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Nine go to Red Rock Country in Sedona Springs 2013

After a few planning and decision-making sessions, nine retired women teachers embarked on a group adventure to Sedona, Arizona. We were scheduled to leave from the Kitchener-Waterloo airport, which turned into more of an adventure than we anticipated, due to a major ice storm. We were lucky, and took off late, but safely. We did miss our connecting flight in Chicago, but were simply put on the next flight, so had a chance to relax and eat in the airport.
Our second glitch occurred when we picked up our two rental cars in Phoenix. The costs were much greater than we anticipated, but we eventually departed in our Impala and Charger, ready for our week-long adventure.
A tour of architect Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West in Scottsdale proved to be informative and entertaining.
What a man of vision! His quote: "No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other."

A visit to Phoenix must include a visit to the Desert Botanical gardens, acres of the most interesting desert vegetation imaginable.

Following a two hour drive, we arrived at our 5 bedroom rental home in the Village of Oak Creek, a few minutes south of Sedona. Booked through flipkey.com, it proved to be an excellent choice.
Red Rock Country, which includes Sedona, is absolutely beautiful.

Dramatic rock formations with names like Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Courthouse Rock, rise majestically from the flat shrub and cactus-covered desert landscape.

At dawn and dusk, the bright red rocks and dark shadows are breathtaking.

One charming chapel is built right into the rocks. Well worth a visit.

Many an hour was spent strolling, hiking and even climbing these awesome landmarks. Climbing up is much easier than climbing down, when it is difficult to see the toe-holds.

Sedona is a charming town with many galleries, shops and restaurants. Worth mentioning is Tlaquepaque, the 'art and soul' of Sedona, an arts and crafts village. There is something for every taste and every pocketbook.

Two noteworthy excursions are the Verde Canyon Railway, a four-hour train ride on an old copper mining train. It follows the river through Verde Canyon, at times within arm's distance of the sheer rock sides.

A side trip worth doing is a visit to Jerome, an old ghost town which has become a booming community of wineries, museums, and galleries. No visit to the area is complete without a trip to the Grand Canyon! The Pink Jeep tour left Sedona and proceeded to climb more than 2000 feet through Oak Creek Canyon, one of Rand McNally's Top Five Scenic Drives in America. We traveled on steep switchback roads, through dark pine forests, past towering rock faces and rushing streams.
An hour and a half past Flagstaff, we arrived at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. No words or pictures prepare you for the Grand Canyon!
It is not a deep gorge with a river at the bottom.
It is mile-deep gorge after gorge after gorge with mountains and mesas and buttes.
And the colours!
Nature at its most colourful: rocks of red and purple and yellow.
It was extremely windy the day we visited, but that added to the thrill of standing near the edge.

Unfortunately it was also very chilly, but as travellers know, the weather is as the weather is.

The week ended too quickly and we returned to the ups and downs of a Canadian spring. The nine of us who embarked on this little holiday as acquaintances ended up as friends with shared memories of Mexican feasts, night time sing-a-longs, coffee chats and the most magnificent views imaginable.

I have already booked a month in Sedona for next winter.
I'll see it all again, plus get in some golf!

TIPS for this type of trip:

1. Bring running shoes if you are planning to walk/hike. If wearing hiking boots, make sure they are rubber soled, not leather so they grip the smooth rock surfaces.

2. Travelling with carry-on luggage will save you airline fees and keep clothing decision-making to a minimum. Bring layers, as desert climates do cool down considerably when the sun goes down.

3. For accommodation rentals, try vrbo.com; flipkey.com; homeaway.com
1. Phone the contact person, so you get a feel for them.
2. Never rent a place that has spelling errors, asks for up-front full payment by cash or cheque, or has no phone number.
3. Read the reviews of the place.