Come with me, if you will, back to those early, hope-filled days of 2020 . . .

Fresh from our first trip to Southeast Asia (fresh once the horrid jet lag subsided) and readjusting to normal life in the Central time zone, we had no inkling that an invisible boogeybug had already begun its global rampage. After unpacking, I Tetrissed my suitcase into it’s basement storage spot with a wink and a wave and a “See you in March!”

Soon thereafter, “novel coronavirus” entered the lexicon of every human on earth. Though I managed to evade viral contamination (as far as I know), my 2020 solo spring break trip to Sedona, Arizona, wasn’t so lucky. Missed travel is hardly the worst consequence of the worldwide pandemic, but for the travel-obsessed, it hurt.

At first I resisted cancelling, refusing to hit the abort button on my plans as I enviously watched friends and acquaintances with earlier spring breaks squeeze in their trips. But as March wore on, the rising caseloads chipped away at my stubborn denial and made room for rising dread. Sars-CoV-2 was upon us and nobody was going anywhere for the foreseeable future. I raged a bit and almost certainly shed a few tears but ultimately pulled the plug. Still, I vowed with righteous indignation and a raised, shaking fist that my Sedona trip was merely deferred, not dead.

This is why cancelling upset me so.

Then, last month, a good two years later than originally planned and with lots of virus-tainted wastewater under the bridge, I found myself bound for Sedona at long last.

Airport vending machines have changed somewhat.

To be honest, the general outline of this trip wasn’t markedly different from the Phoenix trip I took six months earlier: hike in the mornings, chill in the afternoons. What was different was the scenery. The two-hour drive from Phoenix to Sedona was beautiful, but in a way you’d expect from Arizona: Sometimes flat, sometimes hilly, but always shades of brown studded with prickly green things. 

Certainly pretty

Until the end of the journey . . .

Rounding a bend, I was met with this breathtaking wall of magnificence.

Outstandingly gorgeous

Upon seeing this majestic sight, a stream of jubilant expletives followed by a torrent of tortured questions spilled audibly from my mouth: Holy shit! Damn that’s beautiful! Oh my freakin’ Lord!  Why oh why don’t I live here?! What possessed me to choose a life in the upper Midwest?! How soon can I move here?! Surely they need ESL teachers down here?! What are the housing prices like?!

This continued unabated for two or three minutes, until I came upon this . . .

Ahead of me
Behind me

. . . at which point I came to my senses, thankful that I live somewhere few like to visit. Even some of Minnesota’s worst features—its winter temps and its state bird (the mosquito)—weren’t seeming so bad right about then.

Grateful that I have the means to escape to places like this from time to time and then escape back home, and newly reassured that the stress and upheaval of cross-country relocation was not in my immediate future, I made my way to A Sunset Chateau B&B, which instantly validated the excitement I had felt upon booking it.

The interior was like being in an art museum—an eclectic mix of Native American pieces, Asian art, and random others that somehow managed to meld beautifully in a way I could never pull off at home.

The view from the balcony revived those “Why don’t I live here?” feelings, which ended up being a recurring theme of this trip.

Why?

The room was matched by grounds that were strewn with tasteful décor and delightful whimsy.

Frankly, I would have been perfectly happy staying at the B&B all day every day, but since I’d waited two years and flown 1200 miles to enjoy Sedona, I figured I’d better get out there and do just that.

So I did some hiking, first on the Airport Mesa Loop, a lollipop route that only a doofus like me could get lost on (equally to blame were unmarked tributary trails and my poor sense of direction). This may or may not have led to several calls to the husband who, from the living room couch, may or may not have used the Find My i-Phone feature and a map on the laptop to locate me and, after several false starts, get me heading in the right direction.

My confidence shaken but not stirred, I nonetheless set out on two out-and-back trails—Little Horse and Soldier Pass—neither of which caused any navigational embarrassment. They did cause, however, many instances of what I like to call Dropped Jaw Syndrome.

My final hike was to Devil’s Bridge. I hemmed and hawed for several days over whether I should even bother with this hike. Probably the most famous hiking destination in Sedona, it is known to be overrun with people at all hours. However, it’s famous for a reason—not only is it the largest sandstone arch in the area, but it can also be walked upon . . . for a price.

I seem to have the place to myself . . . but I don’t.

That price is time.  Though there were probably only a dozen or so parties ahead of me, that line constituted an hour’s wait to walk out onto the arch (the tacit agreement is that the person in line behind you takes your picture, the person behind them takes their picture, and so on). Deciding that the thing of beauty was the arch itself, and that me standing on it didn’t enhance its beauty in any way, I forewent the Insta-style photo shoot and just admired the result of nature’s erosive forces.

