November 28, 2015


“God created the Grand Canyon, but he lives in Sedona.”  Anonymous

Carol writes:  Mention the city of Sedona and what comes to mind is something for everyone who likes the outdoors.  Set in the scenic Verde Valley,

outdoor activities abound—biking, hiking, off-roading, ballooning, horseback riding—and Sedona residents embrace it all! 

We were looking forward to two weeks at the Apache-owned Distant Drums RV Resort, where we had an ideal sunny campsite with panoramic views of the distant mountains directly out our windshield.
In addition to those who crave the active lifestyle, Sedona also has a worldwide reputation as a destination for those seeking self-awareness, serenity, relaxation, and meditation.  There are several so-called “vortex” sites where these meditative goals are supposedly enhanced.  I must say that in all honesty we never felt we reached the highest states of metaphysical enhancement, but I will say that hiking in the majestic juniper trees and prickly pear cactus of Red Rocks State Park definitely nourished the soul.

A visit to the architectural wonder of the Chapel of the Holy Cross provided its own spiritual lesson, and it wasn’t a difficult one to appreciate.  This was not a great locale for a multi-million dollar ‘Italian Renaissance Mansion of Excess’ at the feet of a simple house of God…

The Sedona area is rich in mining history and this could be appreciated in no better way than with a visit to the historic mining town of Jerome!  Literally carved into the hillside of a mountain at around 7000 ft. elevation, Jerome was quite hilly!

We took a tour of a well-known Jerome landmark—the Douglas Mansion—built by a wealthy mining official. 

Now a museum, we were educated a bit on the mining history of Jerome, where a vast wealth of copper, gold, and silver was dug out of the mountainside.  One of the neatest parts of the mansion’s location was the awesome back-patio view of snow-covered Mt Humphreys some 45 miles in the distance, under clear blue Arizona skies.

At the top of the town, the Jerome Hotel was a natural choice for a lunch spot.

Even the ancient Southern Sinagua civilization knew what modern-day residents of Sedona have come to appreciate—the Verde Valley was, and still is, a near ideal place to call home.  And so it was at Tuzigoot National Monument, where there was more of the ancient archeological ruins that we admire so much.

This settlement of farmers surely appreciated the warm winters and nearby water source of the Verde River.  They sure had fabulous vistas surrounding their strategic hilltop settlement.

Two additional nearby national monuments—Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well—illustrated other aspects of Southern Sinagua life over 8 centuries ago.  Montezuma Castle was a 5-story multi-dwelling complex built high into a cliff face.  With fertile land below and access to a reliable water source at Beaver Creek, it was a good strategic choice for construction of an apartment-like living complex high into a sunny, several-hundred-foot cliff.

Montezuma Well was a surprisingly interesting find.  Until we saw it, we didn’t appreciate the unique geologic nature of this lush limestone sink hole that is still fed by continuously flowing springs that have been feeding this “desert lake” for many centuries. 

It was no surprise to find archaeological remains of cliff houses built into the surrounding limestone walls, in addition to small pit houses along the narrow shore of the lake below.

Fast-forwarding to Arizona’s frontier days...

We made a short but interesting visit to Fort Verde, home to Army scouts and soldiers in the latter decades of the 1800s.  Similar to its contemporaries, Fort Verde was laid out in the style of many of the frontier forts we have visited—that is, a large parade ground in the center which was bordered on all sides with homes and structures essential to Army life of the times. 

Only three historic homes survived the original fort structures; all were furnished in the period of the 1880s. The post doctor performed surgery in his home.

In the Sedona area we discovered two state parks that were well worth visiting.  The first was at:

Discovered in 1877 by a prospector as he stumbled upon this rare natural wonder while he was being chased by Apaches, Tonto Natural Bridge is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world.

The opening was 183 feet high, and our photographic skills were severely taxed to capture its giant perspective.  Those are people dressed in blue and red at the very bottom of the above pic.

On a recommendation from our Las Cruces friend Barb, the other Arizona State Park we visited was the summertime playground at Slide Rock State Park.

The summertime thrill is to ride the rapids by sliding the slippery rocks of Oak Creek from pool to pool along its course.  I say “summertime thrill” because those waters were frigid and literally breath-sapping in November.  However, that didn’t stop a very few brave souls from trying…

I’m showing pictures of other people riding these rapids because
we aren’t crazy; we wisely left our bathing suits in the car.

On one of our last days in Sedona we hiked a canyon trail that was billed as one of the favorite hikes of the locals.  The trail led into Boynton Canyon and passed very near one of those famous vortex locations (still not sensing any vortex vibes for me…),

to a sweet lunch spot a couple of miles into the canyon.

And finally…one day Al took a hike by himself up at Doe Mountain, while I got in a day of sewing.  

He found incredible iconic Sedona red rock formations

and mastered a neat selfie at the top!

Wow…our two weeks in Sedona was as busy and delightful as we hoped it would be.  We didn’t quite get sucked into doing yoga on a vortex, but what we discovered in Sedona was nourishing to our spirit.

We are beginning to love late Fall in the desert, especially when there is a hot tub awaiting us at the end of a long day.

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.”  Danny Kaye 


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