The Outdoor Life


The night after we climbed out of the Grand Canyon, we hustled ourselves out of the busy parkland, with all their (necessary) regulations. This reminds me of a tangent, so hold on. Debbie from the Phantom Ranch told us the average time spent looking at the Grand Canyon was 18 minutes. All the rest boiled down to shopping and whatever else you came all the way for. I read a description of the hardworking backcountry ranger that unexpectedly brought me to tears because it was so true. All of us looking and asking the same dumb questions, and trying to get ourselves killed (and too often succeeding) and figuring that we ought to be able to get away with something. Them, trying to protect us from our macho fantasies,  and more importantly, protect the sacred ground they have sworn to defend from the hordes who love it. Okay, enough of the rant and rave. But I thought it was worth saying.

ANYWAY! We drove a short distance, still covered by the dust of the Grand Canyon into unfettered National Forest land where “dry camping” is allowed. Nothing like a campfire with an old deer hide next to it and no neighbors to make Porten happy. So we nursed sore muscles and toasted our Canyon trip and enjoyed the starry sky surrounded by Ponderosa Pine and no infrastructure.

We used the busy crossroads of Flagstaff as a working stop, settled in for a few hours at the library, went to see Lincoln, enjoyed the local brew pub and slept at the Wal-Mart parking lot.

IMG_5650Sedona was OMG kitsch, an incongruous study in contrasts: the stunning beauty of the landscape diminished by the commercialization of the Disneyland-like feel of the town. A 15-minute stroll through downtown Sedona was more than enough, so we beat feet out. HOWEVER, one must at least try to experience the vortexes. Right?

IMG_5681IMG_5662Small black and white map in hand, we went out to the Bell Rock to find the energy vortex that was reported to balance the male and female energies (this seemed like something we could use).  Looking for the twisting of Juniper trees as our guide, we walked in, and partway up the red rock flank of Bell Rock. Not knowing what to expect, we both just kind of wandered around, senses open, searching. I can’t say exactly what Steve felt, but I could tell by the look on his face as he leaned up against “his” Juniper that he was experiencing something pleasant.

IMG_5663I didn’t feel much until I sat down. Stillness may be the catalyst for these subtle forces to find us. The voice of nature is always drowned out by the noise of our own minds, and more so, the more delicate shift in the emanating energy of the earth. As for “woo-woo” well, I am a sucker for it. I figure we live on this magical planet where most of what we see and experience as “real and solid” is plain wrong. After all, the true reality is that I am a bag of water—hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, etc. –working in unison, illuminated by some kind of mysterious sentience, walking on a seeming solid surface, which is really a moving planet that is mostly space! So why would I think an energy vortex would be outlandish?

IMG_5687Still,  believing something and feeling it are two entirely different things. But when I sat down, I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular. A feeling of peace and connectedness descended upon me. It truly felt like a rush of pleasurable sensations buzzing in my head. While Steve sat by his own tree and then explored his way back with Jack, I sat by this small little spot on earth, took my shoes off and dug my toes into the crumbled frosting of granite and let myself rest in, and by rejuvenated by, whatever was happening. So, that is really what Sedona is about  . . . and I get why so many people are attracted to this lovely spot. Just skip the town.


Prescott was based in the great oasis of new friends Tim and Ramie, with their handsome standard poodle, Ringo. With amazing hospitality and generosity, they welcomed us and let us re-coup our tired bodies and restore our disheveled van. I can’t even begin to do justice to the incredible feasts we enjoyed, created by Tim with the flair and polish of a professional chef and avid foodie.

IMG_5702IMG_5727Years ago, when Mariya was just a baby, we passed through Prescott and found it to a sweet spot. Nearly 26 years later, we have returned and we had the same attraction to this town and the surrounding landscape. Facilitated by the tremendous hospitality of our hosts, we explored the cohesive downtown, went hiking near Thumb Butte, and kayaking at Watson Lake. I have a feeling we will be back to this place next winter!







We crossed over the land of the Saguaro, winding down into low elevations and traversing the crazy busy freeways between Phoenix and Tucson, headed for Bisbee, along the Mexican border, in SE Arizona. We were glad to only pass briefly through the Phoenix smog and jumble. I write this outside on a sparkling Bisbee afternoon, while guitars play and people chat casually.  OUTSIDE. I love this. Today’s daytime temperatures will hover around 75 degrees. For the first time, I will put away my down coat and hat for the evenings. I could get used to this kind of December.


3 comments on “The Outdoor Life

  1. Love your posts and photos – traveling along with ya! You’re missed here but you’ll be happy to know it has been windy and wet here so you haven’t missed a thing. XXXOOO one for Jack too.

  2. Shann and Steve – wondering if you’re still in the neighborhood? I’m just over the hill in Tumacacori – my new home at Avalon Gardens. Would love to see you if you are close… Emma Eden, now Layola

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