I also made sure to get in some shopping. The Uptown area is quite touristy and will more than meet your need for Sedona-themed T-shirts and scented candles (though now that we have two cats, I’m in constant need of scented candles), but the Tlaquepaque Shopping Village was something else.

tuh·lah·kay·PAH·kee

With lots of upscale art galleries, it was more of a look-but-don’t-buy type of experience, but what an experience it was!  Paying $7.07 for a tiny cup of chai—that’s an experience. I did manage to find a personally meaningful switch plate cover that was less than our monthly mortgage:

Human tested, bunny approved.

Just walking through the village, which the website describes as “authentically fashioned after a traditional Mexican village” and included “vine covered stucco walls, cobble-stoned walkways and magnificent arched entryways” was a pleasure.  In fact, it brought to mind parts of San Antonio’s Riverwalk area.

The food in Sedona was just good, not great.  Surprisingly, even the recommended Mexican food I ate here—a mere 240 miles from the border—was no better than what I’ve eaten at Mexican restaurants in Minnesota. But I did stumble upon two gustatory destinations that were worth writing home about. First, perhaps you didn’t know, but I’m something of a donut connoisseur.  I’m like a sommelier, but with donuts . . . a dommelier, if you please. It is on this distinguished, self-designated credential that I can recommend Sedonuts, and not just because of its cleverly portmantaued name.

Good name
Gooder donuts

In case you, too, fancy yourself a dommelier:

Coffee & Donuts

National Donut Day? Sure. Why Not?

I also made the ten-minute drive south to Javelina Leap winery for a flight of local flavor . . .

It was Prospectors Blend for the win.

. . . which enabled me to round that scenic bend one more time.

What’s the sound of one heart breaking?

And I paid a brief visit to the well-known Chapel of the Holy Cross, which I might have swung by on a spur hike of the Little Horse Trail if my phone battery, and thus my camera, hadn’t been at 1%.

Even a cold, gray, rainy day in the middle of the trip didn’t dampen my spirits.  With plenty of books and crosswords, a spacious room, a jetted tub, and the entirety of Yellowstone, Season 4 on demand, I was cocooned in bliss.

The only downer was getting lost on that first hike and (sigh) taking the right trail but in the wrong direction on the return from Devil’s Bridge, adding two miles to my overall hike. Oh, and this got me down, too . . .

Tarantula? I dunno, but I’m sure it was deadly.

. . . but it also put some oomph behind my Visit Here, Don’t Live Here personal contract, which wavered constantly.

In the end, Sedona was definitely worth the wait. With at least 196 trails left to get lost on hike, I’m sure a return visit is in my future.


Rare piece of useful information: If you intend to hike Sedona’s trails and have a national parks pass, bring it.  Some of the trailheads require you to buy a special parking pass (which you can get in town) and leave it on your car’s dashboard, but a national parks pass can be substituted.

57 thoughts

  1. Sedona is beautiful… but those crowds… yikes! I’ve been a couple of times but I don’t think we did much hiking so maybe there’s a reason to go back (is there an off season?). If I do, I’ll definitely get info about where you stayed… what a view! Also, thanks for the tip about the national parks pass.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was in Sedona last October, and I was exactly like you in that arriving into Sedona and seeing the red cliffs were breathtaking, but then the backed-up traffic afterwards took my breath away…and in a not-so-good way, haha. It’s certainly a magical place with plenty of hikes for all levels; I hope you can return someday!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We were there the second and third week of January. No traffic, perfect weather. The high tourist areas could be crowded but it was smooth sailing all the way.
        😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. OK, not May then. Yeah, the interesting thing was that even though the lines of traffic were horrible, and the trailhead parking lots would be full if you didn’t get there early, it wasn’t like I couldn’t get an immediate seat at a restaurant or had to wait outside shops because they were so crowded. Annecy, France, in summer was much, much worse for crowds.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow what gorgeous views, those colourful rocks in so many different shapes and with interesting features. I realized reading this that I really didn’t know anything about Sedona, other than hearing the name. I had to laugh that you called the husband in Minnesota to get you back on the hiking trail! You need to get MapsMe or similar app 🙂 Maggie

    Liked by 2 people

    1. After that first hike, on a tip from another hiker, I started a trial week of Alltrails, which helped a lot… except when it didn’t. I need you guys to be at my back and call as my personal hiking guide – haha.

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  4. I feel like you were walking in my footsteps… and am so glad you finally made it! Isn’t it glorious? The pure scenic beauty took my breath away at times. There aren’t many places we travel that I actively miss when we leave, but it’s been 3 years and I still sigh, wondering why we don’t live there. ( We encountered very little traffic on our trip so there was nothing to dissuade me from that dream)
    Gorgeous pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I went to Sedona many years ago (about 17, I think). There were crowds even then and I remember it being difficult to find a trail where there weren’t swarms of people. Don’t get me started on those Pink Jeep tours. Still, Sedona is so beautiful I would definitely go back.

