We were so excited to start our vacation for real after waking up in Phoenix Tuesday morning. We had flown out from Jacksonville Monday and with the time changes and then the hassle of getting a rental car, we didn’t end up at our hotel until rather late Monday evening. So when we woke up we were ready to hit the road and get hiking.
The drive from Phoenix to Sedona is beautiful. You take 17 North out of the city and drive for a couple of hours and then suddenly, there you are. As you drive you pass saguaros and even see tumbleweeds. Much of the drive is in national forest land, so very unpopulated. As you get closer to Sedona the terrain becomes rockier and the rocks become redder. There is more scrub and green things growing than we had really expected, even though we had seen pictures before hand. I suppose it is just hard to reconcile the idea of a desert to the reality of a desert. And, of course, deserts are as different from one another as every forest is different from every other forest.
We stopped first at the ranger station to get some maps, our national parks pass and a better hat for Michael (he shaves his head — scalp protection is no joke!). These pictures were taken from the walkway leading up to the ranger station. It was beautiful, but unfortunately for us, many of our photos that day looked more like this (click on photos to view in larger format):
It was so rainy! In fact, downtown Sedona even had a pretty intense hail storm, although happily we didn’t get caught in that. There were just enough lulls between sprinkles and showers to lead us into trying a new spot/trail and then it would start coming down again. The world was still beautiful, but we had really planned on getting a lot of hiking in on this trip — especially here in Sedona. We were a little bemused and not sure what to do with ourselves. We spent a lot of time driving from one place to another and trying to get a few good pictures or maybe even a tiny hike in. We did get a lot of pictures, but not so much on the hiking!
We did visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a beautiful chapel designed and built by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. There was a short hike from the parking area up to the chapel, then a lovely view of Sedona and all her red-rocked glory. The chapel doesn’t offer regular services, but is open for prayer and meditation. We are not terribly religious, but I lit a candle for Michael’s mother and grandmother who had lived in this state when Michael’s mother was very young. We couldn’t get over the beautiful flowers and cacti and were surprised at the variety we found.
We tried one last time to get in a hike but finally admitted defeat and went out for pizza. We visited a restaurant recommended by a friend and thoroughly enjoyed our meal. We split a bruchetta appetizer (three different kinds of toppings) and a pizza margherita, both of which were delicious. To round off our carb heavy meal, we each tried a local beer/cider and then finished up with a scoop of gelato. We were disappointed, but decided we’d try to get some time in Sedona on our way back south to Phoenix if we were able. In the meantime we were headed to the Grand Canyon!