The final big adventure of our Arizona vacation was a road trip with Papa Hoss and Gigi to Sedona. On the way there we made a pit stop at the Montezuma Castle National Monument near Prescott. The name, Montezuma Castle, is a bit misleading. When European-Americans first saw the ruins in the 1860s they thought they belonged to the famous Aztec emperor Montezuma. In reality, the lodging was abandoned many years before Montezuma was born. In addition, the dwelling is more like a large apartment complex than a castle. But hey, I guess the first ones to arrive on the scene get naming rights.
Never mind the name, the structure was magnificent. It was fun looking up at the side of the mountain and imagining the Sinagua people living in the giant dwelling. It's said they spent a lot of time out on the roof, so I couldn't help but picture kids like my own running around and playing games on the roof of the giant house built into the side of a mountain, most of it under the giant rock overhang that served as an umbrella. You can read more about Montezuma Castle here: Montezuma Castle.
From Montezuma Castle we headed to Sedona.
When we got to Sedona it was about lunch time. I haven't talked much about the food we ate on our trip, which was delicious and plentiful - too plentiful - but this is as good a spot as any to bring it up. We literally stumbled upon the Red Rock Café. I was starving and Katie was shouting out options from a phone app and Red Rock Café just happened to be the closest restaurant to us when I officially got tired of looking for one. It's a little breakfast and lunch place only open until 2PM every day.
I wish I'd taken a picture of my meal. I was too busy vanishing it to think about photographing it, but it was a thing of beauty while it lasted. I had the southwest chicken fried steak. It came smothered in a ranchero sauce, cheddar cheese, and scallions. And when I say smothered I mean smothered like a thick winter blanket pulled all the way over you on a snowy morning. It came with two eggs, hash browns, and a biscuit and gravy.
I couldn't have asked for a better tasting meal. All of us agreed the food was delicious. Even Elliott, our picky eater, who could only finish one of his two tire-sized pancakes. There are a lot of beautiful sites standing out in plain view when you drive through Sedona. But don't miss one of its hidden gems and seek out a meal at the Red Rock Café.
Our bellies full, we were ready to take in the beauty of some of those out in plain view sites. Here are a couple of photos taken from a scenic pull out a short distance from the restaurant.
Our next stop in Sedona was at the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Roman Catholic chapel built into one of the Sedona hillsides. A little about the chapel from Wikipedia:
The chapel was inspired and commissioned by local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude, who had been inspired in 1932 by the newly constructed Empire State Building to build such a church. After an attempt to do so in Budapest, Hungary (with the help of Lloyd Wright, son of noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright) was aborted due to the outbreak of World War II, she decided to build the church in her native region.
I obviously didn't create the video below, but it's a beautiful perspective of what we got to see.
Going inside the chapel you couldn't help but feel, like I often did in Arizona, the very real presence of God.
There were some great photo opportunities standing on the hill outside the chapel. With a little imagination you can find countless shapes and images in the Arizona rock formations. I'm not exactly sure what bird this is sitting on the side of a nearby hill. But Elliott and I were sure it was a bird perched up there.
And then there were these two guys - nice hats fellas.
From Sedona it was back to Sun Lakes. And from Sun Lakes, the next day - it was back to Virginia. I've answered many people when they've asked about our trip to Arizona with: it was beautiful. But how much do we overuse the world beautiful? Sometimes it's just the simplest way to avoid really considering and conveying the impact the beauty of a place has on you.
For me, the impact of Arizona's beauty hit me full force about 11 years ago. When Katie and I got married she was always the adventurer and I was the content homebody. She'd travel and take pictures and share stories of her explorations and that was all the closer I felt compelled to get to exploring that place myself. "How much different can a place really be than the pictures?" I'd ask.
Then 11 years ago I stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon with her. One look forever destroyed the notion that pictures do any scene at all justice. Please understand, I don't say that to minimize the value of pictures. But with that view a new light was shone on the power of having your feet planted in a place and welcoming the spiritual forces you feel when you can actually see the true colors and feel the breezes that release the scents of a still image to you and through you and into the greater spiritual guidance of our universe.
There is often awesome beauty that comes with seeing an image, but there is indescribable power that comes from being within it.
So now when the opportunities present themselves, I go. And I feel more responsibility than ever to allow our kids to feel the power of being within the different images of this world. Images that grow their imaginations and draw them closer to the largest and most awesome imagination of them all.
So that wraps up our Arizona 2017 Vacation. If you missed the previous two articles you can read them at the links below. I thank you for traveling along on our adventure. My prayer is my articles and photos will spur in you a sense of wonder that will lead you to plant your feet in your own images in this world - to feel your own breezes.
Arizona 2017 Trip Series Part I - The Grand Canyon - A Grand Reminder We Were All Created To Create.
Arizona 2017 Trip Series Part II - Navajo Nation - A Beautiful Place To Get A Raw Deal