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Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Our first stop in Sedona, Arizona is the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center at 331 Forest Road where we quickly meet two transplanted volunteers, one an artist who arrived 27 years ago to join Sedona’s flourishing artistic community. There are galleries and shops throughout the area, and art is an important component of the town. Coincidentally, my new acquaintance graduated from New Paltz three years after I did. We get to talking and reminiscing as women do while Rob speaks with a retired principal from Pennsylvania who is amazed to learn that my NEA MasterCard doubles as a travel card (if you’re NEA, check out the many benefits of this card). They also discuss the GPS tour we’d seen advertised on Los Abrigados’ TV channel highlighting Sedona’s various businesses and offerings.

The GPS tour is just what we’re looking for to take us around town and into the surrounding Red Rock Country along the most picturesque routes. The tour combines guidance with audio/video presentations. The touch screen offers links to additional information. There are also, should we desire, trivia games to play throughout the tour.

There are three tours taking an estimated five hours. We can stop as often as we wish; the three itineraries are outlined on the Chamber’s map, and we are off to explore.
Hwy 89A

The first tour takes us north on Rt. 89A toward Flagstaff through glorious Oak Creek Canyon, a winding, twisting road with enough pulloffs to make me photographically happy. Rising on either side of the road are walls of red rock scored through scores of millennium by water and wind. Once again trailheads often originate at the pulloffs, and busy hikers make their way up the rocks. I can see them, small specks in the distance.
Nature's Gifts

We stop at Midgley Bridge, a “must-see” in every tour book, and we allow ourselves the WHOA!!! moments as sunlight highlights the red rocks against an amazingly blue, blue sky.
Midgley Bridge

Our GPS guide tells us the story of Wilson Mt. where a bear hunter who lent his big rifle to a friend and had only a small rifle tried to kill a grizzly. He wounded the bear but was attacked and killed by the grizzly. His body was found alongside the creek, and two years later a bleached bear skeleton was found, a sign that the death of Wilson story was fact. Hmmmm
Immoveable Nobility

We pass Slide Rock Park where revelers are bounding about in the water enjoying the ride down the smooth rocks in the creek. This is Nature’s 80 foot long waterslide park, and it looks grand. We just don’t have time….
Sedona Rocks!

Our GPS guide tells us the story of Sedona’s founding. T.C. Schnebly added a post office to his home in the area in 1902 and kept submitting names to the Federal Government, all rejected because of their length. Finally he submitted his wife’s name, and, you guessed it, the government accepted it. It has no Native American derivative. In fact, Sedona Miller’s mother, Harriet, made the name up. Hmmmmm
Rock beauty

This GPS tour actually ends somewhere on 89A but suggested we continue driving to the crest of the mountain—so of course we do. Sedona is 4,500 feet above sea level. As we climb this incredibly steep, hairpin, S-shaped road, we pass the 6,000 foot sign, and we are still not nearly to the top. Later we learn that we reached about 7,000 feet on that drive; the Grand Canyon, 110 miles from Sedona along this road is 8,000 feet!
Up Hwy. 89A

The view from the top is spectacular. The high desert has its own vegetative beauty and soaring birds. Far below we see the serpentine road etched into the mountain. Breathtaking!!!! We have moved from one ecosystem to another. The pines, the greenery, and the different rock colors and formation attest to that. It’s rugged and craggy up here. And beautiful.
From top to bottom

On the way back to Sedona we stop to picnic at one of the park areas along the road. I think ours is the only “tourist table.” Families arrive with their coolers, set up their barbecues, and the kids disperse. A great lunch spot before we begin tour #2.
P.S. I enjoyed playing around with that first photo. LOL

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