The plane touched down at Phoenix-Mesa Airport right on schedule and we headed to the rental car counter to pick up our chariot that would take us on our planned scenic adventure through the Arizona desert to our destination in Sedona. My new friend and I were headed to a yoga retreat. Our friendship born of mutual interest in yoga and mutual need to travel the 150-ish or so miles between the airport and our retreat location. After the customary becoming familiar with the car and getting our navigation tools organized, we took off. We left the airport, skirting the city and avoiding the five-lane highway. Eventually we found ourselves on a ribbon of highway winding, climbing and descending through the scrubby mountains that looked like giant upside-down chins that needed a shave.
We marveled at towering saguaro and noticed other cacti, succulents and some interesting tall yellow flowers, that reminded us somewhat of sunflowers.
It pretty much felt that we had been inserted into a western movie and we were on a trail ride. Instead of horses, we had horsepower, and sometimes not quite enough as our little car struggled to climb the mountains, but she did it, persistent like the little engine that could.
More desert mountains rose on each side of us. We wondered who lived in the random houses and trailers that were lightly scattered about and chatted about life as we got to know one another.
We arrived in Payson, a town big enough to have a Walmart and stopped for provisions. This was also the town where we were to turn east towards the main highway. For some reason this route would not come up on the phones. I expanded the map and there was indeed a highway. A search didn’t reveal an obvious reason we couldn’t take it. I tried forcing Siri to give directions to a town along the route and she said we couldn’t go there. I tried another town and she chose a route that basically sent us back to the beginning and then started over. We gathered our necessities and asked the person at the checkout to learn that the highway we needed was closed due to wildfire. The next best route went north of our destination, but cut through Winslow, so at least I could “stand on a corner in Winslow, AZ…” there’s always a bright side. As we left Walmart, the northern route through Winslow and Flagstaff disappeared on our devices. Shortly thereafter an orange sign appeared confirming our suspicions. Road Closed Ahead. The only route left was retracing most of the drive we had completed and starting over.
We retraced our route, but because the highway was divided saw new scenery including amazing stacks of huge boulders. We drove into a town on the outskirts of Phoenix and restarted our trip, this time on the five-lane highway that headed north. At 5:00 p.m. The very thing I wanted to avoid, stood between us and Sedona. With my friend’s navigation skills, we reached the last exit and merged and the lanes dwindled to a reasonable number.
In the distance my friend commented about what looked like rain. I remarked that it was virga and was probably evaporating before it hit the ground. We wouldn’t see any rain. Comforted by the fact that we were in the desert and it hardly ever rained here, we continued at 75 mph gaining ground on our destination. Presently a drop of rain danced on the windshield. I guess I was wrong about the rain. That first drop was joined by another and eventually the percussion grew louder and more furious. Where were the windshield wipers? I located them. Then our faithful chariot showed us a new skill, skating. Apparently, not only did she struggle with mountain climbing, ponding water on the roads was not her thing either. We slowed down considerably losing ground on our ETA. As I peered through the rain reading a highway sign reading “Flagstaff,” it occurred to me things could be worse. At least we didn’t have Aunt Edna strapped to the top of the car. (Can’t help throwing in a Vacation reference.)
It wasn’t raining in Sedona, so we knew we had to drive out of it eventually. We stopped for a quick bite to eat and the continued on the journey. Eventually the browns and tans of the desert gave way to red clay and green foliage. Sedona was breathtaking. Uniquely shaped giant red formations emerged from the earth around us nestled in lush greenery.
We drove through the main road of the town navigating roundabouts and surveying the many shops, but mostly we were awed by nature.
The resort was past Sedona and with one extra trip in one roundabout we arrived just in time to unload the car and make it to the first yoga session in the darkness to the sounds of a waterfall. So peaceful. I was lying on my mat at the end wondering if I really had to get up or if I could just sleep there.
I got up and walked back to the cabin and sat on the patio with refreshments and more new friends to chat with. We were awaiting the rise of the full moon from behind the tall trees. Eventually we gave in to the need for sleep. With the sofa bed as my accommodations, I decided I would prefer to sleep under the stars. So a few sofa cushions, a pillow and a sheet followed me to the patio. Guarded by the red mountain behind me and serenaded by the stars I drifted to sleep, as the full moon stubbornly remained behind the trees.
I awakened to the morning star bidding the darkness farewell, a hazy blue sky and a few bats finishing up the night shift, their shadows dancing to the whoosh of the wind in the trees full of birdsong. Another day. Another adventure.
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