I didn’t realize how desperately I needed an adventure until I got to Sedona. Since the beginning of 2015 I have been in non-stop work mode, developing environmental education programs for the local youths and evening interpretive programs for the older snow birds camped out at the neighboring state parks. Basically just talking to people about the things I love, nature and animals. For the first time in what feels like 8 years I totally love what I’m doing and look forward to going to work, every single day. I’m not TGIF-ing, this horrible affliction norms face every week. I don’t clock-watch, rather I barely know what day/time it is; only if I need to be somewhere at a certain place, do I even bother with such disruptions. I’m inspired 24-7; it’s hard for me to turn off at night and sound sleep hasn’t been easy. My work commute is a ten minute walk down a scenic highway with the birds chirping along the glistening lake. What is this life and why has it taken me so long to get to this place? Process. I’m learning to respect and honor it more and more, and that is a challenge.
I booked 3 nights at the Manzanita Campground in the Coconino Wilderness off Oak Creek just outside of Sedona. I thought I’d end up camping alone but one of my bestest friends Todd, a true adventurous spirit, represented and drove all the way from LA to join me. I’m particular about who I like to camp with but with Todd I’m never disappointed. He puts up with my sassiness and is even sassier than me on most counts. He is judgmental and opinionated which I find really amusing. He takes my picture when I ask him to and doesn’t complain about it. Plus he brings a lot of meat and I don’t normally eat meat but will on special occasions like cooking over an open fire. 3 nights is just simply not enough time to experience the wonder of this beautiful area of Arizona. Sure I wanted to check out Flagstaff and Jerome but I was sucked into Sedona’s vortex and that was just fine with me. Getting in late Friday night on President’s Day weekend (aka Valentine’s Day), the tiny, 18 site campground was full with fires ablazin’. We cooked some wieners and drank beer and enjoyed the last bit of day left.
It was so peaceful there that I slept a lot later than I normally do while camping. We started our day with a hike down the super crowded West Fork Trail (8 mi R/T) through the West Fork Canyon in Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness. It was a mellow, shady hike through beautiful riparian habitat with red rocks towering above as you cross over Oak Creek ten times. Just after the Wave Cave, where no bats were sighted, we turned around for the out and back part. We then intended to drive into Sedona proper but there were so many cars backed up that we turned around and stopped at Midgley Bridge to inadvertenly check out the shit show of drunk college kids coming back from day drinking way down below at the creek. It made me feel old and glad to be older at the same time. Heading back down the road, we passed one of them with a selfie stick standing drunk in the lane on a blind curve. We checked out this cafe/store called Indian Gardens for the first of many times and stocked up on supplies for a bitchin’ fire and delicious dinner. The day adventure ended sooner than I would have liked but the campground was full of life and steak and Fat Tire beer so it ended up being just fine. I even got Todd to play glow-in-the-dark frisbee with me and didn’t throw it in the fire this time. Another beautiful starry night in Sedona and although I wasn’t officially in a vortex, I felt so happy and content on this day of justifiable love.
Our final full day began with me proclaiming that we were going to go DEEP into every vortex in the area. This being damn near impossible, we humbly started at Indian Garden (again) for coffee and a ‘breakfast sammy’, the most delicious egg sandwich I have had in my life thus far. The lovely Ohioian who worked there recommended Cathedral Rock so that is what we did first. Driving through Sedona for the first time was full of traffic circles (hence the heavy traffic) and hippie stores that offered aura photos, vortex secrets and psychic readings. There are red rock formations everywhere with strange names that resemble what they are supposed to look like. The Cathedral Rock parking area had one spot left in it, just for us. An omen of vortex power! The hike started out as hikes normally do then you just had to walk up the rocks and follow the white marks and cairns. It was scary and hard at first but the vortex was guiding me with it’s magical energy, I suppose. Shit, babies and dogs were doing it so why couldn’t I? We finally made it to the base of the “cathedral” and a small ridge that connected all the needle-like formations together. A seemingly local dude with a bright orange skull-cap on pointed out to this outcropping of gray rocks and said that was the actual vortex, as he coached his lady to climb the top of it from a distance. I was just fine where I was at. I swear I felt peace and happiness just being near the cathedral. I hugged it and prayed and meditated and then back down we went, charged with the vortex power or sammy, not sure which.
Next it was Bell Rock, another insanely crowded hike around a red rock resembling… you guessed it. It was hot and exposed and we walked in for a little over a mile and turned back. Didn’t feel too much power on that one and the highway was right there and blah blah. We simply needed ice cream, stat. But in my trajectory of efficient vortex potential, decided to hit one more on the way.
The Church of the Holy Cross is this oddly placed church tucked into the red rocks down a conspicuous road with a giant mansion across the street from it. The mansion had waterfalls and poi fish, granite statues and a circle driveway… just insane. The church was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in the 1950’s. So crowded, we had to walk it in down the road, up a steep driveway and through a parking lot. A bit of a clusterfuq but totally worth it. First you see tons of tourists taking pictures then a set of really tall doors that beckon you inside the church. I sat in the first row and felt the power of the vortex all around me. Peace, love and light filled my soul – it was strange but real. There was an altar and they do a service there still but none was in progress at the time. Red candles flanked either side of the altar and these tall windows opened out into the annoying mansion and beautiful red rocks all around. Todd sat outside, afraid of being struck down and doesn’t believe in vortex business anyways BUT appreciates my hippie-ness (I think). It was definitely time for ice cream after that and we waited in a long-ass line at the Black Cow and I instantly regretted getting one scoop instead of two. We walked around town and I was going to get my aura photo taken but it was too much money so I bought incense instead and fondled some magic crystals and sprayed a bunch of meditation/positive/relaxing/energizing sprays on me to mask my aroma aura of campfire-grime-sweat. There was this crazy indian trading post store that was way too big with a lot of skulls and animals skins and jewelry and other random ceremonial/craft/objects de arte. It creeped me out to be surrounded by so many animal parts but it was cool at the same time. I didn’t buy anything, surprisingly. We just about had enough of the town so we went back to Indian Gardens (the best place so far anyways) to stock up on supplies for another bitchin’ campfire and dinner.
Our very last bit in Sedona was spent at the Coffee Pot restaurant for a sampling of one of their 101 omelets. We both wanted the same omelet, green chili and cheese but I won and he lost with added bacon and finished eating way before me, like always. We then simply had to hike to the Coffeepot Rock, for the full experience of it all, an outcropping of red rocks that resembles a percolater style coffee pot. Down the Tea Cup trail and over-looking Devil’s Kitchen, we made about a 2 mile loop and headed back to the car on our last hike in the Red Rock splendor.
I’m not sure about all the vortexes, but I just felt happy and at peace my entire time in Sedona. Even if I wasn’t at a “power site,” there was something magical happening inside and around and lingering… I came back feeling revived and ready for something/anything. The next day I got a job offer from my first interview after a slurry of job applications, so my next official adventure is now on the horizon. I can not be more excited for the future, so bright – gotta wear shades. Might be unrelated to the Sedona experience but I’m a believer.