Saturday, September 15, 2012


We land in Phoenix, rent a big SUV and head towards the red, sandstone city of Sedona, 116 miles north; named after Sedona A.M. Schnebly, wife of the city’s first post master, celebrated for her warmth and diligence. For some distance, our eyes ride the Camelback Mountain and almost the whole distance is marked with the big, aged and blossomed Saguaro cactus and the sparingly green patched red earth on both sides of the road.
Glowing Gold
We reach panoramic Sedona early in the evening, just to fall in love at first sight as we have beautiful views of the glowing gold, prominent mammoth red rocks bathing in the soothing, setting sun; just in front of our inn! We relax for some time and go to the lightly crowded, frolicky main street; slowly adjusting itself with dusk and then darkness with well lit aesthetically sculptured statues and artifacts on the roadside; and restaurants beaming live music. The cool evening is refreshing as we walk and come across people with children playing a variety of xylophones; we also try our skills and Poonam, my better half, enjoys it a lot. Finally we dine in a spacious, Mexican restaurant and return to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.
Men r men.....
Next morning, we have a hearty breakfast at a spread of boiled eggs, toasts and bagels with cream cheese, marmalade, butter, cinnamon rolls and yoghurts blended with strawberries, peach and orange juice; of course with plenty of hot coffee and tea to stimulate us for a romance with warm red Sedona, an unusually beautiful place with a number of vortexes supposed to give one, special energizing and spiritual effects! Let me tell you, to begin with, that much before it changed into a full fledged tourist spot since 1980s, it has been a destination for the slow but potent Western Movies of Hollywood! Well, we head for the Bell Rock (elevation 1470 meters), one of the vortexes, and reach its base in half an hour. This enormous, historical red butte with horizontally bedded sedimentary rock looks like a combination of tops of Buddhist Stupas at the lower levels and a couple of minuscule Pagodas at the peak. 
The Bell Rock,combination of Stupas n Pagodas
We follow the trail for a considerable distance, able to view other magnificent red rock formations like the Courthouse Butte (elevation 1660 meters).But as the sun, high in the blue, unpolluted skies, is very inclement, we shall be doing a jeep tour of the rugged terrain later.

 We return to our car and proceed to the Oak Creek Canyon, a thirteen miles picturesque route with Ponderosa pines and hairpin bends, next only to the Grand Canyon in popularity as a tourist attraction. We end up in the Slide Rock State Park seven miles after; this is the three miles essence of the Oak Creek with a rim of red and white rocks all the way, mainly carved by a tributary of the Verde River, beginning with the remnants of an apple orchard developed by late Frank L. Pendley in 1912 with an indigenous irrigation system, in use even today!
A part of the Apple Orchard with old irrigation equipement
 We walk further towards the main park and then in the opposite direction of the gentle  stream with a large number of holydayers young and old, bathing, swimming, fishing, sunbathing and playing games. Buoyed by the lively atmosphere, we also prepare ourselves to have a go as we reach the stretch of the water flowing over harmlessly bumpy and slippery red rocks and finally splashing one into a comfortable, cool pool to stand up in the water again and have fun in breathfuls. Hmm…..,  getting out is not so easy without help, but surely more fun as the tourists get friendly pulling out each other and you can redo the slide as many times as you want!  

Slide water splash
Slide water area

A panoramic View from Apple Orchard, Oak Creek Canyon
Energized and back to Sedona Main Street by early evening, we decide to take the slow motion roller coaster Jeep trip in the mountainous terrain of the Broken Arrow trail to have an overall view of scenic Sedona. The pretty, stylish but rugged Pink jeep, takes us through the zigzag, uneven paths smoothly and stealthily, as if it does not want to disturb the various red rock personalities existing around since ages! We reach the stocky and slippery Chicken Point, with pert comments from the expert driver-cum-guide of the vehicle, who also takes our family pictures with beautiful backdrops of the unusual mountains all around. Then we move on to the Submarine Rock Point from where we get a 360degrees view of the whole territory consisting of the fantasy in white amidst red: The Wilson Mountain, The Munds Mountain, The Twin Buttes, The Bell Rock, The Cathedral Complex, Courthouse, you-name-it-we-see-it, with positive vortices, trod by Indians and people of different cultures in the course of the American History and a perennial inspiration for writers and movie makers! 
The Wilson Mountain
The Twin Buttes

Courthouse Butte from the city
In the evening we go to the interesting vortex point near the Airport Mesa where a large number of people gather, may be, to absorb the positive energies from the Vortex point.  But, definitely the sunset time gives the most beautiful and peaceful views of all the red rock natural structures around Sedona, on the other side, resembling monoliths of exquisite shapes, from red to orange to gold as we stand awestruck in the dreamy, cool breeze encompassing us.
Sunset time View from Airport Mesa View point with Sedona in the fore
From the Submarine Point
The Hawk Point

