Red Rock Country (and a job!)

Let’s be honest – do we really need words here?

Sedona is a place that defies description. As hard as we tried to capture it in pictures, it’s hard to tell just how breathtaking it is from one glimpse at the red rocks.  The only way to really understand Sedona’s beauty is to stand in the middle of its spiraling towers of red earth, perfectly contrasted by the blue sky above and greenery below.  Every single rock is beautiful on its own, but when you realize how many there are and how they seemingly go on forever, in a million different shapes, it takes your breath away.

We first went to Sedona a few weeks ago and spent most of the day lazily walking through the shops and driving the scenic roads.  We both agreed it was one of our favorite days since we began travel nursing.  You can see the red rocks from everywhere in town, and it was so relaxing to have lunch out in the sunshine and enjoy the view.  We even tried cactus fries!  The weather was perfect that day and, after Charlie had been working a lot of overtime shifts, it was a great day to just hang out without an agenda and enjoy exploring a new place together.

This past Monday we returned to Sedona as part of a two-night trip (also visiting Flagstaff and Jerome).  We got there pretty early in the day and hiked up to Cathedral Rock before lunch.  Even though the scenic drives through town are gorgeous, there really is nothing like getting a little red dust on your shoes and being in the middle of all that beauty!

After carefully picking our way back down (the “trail” is very steep and smooth), we enjoyed a great lunch in uptown Sedona and then headed off to find Devil’s Bridge.  This trail leads to a huge sandstone arch that offers a big thrill and even better views.  We walked through the rocks for about a mile before reaching the trailhead that begins the climb to the arch.  This trail is gorgeous enough on its own, but then all of a sudden you turn a corner and see this:

Walking out onto the arch was really fun.  It’s a little wider than it looks, and if you don’t look down you really can’t tell how high up you are.  We both agreed it was one of the coolest things we’ve ever done!  The trail feels so remote, and it was great to spend a couple of hours watching how the view changed every time we’d turn a corner.  As much as we loved our lazy day in Sedona earlier, I think hiking in the red rocks will always be among our top favorite experiences.

After checking into our hotel, we got cleaned up and drove up a large mesa near the airport to watch the sun begin to set.

It was starting to get crowded, so we headed out, making a quick stop for some pictures at the Chapel of the Holy Cross.  This beautiful chapel was built into the rocks in the 1930s, and is a wonderful reminder of how intimately the beauty around us is connected to God the Creator.  The view from inside the Chapel (out the windows shown below) is breathtaking!

That night we had dinner on the back porch of the Hideaway Restaurant, overlooking Snoopy Rock, and watched the sun go down over Oak Creek.  In the morning, we woke up early and drove through Oak Creek Canyon to spend the day in Flagstaff.  Our first stop was a 50s diner right on Route 66.  Charlie had been wanting to check out the Mother Road, and breakfast at a diner seemed the perfect way to do it!

Flagstaff is neat city right at the base of the San Francisco mountains.  It definitely has the feel of a mountain town where everything seems very “earthy” and laid-back.  We spent most of the day wandering through the eclectic shops in the historic downtown, occasionally cracking up at the numerous shops and bookstores devoted to the healing art of the nearby mountain’s crystals.  We headed back to Sedona just in time to drive through Oak Creek Canyon at sunset and catch a drum circle performance up the street from our hotel.  One thing we love about traveling is getting to experience things we weren’t used to in Auburn, and I’d say a bunch of neo-hippies banging their bongos in a tiny little place tucked into the side of the canyon definitely qualifies as one of these experiences. We had a blast!

On our last day of the trip, we drove a little ways back into the canyon to have breakfast at a great little place called Indian Gardens.  If we were to ever own a little market/cafe, this is exactly how I would want it – right across from Oak Creek and shaded by the cottonwood trees.  Warm from our apple cider and granola, we headed about 30 minutes down the road to Jerome.

In the late 1800s, Jerome was a wealthy coal-mining town literally built onto the side of Cleopatra Mountain.  But as the price of coal fluctuated and the mines dried up, the town was all but abandoned in the 1950s.  Since that time, a lot of artists (both young adults like us and retirees) have settled there and now the town has about 500 full-time residents and several fun shops and restaurants.  As you wind your way up the mountain, you can see the different levels of Jerome.  There are only about four main streets and since it’s built onto the mountainside, you have to climb a flight of stairs to get from one to the next.  Everything is built in varying levels, and it’s a horrible place to take someone who’s unsteady on their feet!  (below: on the second street up, looking on to the street below and the Verde Valley beyond)

We had a great morning here wandering through the shops and taking in the view of the Verde Valley.  A lot of the buildings are the originals from Jerome’s most recent heyday in the 1920s, so it really feels like you’ve stepped into a little slice of history.  Upon leaving Jerome, we took Route 89A up and up and up, going completely over a mountain we had seen from a distance earlier and thought looked impossibly tall.

It was when we were winding our way back down and on towards Casa Grande that we got a call from our recruiter letting us know our next assignment will be in Antioch, CA!  It was a fantastic way to end a really wonderful trip – more on the job and how God walked us blindly through the process tomorrow!

(See more pictures from our Sedona trip here)

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