That site is of course, the Arizona Department of Real Estate.  It allows you to not only see if any disciplinary action was taken against your Realtor, but also how many continuing education classes he or she has taken and what kind.

 In addition to that, here are some suggested questions for your Realtor:

  • What real estate designations do you hold?
  • How many continuing education hours did you turn in when you last renewed your license?
  • How do you typically get your continuing education hours?

After reading what I have outlined here, clicking on the above links and educating yourself on your Realtors education, you should be able to decide for yourself how well your current or prospective Realtor does when it comes to education!  How is this relevant to you?  Think of any other profession that requires continuing education to keep a state license and how you hope that person stays connected and educated!

My next blog in this series “Is Your REALTOR Qualified”, will discuss some agent’s worst nightmare:  Technology!  Technology and your Realtors relationship to it can make or break a deal.  Stay tuned as I explain why!

Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at

Flagstaff's Top 3: Fine Dining Restaurants

by Gary Nelson

As you may know, I have been blogging for a few months on Flagstaff's Top 3 in various restaurant categories.  My first blog was New Restaurants in Flagstaff, followed by Flagstaff's Top 3: Places To Get Lunch Downtown, and my most recent was Flagstaff's Top 3: Mexican Restaurants for Breakfast or Lunch.  That last one got a bit contentious as I found out that a few of my friends have absolutely no idea what Mexican food actually is!  Oh well, "some peoples kids", as they say!

So, this time I would like to get a little less contentious and talk about Fine Dining in Flagstaff.  The truth be told, there really aren't that many Fine Dining restaurants to begin with, so my job in this blog is not that difficult.  As a matter of fact, the first two below are very easy to pin down, but it's just number 3 that is difficult to decide on.  So, here we go:

Cottage Place

Cottage Place Restaurant is widely accepted as the best restaurant in Flagstaff and has been in most peoples mind for many, many years.  I have heard a few people grumble that they have slipped into a bit too much "southwestern" in the past few years, but in my opinion Cottage Place still is the top restaurant in Flagstaff.

Cottage Place

The restaurant was started by Ron Freeman in 1981, sold to Kurt Gottshalk after that and is now owned by Frank Branham, who bought it in 1994.  Frank is now considered a celebrated local chef, and has won many awards for both his craft and for The Cottage Place.  It repeatedly wins Best Fine Dining in Flagstaff on different sites and newspapers and is a very highly regarded local eatery in anyone's book.

Here is a link to their menu: Cottage Place Menu.

For me, I have always loved the Grilled White Mexican Shrimp.  The grilled flavor is absolutely excellent.  Also, Cottage Place would probably be on everyone's short list for the best place to go on a date.  If that is what you are doing, why not have the Chateaubriand For Two? Imagine a perfectly cooked filet mignon roast that is carved table side and served with roasted vegetables.  It is excellent when paired with the perfect wine.  Finally, the desserts at Cottage Place are excellent as well.  Leave room for the Arizona Cream.  Think of it as a white chantilly cream mousse with raspberries.  It is very good!

Cottage Plates

Overall, Cottage Place could be successful in any large city in the US, but to have a restaurant of this caliber in Flagstaff is wonderful!

Here is a link to the Cottage Place's Yelp Reviews.

Here is a link to TripAdvisor's Reviews of Cottage Place.


Josephine's Modern American Bistro

Located on very busy Humphrey's Street, Josephine's is another cozy fine dining restaurant that is occupying a very quaint, old Flagstaff house.  This craftsman style building is made of local stone and is very warm and inviting.

Josephine's is a good solid choice for lunch or dinner in Flagstaff.  However, their weekend brunch has become very popular and my family absolutely loves it.  Not to be missed.

I have friends that claim that the burger at Josephine's is the best hamburger that they have had anywhere.  So, that would be a recommendation, but to be honest I haven't tried it.  I always get distracted by something else on the menu.


Here is a link to Trip Advisor's Reviews of Josephine's.

Here is a like to Yelps Reviews of Josephine's.


1899 Bar and Grill

OK, this last one is a little tough, because I am not so certain that 1899 deserves the recognition.  I have been there for lunch a couple of times lately and they seemed to have slipped a bit.  However, with being a part of Northern Arizona University, they may just be limiting their lunch menu to attract a wider crowd from the University.  Also I would need to give a nod to both Tinderbox and also Coppa Cafe as they are...not quite "fine dining", but very, very good and I will have to blog about them both later!

That said, I have had some very memorable meals at 1899 Bar and Grill.  I must say that I have had probably the best grilled chicken breast I have ever eaten there.  Grilling a piece of boneless chicken breast to absolute perfection is not as easy at it seems, because it can be over cooked or under cooked immediately.  Also, they can be over seasoned or marinated quite quickly.

Here is a link to 1899's Dinner Menu.

1899 Bar and Grill

I think what I like best about 1899 is that it is part of Northern Arizona University.  So, you are likely to have student staff and cooks serving you as you enjoy your meal.  So, be patient with them as they learn their trades!

Here is a link to Yelp's Reviews of 1899.

Here is a link to Trip Advisor's Reviews of 1899.

Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at

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Contact Information

The Gary Nelson Group
Realty Executives of Flagsaff
15 E. Cherry Ave. Suite 101
Flagstaff AZ 86001
Direct: 928-225-3510
Office: 928-773-9300
Fax: 928-774-1102