Is it me, or has this winter weather been absolutely crazy? Talk about challenging winter weather conditions all across the United States, and for those living south of the equator, I hear you’ve had your own weather challenges. Crazy stuff, huh!
We’ve been comfortably parked in an RV Park on the far north side of the Phoenix valley since early October. I use the term “comfortably” loosely. Although, we are enjoying the RV park, our RV site, and the great neighbors, the weather has been anything but “comfortable”.
I love my RV, but living in a tin can RV during cold and rainy weather isn’t much fun. Sure, we’ve had some nice days which were perfect for hiking, but the inclement days seem to be more frequent this winter than previous years. And don’t even get me started with the wind, hail, and flash flooding.
With all that said, compared to other parts of the country, I really shouldn’t complain. The upside to all the extra moisture we’ve received here in the desert southwest over the past few months will be a colorful reward – a kaleidoscope of spring wildflowers.
Last year the desert was dry, brown, and sad. This year, she is green, plump, and happy. So, even though the weather has been colder and wetter than I’d prefer, I know there’s an upside. Can you believe those blooms have already started showing up … and it’s only February? March is going to be amazing!
Last week in Phoenix, it actually snowed. Not the fun pretty kind of snow, but rather, the slushy irritating kind we call graupel. This stuff I didn’t enjoy, but I did enjoy a snow outing last month.
Snow in Arizona
Even this desert dweller occasionally longs for white fluffy snow. Yep, I miss snow every once in a while. So, in January, after a substantial snowfall in Sedona (mere rain in Phoenix), I hopped in my little red truck and took the 90 minute drive up the hill (Interstate 17) for a day of fun in the snow. I love Arizona’s diversity!
After about three hours of traipsing in the snow along ice-covered trails, I’d had my fill of winter … especially after a near fatal fall on my derriere. It all happened in slow motion. While my feet where sliding hither and yon, my arms were flailing in all directions in an attempt to steady my balance …. all the while, at the forefront of my mind was my trusty Panasonic camera and saving her from a deadly fall. In the end 🤭, my naturally well padded bottom took the brunt of the fall while Panny survived unscathed and ready for more shutter clicking. Disaster averted! We don’t need to talk about the softball size bruise on my …..
So yeah, I’m good with winter weather and won’t need a snow fix until next year. I’m ready for spring. How about you?
Weather – a photo prompt
For this week’s photo challenge, let’s share images of what the weather looks like in your neck of the woods.
Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations
Wednesday is the day I like to share a photograph(s) centered around a theme. Photo challenges/themes are a great way for us to share our love of photography and engage with other like-minded people. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR, or something in-between, I hope you’ll join in on the challenge. Share and connect!
A geological marvel … one of America’s most beautiful places … multi-hued red rock formations jutting upwards from the high desert floor creating a mesmerizing setting … ah,yes … I’m talking about stunningly beautiful Sedona, Arizona.
Red Rock Country is unique and exudes a sense of spirituality along with a mood that changes hourly with the light. It’s no wonder this majestic place attracts 2 to 4 million tourists a year. Surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest land, visitors to Sedona have easy access to plenty of outdoor recreation, but Sedona is equal parts rugged, equal parts resort.
With such an abundance of public land access, the availability of experiencing this amazing landscape is endless. There are trails for hiking and biking, along with plenty of 4×4 gravel/dirt roads perfect for scenic Jeep tours or ATV excursions. Meandering in the back country among red rock pinnacles, spires, buttes and domes is an absolute must for any visitor, and yet, you’re never far from the conveniences of town.
A birthday weekend …
It was the third weekend in September, and although a few weeks past my actual birth date, it was a great time of year to visit Sedona and celebrate my birthday together with family. This trip was actually all planned by my children as part of a gift … awe!
Since our daughter, son, and daughter-in-law all had to work that Friday in Phoenix, we didn’t check into our double-suite condo like lodging until 7:00 p.m., but that still left us a few hours for some socializing over cocktails and snacks before it was time to head off to bed. Sedona is less than a two hours drive and about 116 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona. We stayed at a lovely resort called Sedona Summit.
Saturday morning, my daughter and I were out the door by 8:00 a.m. with cameras in hand. As many times as we’ve visited Sedona, there’s always something new on our list that we look forward to exploring.