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  6. Stunning scenery and hikes (even if you got a bit lost)! It’s a beautiful place. I’ve driven there from the north and, perhaps it was the time of year (don’t remember when), but it was not so crowded. Glad you got there! And there’s no comparison – flights, lodging, etc aside – this getaway would appeal to me more than biking through the desert. 😉

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  7. Sedona is definitely gorgeous – wow! But that traffic makes me wince…and I wasn’t the one stuck in it. Tara and I have dealt with the whole “why don’t we live here?” thing too many times to count. It’s always fun to imagine yourself pulling up stakes and relocating to a place you’ve enjoyed visiting. In fact, we just might do that…

    …but that’s a post at least six months away. Shh.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I loved Sedona, how could you not, but the traffic to get there was a bummer. I adore your description of where you stayed: “tasteful décor and delightful whimsy.” Looks lovely and makes me wonder exactly what you said: why do I live in the midwest?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The good news was that I had a totally different attitude to the traffic than I do here at home. I wasn’t in a hurry and just spent the time behind the wheel staring at the red rocks. Wish I could be that Zen about traffic all the time…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment! I wouldn’t say it’s difficult to get to Sedona, but it isn’t exactly easy either, being 2 hours from a major airport. Doesn’t seem to keep the throngs away, though. I hope you manage to get back soon.

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  9. Stunning pictures! I can see the desire of wanting to pick up and move there. Except for the tarantulas- the foothills of Utah have those creepies everywhere. I actually just listened to a podcast not too long ago where they were talking to the ancestor of those that first lived in Sedona. They had built a hotel and wanted to create a post office so people could send mail home from their stay. But their last name was too long for the post registration and so the husband named it after his wife, Sedona.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s an interesting story. When I was out there I found out that the early movie stars used to go to Sedona (and places like Mountain Shadows Resort in Phoenix where we stayed in the fall). I think I should blame them for making it such a must-see destination and thus, so crowded. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow wow and wow-weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! What an incredible place! I’m not surprised your jaw was dropping so much, I just hope it didn’t land on a cactus or a tarantula! Sedona, which I’d never heard of previously, looks amazing, not to mention the place you were staying in. And the views are phenomenal! I want to go now, this very second! I consider myself to be very well travelled but I am ashamed to say I have never been to the States (apart from a 12 hour stopover in Atlanta waiting for my connecting flight back to the UK). The trouble is there are so many places I want to visit in the US, but this place has to be up there with the best of them now! One quick question for you, what’s a switch plate cover? Is it that thing with the bunny rabbit on it and, if so, I still don’t know what it is! It’s very nice though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! No, it landed on dirt trails. You are right when you say there’s a lot to see here. The American Southwest is a great place to start, and road trips are the best way to see it all (if you don’t mind driving on the opposite side of the road – but almost all rental cars here are automatic, so at least the awkward shifting is taken out of the equation).
      As for the switch plate cover, it goes over your light switches on the wall. You must have a different name for them over there. I’ll have to ask the husband… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I see. I’m not even sure if we have a name for them, maybe just a light switch cover. I’m sure yours will look fantastic now, with the rabbit design! The American Southwest would be amazing especially on a roadtrip. I’ve only driven an automatic once and I kept thinking I was going to stall the car because there’s no clutch. I’m alright driving on the other side of the road though as the Spanish do the same, so I’ve had plenty of practice.

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  11. Sedona is on my to-visit list (probably a future Thanksgiving road trip destination for us) but the crowds make me hesitant. It looks so pretty, though, so I suppose I will just have to suck it up and prepare to not have solitude.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You had more fun in Sedona than I did! I went to Williams, Arizona almost 10 years ago now, to visit some family there. I spent almost all my time with them, and didn’t do that much touristy stuff. At the time I had an uncle who worked on the railroad that goes from Williams to The Grand Canyon. We took a train ride one day I was there. Then, one day my two aunts and my cousin and I took a drive to Sedona. We went window shopping. There’s lots of windows there. I hope to visit there again at the end of September/first of October, at which time I’ll once again be visiting family, but it’ll be a road trip, so I’ll have plenty of time to do sightseeing in Northern Arizona. Nevertheless, Sedona isn’t a part of the plan for this upcoming trip. Maybe another time. I enjoyed reading about your hiking and enjoyment of the beauty. For now, I’ll live vicariously through you.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Incredible!!! I am glad you finally got to take this trip after it was cancelled. Sedona is one of my favorite spots in the US. Such incredible hiking!! By the way, your pictures are amazing!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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