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Thursday, August 04, 2011


My mind goes back to our trip to Sedona, Arizona, probably because I've finally had the photos printed and have begun to put that trip into my albums.  I went back to Third Age Traveler posts where I wrote about Sedona, (,  and once again, I was awed by the beauty of Red Rock Country and wanted to revisit the second part of the incredible GPS tour we took (for the first part of the tour, go to —a tour we rented at the Visitor Center in downtown Sedona.  The tour equipment plugs into our car’s speaker system guiding us and narrating as we go.  We can stop as often as we wish.  Our narrator is a fount of information. 

The second leg of our GPS tour of Sedona is quite different from the first leg.  This time we head south on Highway 179 to see the area in an entirely different way.

But before we get into the tour, Rob and I detour by turning up Schnebly Hill Road to the parking area at the point Schnebly Hill Road becomes a dirt road.  I'd read about this overlook, and it is definitely a MUST STOP.  We stay for about half an hour literally turning in circles and saying “Whoa!!!”  From each vantage point, we are treated to a breathtaking view.  Each movement provides a changing landscape of beauty as the sun dances across the rocks and tricks us into thinking what we've already seen is as good as it gets.  At our feet the cactus becomes part of the Nature’s pageant.

Red Rock


Red Rock


Eventually we drive down to rejoin Highway 179 and continue our tour.  We head toward the Village of Oak Creek.  As this is the road by which we came into Sedona but going in the other direction, we now see the rock formations from a different angle, and from the GPS tour guide we learn their names: Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Courthouse Rock.

Courthouse & Bell Rock
Courthouse Rock and Bell Rock

Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock

We take a left at the Chapel Road roundabout and head for the Chapel of the Holy Cross.  Once again, our destination is nestled in spectacular surroundings, and we wind up a hill to reach it.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross has an interesting history.  On a visit to New York City in 1932, Marguerite Bruswig Staude looked at the newly completed Empire State Building and felt that from a particular angle she could see a cross.  She envisioned creating a monument just as inspirational, and when she was struck by Sedona's beauty, she decided to build her monument there.  Completed in 1956, the Chapel is built on a twin-pinnacled spur 250 feet high jutting out of a thousand foot red rock wall.  Impressive?  You better believe it!

Chapel of the Holy Cross

The politics are interesting too as this land was Federal Land.  But oil the right wheels and.... She convinced Senator Barry Goldwater to pull enough strings to allow her to buy Federal land!  And so it goes.

Nonetheless, no matter your personal religious beliefs, this is an inspiring sight and should be on a “must see” list.  The Chapel rises dramatically, and the cross is magnificent as it is offset by the red rocks and blue sky behind it.  At quiet times I'm sure there is an enormous sense of wonder and spirituality generated.  The surrounding grounds are nicely kept with flowers and paths, and I can look down from these heights to see the valley and the most incredible home.  Later I am told that it is the home of a doctor who owns laser clinics.  I didn't Snopes this, but isn't this home something else?

Sedona is a spiritual community.  It boasts 25 churches and synagogues, and each one is architecturally interesting and unique.  These buildings could comprise a tour in itself.  Sedona is a relatively new community, and most of the architecture is modern yet inspired by the awesome natural area in which it is constructed.

In addition to a traditional spirituality, Sedona is home to a New Age spirituality.  My friend at the Chamber of Commerce said that approximately 10% of the members are concerned in some way with psychic powers or healing.

In fact, Sedona is famous for its vortexes—areas of energy that many claim to have healing or soothing powers.  Researchers from MIT have investigated, and some claim the spiraling growth of some of the juniper trees is caused by the swirling and healthful energy.  If you are in the area, you can even take vortex tours.

What these attributes do indicate is the wide, receptive, and harmonious atmosphere created as different ages and beliefs freely mingle in this beautiful environment.

Rob and I leave the Chapel, backtrack to rejoin Highway 179, and continue to the Village of Oak Creek, a bright residential community.  We drive past the Golf Club which is actually highlighted on the GPS tour, and we stop in the Red Rock Coffeehouse for a local brew.  Fresh?  They order locally to insure that the coffee is delivered within 48 hours of roasting.  The beans are ground just prior to preparation.  It is nice to sit outside under the awning and savor our coffee.

The second part of the tour ends here.  The third part would have taken us out to Boynton Pass—another “must see,” but that is also the route to Palatki Ruins, a destination we have later in the week.  We decide we've had enough for the day.  We have been driving and stopping and admiring and “Whoa-ing” for almost seven hours.  Our senses are overloaded, and it's time to rest.

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