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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

Slide Rock

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 4/15/2024
Posted: 8/13/2007
Page Views: 1438
Topics: #Arizona #SlideRock #SlideRockStatePark #Sedona #Travel
The whole damnfamily visits Sedona's favorite state park.

My son's girlfriend, Rachel, is from Texas and wanted to see Sedona. So we arranged to make the expedition yesterday.

This was the day after Saturday, when daughters Jenny and Karen and grandson Zachary and I did a Salt River float that somehow resulted in my getting a sunburn on the top of my head and my chest and stomach. I used sunblock, too. Even Zach got a light burn on his back, and he never burns.

We intended to leave around 9 AM for Sedona. We did, too—that was a surprise! But then we left half of what we intended to bring, including bottles of water and a dry towel and shorts for me. Because, we intended to swim.

We wanted to get there early, because Rachel had gotten an unexpected phone call from a high school friend who was "passing through town" and would be arriving at the airport at 5:15 pm.

My original plan was to go to Red Rock Crossing, a regional park and family favorite that is located just beneath the majesty of Cathedral Rock, and have a picnic and a swim, then do a little climbing on Bell Rock or the vortex at Airport Mesa. However, sometime after we left the house dissatisfaction with the picnic idea began to surface. "Picnics always sound like fun," my daughter Karen said. "But then when you get there, they somehow turn into wind and bugs and dirt everywhere." Karen is studying to be an archaeologist. You'd think she'd embrace wind and bugs and dirt, but, apparently not.

By the time we pulled into Sedona, it was already noon. That may have been because, with eight people, we never passed a rest stop—we had to pull into every one. In any case, I suggested McDonalds, which would be fast and cheap. But instead we ate at the Red Planet Diner, where the food was delicious but took an hour to arrive—and left us with a $117 bill.

By this time my husband Michael and my ex-wife Mary decided they didn't really want to swim; so they took one car to the touristy T-shirt shops while I drove the rest of our party to Red Rock Crossing. The day had gotten quite hot and everyone was really looking forward to a swim in Oak Creek. However, when we reached the guard shack, we saw a sign warning that swimming wasn't safe due to the amount of e. coli bacteria in the water. That was the first time I'd ever come to Red Rock Crossing when that was the case.

So now it was almost 3 PM and we had done nothing but eat. Jenny began making threatening statements describing how cranky she would be if she didn't go somewhere to swim soon. The only other thing I could think of was Slide Rock State Park, which is about ten miles north of Sedona and, perhaps, far enough upstream that Oak Creek might not be infected there.

That turned out to be the case. However, Slide Rock is also a very popular park. When we arrived, we saw a sign saying that the parking lot was full. When we saw that there were only about five cars ahead of us, though, we decided to wait.

Each time a car drove out, they let another one in. In about fifteen minutes we were in. (Cost: $10 a carload.) That's when I discovered that our digital camera wasn't working and I would have to rely on my cell phone camera to record our visit.

The swimming area, which seems to be Slide Rock's main draw, was a ten minute walk along a beautiful meadow flanked by red cliffs on the left and Oak Creek and then more red cliffs on the right. There were also a number of old buildings. Apparently, less than a hundred years ago this had been an apple farm! Apples still grow here.

A gentle, ten-minute walk past apple trees leads to the swimming hole.

The place turns out to be a delightful, if heavily-used, swimming hole. Oak Creek passes through grooves in the rock, some of which are deep enough to dive into. At other places, the water flows over slick rock (hence the name) with a current strong enough to sweep you along with it. Zachary, of course, was in his element. John and Rachel declined to swim for some reason, but Jenny partook and even Karen got her feet wet. I, of course, swam the length of it though I had a little trouble navigating the shallow, slippery spots.

Jenny surveys the crowd.
Zach's own special island. Janny, having jumped. Zach, having jumped. Zach swimming.
John interacts with the locals.
Karen. Karen, closer.
Your blogger. Your blogger.
Your blogger and Zach. Your blogger, sliding.
Your blogger.
Zach climbs out. Zach

Although the cut beneath the ten-foot cliff was very deep and would be safe for normal jumping, one of the other visitors, a tall teenager, dove head-first and came up with a bloody head. Fortunately, he didn't seem to have hurt himself seriously, and was mostly embarrassed. But the event did require Jenny and me to assure Karen that this would not happen to Zachary, since he was a) jumping, not diving; and b) not six-and-a-half feet tall.

The return was almost long enough to dry us without towels.

Slide Rock is obviously a place one should spend the day at; but we could spare no more than an hour. Rachael had already given up on meeting her friend in Phoenix, but Michael and Mary had expected us to meet them at 3:30 and it was now an hour later than that—and there was no cell phone service, so we couldn't call them. Still, it was time to go. We climbed up the steep stairs to the walk—they hadn't seemed so steep on the way down!—returned to the car, and drove back to Sedona (stopping for Dairy Queen on the way).

The next time we will definitely have to remain longer!