After that beautiful drive, I have to say that I was not impressed with the first section of the town we drove through - it appeared super-crowded and touristy. I learned later that was, indeed, the excessively touristy section so we just stayed out of that area. Everything else was stunning - great views of gorgeous red rocks, wonderful shopping and art galleries, great food, etc.
One of our scheduled activities was to take a Pink Jeep Tour on the Broken Arrow Trail. This is a view of one of the red rock formations on the tour. Note the "desert varnish" (black staining) on these rocks.
According to our guide, there are some crazy videos on You Tube of mountain bikers riding horizontally across that white line that you can see on this formation. I haven't checked it out yet, but apparently, it's pretty amazing.
This is called Submarine Rock...and the jeep actually drove us out onto it. In fact, the jeep went a lot of places that I didn't think vehicles could go - it was pretty impressive. We drove down a very steep rock formation called "The Devil's Staircase" and I have no pictures of it because I had my eyes closed while we were doing it! Meanwhile, Ryan was sitting next to me yelling "YEAH! Awesome!" the whole time LOL!
Looking down the center of Submarine Rock.
It was just the beginning of wildflower season so I grabbed this shot of a plant that was blooming.
Prickly pear cactus - the same kind of plant that made the wonderful syrup we had on our pancakes and the sweet and yummy lemonade, too.
Agave plant - also known as a "Cowboy Killer." Those "leaves" are rigid and covered in spikes - imagine if you fell off your horse onto one of those! Hence the name...
After about 20-25 years, an agave plant will put up a single stalk like this, bloom, and then the whole plant dies.
After the tour, we spent the afternoon shopping at Tlaquepaque. It's a collection of shops, galleries and restaurants all built as a replica of a village by the same name in Mexico. It was quaint and a wonderful artistic setting - plus you could still see the wonderful red rocks while shopping as in this photo.
This was just one of the fountains at Tlaquepaque. Oh, and did I mention there's a bead shop? Because you know I always pre-scout any area I'm going to travel to for possible bead buying opportunities LOL! I always see Cocopah advertising in the bead magazines so it was fun to get to visit their actual location (they have two in Sedona and I went to both). I'll do a future post on the goodies I picked up there.
Then it was time for some playing around with the camera. I'm still working on using various settings and trying out different effects. There were gorgeous flowers all around Tlaquepaque and they made wonderful test subjects...like this Foxglove.
Not sure what these are, but I thought the colors were so pretty.
Snapdragons always remind me of my grandparents' house in Santa Fe - they had a lot of them in all different colors.
And, of course, I couldn't pass up the pansies (shout out to my Tri Delta sister, Erin).
On another day, we visited a local famous landmark called the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
It's this amazing chapel built right into the rocks in Sedona. There's a spiraling walkway that goes up and around to the back of the structure and has some of the best views in all of Sedona. I did not take the above picture (had to grab it from a website) because to get this view, you actually have to set up your camera down where the entrance/parking lot is and on the day we were there, it was a solid line of cars so no place to get out or even take a shot out the window.
More of the red rocks viewed from the back of the Chapel.
At one point, I learned all the names of these formations, but I forgot them all by the time we got home LOL.
Still, they are all really stunning.
This rock looms over the back of the Chapel...and we learned from a local that there's an eagle's head formation on it...can you spot it?
Metal sculpture of St. Francis of Assisi.
Pretty angel sculpture.
Some camera play again - berries on a tree outside the chapel.
This is a cleft in the rocks on the side of the chapel - part of the year, it's a little waterfall, but once that dries up, a whole bunch of plants bloom. I thought it was a pretty little spot.
Cacti growing fruit - I have a vague recollection from another trip to the desert that these are Teddy Bear Cactus, but that might not be correct.
I think it's kind of interesting that they actually have fruit.
Don't think I'd want to be in charge of harvesting them though.
One of the most amazing things we did took place in near total darkness so I don't have any photos of it. We signed up for a Sedona Stargazing Tour. Living in Southern California, there's just too much light to really see much in the way of stars unless you head out to the desert and even then, I've never been completely sure what I was looking at. In Sedona, this company takes you out about 30 minutes outside the main city to an open field where they have multiple large telescopes set up, laser pointers and experienced astronomers to explain everything. Not only did our guide point out all of the visible signs of the zodiac (using the laser pointer to highlight them so I knew I was looking at the right thing), but we saw the Milky Way, Venus, Jupiter (including some of the bands and the red eye), 2 other galaxies, a nebula, a star nursery (4 stars being born), and we even watched a satellite pass over our heads during the presentation.
In addition to wonderful sight-seeing, we ate at some fantastic restaurants including the Elote Café (had their signature dish - Elote - OMG amazing! It's a grilled corn dish served hot with a hint of spiciness and some cheese and it is to die for) and the Creekside which we enjoyed so much we went there twice for lunch. It has a fantastic outdoor, 2nd story patio that overlooks a small wilderness area with trees so we got to watch birds and even a lizard on a nearby pole during our meals. Their homemade peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream was unbelievably delicious!
Oh, and I forgot to mention, we stayed at the Hyatt Pinon Pointe. Great location right at the main intersection in town, but up on the hill above it so no traffic noise. It's mostly a nice property, but we had a few quibbles about some things to do with the particular unit we were in. I'm really only mentioning it because we had quite a surprise there on our last night. We were coming back from dinner and, if I haven't mentioned it before, it is exceedingly dark in Sedona. In fact, they are an International Dark Site (see the above info about stargazing!) so very little illumination. As we approached our unit, we heard a lot of rustling in the bushes - too large to be a lizard, squirrel, rabbit, etc. To help with the darkness, the hotel had given us some small LED flashlights when we checked in - my son turned his over onto the bushes and to our shock...there was a whole group of javelinas! There were about 5 total - a larger one and 4 small ones. I'm assuming it was a mother and some partially grown younger pigs. Definitely not something I was expecting and I think the pigs were as shocked as we were LOL!
We did one more bit of sight-seeing just outside Sedona, but I'll save that for the next post.