Thursday, 27 November 2014

Sedona and Red Rock Country

The Red Rock Country and Sedona, on to Phoenix The landscape around Sedona is stunning, with its bright red rock formations, formed from iron infused sandstone, topped off with pale yellow sandstone. There are several clusters of massive outcrops, or vortex, in the valley. The New Age spiritualists and artists that flocked to live here believe that there are spiritual centres or vortex in the rocks. Now I would respect all this if it weren't for the commercially insensitive development of the town, with its hundred of art galleries, gift shops, cafes and high-priced restaurants. We counted jeeps from four different Jeep Tours spewing out into traffic! We thought we'd opted for the more sedate, environmentally friendly trip in a trolley bus, but, to our surprise, were treated to a frenetic, whistle-stop tour of a few of the rocky marvels and trails, and couldn't hear our guide for the sound and speed of the traffic! We visited at a very quiet time but had to queue in traffic to try to enter one of the canyon roads. Well, we didn't, we turned the car round and went to visit the Oak Tree Brewery instead! That was good, with local ale, Nut Brown Ale, and a tray of seven samples, a Mahi Mahi spinach salad and a shrimp salad. Good value. Nice surroundings, but set in a court that had a distinct Disneyland feel to it. A load of shops dressed up to look like a Mexican village. It's marketed as a spiritual stay, but is a world away from our experiences in Chinle, where we'd enjoyed walks and insight into Navajo culture and hadn't been required to spend a farthing! It's like Bakewell in Sedona, you have to buy a pass to park near most of the trails! That moan out of the way, the views of the surrounding Red Rock Country are superb, if only a lot more restraint had been taken with Sedona. The Cottonwood trees were glorious, bronze and yellow. Marlene had told us about them in Chinle, and said it was a shame we'd missed them because they'd looked like they were on fire, but the leaves had all dropped being at about 2000' difference in height. The following day we descended from the Colorado Plateau, where we had spent the previous five days at a much higher altitude and therefore much cooler. Immediately warmed up and soon hot again. We made for the Heard Gallery in Phoenix, which housed a private collection of Native American artwork, ranging from intricate basketry to painted ceramic pots, red on clay painted in cochineal, to beautiful rugs, blankets and clothing. Dozens of katsinas, doll-like depictions of various spirits, adorn two walls. We went on a guided tour and learnt, no holes barred,about the shocking treatment of the native children, taken from their families in the 1860s and forced into boarding schools, with a dreadful disregard for their culture and intelligence. Hair forcibly cut short, which they did as a sign of mourning in their own culture, meaning that they literally went into a grieving state. A form of social engineering reminiscent of Victorian England and Australia. Well worth a visit. I picked up a book on Navajo weaving, and promised myself to resurrect my loom at home, inspired by the spirit of the Spider Woman! Set off tomorrow , flying to San Fran. Can't wait to see all the family, especially Lily and little Glo-worm aka Charlotte, who we've nicknamed after the Glow-worm on the Gas advert!

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