FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Snowy Sedona

by Patricia Vanikiotis

Jan 28, 2023

Last weekend I traveled to Arizona to join family members for a mostly-girls’ gathering. I say “mostly” because two of my brothers, now retired and living the snowbird life this winter in the Southwest with my sisters-in-law in their large RVs, were included in the excursion. Along with three other sisters and two cousins, we converged on an RV resort just 30 minutes or so south of Sedona, most of us staying in small rental cottages on the property.

Those of us coming from the Northwest and Northeast were looking forward to warmer, drier weather than what we had at home, but earlier in the week the temperatures had cooled quite a bit, and farther north, Flagstaff had received over 2 feet of snow! Luckily, we came prepared with cold-weather clothes, but our drive north from Phoenix nevertheless exposed us to plenty of desert vegetation. We were fascinated to see whole “forests” of saguaro cacti ranging over the hillsides, not like the lone individuals we expected to see. The farther north we got, the higher in elevation we went and the more juniper and pines we saw and the more mountainous the landscape became.

On our first full day, we awoke to find an inch or so of snow on the ground. By the time we were ready to head out, the roads were nearly dry and the skies were bright blue, so we piled in our rental van and headed to Sedona. At 4,300-some feet, we expected to find more snow in Sedona, and we were right — but only about 3 inches. Along the way, we noted several drivers who earlier had apparently not given the conditions the proper consideration and had spun out. We arrived safe and sound, however, becoming more and more awestruck by the monumental red rock formations as we neared the city. Sedona, Arizona  Sedona sits in the Oak Creek Valley, surrounded on all sides by these deeply colored, fantastically shaped rocks and cliffs, Sedona, Arizona and the snow only served to further highlight and etch their forms; we really felt fortunate to visit at that time (though the skies remained mostly overcast). Our server at the restaurant we visited told us snow is unusual here; they last had this much about three years ago.

Our first stop was for brunch at the Mesa Grill, a Southwest-style grill sitting on a plateau next to the Sedona airport. Its location and large windows offered wonderful views, and the food was really delicious. The Southwest influence was readily apparent in their breakfast items, from their Breakfast Tacos with house-made chicken chorizo and fire-roasted salsa Mesa Grill, Sedona to their Huevos Rancheros with the chef’s beef chili, grilled jalapenos and pulled pork and my choice, the Sedona Scramble with asparagus and artichoke, roasted tomato and wild thyme potatoes. Mesa Grill, Sedona

The snow meant the popular local trails were slick and muddy, so we dropped our plans to do some hiking (next trip!) and visited the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a stunning Catholic chapel completed in 1956 and carved directly into the towering red bluffs. The views are remarkable,  Sedona, Arizona as is the architecture of the chapel, inside and out.

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, Arizona

Photo 9169154 © Tom Dowd | Dreamstime.com

From the outside plaza one can see the unique rock formations that inspired the woman who sponsored the building of the chapel on this site: one (at the center left, below) looks like a standing Madonna holding the Christ child. She is flanked by two hands open and uplifted in prayer (on the right). Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona  The interior is dominated by a crucifix (described as “The Living Christ on the Tree of Life”) mounted over the soaring windows which look out over the valley. Chapel of the Holy Cross  The beauty and peacefulness of the site really inspired us, and we took several more photos of those amazing rocks before heading on to more prosaic activities. Sedona, Arizona

We wrapped up our afternoon at the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, built in the 1970s to resemble a traditional Mexican village. A series of stucco buildings and courtyards Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, Sedona range along Oak Creek and shelter beneath enormous Arizona sycamore trees, which must offer welcome shade in the summer months. Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, Sedona  Alongside a host of galleries, boutiques and shops lies an assortment of restaurants and wine tasting rooms, so one can recharge after some serious shopping. Each of us found a few items to take home as mementos of our visit, but I know that for me, the images in my mind of that stunning landscape will serve as the best treasures of our time in Sedona.

— Patty Vanikiotis, associate editor/copy editor

 

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FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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