Happy at the SubMrne Point


Yea...The Hawk is There, spot it!
Cactus Flowers With LOVE @Chicken Pt

Next morning, after an early breakfast, our next promising destination is The Grand Canyon; a nature’s Wonder and everyone’s dream! Yea…our journey begins with a delightful drive through the curving route in the lush Coconino Forests passing the Oak Creek Canyon region once again and it takes about three hours to reach the spacious, well planned and buzzing with people South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. We directly go to the Visitor Center and as our daughter Niti is completing the formalities, we peruse the huge, with natural colors plan of the Canyon and then sit watching the ‘Science on a Sphere’ 360-degree global imagery speaking about the legendary landmark. We happily discover that names of Bramha, Rama, and Vishnu are associated with the foremost schist at the base of the Canyon with the mighty, satiated Colorado, after flowing through 277(446 km) miles for billions of years, patiently carved one of the greatest sculptures of the world, dividing the compatible Kaibab Plateau!
A view from Mather Point
We proceed to the Mather Point, the starting point of the trail, to have the stunning first view of the Great Gorge, with a range of huge hills against the backdrop of the rim, spotted with greenery, popping up with different formations and strata of colors varying from almost black at the base thru grey, mud, red, orange, green and white ending up in flat or pointed tops creating ultimate impressions for us to soar high on a Magic Carpet of imagination and glide high and low amidst them and perch on any one of them for a bird’s eye view! Trying to gobble the canyon wide eyed, we slowly move on to the Yavapai point from where we see the beautiful Isis temple formation along with the distinct massive Shiva Temple and the Cheops Pyramid formations. Well, to understand it simply, I think all the civilizations gather in the unique, natural, mystique canyon with grandiose representation for peoples from all over the world to have thrill, sense of belonging and fulfillments.
O'Neil Butte(red) in the fore from Mather point
Bright Angel Canyon from Yavapai Point

As we move on, the intricacies and colors of the canyon unfold and the treats for the eyes and, of course for the camera, multiply; the Maricopa point from where we get nice, unobstructed views of the canyon with the gaping Bright Angel and Garden creeks; several miles of the snaking and alluring Tonto Trail taking us into the treasures of the canyon also begins from here, a case of sour grapes in our case as it is not in our program!
Powell Point as we proceed from Maricopa Point
We move on to the massive, white and beautiful Powell Point, named after late John  Wesley Powell, a brilliant scholar, Geologist, teacher, soldier, explorer and discoverer of the canyon with two extensive expeditions; the Big Canyon till then, was called the Grand Canyon by him first! This spacious view point is the most crowded with the people enjoying the views, relaxing, having lunch and also, the children, playing around. The sight of a big squirrel, trying to  eat a big plastic container being saved from doing so by an agile tourist by actually reaching it in a flash and knocking away the container from its hands was quite laudable.
 As the light is at the peak, the views of the buttes, creeks and also the water in the river are distinct with different colorations and when we view them amidst the white rocks of the present point, the contrast is just dramatic.  We move on to the nearby Hopi point and get a feeling that we are more in the air with more views, both of east and west deep down the gorge! Then we move along the rim curving inside to reach the scenic Mohave Point; again a promontory giving the views of deeper and far off sections as if taking us into an abyss and I again think of the magic carpet which will glide me into it! But it turns out to be the time for us to return and stick to the excellent schedule planned by our otherwise busy daughter, for a great holiday.
Mohave Point
We have a grub of turkey and cheese sandwiches, salads and yoghurts and we start for the distant points on the southern rim, reaching Lipan point over a fairly straighter route of twenty two miles. This beautiful point at an elevation of 7400ft with the fresh, 270 million year old( get the joke?) white Kaibab formation gives a treat of a maze of peaks, lovely green Colorado waters at the Vishnu stratum(1.8 billion years old!) and the prominent, Escalante butte. We spend good lot of time with lots of people around and pleasant sunshine in the evening.

From Lipan Point, Escalante Butte n the River
Lipan Point, an array of peaks
The Desert View is our final destination of the canyon, where we are welcomed by beautiful cactus flowers to begin with and then the attractive, Pueblan style watchtower. 
Cactus Flowers @Desert View

From the Desert View Point
We move around the tower to see exciting views of the rim and the green Kaibab forests above them leading into desert regions; a cluster of buttes overlooking the Colorado and the Palisades. I request a  strikingly beautiful, very tall, wearing a cute small nose ring, perhaps European lady, with a shorter gentleman to take our picture and we are delighted that she gracefully clicks for us with the full advantage of her height for the best backdrop; “she may be an actress or a model”, I think after thanking her; finding her in a great holiday mood, sipping wine discreetly from a small bottle, once in a way from her hand bag.
The Watch Tower

A Verdant View of the Rim n Beyond

Soon we enter the 70 foot watchtower designed perfectly by the American architect Mary Colter and the enthralling, out of the world murals by the Hopi artiste late Fred Kabotie,

The Enthralling Mural
Another angle
 to give us a feel of the Native American culture with stone and Adobe (sand, clay, water and some fibrous material of sticks, straw or manure) structures in their times as we climb the spiral stairs for each of the four floors, enjoying the curious Indian paintings and petroglyph style artifacts by late Fred Greer.  By the time we reach the top for the views, I start getting a feeling of Indians, birds and animals moving around in the valleys before me! Well, to explore them is a marathon job of months together where as we just have a total of eight days to do the Four Corners of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico at their meeting point.
                                                                                                               Raja Ram Atre

More Pictures                                                                                      


At Hopi Point
From Powell Point

                                                                                                                  RAJA RAM ATRE