First stop, spiritual enlightenment
Located near the base of Thunder Mountain is a place for meditation and spiritual renewal. Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park offers its visitors spiritual transformation and healing through the fascinating architecture and geometry of the stupa. Stupas are one of the oldest forms of sacred architecture and Buddhist practitioners have built them to promote spiritual deepening, healing, prosperity, and peace.
Filled with hundreds of prayers for peace, sacred relics and ritual offerings, the Amitabha Stupa is a vortex of enlightened presence and blessings.
Ashton and I were fascinated with this Buddist park, but then again, anything associated with Nepal or the Himalayas seems to captivate our attention and that includes all the Prayer Flags. During her college days, Ashton and her roommate had prayer flags hung around their tiny dorm room. The prayer flags belonged to her roommate and were actually bought in Nepal during a family trip.
My daughter and I share a secret interest in someday traveling to Nepal – a land far away. In reality, I think this Sedona peace park or the time we went to Disney World and experienced Expedition Everest is the closest we’ll ever get to Kathmandu, and in reality, I’m okay with that … but shhh, don’t tell my daughter 😉
(To enlarge photos, click on any image in the photo gallery)
Discovering ancient history
Next on our agenda was heading into the back country in search of ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs. We originally wanted to visit the Palatki Heritage Site, but hikes are done via a tour, and since Ashton and I were already running a little late, we opted to visit the less popular Honanki ruins where you’re able to stroll without a guide.
After the split in the road (one way to Palatki and another way to Honanki), the road to the Honanki Ruins gets a bit rough in spots, and I was glad to be driving a vehicle that handles these rough roads perfectly. We did see the occasional car, but we mostly saw Jeep Tours or ATV’s. Here’s a quote from the National Park website about the road condition: “Those with high-clearance vehicles and/or a sense of adventure can turn ….. the compensation for abusing your motor vehicle are wonderful views of the red rock formations that Sedona is so famous for“. Alrighty then!
A final note on the road conditions. Older publications will tell you the route to the Palatki Site from Dry Creek Road is rough. Road conditions have improved substantially within the past year. The Enchantment Resort has brought new development to this end of Sedona and the road is now paved beyond Fay Canyon and Doe Mountain Trailheads. Once the pavement ends, the gravel road is still easily accessed by most vehicles all the way to the Palatki Heritage Site. However, you might want to check with the National Park Service for the latest up to date road conditions.
easy stroll to the cliff dwellings
Rock art at Honanki Cultural Site
Yeti … the abominable snowman? Another connection to Nepal?
Honanki cliff dwellings
Once at the Honanki site, we enjoyed a short hike to the cliff dwellings and slowly toured the area taking in the ruins and interesting rock art. Could the ancient cliff dwellers be telling us that Yeti, the abominable snowman, did exist? Another connection to Nepal?
The Honanki cultural site is relatively small and my daughter and I spent less than an hour exploring the area, but we were glad we made the long, bumpy trek out to the site. The drive was all part of the adventure and taking in the beautiful landscape.
Retail Therapy and Dining
Once Ashton and I returned to our lodging, we grabbed a bite to eat with the rest of the family and then the five of us headed to the Tlaquepaque Shopping Village for a little retail therapy.
I love the architecture of this place and always find interesting shops and galleries to stroll through. During a previous visit, my daughter and I enjoyed a little wine tasting, but this time, we stumbled upon Spirits & Spice. This unique shop had the entire family engaged in tasting, and it did not disappoint. I assure you, none of us left the store empty-handed.
Spirits & Spice – just a sample of their amazing products
Interesting stuff, but no room in an RV
Always unique shops to stroll
Spirits & Spice – son and daughter-in-law enjoy the samples
Love the Architecture
Dining … since we had a full kitchen at our accommodations, during this particular visit, we ate in most of the time, but we did enjoy a yummy Sunday breakfast with a great view at the Wildflower Bread Company. Another fun stop for us was at The Art of Wine for a little wine tasting. My daughter ended up buying some Arizona wine.
Awesome outdoor seating at the Wildflower Bread Company in Sedona
Great breakfast at the Wildflower Bread Company
Art of Wine, Sedona
Restaurants we’ve eaten at in the past: The Coffee Pot Restaurant is ideal for a hearty breakfast and serves up some of the best coffee. I enjoyed the coffee so much that I even bought a bag of their beans to brew back at the RV. Javelina’s Cantina is one of Al’s favorite lunch spots. Oaxaca Restaurant is another tasty Mexican restaurant if you happen to be strolling Main Street. And for those looking for specialty foods, Chocola Tree is worth checking out. Their outdoor patio is very zen with a hippie vibe.
