Arizona Review: Part 1

We’ve been back from our trip to northern Arizona for exactly one month now, so I guess I should stop procrastinating and work on my write up of it. Although it’s hard to write about it.

One of the biggest lessons I took away from college was based on C.S. Lewis’ essay “Myth Became Fact,” and it was the idea that you cannot simultaneously describe and experience something. While in Sedona, we were only experiencing it. It reminded me a lot of how I felt after walking the Camino de Santiago–a feeling of absolute presence with time and place. Even in the camps and hikes we do at home, so often I am thinking of how it feels, giving names to my emotions, writing mental poetry about my surroundings. But Sedona was just so–I’ll say it–epic, that all any of us could do was stare. Enjoy. And experience.

You’ve probably heard about the “vortex sites” in Sedona. I hiked to a couple of these, and what I left this trip with, was the feeling that all of Sedona is a hub of mystical energy, not just a few specific locations. It’s indescribable, but it’s palpable. There was a peace over the entire family the whole time we were there. The kids listened better, and it was easier to just be. Even our last day there, we weren’t worried about what we were coming home to, as so often happens on vacation. We were just soaking in as much of the Sedona atmosphere as we could.

And the views. Oh, the views. I commented to Billy at one point while we were driving somewhere, that every time I looked at the towering red rocks, it’s like I had forgotten how amazing they were. I love love love the Blue Ridge Mountains. I can and have spent hours just caught up in the majesty of their rolling peaks and purple glow. And Billy and I both love the ocean. But there’s an overwhelming beauty to the red rocks of Sedona. Is it because it’s just such different terrain than we are used to? I can only say maybe. It seems like everyone I’ve spoken to who has been to Sedona–whether they are coming from the east coast, the PNW, or even further south in the desert of Phoenix–agrees that Sedona has a magic all its own.

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Bell Rock Pathway, overlooking the Chapel on the Hill towards downtown Sedona.

As far as going with kids–if you are an adventurous family at all, Sedona is a perfect place to go with kids. There are so many trails you couldn’t even scratch the surface (so to speak–har har) in one trip, and of so many varying lengths it’s easy to find one for any age without having to travel far from wherever you are staying–although I have to recommend staying close to Oak Creek if possible. We rented a house through vrbo.com, and were overlooking the creek, and had our own private trail down to it that we took advantage of almost daily. Unfortunately in mid-April the water was still REALLY cold so we didn’t do a lot of creek splashing, but there was a huge flat rock that made a great picnic spot, and the kids loved it. There are a lot of amazing camping opportunities that afford creek access as well. We did a lot of cooking at the house we were renting, but there are a variety of restaurants scattered through the entire town with some excellent food.

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Kairi playing on the rocks at our private access to Oak Creek.

Sedona is an artist’s haven, and that can make some of the shopping/sight-seeing a little challenging with little ones, as so many of the shops have wares that are easily broken or damaged, so we did not get a chance to look at as much of the art as I would have liked, but I was mostly interested in the outdoor experiences, so that wasn’t a huge drawback for me. (And we ended up coming home with a beautiful mosaic by artist Lenore Hemingway as a gift from my mom regardless–thanks mom!)

More than the views, the hiking, and the art however, our trip sparked a wanderlust in all of us. A reminder of how big the world is, and how much it has to offer. An experience for our kids to see the diversity of our planet’s natural beauty, and, at least in Kairi, a traveling spirit to see more. Virginia is beautiful, but it’s one small place in a much larger world.

So go to Sedona. Take your kids. Breathe it in. You’ll thank yourself, and your whole family will fall in love.

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Our actual view from the trail leading from our rental house to Oak Creek.

 

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Published by Whimsy & Wilderness Photography

I am a photographer and writer based in Chattanooga, TN, and adventuring around the southeastern United States with my husband and two children.

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