The town that took on McDonalds and won

Pain before pleasure? No pain, no gain? Light at the end of the tunnel? Well-worn clichés failed to distance me from the glare, heat and massive trucks on the freeway out of LA. We were on our way to Arizona at last.

At least we had ‘Betty’, our new GPS Tomtom (she of the pleasant, American voice); and best of all, no arguments over navigation.

Betty ... our faithful guide
Betty ... our faithful guide

800 kilometres on the AAA map  didn’t look all that far. To reach Red Rock Country, all we had to do was negotiate the intricate LA freeways, cross some desert and some high country, and along the way, check out one of the Australian-designed earthquake strain-metres at Pinon Flats that Ross installed ten years ago (sadly, it’d been left in a sad state of repair and was no longer working).

We were on our way to the Grand Canyon, like millions before us – but first, three days in Sedona awaited. Sedona is not as famous a landmark as its cousin ‘up the road’. But if you like mesas, buttes and mountains, this is the place to go.

I’ll jump over commenting on the amazing earthquake country we travelled through, made all the better with Ross’s knowledge of plate tectonics, fault zones and geology – that will be a later blog. And I’ll slip past the baked-dry desert country before by-passing Phoenix (with Glen Campbell echoing though my brain), and heading north to Sedona.

Even though I’d seen its famous images in books, our introduction to the magnificent, natural red rock sculptures is hard to describe – so I’ll let photos do it.

First sight of Sedona
First sight of Sedona

The formations have been created over 350 million years. They’ve been oceans and deserts, they’ve felt the force of volcanic eruptions and faulting, and that most insistent of weathering and erosion, wind and water.

The canyons and monoliths tell their history – like the layers in a story this area records its life within ten layers of sedimentary rock 5000 feet high – grayish limestones, brilliant and beautiful pale-pinks to reddish-brown sandstones and dark shales.

Room with a view
Room with a view

No wonder this part of the country was sacred to countless generations of the local tribes, the Havasupai, and to their descendants today.

But then there are the NEW AGErs who come to this place to worship at the altar of the VORTEX. Apparently, people stand in these places and feel a certain type of energy. We climb the Airport Vortex, close to our accommodation – it is a magnificent view across the mountains at that time of the day. Did I feel the vortex stirring up my energies? No, all I felt was an ant-bite. And serves me right, I had sat on it.

From the number of New Age shops, crystal shops, coffee shops, in peak-season this town must buzz with tourists and/or those seeking inner strength and energy, or communication with the earth spirits, and rip-off merchants. We are lucky, we visit in off-time.

Another amazing thing about Sedona – in an attempt to keep the colour and tones of this town matching the magnificent landscape that surrounds them, the people of this desert town took on the might and money of McDonald’s Fast Food all the way to the courts, and won. They forced McDonald’s to use teal-green arches not gold. My estimation of the ‘good burghers’ of Sedona goes up many notches.

The Green Arches

If we ever return to the US, Sedona’s landscapes will be on the list to visit again. But I’ve heard there are other places just as beautiful further south. Maybe it will be worthwhile venturing off-track next time.

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