Monday, March 17, 2014

A little slice o' heaven

Sunday was a picture-perfect day around here, as opposed to Saturday when the wind howled and gusted and rocked the house, and today, when the wind howled and gusted and rocked the house. It was so bad on Saturday that the sky above the horizon disappeared into a dusty wall. But yesterday - sublime - which called for another mini roadtrip, this time to Sedona, a little slice o' heaven.

Just about two years ago to the week the ex-husband and I drove through Sedona but for one reason or another we didn't stop. I always wanted to go back and in fact, my three good friends from high school and I were supposed to meet there last April to celebrate (?) our 60th birthdays, but we all know what was going on with me last April. It wasn't fun, games, and bottles of wine, but this almost-April is very different from a year ago.

Before I experienced this part of the country, I long maintained that the Oregon coast was the most beautiful place I'd ever seen, but Sedona surely gives it a run for its money. I could keep both of them as favorites if I say it's comparing apples and oranges - the coast and the high desert are both very beautiful and very different places.

So off we went to Sedona on Sunday morning, my partner and I. It's just a short distance south of Flagstaff, which is a couple of hours west of the park on I-40. I've seen many pictures of Slide Rock State Park and we happened on it before hitting the town of Sedona, so we pulled in.

The park was in private hands for some time. Frank L. Pendley arrived in the canyon in 1907, formally acquiring the land under the Homestead Act in 1910. Due to his pioneering innovation, he succeeded where others failed by establishing a unique irrigation system still in use by the park today. He established an apple orchard in 1912 and over the years expanded the varieties. In the 1930s he built tourist cabins; this is one of the remaining buildings.

His own homestead was built in 1927. The apple tree in the background is trying hard to burst into bloom, but the one at the back of the house is ablaze with flowers.

The packing facility is still standing. It appears the state is still maintaining the property as an orchard as well as a public park; there was a crew behind this building planting saplings and fencing them off.

The scenery is spectacular.

Sedona is known to some for its areas of spiritual energy, an area believed by some to have vortexes that are conducive to healing, meditation, and prayer. I don't know about this but I keep an open mind. It would seem to me that you'd have to feel something when you come to an area of such power and presence.

Below are the younger trees in the orchard. On the other side of the walk to the creek and the water slide is the one remaining tree from the original orchard.

Here's the real draw of the park. People don't come here to look at old buildings and apple trees. They come for the creek

 There's an 80-foot natural slide in here somewhere but I never found it.

I suspect that in the summer it's standing room only, but yesterday it was just cool enough to keep the crowds down some.

I kept this photo because of the size of the boulder beside the creek. It would keep me looking up over my shoulder at the cliffs above.

Above the creek was a lone apple tree soaking up the sun, such a welcome sign of spring.

At creek level.

The creek has thankfully not been "improved." There are deep passages and shallow basins, rocks, and polished channels, all creating their own textures, encouraging a longer look.

Highway 89A crosses over the creek and creates this shady oasis. I could spend a long time just looking at the color in this one spot alone.

We spent a really nice couple of hours here and then went into Sedona for a quick look around. It's a tourist town. That's about all that can be said for it. The $10 spent to gain entrance to this park gave us more pleasure than if we'd spent 100 times that on anything the shops had to offer. My motto, after years of collecting stuff and finally seeing its true worth: Collect moments, not things. The ex-husband never got it. My partner does.

Thought of the day:
May those that love us, love us.
And those that don't love us, may God turn their hearts.
If he can't turn their hearts, 
May he turn their ankles
So we'll know them by their limping.  (In honor of St. Patrick's day)