Arizona Travel

ARIZONA: The Red Rocks of Sedona

October 15, 2021

Everyone says don’t miss Sedona. They were correct!

We turned off the freeway about two hours north of Phoenix to follow the road to Sedona winding through desert plants surrounded by small yellow butterflies flittering around flowering shrubs.

Another few turns brought us to a halt to stare in awe at the magnificent sight of orange and dark red sandstone sculpted into giant spires, plateaus, canyons and massive rock escarpments all constructed by the gods of wind and water over eons. The formations were aptly named The Bell, The Courthouse, etc., on our map, but the human names did not do justice to the giant shapes glowing in the sun.

We were fortunate that our hotel overlooked other formations where the colors change with the atmosphere and the position of the sun, some glowing red-gold in the lowering sun, others sinking into dark shade until the next day.

Sedona attracts legions of tourists, many are hikers along with those from Phoenix who want a quick getaway. But the town is also the center of the wellness industry with dozens of businesses catering to those in need of personal fulfillment. Shops sell crystals, tarot reading, lotions, sage for smudging. Establishments for alternative medicine abound, and high-end hotels feature luxurious spas with esoteric treatments. Devotees pray and meditate at a Buddhist stupa seeking spiritual renewal. Ah well, it’s not my thing but I did want to visit one of the famous vortexes where one can feel some sort of energy – either masculine or feminine. Unfortunately, there were so many energy seekers we could never find a place to park so I had to be content with enjoying the spectacular view from our hotel while nursing a glass of wine and watching a kitten play with falling leaves, a low energy occupation but one that did me a world of good before embarking on some retail therapy, another of the town’s specialties.

My husband said he’d always wanted a silver belt buckle. The town had plenty of stores specializing in Western wear. But some of the offerings were too fancy, some too plain, some so big they looked by the belts worn by champion boxers. We sampled shops filled with Native American buckles, bracelets, bolo ties, rings and pendants worked in silver, turquoise, and other stones.

Finally, hubby found the design he wanted in a display case at the Appaloosa Trading Co., the last shop before we quit for the day. The shop owner described how he bought it in Durango, Colorado from a New Mexican artisan years earlier and how he’d only that day brought it out of his safe for display. The Art Deco-inspired buckle was engraved on the reverse with the name “Nuste”. Whoever he is, the object is a work of art. Mission accomplished!

While we weren’t attracted to the endless wellness offerings, we did visit a spectacular site that combined the natural and man-made divine: the Chapel of the Holy Cross. The chapel was commissioned by a local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Staude, who was inspired by the design of the Empire State Building vaulting into the sky during the Depression. She planned to build a church in Budapest, Hungary but the project had to be abandoned due the outbreak of World War II. Instead, she turned to this site, an inspired choice indeed. The chapel was completed in 1956 and has been a magnet for worshippers of all faiths as well as those interested in the architecture where the building seems to spring out of the surrounding red rocks.

The church is on a plateau but overlooking the site is a row of human-seeming natural sculptures – sort of Mount Rushmore – or are they ancient deities of those whose cultures have vanished or saints of our era frozen in stone but still guarding the site?

Who knows, but we did have a spiritual experience.

All photos copyright Judith Works

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  1. Reply

    Jane Nesvig

    October 15, 2021

    Your posts are ever delightful and illuminating. Thank you.

  2. Reply

    Behind the Story

    October 16, 2021

    I’ve never been to Sedona, but having grown up in the time when “cowboy stories” (my dad’s favorites) were on television every night, I feel that I know the area. I think we had black-and-white TV, though, so we didn’t get the enjoy the beautiful, vibrant colors. That first photo is so majestic and proud. And what a darling kitten!

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