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our last days in Sedona

Coming into Sedona, you don’t miss it. This place announces itself without an ounce of self-consciousness. It’s riotous, full of absolutely everything southwest and some that tries hard to be. It wasn’t until close to the end of our trip that we actually stopped in. Funky, up-beat singing-out-loud music, room after room of color explosions, statuary, pottery, icons, spices, ornaments, jewelry, chilies and garlic braids hanging from rafters, cactus (living and make-believe), cow skulls, every sort of kitsch and wanne-be art, and some really cool stuff. We didn’t buy a thing. We had such fun!

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Changing gears completely (and thankful we had an hour or so to do it in) we visited Montezuma’s Castle.  The site was inappropriately named because it had absolutely nothing to do with Montezuma – but the namers were rather clueless on that point. It was inhabited by people commonly referred to as the Sinagua between 1100 and 1400 c.a. Then, like so many of the settlements (now ruins) in this part of the world, it was mysteriously evacuated.

One wonders why. It sat in such an idyllic setting. A lovely little valley, treed, alongside a gently rolling river. Crops of corn and cotton were planted on the valley floor. The adobe-bricked buildings, most of them perched high up and inside the cliffs, faced south to take advantage of the solar warmth in winter, while being shaded from the searing heat of summer. It was a spot well-chosen.

We saw beehives, laden with sweet honey, perched inside openings in the cliff.

Swallow nests lined the ceilings.

You could picture them living here. You could almost hear their echoing voices.

~ ~ ~

A bit further up the road, a very different sort of settlement, Toozigute, though still likely inhabited by a similar group of people. This one was out in the open, perched on a rise with a view of an entire wide valley.  This felt a bit more like a village than others we’d seen. It was multi-leveled complex, built of stones fitted together with mortar, with family dwellings, storage rooms, ceremonial areas, a open flat area on the top where traders from all over the new world came to barter and trade, where children played and the elders danced.

Looking out over the valley from a room on top Toozigute.

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From Toozigute, we headed to the old silver-mining town of Jerome. It’s perched high in the very steep hills, some of its buildings (and quite a few of its cars) had succumbed to the forces of gravity and slid all or part-way down the hill over the years. It’s an old-style western town historically (and visually!) very interesting. A lot of men lived here in Jerome’s heyday, miners mostly – not a lot of families – and some (shall we say) free-spirited entrepreneurial women. It was quite the colorful place. It still is, in its way.

~ ~ ~

We drove up to the deserted silver mines and ran our hands over the rusted gears and wheels of an industry abandoned years ago.

We saw signs directing us further up the hill to a ghost town. Intrigued (of course) we went there straight away. The ghost town had a closed sign hung on a wire fence. I’m still wondering why a ghost town would be closed.

~ ~ ~

We were good and hungry by then and asked a local shop owner what she recommended. Alice’s she said. Fresh, locally grown produce, much of it organic. We were there as fast as our legs could motate at such an altitude. If you’re ever in Jerome, you must visit Alice’s! We were waited on by a purple-haired joyous girl, just a friend of the owner who happened to be there. Her delight was totally infectious! The meal was wonderful. One of the locals (who has lunch there every day just to make sure Alice’s stays in business) also supplies them with vegetables from his large gardens. He struck up a conversation with my husband, while at a table on the other side of us two transplants from Florida and I talked cameras and about what drew them to life in Jerome.

We walked around the streets a bit longer, past shops with their colorful windows,

~ ~ ~

…and then it was time for us to mosey on home. We didn’t have many hours of daylight left, and still quite a few miles of winding road left to travel.

So, until next time, Sedona.

Thanks so much for everything!

love,

spree

21 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is just gorgeous!

    December 13, 2011
    • Oh, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      December 13, 2011
  2. I haven’t been to Sedona in a very long time so it was great to get this very personal tour. Thanks for taking us all along to such an interesting–and mysterious–place. In fact, I anticipated that you might dwell a little more on the mystery aspect than you did but your words imparted as much of a feel for the area as one can get without actually going there.

    December 13, 2011
    • The mystery of these cultures does fascinate me! I don’t want to bore everyone with it but I suppose it’s pretty obvious. Thanks for coming along for the tour Joe, and always, for your thoughtful comments!

      December 13, 2011
  3. What gorgeous photos and great descriptions of people and place. The scenery is amazing! I’m especially drawn to those photos of the old machinery and the quirky antique window. Such an eye you have!

    December 13, 2011
    • Aw thanks Ashley. I guess the older I get the more old stuff intrigues me. 😉 Glad it captures your imagination too.

      December 13, 2011
  4. Absolutely beautiful pictures. I can feel the wonder, the calm and the excitement from your trip! I especially liked the pictures of the mining gear — I bet most people would have just walked right by, but I love how you took the time to get those up close photos!

    December 13, 2011
    • I just can’t help myself! (my husband will confirm!) 😉

      December 14, 2011
  5. It’s almost easy to take for granted a truly harmonious photo when all the elements are so right. The dramatic curve of blue sky, a tender foreground leaf, a partial view through a portal…starkness, riotousness, holiness. All of your depictions have such an intentionality. They make me want to look closer, to breathe in the secret, to try as my amateur eyes can try, to decipher the message of seeing.

    December 13, 2011
    • Your words do always bless Carolyn. Thank you! And your eyes are no amateurs at seeing!

      December 14, 2011
  6. I love the feel of Sedona, it is a rather magical place. Now I’m going to wonder where those people went and why. It’s strange that no one really knows? Your photos tell a wonderful story, Spree.. it was fun traveling with you!

    December 13, 2011
    • Archeologists and anthropologists puzzle over it! There’s no evidence that suggests where these people went, or even why they left. Theories, but only that. Hopi tradition has it that these ancients were their ancestors. We may never know. But it’s a puzzlement, interesting to ponder. Thanks for joining me on the trip, Smidge!

      December 14, 2011
  7. So much of the world left to see….one day, one day. In the meantime I can enjoy it through the eyes of someone else! Fabulous photos, really gorgeous.

    December 14, 2011
    • Thanks so much, Chica!

      December 14, 2011
  8. Wow, what a cool place. You captured it perfectly.

    December 14, 2011
  9. Does anyone ever stop you and ask what your pictures are for? I imagine you doing everything with camera in hand. You are so talented. I love the colors, especially reds. Did I mention I so love red?-Annie

    December 14, 2011
    • Well, not many ask but I do get strange looks. 🙂 Thanks, Annie for the kind words!

      December 14, 2011
  10. Boy does this bring back memories. I *love* Sedona. My parents actually have a place there and I used to go all the time. It’s a magical place. My husband and I are going to Tucson next week to visit his family and every year when we go I contemplate going to Sedona but it’s a 5 hour drive, which always seems just a bit out of reach. I’ll get back there eventually. Beautiful photos!

    December 14, 2011
    • I remembered you saying that your parents have a place there, so with that in mind (and the good food we were eating) I thought of you a number of times! I do hope you get back there soon, and am happy to bring back memories. 🙂 It IS magical.

      December 14, 2011
  11. I so much enjoyed reading your post about Sedona and seeing your images. It brought back wonderful memories and transported me back in time when I too went to Sedona and fell in love with the area. It is indeed a magical spot.

    January 15, 2012

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