Final thoughts on Sedona
Sedona is most definitely a tourist town and on weekends traffic can be congested and challenging, but if you can get beyond the hoards of people, you’ll discover a sense of history, beauty, and well-being like non-other.
The history of this land goes way back to various Indian civilizations as evidenced by the Honanki ruins; AD 1150-1350. The first Europeans (Spanish) explored the Verde Valley in the mid 1500’s and the first Anglo settled in the area in 1876.
And we can’t ignore the energizing vortexes which attract believers from around the world to experience these mystical forces. What is a vortex? They are thought to be swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. These are places where the earth seems especially alive with energy. Many people feel inspired, recharged or uplifted after visiting a vortex.
Whether you believe in the power of a vortex or not, I think we can all agree, Sedona is unique, and worth at least one visit. As for my family and I, we aren’t done exploring Sedona, Arizona, and are already planning our next visit. Yes Sedona, we’ll be back!
Top 7 things to do in Sedona
Hike or bike the 300 plus miles of trails. You’ll find a trail for every level of ability, but do note, the trailhead parking lots fill up quickly. Sedona’s secret 7 hiking trails.
Take in the incredible red rock landscape by enjoying a Jeep or helicopter tour.
Visit a vortex. Regarded by Native Americans as sacred, Sedona continues to be recognized as a place of healing and spiritual renewal. Many come to experience the vortex centers of Sedona to tap into spiritual energy.
Or simply relax around a luxury resort. Sparkling pools and rejuvenating spas abound.
The intoxicating beauty of towering red rock sandstone monoliths and buttes…. rocks aptly named Coffee Pot Rock and Cathedral Rock…. equal parts of rugged and luxury…. a small town blessed with an abundance of beauty and surrounded by National Forest land…..
These words barely begin to personify stunning Sedona, Arizona. Sedona served as stop number two for my excursion with my daughter, and as you might expect, it did not disappoint. Ashton was pleasantly awed by the angular rock formations, high mesas, and stunning colors.
Talk about a visual treat. A feast for the eyes. An abundance of beauty in all directions.
Those beautiful red rocks serve as a backdrop for a number of outdoor activities ranging from spiritual pursuits to hundreds of hiking and biking trails to guided Jeep excursions.
Since Ashton and I only had a couple of hours to tour the area, we set our sights on exploring the shops. Sedona is well-known for its vortex energy and folks from around the world come here for healing and spiritual renewal.
Many of the shops focus on the metaphysical and sell jewelry made from various crystals and stones, each serving a distinct purpose. We stepped into the Sedona Crystal Vortex shop and found ourselves learning the metaphysical value of the array of polished stones. The store offered everything from loose stones, to stunning pieces of jewelry that I would classify as “Art”, to simple elasticized bracelets.
As we perused the numerous bracelets, we read the special benefits of wearing particular stones. It seems there’s a stone for whatever ails a person.
My skeptical nature may have had me doing an eye roll, but the bracelets were cute and thus I figured what the heck. It certainly couldn’t hurt to wear one of these ‘healing‘ bracelets and I can always use a little help. Hmm….. I pondered which stone(s) would be most beneficial for me; creativity, energizing, harmony, inspiration, courage, grounding, prosperity, calming, balance? The list went on, and although I was tempted to walk out of there with half a dozen bracelets, my wallet thanked me for walking out empty-handed. Perhaps I should have indulged in a citrine stone bracelet = prosperity!
Ashton, on the other hand, found healing and inspirational therapy at a wine shop. Following a little wine tasting, she walked out of the store with two bottles of Arizona wines.
We spent another hour engrossed in retail therapybefore heading off for a little spiritual enlightenment.
Regardless of one’s faith, a visit to the Chapel of the Holy Cross is a must. Built in 1956 this Catholic Chapel rises 70 feet (21m) out of a 1,000 foot (300m) red rock cliff.
I must admit, a quiet moment of reflection inside this church had more of an impact on my aura than any of the crystals or healing stones I handled that day. Perhaps my chakras are in need of attention.
On that note, I know just the place to go to have my chakras aligned, engage in vortex energy, have my aura analyzed, or purchase stones to help heal whatever ails me 😉 Yes, Sedona…. I shall return. I’m itching to hit your trails!
