Welcome to Sedona, Arizona! For those who have not been here, this is a pretty magical place. Sedona is famous for being one of the locations on this earth that is a center of our planet’s health and spiritual energy, otherwise known as a vortex. I thought it was the perfect last stop before my final sprint into California.
My morning drive from Santa Fe, New Mexico began at sunrise as usual. Take a look at this route across all the lands that still belong to the Native American tribes. So awesome. It was very sparse for the majority of the route and then transitioned to a more mountainous area as I approached Flagstaff.
On my drive out of Kansas, I passed through No Man’s Land. On this drive, I passed through the official “Middle of Nowhere”.
A Country Divided
Every continent except Antarctica has a continental divide. It’s the geographical place defined as a boundary between river systems that drain into different seas or basins. In other words, it’s a ridged area and if rain falls on one side it drains one way and if it falls on the other side it drains a different way.
First stop in Arizona was just north of Sedona at Oak Creek Vista. Got a bird’s eye view of Oak Creek Canyon, the Grand Canyon’s little sister, that I was about to descend into.
It was a nice little rest stop but was nothing compared to what lay ahead.
Red Rock and Roll!
A few switchback roads later and this is the view:
It was almost impossible to drive because the scenery was just so spectacular and I wanted to stop and take pictures. I did get a break where there were no other cars behind me so that I could snag a little video for you:
It’s a hiking lovers dream come true. There are trails of all shapes and sizes. I heard a local say there are over 500 trails in Sedona alone.
Let’s get settled in so we can get out there!
French Influence In Sedona?
I burned the last of my hard earned credit card points on L’Auberge de Sedona (French for “The Inn”) which is in the center of town but tucked down by the creek in it’s own magical little universe. The property was the definition of tranquility and serenity.
My room was actually an independent cabin with an outdoor shower and it’s own private deck. It also had the best soaking tub EVER in a hotel room (excluding Art Maison Oia Castle in Santorini which actually had it’s own indoor cave pool). It filled up fast, was perfectly contoured and had a little bath rack that held a large wine glass, a book stand and a little pottery filled with the hotel’s signature fragranced bath salts.
I’m going to give the hotel an Indian name. I’d call it “Place Where The Hummingbirds Play”. I took a short stroll down to the creek at dusk and discovered a family of hummingbirds (not sure which kind because I left the binoculars in the room) hovering in perfect suspended stillness above the water waiting for microscopic bugs to rise up in the mist.
They were also behaving like swallows. Swallows will cruise in over water and touch down just enough to dip their beaks in the water without landing and then they glide back upwards. I’ve never really seen a hummingbird do that, but there they were.
Don’t Be Shy
The first photographed bird of this stop was actually kind of exciting. Meet the phainopepla. Most bird names came from the British naturalists that studied them but this name is about the strangest I’ve come across yet.
I had seen one of these unique birds during a hike at the Golden Door, but I had no camera with me. A flock was getting ready to roost when I found them. They were very shy, but I got a shot of he and his girlfriend.
I had to wait them out until they perched somewhere that I could get a shot. The light was diminishing by the minute. But before the light was totally gone, there was time to get a few shots of this:
From The Top
My time in Sedona was dedicated primarily to visiting the 4 vortex areas and getting some hiking in. I started at the Airport Mesa, which as it sounds is at the top of a mesa next to an airport. This one was kind of like cheating because I didn’t actually hike unless you count the 20 steps it took to get from my car to this view:
It’s kind of funny that each rock formation has a name. This one is called Coffee Pot. I tried hard, but in most cases I just didn’t see it. Does that look like a coffee pot to you?
I think part of the magic of experiencing the energy of Sedona is to see what you see in each formation and make up your own names. It’s like watching the clouds while lying on your back at the beach.
I did want to share one picture that I attempted to take in honor of our veteran’s and Memorial Day:
Taking It To Church
My next stop was a visit to Cathedral Rock. I planned to hike toward the vortex of it. I started in Crescent Moon park and followed a footpath that led in toward Oak Creek. It was a sweet little area with lots of nooks and crannies where you could spread out a blanket and just picnic for a while.
Again, I struggled to see what prompted the name “Cathedral Rock” but then I had sort of a religious experience and finally understood.
I finally found a little cove that was not occupied. I choose to wear Keen sandals for hikes like this when I know there is a chance of needing to cross water.
I found a big, flat rock about midway into this stream. So I just walked in and climbed up to sit for a while.
Once I got on top of the rock, I noticed this random piece of driftwood laying to one side.
I have no idea what the colors mean, but for some reason it just felt magical.
There was no sound other than the water gently flowing over rock. The sky was cloudless and blue. There was a light breeze, just enough that it was causing cottonwood blossoms to rain down like snow. Dragonflies played.
I did nothing but listen and breathe for quite a while. I lost myself in the sounds of nature and I felt overwhelming joy at the simple beauty of it all and tremendous gratitude for being able to take advantage of it.
