Sunday, June 14, 2015

Suddenly Sedona

Sometimes all it takes is one person doing something nice to change the whole trajectory of your day. All you need is one kind-hearted gate agent (admittedly a creature as rare and mystical as a rainbow-pooping unicorn) to take the time to take you off your STL-LAX-PHX routing, which gets you into Phoenix at nearly 3pm and put you on the direct flight, getting you to your hotel before breakfast closes at 10am. Suddenly, what would have been a wasted day becomes rife with possibility.

This was the scenario that played out earlier this week. The discussion about doing a short trip to Sedona the following day quickly morphed into an overnight in Sedona with a side trip to Jerome. Within 20 minutes of the idea being floated around, a hotel room was booked, a groupon for a jeep tour had been purchased and a rental car awaited us.  It came together so easily that it was clearly meant to be.

I had been here once, but it was so long as ago that it was pd.  Pre-digital.  All my photos are from a film camera. That's at least fifteen years ago. You wouldn't know that if you ever mentioned Sedona in front of me.  I rave so much about this place that you would be justified in thinking that I go every summer and have a side gig with their tourism board. Really, I think this is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Nothing had changed. I still found it to be amazing. How could it not be?. At a time when I would have been sitting in LAX airport, I was instead standing in front of Montezuma's Castle, looking at 12th century cliff dwellings.

Once in Sedona, we checked into our hotel.  The clerk offered us an upgrade to a larger room with a better view.  The view was of a wall.  But behind that wall stood Bell Rock, meaning that I was able to hike out to it at 6am the next morning and have it all to myself.

Our luck continued with the tour voucher.  People had recommended we go with the Pink Jeep company and I can understand why. Those pepto-bismo colored conveyances are everywhere.  They are the Starbucks of the jeep tour business and anyone who knows me, knows how I feel about Starbucks (or chains in general).  I simply don't like them.

Fortunately, our voucher was with A Day in the West Tours, a small family owned company with yellow jeeps. Hours before our tour, there had been a fatal car accident on the main road, causing traffic to back up for miles.  They would have been completely justified in simply canceling our tour, particularly when it was just my friend, Diana, and I who showed up at the appointed time. To their credit, they simply suggested a different (and ultimately more scenic) route and sent us off with Jay, a funny, charming guy who was well-versed in all things Sedona.  He told us of about the city's history, pointed out flora and fauna and kept us highly entertained, all while expertly maneuvering Pearl, his yellow trusty sidekick along a very bumpy old wagon trail road.
This formation is called Snoopy but personally I see the old man from Up sleeping with a woody.

Not only were we in Sedona, but we were there during the time of year that the cacti were flowering. Score!

Looking at the Bat formation.

The following morning, nay the following perfect morning, we followed Jay's advice and visited some more of the sites, stopping along the way for short hikes here and there.


Chapel of the Holy Cross

If anyone is looking to get me a gift, anything from this store will do.  Yes, even the T-Rex.

The view from the airport.

Another one of Jay's recommendations was to visit the nearby town of Jerome.  This small hilltop town was once a booming mining town which later became a ghost town.  Eventually artists noticed that there were some really cool buildings with spectacular views and turned it in the quasi-hipster town it is today.  It is fair to still refer to it as a ghost town since every other building is purported to be haunted.

Part of the reason for this is the town's former reputation as the wickedest town in the west.  There were hookers and shootings and bar fights, oh my.

The most haunted building is said to be the Jerome Grand Hotel, so of course we had to visit.  We were there just briefly so I can not attest to whether or not there were any actual ghosts, but I can say that the place is hella-creepy.  The front desk guy looked like the incestuous offspring of Nicholas Cage, the staff in the restaurant would only speak to each other in whispers and when some guy in the hallway "psst'ed" behind me, I practically jumped out of my flip flops.

Cute town, though.  And overall a fantastically wonderful weekend, all set into motion by one small act of kindness.

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