Before heading out of town, we made one final stop. Not only had I worked up a thirst, but I felt compelled to show Ashton the architecture on this one of a kind McDonald’s. Yep, this is the only McDonald’s in the world where the arches are turquoise instead of golden. So when I told her we were stopping at the Turquoise Arches for soft drinks, she was initially perplexed and later humored.
With trepidation, we hook up, load up and depart Dead Horse Ranch State Park leaving the images of Sedona in the rear view mirror. We hated saying good-bye to Sedona’s natural beauty of red-rocks.
Many of these red-rock buttes, spires, and monuments have names, such as the popular Coffee Pot Rock. Red Rock Country is definitely worth the visit on any trip to Arizona. I know it’ll be a regular stop for Al and me. We already look forward to returning.
And while the red-rocks are majestic and stunning, another site catches our eyes….McDonald’s. Oh, but this McDonald’s is special. It’s the only one in the world where the Golden Arches are Turquoise Arches. Turquoise is a color most associated with the desert southwest. As I’m taking a photo, a gentleman from Japan joins me to my left, while a woman from Spain joins me on my right. Sedona is a highlight for folks from around the world. We all comment about the Turquoise Arches and the southwest architecture as we snap away.
With the Rig pointed south, we slowly meander toward Phoenix. Arizona is a land of contrast and diversity. The scenery is undeniably beautiful, ranging from hot and dry deserts to evergreen mountain forests to towering red rocks and canyon gorges.
One minute we’re traveling among ignored, undeveloped desert, the next we stumble across an old pioneer graveyard or ghost town. Then within a few short miles, we happen upon a populated area of new homes and shopping centers.
It appears everything in Arizona is either very old or very new. What an amazing land. And it’s ours to explore!
We awake to a beautiful Arizona sunrise, and quickly ready ourselves for the day. We’re off to try another Sedona recommendation from LuAnn….the Coffee Pot Restaurant.
The Coffee Pot Restaurant is home to 101 Omelets and got its name from the famous Coffee Pot Rock. Coffee Pot Rock is actually the highest point in Sedona at about 5,600 feet in elevation. The town sits at 4,350 feet in elevation.
Ummm, the coffee was divine and the food was excellent. We even purchase some coffee to brew back at the RV.
Next we head into the quaint older shopping district for a little retail therapy. I can’t help but feel a sense of history. I image the pioneers on horseback discovering this majestic land. The history of this land goes way back to various Indian civilizations. The first Europeans (Spanish) explored the Verde Valley in the mid 1500’s and the first Anglo settled in the area in 1876.
Sedona is a small town of about 10,000 residents and consists of 19 square miles, 49% of which belong to the Coconino National Forest. With such an abundance of public access, the availability of hiking is endless.
Red Rock Country is stunning in all directions. There’s a sense of spirituality. A majestic beauty. It’s no wonder this unique beauty attracts 2 to 4 million tourists a year.
Al and I finally feel rested, relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to hit the road again. Although I must admit, I could stay for quite awhile and never tire of the view.
How the park got its name – The Ireys family came to Arizona from Minnesota looking to buy a ranch in the late 1940’s. At one of the ranches they discovered a large dead horse lying by the road. After two days of viewing ranches, Dad Ireys asked the kids which ranch they liked the best. The kids said, “the one with the dead horse”. The Ireys family chose the name Dead Horse Ranch and late, in 1973, when Arizona State Parks acquired the park, the Ireys made retaining the name a condition of sale.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park covers 423 acres and sits at an elevation of 3,300 feet. The park is located within the Coconino National Forest and provides ample trails for hiking or biking, as well as water for canoeing or fishing.
The spiritual town of Sedona is an easy 20 minute drive from Dead Horse Ranch State Park. LuAnn over at Paint Your Landscape graciously sent me information and recommendations on the area. Thank you, LuAnn.
Our first stop was Chapel of the Holy Cross. What a fascinating structure. The mere thought of constructing this unique building boggles my mind.
After a moment of reflection at the chapel, we stop at an architecturally pleasing shopping center called Tlaqquepaque….no, I don’t know how to pronounce it.
Followed by a great Mexican meal at Javelina Cantina. They serve some of the best salsa Al and I have ever eaten. With tummies full, we return to the RV at Dead Horse Ranch State Park with plans to return to Sedona in the morning for breakfast. I’m already looking forward to it 🙂