As we approached Sedona, I noticed a change in the mountains. Layers of red rock made distinctive patterns along the cliff sides. The upper layers appeared to be tan, while red lay on the lower layers in a repetitive pattern. I stared in awe at these towering red rock formations. Taller trees than we’d seen previously on our trip and evergreens also came into view.

P1020785 (800x600)   P1020786 (800x600)

We stopped by The Well Red Coyote so I could say hello to the bookstore owners. Then we headed into town to find a parking space. On foot, we bypassed the interesting shops on the main street to buy tickets for a Pink Jeep tour. It was cool and breezy so I bought a scarf in their gift shop. Then we boarded the open-air jeep for our adventure. We sat on benches facing each other on gray upholstery with pink trim and fastened our seatbelts.

P1020787 (800x600)   P1020788 (800x600)

Don, our guide, told us how the ancestral mountains formed and eroded. Dormant volcanoes dated back to ten million years ago. During a seismic event, the side of the mountains cracked, and they dropped three thousand feet. Sand deposited and flattened into horizontal strata. Rusty water with iron oxide filled in the cracks and drained through the larger, round grains to settle in the more tightly packed, smaller-grained lower layers. The sandstone is either red or yellow. The difference is from the size and shape of the grains. The yellow is the larger, round grains and so is on top. The red is smaller and more tightly packed and lies on the lower layers where the rusty water came to rest. This explains the differentiation in colors, which is superficial. Grasses grew, and then cattle and sheep arrived. Overgrazing led to the current type of vegetation.

P1020799 (800x600) P1020790 (800x600)

We turned off from town at Dry Creek Road while Don named some of the trees: Juniper, silvery Arizona Cypress, green Pinyon Pine, Shrub Oak with serrated leaves, and more. Then Don pointed out the three fingers known as Chimney Rock.

P1020806 (800x600) P1020804 (800x600)

We drove up Thunder Mountain next (any errors are my note taking). It was very windy and cool so I was glad for the hoodie and scarf that I wore. We passed a dry creek bed, noting more angular mountains mixed with mesas in the distance. Next came our off-road adventure. We bounced over the red rocks and up and down slopes, the jeep tossing us from side to side as we gripped handlebars on the roof. Good thing we hadn’t eaten lunch yet!

We got out at one site and climbed to the top of a ridge with an expansive view. Don identified a yellow flowered snakeweed (good for building fires), prickly pear cactus, white daisies, indigo, agave and sage plants. Rattlesnakes, spiders, and mountain lions are some of the critters around, but not to worry. We didn’t spot anything other than fellow humans.

P1020800 (800x600) P1020794 (800x600)

P1020795 (800x600)P1020803 (800x600)

After getting our fill of nature, we left the jeep tour and drove to Shugrues Hillside Grill for lunch. We sat indoors rather than on the terrace with the wind. Staring out at the lovely mountain view, we dined on butternut squash ravioli with Portobello mushrooms.

P1020805 (800x600)

Next we drove up Chapel Hill to the magnificent Chapel of the Holy Cross. This amazing structure is set on two red rock pillars amid towering rock cliffs. This site is so awesome that it inspires religion. Really, how could this spectacular setting be a random act of evolution? No wonder this region is known for its positive, uplifting spiritual flow. There’s no metaphysics needed, just awe and appreciation. The church is free to visitors. Its huge window faces the sky and the mountain ranges and valleys beyond. It’s quiet inside, with double rows of pews and candles lit on either side before the altar.

P1020808 (800x600)   P1020809 (800x600)

P1020811 (800x600)  P1020810 (800x600)

By the time we descended from Chapel Hill, it was getting late and the weather had gotten cloudier. Warning signs on the road for Blowing Dust—Low Visibility made us hasten to leave town. Unfortunately, this meant we didn’t have time for shopping. We stopped instead at a couple of New Age stores selling books, crystals, and jewelry so I could buy some research books on the vortexes before heading for the hills and home.

How does this relate to my stories? While the ghosts in previous posts may appear in my next Bad Hair Day mystery, the spiritual energy vortexes at Sedona fit in perfectly with my paranormal Drift Lords series. So look for Arizona to be the featured setting in Bad Hair Day #12 and in Drift Lords #5.

Have you ever been to a site you consider a world wonder?