It is a short distance from Oak Creek to Sedona, AZ, along Highway 179, but as we drove this route, we realized this trip could take a very, very long time.
Bell Rock, a famous Sedona landmark, rises to the sky just beyond the village of Oak Creek and seems to rise directly in the path of Highway 179. It was difficult to focus on the traffic, since we were drawn to the brilliance of the Rock.
A second ride along this route, showed a slightly different Rock due to the different time of day. The light reveals different highlights of the landmark and invites the viewer to study Bell Rock with a different perspective.
Next to Bell Rock is Courthouse Butte, another formation that requires more than a passing survey.
If other rock formations have names, it seemed unnecessary. Getting caught up in trying to identify the features that produced the formation's name was far less important than simply immersing ourselves in the colors and the changing features of the formations over the course of the day.
Our drive from Phoenix took us from an elevation of 1700 feet to an altitude of 4500 feet in Sedona. We imagined that this difference might result in a slight reduction in the number of temperatures in the 100-plus degree range in summer, but we weren't sure if this would account for the slower pace of life.
The relaxed pace of life in Sedona that we expereienced might be traced to the number of years between the first home in Sedona and the town's founding.
In 1901, Theodore Carlton Schnebly left Missouri and headed west. In 1902, he made the area that we know as Sedona his home. The area was named after his lovely wife Sedona Schnebly. But, it wasn't until 86 years later, in 1988, that Sedona was incorporated as a city.
Some of local residents will refer to Bell Rock and other formations as prominent Sedona vortex sites. A vortex, if you’re given to this sort of perspective, "is a swirling concentration of energy emanating from the earth that can have any number of attributes, depending on what kind of vortex it is and who you talk to."
Some categorize vortexes (or vortices) as male, female or balanced, and claim that their energy can affect the human consciousness and even one’s physical body.
The New Age philosophy is a bit esoteric. Suffice it to say that the beauty of the rock formations requires time to comtemplate and rewards the viewer with an revitalizing experience.
Travel brochures summarize the attraction of Sedona: "The red rocks of Sedona have a song all their own. Hear their song, join in their chorus.
Once Sedona is in your heart it stays there.
Some call it 'Red Rock Fever.' The only known cure is to visit as often as possible -- or better yet move there."
Perhaps that is why my (Chuck's) cousin, Linda, and her husband, Craig, have a home in Sedona.
"Above all, Sedona is a gift to be protected and cherished."