Occasionally, I hear someone talk about making up a bucket list of things to do before they die. I don’t really have a bucket list, at least not on paper, but I do have a number of things floating around in my head on days that seem especially difficult. My mental list includes places I have been to and loved, places I want to return to. One of my favorite places is Arizona, especially the area from Prescott north to Sedona and up to Flagstaff. I know everyone’s bucket list is different, individually tailored to their interests in life, but I can’t imagine anyone would not love to have Sedona, Arizona on their bucket list.
Several years ago while driving my oldest daughter to college in Arizona, my family took a drive down from Flagstaff through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona and down to Prescott. It’s a harrowing drive, a near-frightening drive in fact, but so exhilarating, one wants to do it over and over, I guess like people who love skydiving or jumping from cliffs. When we returned home, I wrote this description of our trip so I wouldn’t forget it, but truthfully it’s not easy to forget the beauty of Arizona.
Oak Creek Canyon
The drive down to Sedona from Flagstaff took us miles over a narrow road to Oak Creek Canyon, one of the most beautiful places in Arizona. It was a 2000 foot drop from the top of the canyon through the Verde Valley to the bottom of the canyon floor and the town of Sedona at the base. The red, sandstone walls of the canyon were mixed with muted purple, gold, and bronze and create rock formations resembling castles with cones and cylinders reaching toward the cloudless, deep blue sky.
Along the way were lookout points, and several times we stopped the car, got out, and tried to capture on film the brilliance and the magnitude of the canyon. The edge of the winding, sharp-curved road was precipitously close to the drop off to the base of the canyon, causing our hearts to beat rapidly. Near the top of the canyon we entered the town of Jerome, an historic, copper-mining town with cobblestone streets and renovated structures that balanced precariously on the sides of the cliffs. Gift shops, pottery and craft shops, art galleries, and restaurants filled the buildings which once housed miners and their families. Steep steps led from the road up to and down to the shops and galleries.
As we neared the bottom of the canyon, the trout fishing stream wound its way in front of resorts, cabins, and inns set back from the road. In several places flat, slate-gray rock ledges jutted up out of the clear blue water, forming areas for tourists to sunbathe as they sprawled on colorful beach towels and blankets. Tall pinon pines towered above the road and the fragrance of the pine forest permeated the air and wafted in through the open car windows. As we neared the base of the canyon, the picturesque town of Sedona came into view, the main street lined with art galleries, shops, and restaurants. The courtyard in front of the adobe chapel surrounded a variety of small fountains and colorful gardens.
From Sedona we could look straight up to the top of the canyon, where we had started our descent a few hours previously. I felt a sense of relief mingled with awe as we drove out of Sedona on less treacherous roads through the hot, desert sands of Arizona.
I’m not sure why anyone would care about my trip to Sedona, but I hope everyone has a place like this they can visit, even if only in their minds, when life gets a little rocky. I wonder what places are on other people’s bucket lists. I especially wonder if Sedona is on anyone else’s list of favorite places to find peace and beauty among the rough spots in our daily lives.
photo credit: billandkent’s photostream