My mind shut off. For those who understand what I mean by that, it is a priceless gift when it happens and you can sustain it. I was totally present in just that place, at just that moment, with no thought of what was just behind me or what would come next.
I experienced what it means to be near Earth’s vortex in my own way which is always the truest way.
Back To Church
After Cathedral Rock, I made a visit to a place that isn’t one of the official vortex sites but is still considered to be a sacred site in Sedona. Welcome to The Chapel.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross was the vision of a local sculptor. She originally planned to build it in Hungary but war cut that plan short so she decided to build it in her home state of Arizona. From this chapel, you get a pretty spectacular view of several formations in Red Rocks.
Gotta insert a little humor here. Guess what I’d call this rock formation:
Giggle. It made me blush.
Support The Local Economy
A morning of visiting vortex sites set me up for an afternoon of shopping 🙂
The Tlaquepaque shopping district in Sedona is about the most charming shopping plaza I’ve come across.
The Final March
For Day 2 in Sedona, I decided to get some real hiking in. I set off for a 6 mile round-trip trek into Boynton Canyon, also a vortex.
If anyone ends up visiting Sedona, this was a fantastic hike. The views of the red rock formations start about 5 minutes in and you get to see them up close.
I have no idea what that rock is called, but it reminded me of Darth Vader’s helmet so I’m calling it Helmet Rock.
These epic views and endless sunshine continue for the first half of the hike. It is pretty much flat and what I like to call “easy walking”, meaning you can actually lift your eyes to the views pretty often without worry about tripping over a rock or a root.
Somewhere around the 2 mile mark, the strap on my right Keen sandal broke. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but it basically turned that shoe into a hiking flip flop. I kept going.
Show Me the Towhee
Another bird I discovered on my trip to the Golden Door was the Spotted Towhee. Towhees are one of the bird names I love because it actually helps you identify this bird by sound. He literally sings “tow hee”. Check this guy out:
The spotted towhee is fairly common in California so better pictures to follow later.
Around the next bend, I met up with another local.
Justin, this one’s for you:
He was coiled up enjoying the sun on my path and as surprised by me as I was of him. He actually reared up into striking position for a second.
If I had not slowed down a pace due to the shoe issue, I’d likely have stepped right on it. I kindly paused until it uncoiled and went on it’s way.
The hike just kept getting better and better.
More magic around every turn.
When hiking, sometimes you have to give way to others who are crossing in the opposite direction:
The Vortex of the Vortex
The final mile of the hike into Boynton Canyon was mostly in the Secret Forest of Coconino National Park. There is nothing better than the smell of warm pine needles on a hike through the woods.
And then, after a final and fairly intense uphill push for the last 10 minutes, I arrived.
Welcome to Boynton Canyon. You can’t get here unless you hike in or hire a helicopter.
It was hard to capture in a photo. I’m balancing on a flat but steeply angled rock across from this view. Between us is a sheer drop into the canyon floor of around 800 ft. It took me a minute to be able to let gravity anchor me.
It took another 5 minutes for the few people who were already there to leave.
And then there were about 15 minutes where I had it all to myself.
This time there were tears of joy and of gratitude. This was the pinnacle of the trip for me. Tomorrow I’ll be heading to my final destination.
I took time to thank God and my tribe for seeing me through this journey safely and for all the magic of it.
No Ordinary Moments
On the hike back out, I took my time going through the forest. My right foot was slipping out of my flip flop and making downward progress slow.
And then the left shoe strap broke. At least now they match 🙂
I stopped to see if any temporary repair could be achieved. When I stood up, I was eye to eye with this little gift:
I believe these are baby Cassin’s vireos. There are more than 30 species of vireo in Arizona so I’m going off what my Merlin app sound ID said. I got a decent picture of mom if anyone wants to weigh in:
There are no ordinary moments friends. I’d obviously walked right by this little family on the way in and the nest was fairly conspicuous on the path, but still I would be a hundred or more people a day pass right by it and never see it.
This nest was ready to overflow. One of them got up and starting stretching his wings. Mom was going nuts telling him not to jump while some crazy blond hiking in blue flip flops was still near.
A Moment Of Silence
Once back at the hotel, I realized I was going to have to say goodbye to my Keen’s. For those who are not following on Facebook, I posted a memorial to my Keen’s a few days ago. Those shoes have carried me all over the world. Here’s a collection of a few photos I could dig up where you can see them:
I did a little impromptu eulogy for them and made the valet join me in a moment of silence. It truly pained me to leave them behind, but it was so symbolic since those were the last steps of my cross country journey.
The Final Drive
Frittata Followers, tomorrow is my final drive. I’m nervous and exhilarated at the same time. It will be another long journey across desert and desolate landscape including a brush along the border of Mexico.
But I’m ready. I soaked in all the energy of Sedona. My spirit rejoices at the idea of being in my own space. I get choked up just thinking about what it will feel like to lift the door on my Pod and see my most prized possessions, the things I loved too much to sell before leaving Louisiana.
Will you be there to share that moment with me?