I've only been to Sedona, Arizona three or four times, but I'm going to have to go again soon. They say the power of suggestion is a powerful thing, and I had read much about the spiritual aspects of Sedona, the soul cleansing and healing process enjoyed by a multi-varied basket of people who have visited Sedona just for that purpose. So twice in the past few years I found myself passing through Sedona just at dawn. The relatively sparsely populated little town of ten thousand or so have seen the sun rise hundreds of times, maybe with such frequency that it loses its magic. But for me, those two early morning sunrises still sit gently in my heart even now.
I remember the first time I met Sedona's sun I was returning from an east coast trip in my little RV, a return after a visit with my east coast kids. It was still dark when I exited I-40 and turned south on I-17, toward Phoenix. By the time I reached Sedona the sun was beginning to rise over the horizon and an eery orange glow shown through the peaks of Cathedral Rock. As the sun rose, its golden rays passed through the narrowness of the two highest peaks and, with laser strength, bathed me in a circle of fire. I looked down at my hands on the steering wheel and my hands and arms seemed to be illuminated by rings of fire.
At the first exit I could find, I pulled off the road and just sat there, sipping coffee from a commuter mug and marveling at my creator's grand light show, presented just for me. I don't know how long I sat there, but long enough for Cathedral Rock to shed its golden hues and transform itself to apple red. As if shaking myself from a dream, I started up the vehicle and meandered down a road where i came to a place, a rest area of sorts, to let the dogs out and relieve themselves from their night cage. Since no one was around I let the dogs run freely and walked over to a glass box that held brochures telling of the wonders of Sedona.
I learned that Sedona has played host to over a hundred Hollywood productions, including the classic "Stagecoach", the vehicle that brought John Wayne to stardom. Hollywood shows up less frequently these days, the need to turn out a weekly western no longer in cinematic vogue. Instead, Sedona has become a haven for those who have heard of her magic and descend on the place to soak up the heightened sense of spirituality legend says one absorbs when basking in the warm rays of Sedona red. Luxury resorts now cater to that soulful yearning and for a few hundred bucks a night you can sit out on a native rock patio in the early morning and enjoy a sunrise over a latte and eggs Benedict.
Archaeologists have found Clovis artifacts that prove native Americans of the Paleo tribes lives in Sedona more than 12,000 years before Christ was born. And history proves they lived in the area longer than any other tribe in the Southwest, so I imagine too these early Americans felt strongly the draw of the place.
I imagine those early natives would have been confounded by today's luxury minded caravaners who show up to recapture their relationship with nature, nature being so hard to find on first class trips to Paris or shopping trips to Neiman Marcus.
I had no need for such luxury fluff to enjoy Sedona's magical sunrise. After a long tiring road trip I felt refreshed, thankful for the bounty in nature that makes those kind of experiences possible. The next time I returned from a cross country trip I timed my schedule so that I might again be amazed by
Sedona's spectacular sunrise...and it was every bit as spectacular as the first. I filed it away in my mind for later replay...it's up there in my memory closet...on the top shelf, in a box reserved for very special things.