A shuttle collected us from the iMax theatre close to the hotel and drove us to the Flagstaff airport where we collected our next hire car, “Chucky”, a Corolla sedan. As we got closer to Sedona the landscape changed dramatically. Extremely tight windy roads took us through beautiful tree-lined red rock canyons. We stopped and went for a wander through a section of Oak Creek, and it was then that I knew we’d arrived somewhere very special, not just because it was beautiful, but because there was a tangible energy about the place. This particular section of Oak Creek was like a natural playground moulded out of burnt-orange rock. It was almost as if it had been designed. The creek’s crystal clear water had carved through the rock, forming natural water slides and pools. Kids laughed as they pushed themselves over the bumps and through the curves of the stream on their bums. Oak Creek was a little Eden in the desert, guarded by majestic red rock formations resembling giant drip castles. I didn’t want to leave.
We found our accommodation and settled in at Joy’s house, another AirBnB, on Coffeepot Drive in Sedona. A nearby rock formation looks just like a coffeepot, hence the name of the street. We found a sensational organic pizza restaurant just around the corner called Picazzo’s. I wanted to try everything on the menu as it all looked amazing, but we settled for a few (yes, a few!) pizzas to share. I also tried their homemade lemonade. Everything was exceptional.
When we got back to Joy’s place she was home so we did our meet and greet. Ironically, Joy was a pretty miserable person, so we avoided her for the rest of our stay. Her cat, however, was the most adorable little fur ball and a very welcoming host. Her name was Geode and she absolutely loved sneaking into our room and cuddling up with us. She took a particular liking to Justin, which was pretty funny because Justin is in no way a cat person. Watching them bond was very cute!
After a nice long sleep-in we tracked down an awesome little cafe that made for us… wait for it… the BEST coffee of our trip so far! That’s right! We FINALLY got some good coffee! We missed breakfast so we ordered some lunch instead, and that, too, was extremely delicious! We’d stumbled onto a food and drink gold mine in Sedona and we couldn’t be happier.
Hiking was on the agenda for today so we headed to Cathedral Rock. Now let me preface this by saying that I thought I read reviews about this hike online and the reviews all said it was an easy hike with a little bit of scrambling. So we arrived at this huge towering red rock formation and, well, the trail wasn’t what I thought it would be, leading me to believe that perhaps I read reviews for a different hike. This trail was pretty much straight up! We ascended slowly at the base before being greeted by what I can only describe as a giant red vertical butt-crack… and the only way up was through the crack! No stairs. Nothing to hold onto. At that point I thought it was time to turn around as there was no way I’d be able to climb it, but a little voice inside my head was pestering me to try. So up I went, one foot at a time.
The rest of the climb was pretty similar, but so worth it when we got to the top. I sat for a long time just looking out over Sedona. A real sense of peace lingered in the air up there. After what seemed like ages, I looked around and in either direction there were several people perched on the rock doing exactly the same thing- just being, just taking it all in. It reminded me of that scene in The Last Samurai when the breeze comes through the rice fields and everyone just stops what they’re doing to enjoy it. I never really understood why people like hiking until that moment. It was really special. The hike itself was extremely challenging and satisfying as well.
The hike down was tricky but we made it. As we were descending, beautiful music from a Native American Indian Flute drifted up the rock. We eventually found where it was coming from when we saw a lady toward the bottom playing. I fell in love with the sound and made a mental note to try and find one for myself somewhere in Sedona. After Cathedral Rock we drove to the Chapel trail and did a short hike along that. It was pretty flat, and after the thrill of Cathedral Rock, we were pretty bored with the Chapel trail so we ditched it and went back to Joy’s place. After a shower to get rid of the dust and dirt, we headed out for dinner at Picazzo’s again where we were super impressed second time round.
Today we hiked to Devil’s Bridge. It was a long flat hike that ascended quickly right before we reached the bridge. It was a fun photo opportunity, but the hike itself didn’t compare to yesterday’s Cathedral Rock adventure. We grabbed a few snacks once we’d completed the hike and sat by a nearby creek while we munched away. There were massive spider webs flying through the air all over Sedona today, and I mean massive! I was unlucky enough to have one hug my face, but we also saw cyclists zipping along with trails of webs behind them. It was pretty funny. We went to a local French restaurant for dinner, Dan’s Bistro, just to give Picazzo’s a break for the night. Dan’s was amazing! Every bite was heaven on a fork. I had salmon with creamy mash potato and asparagus. To finish off, I also ate a creme brûlée. Delish!
We started the day with breakfast at The Coffee Pot, a restaurant famous for their 101 omelettes, before heading into town for the day. The main street is lined with clothing boutiques, jewellery stores, psychics, native indian art, ceramics, galleries and restaurants. We found an awesome shop filled with re-purposed decor and lighting and spoke to the owner and manufacturer, Chester, for a while. He was an absolute character. I also found a Native American Indian flute like the one the lady was playing at Cathedral Rock, and having had my heart set on it, I bought one.
After a yummy lunch of pizza, we wandered down to the local art center. A special event was happening that afternoon where local artists gather in the main street, find a spot, and each complete a painting in 2.5 hours. They then bring their paintings back to the art center where they are sold, with all proceeds going to the center. All of the artists had previous works displayed in a gallery so we had a look at those before heading out to watch them paint. All of the artists had selected their positions along the street and begun painting. It was really interesting to watch their unique processes and see the finished pieces a few hours later.
As the sun was setting we went for a drive around the big red rocks before heading to dinner at – you guessed it – Picazzo’s! Creatures of habit, I know.
While we were in town yesterday two different people recommended heading to the West Fork Trail for a hike as the trees were said to be in full swing. When we arrived the car park was overflowing, so the word was well and truly out that this was the place to hike. We parked a few hundred metres away from the trailhead and walked into the park. The trail was a 5 hour hike, round trip, with 13 stream crossings. The trees were just magnificent in vibrant shades of green, yellow, orange and red. The trail itself ran through a canyon so there were interesting cliffs and formations towering above us most of the way.