Sedona was a big surprise for us.  Dan and I had both been to Arizona a few times for work, and had never ventured to Sedona, a shock to many die hard Sedona fans.  Now we know why.  Sedona was beautiful.  Our campground, the Rancho Sedona, where we were lucky to get the last spot, was close to town but the stream and many trees made it seem as if we were far away.  One odd thing about the campground was the 84 sites, served by one bathhouse with 2 showers.  To add to the inconvenience, the men’s shower/bathroom was being renovated, so everyone had to use the women’s according to a schedule.  The first half of the hour was for the women and the men used the second half.  To keep everyone on the right time, the campground had a huge clock hanging above the door.  It was never really a problem for us, but it did involve pre planning.  The campground had a really nice book exchange and also board games to check out.  We ended up spending 3 nights.

Our first full day in Sedona, we hit the Sedona visitor’s center.  The Visitor’s center was well stocked with brochures on the area, and a very enthusiastic volunteer, originally from Alaska, briefed us on vortex’s, hikes, shopping, eating.  Any question we asked, she had an answer for us. We walked around the downtown for a little while and were amazed at the stores.  Sedona has a lot of shopping, but it seemed as if every shop was selling the same thing. On one block alone were 4 stores selling the Red Rock T Shirts.  The exact same shirts.  Another block was selling the Life is Good line of T shirts and outdoor products.  On the whole of the main shopping district, with all those stores, there were probably only a variety of six different things, chocolate, eating, jewelry, tea, T shirts and outdoor gear.  Amazing.  We didn’t buy anything, and instead drove to the edge of town to hike the Boynton Canyon Trail.

My friend Sherry, had told us this was a great hike to a vortex center.  What is a vortex?  It’s an energy center spiraling out from the earth.  To some people, it can feel like a pull, magnetism or subtle electricity.  It’s an energy some people can feel and use to realign the energies in the human body. 

It was pretty hot as we started the hike.  We weren’t sure what to expect, but we all brought along a water bottle, and I brought 2 frozen water bottles.  We read the hike was 2 1/2 hours.  Critical mistake here.    Our previous hikes in Yosemite and Grand Canyon, the hiking times had been in ROUND TRIP.   As we soon discovered, this trip was 2 1/2 hours ONE WAY. 

The trail wasn’t difficult, though the first hour was directly in the hot sun and sand, no shade, as we skirted the edge of the luxurious 4 star Enchantment Resort.  Ah, the Enchantment resort, a real people loving resort, with signs on our trail warning us to not cut through their parking lot as it was patrolled by ARMED GUARDS.  Where are we?  The Green Zone in Iraq?  Plus, we’re walking in the desert, as in no water, while their resort is covered in thick green grass.  Unbelievable! 

We kept going, under the intense sun, until gradually the landscape changed to more and more trees, and eventually a dense forest.  Here it was much cooler, and we walked under a tall canopy of oak and pine trees.  Rounding a curve, near a dry creek bed, we startled a mule deer.  A few people passed us coming from the end of the trail, and when I asked how much farther, they told us at least another 30 minutes.  At this point I checked the kids water bottles.  Much to my surprise, they had finished their first bottle of water.  I couldn’t believe it.  Did they not know proper water conservation on a trail?  Even Dan had finished his.  At that point we had to have a lesson in how you never finish  all your water before the turnaround point on the trail.  I still had water in mine, and we had two more bottles left so it wasn’t dire, but it was a good lesson.  Just about 2 hours later, and the last bit scrambling straight up, we reached the end of the trail.  We perched on the side of the canyon walls, enjoying the view.   The view was great, the red canyon walls stretching up high above you, the hawks crying overhead, and while we didn’t feel any vortex energy, we had a very relaxing time just taking it all in.  The return trip went faster, less than two hour.  Maybe it was the vortex, maybe it was the lack of water, but we were exhausted!

We didn’t have much time to recover as we were meeting Fred and Kathy, our sailing buddies on Makai, in a few hours.  We grabbed an ice cold shower on Awesome (we really should have used the hot water heater!) a quick lunch at a Natural Foods grocery store and headed to the campground.

Kathy and Fred met us there, having driven up from Phoenix where they had been house sitting for a friend.  It was so good to see them!  The last time we saw them was nearly a year ago, in Grenada, right before we left to sail to Venezuela.  There is so much to be said about friends you make while cruising.  I think those are the friendships you keep for life.    We all had dinner together that night.  They gave us some good ideas on what to do on the drive through Utah, and picked our brain on our trip to Peru and Chile.   We had lunch together the next day before they headed back to California and we kept heading east.  They’ll head back to their boat in Curacao in November, and sail east and we’ll head back to our boat in Aruba  and head West.  We don’t know when we’ll see them again, but it was great to see them in Arizona.

Our last afternoon in Sedona we headed to the Amitabha Stupa. The  Stupa is one of the oldest forms of sacred architecture, dating back 26,000 years and there are very few located in the Western Hemisphere. Stupas have been built to avert war, end famine, and promote prosperity and well-being. Their sole purpose is to bring benefit for all living beings.

The Amitabha, 36 feet tall, was located down a short trail, shrub and Juniper lined trail, near the base of beautiful red rock formations, on the edge of town.   The Stupa was built at the direction of Buddhist Masters, on sacred ground, and empowered with mystical energy and healing power.  You can pray here, meditate or walk around the stupa while saying a prayer, and feel the benefits of the Stupa in the form of healing or peace.  

With the sun starting to set, we all walked around the golden statue.  I couldn’t really tell if  I could feel the vortex there.  After about 20 minutes, we walked down to the smaller Tara Stupa, and walking around it we could all feel the energy.  I closed my eyes as I walked around the statue praying silently, and I never had to worry about going off the path as an energetic pull kept you on a circle around the statue.  It was a very calm, peaceful feeling.  By the time we finished, the sun was nearly down, and we headed Awesome back to the campground, happy from seeing our friends, a good tired feeling from our hike, and a wonderful peaceful feeling from our time at the Stupa.  Sedona will now always hold a special place in our hearts.