Last week, I was in Arizona for WHD.usa, which was particularly exciting after we made this announcement about the .blog domain. The conference itself was, unsurprisingly, full of great conversations. It was such a pleasure to chat with new folks, and catch up with others who I had the luck to meet back in Rust, Germany.
Since I’ve been moving around quite a bit since the beginning of the year, one of my priorities has been to find ways to get outdoors more and be active without being inside a gym. Fortunately, I love the heat and there was a lovely trail on the property of the hotel. I spent a few mornings walking around, watching the wildlife scurry about, and learning more about the Phoenix-area.
But, boy, is it dry. I mean, I knew it was dry. (Hello, desert.) But as someone who’s always lived on the coast, I could never have imagined.
After the conference, I stayed on for a few more days. My mother met up with me and we set off on our own Thelma and Louise adventure, albeit less violent and with a much happier ending. As we drove from Phoenix to Sedona, we stopped at Montezuma Castle after spotting a few signs on the road. It was an interesting pit stop along the way and a cool introduction to some of the history and ruins in the area.
When we got to Sedona, we decided to drive around a bit to get a lay of the land. Trying to find another place, we accidentally stumbled upon the Red Planet Diner which was perfect after I finally finished binge-watching The X-Files. (Season 7, all the way.) All fueled up, I somehow convinced my mother to walk around the Bell Rock trail with me even though I promised we wouldn’t hike. (We did.)
It was gorgeous and fun! I’ve been craving hot weather after New Jersey’s seemingly endless winter, so being out in the sun was such a nice relief. Bell Rock itself is surreal – it’s so red. After a while, I felt like the color settings on my eyes had gotten switched around. Everything looked eerily red, or vibrant green. It also may have been dehydration.
With the little time we had in Arizona, we wanted to pack quite a few things in. Because it was Memorial Day weekend, Antelope Canyon was booked, so we opted to drive to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon instead.
Along the way, we passed the most adorable little roadside park – Bed Rock, AZ. My mother is a huge Flintstones fan, so we pulled-over to check out the kitschy theme park. The most fascinating part, I think, is that Fred’s Diner advertises 5 cent coffee. And it’s actually 5 cents. That’s like the price of a sip of someone else’s coffee in NY.
Parking at the Grand Canyon was difficult. We ended up all the way on the other side of the park, away from the visitors center, and spent more time finding parking than looking at the canyon. However, it was worth it. It’s beautiful, huge, awe-inspiring. A lot of folks find Sedona extremely spiritual, but the Grand Canyon did it for me. Like staring at the ocean, it’s humbling to see how small you are in comparison to the ancient wisdom of Mother Nature.
On our last day, we took a trip to the Amitabha Stupa, a Buddhist religious monument and place of meditation. It couldn’t have been in a more beautiful and serene setting. Although, one of the other visitors warned us that there was a large snake on the trail ahead of us. That was less serene, but, well, different.
Wandering around Sedona a bit more, we made our way up to the Airport Overlook. Towards the end, the trail got pretty steep so we turned around, but the views on the way over were fantastic. It overlooked Sugarloaf and Coffee Pot Rock directly, even though I maintain the the other Sugarloaf is much better. (Sorry, Arizona.)
I’m not a desert person. By the end of the trip, I was seriously concerned about the lack of water I could see around me. And after arriving in Newark, I felt a lot like a rehydrated vegetable. 8% humidity in Arizona versus the 80% here.
That said, I love the difference in landscape. I don’t usually see myself as outdoorsy or interested in hiking, but I just kept wanting to wander over to Bell Rock and Cathedral Butte or go just a bit further to get a little bit of a better view. It was stunning.
And yes, it is a dry heat.