Day 9: Sedona, Arizona

When people found out we were going to be in Arizona to visit the Grand Canyon, many of them told us the same thing: “You have to go see Sedona while you’re out there.”

Sedona, Arizona is an incredibly picturesque town about 30 miles south of Flagstaff that is nestled in a valley and surrounded by red sandstone formations that characterize this part of Arizona. You enter Sedona by leaving Interstate 40 at Flagstaff and driving south for about 30 miles on Highway 89A. The drive on 89A is very scenic as it winds down through forest and around rock formations. All I could do was point and say “Wow, look at that” over and over.

We didn’t “do Sedona” the way most people do Sedona. Sedona is a community of just 10,000 people, with quaint shops and restaurants. Most people park their cars and walk around the various shops and eat at one of the local eateries. Like I said, it’s very quaint and upscale, and many movie stars, for example Nicholas Cage, spend some of their leisure time at Sedona.

We spent our time (1) visiting Slide Rock State Park; (2) going to see the Chapel of the Holy Cross; (3) eating dinner at a local diner; and (4) participating in a local custom of watching the sun set over Sedona at the airport, which looks out over the town.

Slide Rock State Park is north of Sedona and was our first stop. The best way to describe Slide Rock is to say that it’s a natural water park of sorts. There’s a creek that enters one end of Slide Rock Park and has carved its way through the sandstone and created an area where you can, well, slide down the rocks, as well as jump off the rocks into a deep pool. The best way to describe Slide Rock is to show you the pictures, and you’ll get the idea.

The short walk from the parking lot at Slide Rock State Park includes incredible mountain scenery.

The short walk from the parking lot at Slide Rock State Park includes incredible mountain scenery.

This is the entrance into the main water area of Slide Rock State Park

This is the entrance into the main water area of Slide Rock State Park

This is the view from the back end of Slide Rock State Park, showing the area where you ... slide down the rocks.

This is the view from the back end of Slide Rock State Park, showing the area where you … slide down the rocks.

Ronan demonstrates how it's done at Slide Rock. By the time we left, he had it down to a science.

Ronan demonstrates how it’s done at Slide Rock. By the time we left, he had it down to a science.

After a few hours at Slide Rock, we dried off, ate some ice cream, and left (to Anneliese the Water Bug’s chagrin) to go into Sedona. We drove through Sedona, oohing and aahing at the town, and emerged on the other end to visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross. The Chapel is a one-time Catholic Church that is now just a meditation center of sorts, as well as a tourist destination with a gift shop. Here are a couple of pics of the Chapel, to give you the idea.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross, viewed from the road as you approach.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross, viewed from the road as you approach.

The "back side" (entrance) to the Chapel of the Holy Cross

The “back side” (entrance) to the Chapel of the Holy Cross

View from the Chapel of the Holy Cross, including an amazing home owned by, according to a local, "the guy who invented laser eye surgery, or the machine that does it ... or something like that"

View from the Chapel of the Holy Cross, including an amazing home owned by, according to a local, “the guy who invented laser eye surgery, or the machine that does it … or something like that”

We ventured back into town at stopped at the visitor’s center, where a very nice lady suggested a place to eat called Red Planet Diner, with an alien spaceship theme to it, and she also said we should go up to the airport, located on a high hill outside of town, and watch the sun set. Watching the sunset is apparently a very popular thing for both locals and tourists to do, so we participated in that before calling it a day and driving back to Williams, AZ.

Red Planet Diner in Sedona, where we ate a very good and surprisingly affordable dinner

Red Planet Diner in Sedona, where we ate a very good and surprisingly affordable dinner

Red Planet Diner's interior

Red Planet Diner’s interior

 

Detail of the ceiling at Red Planet Diner

Detail of the ceiling at Red Planet Diner

The sun starts to set over Sedona. The locals and tourists gather to view it from the airport every night.

The sun starts to set over Sedona. The locals and tourists gather to view it from the airport every night.

The sun descends

The sun descends

The crowd lingers as the sun disappears over the horizon

The crowd lingers as the sun disappears over the horizon. There were  a lot more people than this at the peak of the viewing.

The kids at the sunset viewing

The kids at the sunset viewing

That was our Tuesday, June 18th. Remember, this day was sandwiched between trips to the Grand Canyon on Monday and Wednesday. Sadly, we left the Grand Canyon area on Thursday, June 20th, Day 11 of our 22-day odyssey. But the exciting part about leaving the GC area is that we were knocking out the last 450 miles or so between us and the Pacific Ocean. We were on our way to visit Nan’s brother Eddie, his wife Regina, and their three kids in Hermosa Beach, CA.

 

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