Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is only 115 miles south of the Grand Canyon. Our big National Park tour was complete and we were headed to Sedona for some rest and relaxation before we began our long drive back home to North Carolina. My daughter Melissa had gifted us a VRBO home in Sedona for Christmas and had even helped in setting up all of our excursions and tours while we were there. She texted just before we arrived and asked how we liked the place. I texted back that we were about 20 minutes away but I would let her know as soon as we arrived. The place was beautifully decorated and a perfect place for us to chill out for a several days. I was just getting ready to send her a text to thank her for such a wonderful Christmas gift when William opened the kitchen door that led out to the garage. When he opened the door he said, “OH, HI.” and I turned around looking confused about who he could be talking to. I went to the door and you would not believe the look on my face when I realized that not only Melissa but our other daughter Stephanie were standing there giggling and saying SURPRISE. They had flown all the way from NC just to join us in Sedona.

William and I both were so happy that our daughters had schemed up such a surprise for us. After chatting and catching up with all the family stuff we headed out to a top restaurant there in Sedona that Melissa had been to several times before. We all had heard so much about Elote Cafe and were over the top excited to try this Gourmet Mexican Food by Chef Jeff Smedstad.

Let me just say we ordered one of most everything on the menu and the meal did not disappoint. We had the Elote which is a fire roasted corn with spicy mayo, lime, and cotija cheese that the restaurant is famous for but we ate it so fast we didn’t get a picture of that. The pumpkin seed crusted goat cheese balls drizzled with honey was loved by all of us. The lightly fried jumbo scallops served with tomato jam and truffle crema were to die for. The corn chowder was like none any of us had ever tasted. The sea bass tacos were so delicious. How we found room to end this with the Mexican Chocolate Pie and the Guava Sorbet I do not know.

After dinner we walked around the main street and shopping area window browsing to decide where we wanted to shop the next day.

I wanted to see the Chapel of the Holy Cross which is built atop the Red Rocks of Sedona. The Chapel was commissioned by Marguerite Staude with the help of Lloyd Wright, son of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Sedona is known for its vortexes, swirling centers of energy that are thought to be a place of healing and for meditation. We booked a tour that would allow us to visit a couple of these sites. Our tour took us first to Rachel’s Knoll, Rachel was a remarkable woman who worked hard to acquire and preserve this vortex area. There are stunning views of the red rocks from this vantage point.

We were told that the best way to experience the vortex energy was to ground our feet on the rocks.

William and Melissa were really getting into the experience.

From there we visited Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park, a Buddhist temple. This  is an outdoor destination for prayer, meditation and the experience of peace and is built upon one of Sedona’s Vortexes.

I cannot say that I really experienced any vortex energy but I did very much enjoy the Native American Medicine Wheel. About 20 years ago I worked for an outdoor boot camp program for teens in trouble and we used the Medicine Wheel to teach that we have four aspects to ourselves: the physical, the mental, the emotional, and the spiritual and that we must find balance in all four aspects in order to be happy.

Our tour guide pointed out the best restaurants in town. They were numerous as Sedona is truly a foodie destination. We selected Dahl & Di Luca, Ristorante Italiano. It was super fancy with two or three servers per table taking care of us but it was the quality of the food that impressed us. Too bad I’m not a food photographer to do this food justice but I’ll list and picture our selections below. Our appetizers were Caprese D’Amore (mozzarella, basil, and mushrooms) and Polpette Di Carne (meatballs in porcini cream sauce). By the way, these meatballs made this Vegan’s mouth water they were so good.

Sedona is definitely a foodie destination so I gotta share our food pics. Melissa had Ravioli Romana, ravioli with portobello and button mushroom truffle cream sauce

William had a Sea Bass and shrimp House speciality.

Stephanie had Gnocchi Paradiso, bolognese of mushrooms and veggie ragout savory sauce

And I had Toretllini Primavera, three-cheese filled tortellini finished in a delicate lemon reduction cream sauce.

And let’s not overlook the dessert. Luscious lemon cheesecake and a chocolate torte with salted caramel gelato 

The place for breakfast is The Coffee Pot, A local favorite and an iconic establishment for tourists but I will spare you the pictures. I remember there were 101 different Omelettes, pancakes, waffles, eggs benedict and more. This place is so popular in Sedona there were pictures on the wall of celebrities who had frequented the restaurant.

After breakfast we had a tour of the Palatki Ruins which was my favorite tour in Sedona. To get to the site we drove seven miles out a graveled forest service road to the small Visitor’s Center. The hike is relatively easy but it does climb some 60 steps before reaching the cliff dwellings.

The dwellings had nine rooms and there were even a couple of areas where there was a second floor added to the dwellings.

It is quite interesting that even to this day you can see the fingerprints in the mud mortar used to build these cliff dwellings. Can you see them between the rocks?

And we were told that this pictograph in white at the top is a symbol for the clan that lived here.

The tour guide told us that the cliff dwellers diet consisted of corn and beans grown in the valley below. It was interesting to see the difference between the corn cobs found here and the genetically engineered ones we are accustomed to seeing.

Charles Willard planted a large fruit orchard with over 5,000 trees here after homesteading the land in 1923. The remains of his cave house are very close to these original cliff dwellings.

After viewing these ruins we hiked back towards the visitor center and took another trail that lead to a site where pictographs were protected by an overhanging ledge. Here is a pictograph of a young girl.

Notice how her hair in the ancient drawing resembles the picture shared by the tour guide of the Sinagua Indians.

The most interesting explanation of the drawings to me was about the mountains around the cliffs and the seasons of the year.

The simple mountains drawn with the sun above it aligns exactly with the mountains in the distant view.

According to our guide, once the sun aligned with the openings in the mountains the seasons would change.

After touring the Palatki site we drove back into town for souvenir shopping and and a relaxed family time together with our daughters. William and I had scheduled a full body massage at Lauberge Spa and afterwards we ended the day with Pizza and a movie by Matt Walsh titled “What is a Woman”. It was very sad dropping the girls off at the airport the next morning. What a wonderful memory we will have of Melissa and Stephanie giving us the surprise of our life and joining us on our travels.

True to our nature, William and I had a couple of more stops planned along our drive back to North Carolina so stay tuned for what we are up to next.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jill A Windmiller says:

    Love reading your travels!! Girls, excellent job ♡♡

    In my next life I want to be adventurous just like you!!!


    1. It certainly was a excellent job on my girls part!


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