Monday, March 29, 2010

Western Road Trip Part 1: Sedona

I remember taking long road trips as a child. The blue and white striped Chevy van, packed with food, luggage, all five kids and whatever books/games we could fit. This was back before ipods so I remember playing the humming game and slug-bug. The other way we passed the time was by sleeping. A lot of sleeping. My parents would yell back to us, "Kids! Wake up! Look at the beautiful mountains." We would sit up and look out the window for a minute and lay back down. How could I not be impressed by these views? Silly kid.

Im not sure at what age I finally started appreciating travel, but I know it was sometime after these family trips. As far as I am concerned, Yellowstone Park, the Grand Tetons, and the Grand Canyon all must be revisited....I was just too young.

When we suggested a road trip to the Grand Canyon to mis suegros it only took a second for them to agree! Mi suegro suggested we check out Sedona too. Perfect, we will leave at 6am Saturday morning!

We were out of the house by 7am, which is pretty good considering I was traveling with 3 Espinozas. (te quiero espinozas!) Sedona is approximately an 8 hour drive from San Diego; we arrived around 2:30 pm.

Ernesto had booked a hotel on Priceline and I was pleasantly surprised with the Super 8. For $89 we had a clean room, free breakfast, great location and a killer view of, what else, some red rock.

{view from hotel room}

We spent the afternoon strolling in the center, which if you ask me, was too touristy. Unless you want chotchkies or t-shirts, I suggest you stay away from the main strip shops. If you are looking a charming shopping/browsing experience, head behind the visitors center. In that complex you can grab a coffee at Starbucks and pop into some very nice galleries and shops.

Another nice [but expensive] shopping area is Tlaquepaque, named after the picturesque suburb in Guadalajara, Mexico. It was a wonderful rendition of the original, which Ernesto and I visited last fall on our Mexico trip.

There are more than 40 shops, galleries, & restaurants for you to peruse at Tlaquepaque. The art was beautiful, but after traveling Mexico and comparing prices, I could never buy it in the U.S. (hmmm....Espinoza imports?) Instead we enjoyed the graceful arches and fountains, the tranquil plazas and shady verandas.

Sedona, also called Red Rock Country, is situated in an area of stunning natural beauty.

The towering rock formations along with the iron-rich red soil transports you to the wild wild west. (in fact, I read that many western movies have been filmed there)

The temperature was close to 70 during the day and dropped into the 50's at night. Perfect for walking and hiking. The number of trails and lookout points in this area is staggering. You could spend weeks hiking different trails. With only 2 days, we weren't sure what we should do and the helpful ladies at the visitors center gave us a map and some insight to the best spots to visit.
{trail to Bell Rock}

{sitting at Bell Rock}

{Neto y sus padres at Midgley Bridge}

{Church of the Holy Cross, built by a Frank Lloyd Wright disciple}

Sedona's main industry is tourism. Strangely enough, one of the "sights" that draws people, you can't even see. It is called a vortex. Not a vortex with water or wind, but with energy. I did a little online research beforehand about this phenomenon. It is claimed by many that there are several areas where invisible swirling energy emanates from the earth creating an uplifting, rejuvenating sensation. Some claim this energy has powers of spiritual and psychic enhancement as well. Some energy sites are masculine, some feminine. Some release upward energy, some downward. Sounds like some New Age crap? Maybe, but I was intrigued. Who doesn't need some kind of healing, right?

One vortex site is called Vista Point. Before hiking the 5 mile trail at Boynton Canyon, we veered off to the vortex in hopes of some extra energy.

{soaking up the energy of the vortex at Vista Point}

{building blocks of our fellow "seekers"}

{Neto at Vista Point, a site where the vortex may have eaten his wallet}

It was dark by the time we finished our hike that night; this is when Ernesto realized he didn't have his wallet. Maybe the energy was downward spiraling at Vista Point instead of upward as the brochure had stated.** Or perhaps it fell out of his pocket at Sally's BBQ, where we had stopped for a delicious lunch of ribs and smoked chicken. We will never know. Either way, it was gone and we were on our way to the Grand Canyon.

**I poke fun, but Im sure if anyone sits alone quietly, pensively, on these red rocks you would feel enlightenment of some sort. It happens when you really take the time to think uninterrupted, right? I can definitely see how this location can facilitate meditation and increased energy. The view alone is moving, I felt something.

For more of my Sedona pics, check out my picasa album here:

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