Sunday, October 9, 2011

Arizona Part 2: "That's not really pronounced that way, is it?"

In the previous entry I mentioned that the conference ended earlier than we expected on Wednesday, which left us with an open afternoon and a rental car, so we decided to drive to Sedona. I only know of Sedona as the place where Miranda moved up a shoot after she killed the autumn jackets feature in "The Devil Wears Prada", but Tim stopped by the concierge desk and picked up a map, leaving us slightly better equipped.

On the way there Tim asked if we wanted to stop at Montezuma Castle, and since we had nowhere else to go and no agenda for the day, we readily agreed. I'm so glad that we did, because it was a really interesting little walkaround. Montezuma Castle is a national park in Arizona:

montezuma castle visitor center

which houses an impressive pre-Columbian cliff dwelling:

montezuma castle (1)

montezuma castle (2)

montezuma castle (3)

I don't know if it looks particularly impressive in any of those photos (especially the middle one, where you can see why it's being restored and you can't actually go up into the structure) but there's such a sense of history in visiting something like this, and also a little bit of awe when you imagine early settlers crossing Arizona, coming around the corner, and seeing a house set into the cliffside. I haven't traveled outside the United States in over a decade, and inside them I rarely see any mostly-intact structure over a few hundred years old. There are artifacts, like the Moon-Eyed People's wall:

fort mountain wall

that I saw in Georgia that time, or serpent mounds and other earthworks, but people didn't live in those like they did in a cliff dwelling:

model castle

It's one thing to look at a pile that used to be a house or a foundation, but to see the house itself is to feel a sense of continuity with the past, and I don't know that our mostly consumerist, disposable culture (which I fully participate in; I'm not lecturing anyone) gets enough of that.

On our way back to the car, I also saw a huge beetle, which was the only native wildlife I saw in the entire trip besides birds:

large beetle

My fears about scorpions, poisonous spiders, rattlesnakes, vultures, vampire bats, coyotes, and other desert critters proved somewhat unfounded.

Once we were back in the car, we headed for another impressive but significantly more modern building, The Chapel of the Holy Cross on the outskirts of Sedona:

chapel of the holy cross (1)

Comissioned by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, the church is designed to blend in with the surrounding countryside, which it does admirably well:

chapel of the holy cross (2)

It's a bit of a hike up a twisty path to actually get there:

chapel path

but when you do the simplicity of the interior is moving even for non-religious people:

chapel window

chapel candles (2)

chapel doors

It's very quiet and peaceful inside, but that may be due to everyone trying to catch their breath after the climb. Either way, it was another good stop on our day of sightseeing, and we immediately left the church and parked at a Horrhouse:

Grandma Horr's Cookies

Grandma Horr's, to be exact. And yes, it really is pronounced the way it sounds.

Also, Grandma Horr makes a delicious dark chocolate coconut haystack.

We didn't spend more than an hour or two in Sedona:

You Are Here

so I didn't really get to see a lot of the town, but it reminded me a lot of Gatlinburg, in that it is a small town in a beautiful setting filled with touristy crap:

pink javelinas

and signs with poor grammar:


Not that I don't love touristy crap. When Tim asked if there was anywhere in town specifically that we felt like stopping at, I immediately blurted, "The place with the giant chicken!"

giant chicken of sedona

Because, well, giant chicken. If I have to explain why we had to stop there then you really don't know me well enough yet. The place with the giant chicken turned out to be a wonderful store filled with random stuff for everybody, like cat Buddha:

cat Buddha

regular Buddha:


and a really bloody Jesus:

very bloody Jesus

Seriously, why are there multiple streams of blood running out from under Jesus' loincloth? What's going on under there? And who looks at that and thinks, "Perfect for the living room!"

Possibly the same people who buy ceramic pumpkins:

ceramic pumpkins

or random suns:

suns and moon

but I did find the room of drying peppers somewhat interesting:

drying peppers (1)

drying peppers (2)

mostly because it smelled so good.

We were all starting to get a little sleepy and jet-laggy at that point, so the place with the giant chicken was our last stop in Sedona, but we did get back to Scottsdale in time for me to meet up with Rod for a late dinner where we both ended up ordering the same thing, I guzzled about a gallon of diet Coke, and we debated whether playing "Piano Man" in a jazz restaurant was cliche or de rigueur. We did not come to an agreement, but a lovely time was had by all.

Then in the morning I had a long layover in Chicago:

section H

and was back home and crashing in my bed by the time it was dark.


Kat said...

Great photos!

Kat said...
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