Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sedona with the Lawrences

Wow, what an amazing week in Sedona... We loved this place when we were here last, but this time we made some lasting memories. What made it special was that our friends Gene, Theonne, Austin and Athena flew in from back home to join us for the week. We got into town a day early, to beat an ugly weather system, which worked out well, because the next day it was cold, windy, and alternating between rain and snow. At times the snow was so thick it was near white-out conditions, like when we went to the grocery store. We salvaged the day with a return visit to one of our favorite restaurants Elote Cafe - for margaritas, elote, shrimp enchiladas and smoked pork cheek (snicker snicker). Soooo gooood!

The next day, our first day together, it was cool but clearing, and we were able to go for two nice hikes, one around Bell Rock and another up to the Cathedral formation.

Here's the gang, with Bell Rock and The Courthouse in the background:

After a steep scramble on the upper half of the Cathedral trail, we stood among these...

...and admired this view:

We ate the first of many meals together that night, and were happy to include our friends Tommy and Danielle, who we met at Bryce Canyon last year. They live in nearby Flagstaff, and we'll see more of them after we leave Sedona. It was a great evening of reunion.

Monday the six of us went mountain biking together in the morning, riding the length of the Bell Rock Pathway:

Us boys thought it was a good idea to ride again immediately after the family ride, heading out the Slim Shady trail, to Templeton. These are great trails, and we had a blast. Unfortunately it was a bit much, and my legs started cramping about half way through. I had to nurse them all of the way back. Very painful.

Speaking of painful, Gene was riding along on a flat bit of slickrock, and suddenly his bike flew out from under him! The small stone he was rolling over could never have caused such a crash, no, not to someone so skilled! So, we all decided that Gene must have ridden head-on into one of Sedona's famous vortexes! Sought out by millions looking for health and well-being, these vortexes are generally thought to be beneficial, but we know differently.

Other mysterious happenings were the sudden disappearance of all of Theonne's cell phone contacts, and the appearance of halos of light in her photography. Another vortex, perhaps?

The three amigos rode again on Thursday, did the same two trails plus the Baldwin loop, and we all felt great that time. Except that time one of the two rental bikes was a real stinker. An older Santa Cruz trail bike, certainly very good when new, was in desperate need of a complete overhaul, if not a one-way trip to the landfill. Blown shocks and crappy shifting makes for a miserable riding experience. Austin took the bike for about half of the ride, and was able to have fun despite its unsavory nature. It seemed to hate Gene, though, and we know he hated it! Then, on a particularly rough (therefore fun) downhill I punctured a tire and we had to stop for repairs. Anyway, despite these difficulties we had two days of amazing mountain-bike riding on Sedona's world-class singletrack.

Tres Amigos on one of Sedona's awesome singletrack trails:
Yours truly launches a drop: (Austin did this too, with more style, but this is my blog, so I get all to choose the photos!)
Here Austin rails a turn:
Bikes aloft on the Baldwin trail:

Another notable expedition we took was up to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Nancy and I had been to the north rim, but team Lawrence had never seen this amazing place, so we took the two hour jaunt to give it a look. One of the countless amazing things about the Grand Canyon is how close to it you can get without any indication that there is a mile-deep, 18 mile-wide abyss in front of you. Even within the park boundaries, among the buildings of Grand Canyon Village, at the visitor's center - nothing. Not even a glimpse. Walk the trail up to the rim and finally, less than 100 feet away, through the trees, the north rim appears, looking like a watercolor painting on the horizon, all washed out and indistinct through miles of atmosphere. Not until your toes hang out over the edge does the vastness of it all slam into your consciousness, leaving you speechless.

Thanks to Austin's sharp eyes and my binoculars, I was excited to see a California Condor soaring beneath us in the canyon - quite likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Lawrences gaze into abyss:

We wandered along the rim trail, taking it all in, then dropped down a ways on the Bright Angel trail, to get the perspective that can only be gotten by descending the steep canyon walls.

Back in Sedona we took several more hikes, including one to Devil's Bridge, and up Boynton Canyon. The ladies enjoyed massages at the luxury Enchantment Resort while us manly men rode our bikes, then we joined them and were generously treated to lunch by Gene's cousins Bob and Kristen who work there at the resort. So nice! Thanks, guys! We also wandered around the former mining town, current artisans/tourist town of Jerome, enjoyed a meal at the Haunted Hamburger, and and checked out the ancient Pueblan ruins of Tuzigoot.

Yep, an amazing time in spectacular Sedona.

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