Monday, December 2, 2013

Seeking the Vortex

It's all about the vortex here. And crystals, and psychics, and chakras, and energy. Frankly, I heard more about the vortexes (vorteses? vorti?) before I got here than after I arrived, but I take no issue with folks looking for whatever makes them feel good, and there are a lot worse ways to do this than hiking through a canyon looking for an energy field. Or a space portal. Or whatever the hell it's supposed to be.

Christina had so much fun on her mountain bike yesterday that she was jonsing to hit the trail again today, so we drove back toward the Enchantment Resort where we'd had our fancy dinner on Thursday, and I dropped her off at a trailhead from where she could do a ride which would put her at another trailhead parking lot. I then drove ten minutes to the trailhead for the Fay Canyon hike and wandered on down the path. It's sad to admit, but after a while, all the spectacular red rocks and wide canyon walls start to look alike, and one (well, this one anyway) starts to get a little... if not jaded, exactly, then used to the beauty. Fay Canyon is a lovely hike which ends facing a sheer cliff wall. It took me an hour an a half to hike the 2.3 miles in and out. Again, the trail was really quiet, but much warmer than our first day's hike, and even though this was considered an easy one, there were very few people out.

Trail's end; click on photo.

After coming out of Fay Canyon, I drove back to the other trailhead which was on Christina's bike route, and ended up in the parking area just as she was riding through. We made a plan for meeting up again later and she continued on her ride while I headed down the Boynton Canyon trail. This one is about six miles RT and goes behind the Enchantment Resort, along a ridge and into the canyon. The beginning of the hike is spectacular and then you sort of lose the view as you end up in a more forested area on the canyon floor. But the big draw to this hike is the VORTEX. It's at the end of the trail or on the tail, or the tail is a landing site... or something (I really should have done more vortex research before I got to Sedona); whatever the deal was, I was open to it. I took some deep breaths, cleared my mind, and headed down the path.

photo courtesy of Gary 
Look, my theory is, the vortex is wherever you want it to be. We all can get there or find it whether we're in Sedona or Senegal. But still, for those who like having a framework for their spiritual awakenings, it was fun to think that this spot was extra-vortexy. It certainly was pretty. At one point, close to the end of the trail (and thus, closer to the actual vortex site), I saw a guy standing on the trail pointing his camera into the woods; he heard me approaching and put his finger to his lips and pointed into the trees. I had no idea what he was trying to photograph so I tip-toed over and whispered, "what are we looking at?" He pointed through the trees, and there, about 30 feet in front of us, was a young deer sitting in the leaves. And that was the moment my camera battery died. Luckily, the guy offered to take a photo with his phone and send it to me, and when I gave him my number, he immediately asked, "Washington?" when I started with "2-0-6..." This sparked some whispered chit-chat when I said I was from Seattle, and it turned out that camera-guy (Gary) grew up in Spokane, lived on Capitol Hill while going to Seattle U, and now lives in Birmingham, Alabama - that last fact was imparted with a fair amount of disdain, as appropriate for any west coaster who finds himself living in the deep south. More chit-chat ensued about Seattle and Sedona and the convoluted route that took him from Spokane to Alabama, all in whispers since the deer was still sitting right there, but eventually I had to get to the vortex at the end of the trail, and Gary was heading in the opposite direction so I told him that my friend and I would be heading out to dinner that night, and [unbeknownst to him, but in the spirit of the "People to Meet" title of this blog] he'd be welcome to join us. Which he did, at the Cowboy Club, after Christina and I had our spa appointments (shea butter body wraps) back at the hotel.

I didn't have high hopes for the Cowboy Club, it was smack in the middle of the most touristy area of town, but it did get good reviews on Yelp, and we were assured that it was a place the locals went. It was surprisingly good. We sat at the bar and the bartender was extremely nice and called me "sis" which I really liked, and we ordered some cactus fries and rattlesnake bites (Gary's idea) from her before our entrees. Anyone who knows me knows I have a fairly severe snake phobia; actually, anyone who knows me would be more familiar with my deep-seated aversion to monkeys, but that's only because the snake phobia is so strong that I don't even like to talk about it/them while I will happily expound on my dislike of monkeys to anyone who will listen. There were signs at all the trailheads about some sinister-looking black viper that was endangered or something - I don't know exactly what it said because I wouldn't get close enough to the sign to read it (photo of the snake on the sign was too vivid) and I tried really hard to put the thought that there might be snakes on the trail out of my head during all my hikes. So I wasn't really all that excited about eating rattlesnake bits or bites or whatever; as I pointed out at the bar, ingesting one didn't seem right when I hated them so, and also, I didn't want eating one to somehow (through the vortex) summon them to me. But whatevs, Gary ordered them, it would have seemed rude and wimpy not to try it, so I did. Tastes like chicken - HA! I felt I had to say that. It actually tasted like pork; old, over-cooked, semi-flavorless pork. So I don't need to do that again.

We had a nice dinner with lots of chatting about travel and adventures and why no one should voluntarily live in Alabama if they can help it. Gary was at the beginning of his vacation in Sedona so we gave him lots of tips on what to do and see - we made a point of strongly recommending Elote Cafe (which we would have gone back to that night if they weren't closed on Sundays), and told him that the Pink Jeeps were fun and the West Fork hike was great. Christina and I wished him luck in search of the vorteses (he had said he felt a little bit of a rush at the end of the Boynton Canyon trail...) and went back to the hotel to pack.

It was a fantastic trip. Active enough for me with some spa-life thrown in, great food, clear sunny days in a spectacularly picturesque town, nice friends, and good vibrations.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Bring on the Bikes (and the magazines)

By Saturday, it had been at least three days since Christina had been on her bike, and she was getting antsy [she drove to AZ from Seattle with her mountain bike, stopping in Moab for several days before picking me up in Phoenix]. Luckily, there are lots of opportunities for biking in Sedona, so off to the bike shop we went. I got outfitted with a mountain bike, the bouncyness of which made me a little nervous... I mean, why would I need a full suspension bike with disc brakes when we were just going for a leisurely, easy ride, right? Well, it started out that way, but quickly turned into a rolling single-track. Thanks to my one and only lesson in downhilling ("trust the bike; look ahead not down; keep your cranks level"), I didn't kill myself but I did end up walking the bike quite a bit while Christina rolled down crazily steep steps, peddled up crazily steep steps, and cruised around hairpin turns. Still, the scenery was amazing and it was fun (kind of) but it was a long way from my beautiful, 8-speed, Italian cruiser with the basket on the front, and the thought of falling on a cactus seriously unnerved me. We rode one crazy loop together (which for CM was probably the equivalent of a ride around Green Lake) and then she took off for more bad-ass riding while I cruised up the main trail (along with the people pushing strollers and the elderly) back to the bike shop, which is also a coffee shop, to wait for her while catching up on my New Yorkers.

Christina may have earned her 4pm massage more than me, but it's a vacation not a competition.

seriously, don't fall off the bike 
at the Bike and Bean