Exotic destinations inspire the creative spirit. None moreso than the spectacular backdrop of panoramic beauty surrounding the desert community of Sedona, Arizona.
As a child I dreamed of traveling to far away places, and I read everything I could find about locations with picturesque settings. As an adult I marveled at the discovery of magic destinations like Sedona that bring life to past dreams.
In the early 1990s we made our first trip to Sedona's gorgeous Red Rock country. Seeing the red-orange rock formations set against cloudless blue skies was like visiting the set of an unforgettable movie. Years earlier, when acters like John Wayne and other western stars ruled the silver screens in theaters across the country, movie-makers discovered the all-encompassing spectacle of the Sedona desert. The enchanting mountain scenery glowed from afar as cowboy heroes on horseback rode off into the sunset.
Artists were not far behind the movie-makers in discovering the enchanting Sedona landscape. They came in droves to look and liked what they saw so much they stayed. Hundreds of artists came to work and live in Sedona, giving rise to an extra number of galleries. Quite a few are located in Tlaquepaque; others line highways 179 and 89A.
Even with all the changing landscapes and the widening of the roadways, Sedona has remained a haven for artists and for New Age followers. The dozens of art galleries located in the area offer work by artists who create in a variety of styles. In one gallery, some of the most colorful and impressive pieces were painted by an eight-year old girl. Through Sedona, visitors can find bronze sculptures depicting eagles looking specifically realistic against a backdrop of picturesque red rocks. Many of the retail businesses sell art as well as crystals, books, and other New Age items.
On our first and on our subsequent visits, every place we went we found incredible photo opportunities. Along dusty trails in the wilderness to the sites of new hotels and resorts, a dramatic rock formation was always visible in the background. During our times in Sedona, we discovered some of the man-made medicine wheels I'd read about. We watched from a distance as other people wandered by, some of them chanting softly into the quiet calm of the vortex sites. Others paused to take pictures. Four energy vortex sites were attracting a growing New Age movement to Sedona. The New Agers came to meditate, to recharge crystals, and to hear the Indian voices built up in the wind.
The incredible rock formations of Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Courthouse Rock and other wondrous configurations rose high against a clear blue background creating magical photo opportunities. Being in the midst of the vortexes and on the sacred land was a spiritual experience. Although we did not view the flying saucers others have claimed to see over Bell Rock, during one of our visits we went several nights to take a look. In the late twentieth century, hundreds of flying saucer sightings were reported each year. At night, a shining blue light was said to sometimes outline Bell Rock.
On a jeep ride through the Red Rock country wilderness, we discovered Devil's Bridge near Chimney Rock and Coffee Pot Rock. Before we left, our daredvil guide posed for photographs straddling the chasm.
In our most recent trip to Sedona, we were disappointed to see that the community has crept ever closer to magnificent Bell Rock. A shopping mall has grown up near by, and the special little restaurant with the stained glass window depicting Bell Rock is gone. It does not seem quite right for a place as unique and picturesque as Sedona to change. But it has.
Even so, Sedona remains an exotic destination where writers and artists have come to congregate. Childhood dreams can become a reality in a beautiful and tranquil desert community.
Copyright 2009 Mary Montague Sikes, Author, Eagle Rising (set in Sedona), Secrets by the Sea, Hotels to Remember