By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 1/27/2020
Occurred: 5/17/2000
Topics/Keywords: #Sedona #Arizona #OakCreekCanyon Page Views: 1541
A visit to Sedona, Arizona, with my husband and sister-in-law. Photos and text.
Michael, Surya, and me (Paul)

Michael's sister, Surya, first fell in love with Sedona during a visit West taken in the 1980s. Knowing she had wanted to return ever since, Michael and I gave her, for her birthday present , a "coupon good for one trip to Sedona". However, it wasn't until this May that everything came together so that we could actually go.

The impetus was a call from one of those time-share vacation things, offering us a "night's stay in Sedona" for $19.95 if only we would visit their vacation resort. I explained that we really weren't going to buy time-share, but the guy said that was all right; he wanted us to see the place and then, if we liked it, we could talk it up for our friends who might be interested.

So we picked up Surya at work at 4:30 on Friday afternoon, and, after having dinner, we set out North on I-17 towards the Red Rock country.

Although we were to tour Los Abrigados, we were scheduled to stay at Poco Diablo, a nice enough if basic place that did feature a Jacuzzi near our room. So, though we arrived in Sedona after dark, we got to enjoy our vacation starting that evening.

In the morning we had to do our ritual tour of Los Abrigados (small rooms, but the most beautiful time-share setting I've seen) and then drove North through Oak Creek Canyon.

Oak Creek Canyon

Oak Creek Canyon Navajo Jewelry on Display

I usually take people to see Oak Creek Canyon from Flagstaff; that way, they get to enjoy this nice, peaceful ride through the trees until we suddenly come upon this amazing view of the gash in the earth before us. To simulate this, I made Surya close her eyes for the last part of the climb to the break of the canyon, then had her open them at the very top.


She had mentioned a desire to see and maybe purchase jewelry from Native American vendors along the roadside, as she had done in the 1980s. So, it was a nice coincidence to find such vendors (Navajo) at the scenic lookout at the top of the canyon.

After buying several beautiful examples of Navajo jewelry- making, we strolled out to the overlook for the view. Surya had tears in her eyes from the beauty; and, although I've seen it often enough to no longer cry over it, I admit I am still moved.

Lunch with a Friend

On the way up the canyon, I had suggested that Surya keep an eye out for a restaurant she'd like to eat in on the way back down. Now, please understand that the "energy vortexes" that Sedona boasts are real. One effect of them is that there is a higher occurrence of synchronicity in Sedona than in other places. So, we shouldn't have been too surprised when our waitress asked us where we were from. Michael replied, "I'm from a little town in New York state called Eastchester."

Our waitress squealed, "My goodness! I'm from Westchester!" Well, to make a long story short, it turned out that our waitress' mother had taught kindergarten in the school Michael had been in kindergarten in, and her father had played golf with Michael's father. Both Surya and Michael had known her parents! So, lunch turned out to be old home week.

Red Rock Crossing

The road to Red Rock Crossing is, itself, spectacular, for all that it isn't very long. It provides a gorgeous overview of the local geography.

Red Rock Country.

On an earlier trip, Michael and I had sent Surya a postcard of Cathedral Rock, and had visited a little local park called Red Rock Crossing. We paid the very reasonable fee ($3 at the time) and parked, then strolled to a short trail that took us to Oak Creek.

The Author at Red Rock Crossing Surya and Michael

Surya wanted to spend time communing with Cathedral Rock, and I knew that Red Rock Crossing was the best place to do it.

Surya on the Trail Surya on the Rocks

Red Rock Crossing is not commercialized, so the path to Oak Creek is unimproved—in fact, it was pretty muddy. Nevertheless, Surya was able to navigate it, and the very slippery rocks over which the Creek flows. Then, where the water only flows during flood season, is a dry spot where Surya could sit and gaze at the beautiful natural formation that provides such an exquisite backdrop to the park, Cathedral Rock.

Surya at Cathedral Rock

Surya was content to meditate on Cathedral Rock for an hour or more, while Michael and I spent time in the water.


When we went back to check on Surya, we found a cloud angel watching over her from Cathedral Rock.

Cloud Angel

Bell Rock

Bell Rock

As the final stop on this pilgrimage, we decided to visit Bell Rock. This is the site of the first "discovered" vortex, though all these stone monuments were sacred ground to the Native Americans who lived here first. By the time we got there, the bulk of Cathedral Rock loomed between Bell Rock and the setting sun, leaving only its peak to glow like a dying match.

I parked the car, and Michael and I left Surya to meditate in the car, while we determined to hike partway up to do our own meditation on the mountain, itself. We passed a wedding party for a couple who had chosen this magical time and place to take their vows. We gave them a wide berth. Halfway up the monument, our attention was momentarily diverted to neighboring Courthouse Rock, which, without another monument to interfere, blazed brightly in the light of the setting sun.

Courthouse Rock

As we continued to climb, and the sun continued to sink below the horizon, the entire landscape was transformed into a magical panorama.

Sedona Sunset Moon over Bell Rock

Finally, we reached our destination: a cleft in the rock that splits Bell Rock essentially in half. Just as we arrived, we found the rising moon to be directly over the top of Bell Rock. Awed by the power and majesty of the place, we stood in silent meditation until the growing darkness forced us to leave.

We returned to town for dinner, which we had at the world-famous (according to them) Coffeepot Café—named, not for the kitchen appliance, but for Coffeepot Rock. Dinner was excellent, but we ate slowly because we didn't want to leave. However, when they started vacuuming around us, we reluctantly took the hint and returned to our car.

It's always hard to leave Sedona, but for one thing: We can start looking forward to our next visit!