Thursday, March 26, 2015

Arizona Road Trip (3): Sedona and Surrounding

I woke up early morning and went down for a breakfast. The hotel is nice and quiet but I didn't sleep very well as my bed had been changed. Breakfast was OK. Nothing special. There were plenty but sub-par. You know American food: The quantity is always high but quality is not. They had cold boiled egg(!) toast, disgusting white floor bagel which not only sticks to your teeth but your inner wall of stomach! Coffee was not bad, Jelly and peanut butter as well as Orange Juice and Yogurt in cup. All in artificial best way of them!
There are plenty of nice places that you can eat in (At least they look nice from outside!) but I stuck with the breakfast that I have paid for! Then I checked with the information center just across from the hotel to see what else is available around. The guy gave me a few good tips but when I asked him about Canyon De Challey National Monument he said he had never been there.
So head out and then I could see the real Sedona as the night prior to that I had just driven in absolute dark. My first stop was Chapel of Holy Cross and it was by accident! I had read about that but didn't include it in my plan. I said that's just a church and probably nothing to see but I ended up in a car line going up a road reaching the church! There was an old gentleman guiding the vehicle on the top and I had a little chat with the poor lad who looked like he was above 60. He complained a bit about being tired and I showed a little sympathy. He said he had woken up at 05:00, cleaned the chapel and now he's here! I asked him what the admission was and he said nothing. I thanked him and threw a couple of God Bless(es) in my chat and left for the parking spot.
The good thing about this place that it is probably the only place in the entire Sedona that you can park for free and take photographs from around! And of course if you're a good Christian (and I assume Catholic because I saw the Pop's material) you can pray and buy a religious gift. I guess I spent a good 20 min. before getting out and checking another Arizona Tourist Information Center. This guy simply said that he had not even heard of Canyon De Challey National Monument before! So I realized that these guys either do not want to help or don't really know! I wanted to go to Red Rock National Park after that but I thought I could check the places that the guy referred to. He mentioned Dry Creek Road so when I went there I remembered I had read about this ancient settlement of Native Americans called Palatki and decided to go there. I was a long drive in the middle of the desert and mountains and they charge $5 but I still think it worth it. it might have been a settlement years ago but it is in the middle of nowhere now and these guys are US National Forest people and the majority of them volunteers. I have to write about this volunteering in North America which make the wheel of many industries, mostly services, moving. Anyway it was an amazing experience. Guess I spent a good 40 min. there apart from driving. There are dwellings of the Native people which is assumed was 2 stories at the time and hand-driven signs or pictographs which mean something. There was a gentleman, a volunteer named Mike White who was explained everything and communicating with everyone very well. There are two ladies, one older and I guess I saw a total of 3 National Forest Service people, all very nice and helpful.
Amazing pictographs of Native Americans in northwestern Sedona. The area is called Palatki and used to be a settlement for the people of Native origin. They were farmers and had orchards. And that goes back to the time which water was not so scarce in the area, some 800 years ago. Later on Caucasian/European settlers selected the area for living for a period of time after the Natives migrated to another place.
From there I drove back to Dry Canyon Road and decided to do a little hike of Devil's Bridge. This again was mentioned by the Information Center person by the hotel and it was quite a nice one. The hike is not challenging or anything. It's just heat that exhausts you. I guess mine took about 1 hour to reach this naturally-made bridge and includes frequent stops for photography. I didn't go on the bridge because I guess I have no more balls for this kind of stuff(!) but people go over and take photos. The return of course is much easier and took about 45 min.
Generally there are lots of activities that you can do in Sedona. From renting a jeep and going to the trails (in fact part of road to the trail-head of Devil's Bridge could be driven on a 4x4 or ATV), riding a Jeep or Hammer, riding horses, riding bikes, playing golf, zip-lock and basically everything you can imagine is available here. Not to mention all the bars and restaurants, gift shops, art galleries and such. Americans spend plenty for their pleasure and entertainment I saw motor-homes in camp ground of Arizona as big as a one bedroom apartment and they bring everything with them: From bikes to barbecues! That's why camping is so popular in the US (and maybe in Canada as well although I have not seen that luxury and completeness in Canadian campers yet). I have never done that but understand that when you have everything you can simply camp at the side of a road, may be not too close(!), and enjoy yourself.
(Photo, top: It's not a good picture due to the darkness on the bottom but shows the natural rock bridge called Devil's Bridge in northwestern Sedona) 

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