This is the first installment in a chapter or section of the book about Sedona. Click here to read subsequent installments.
My first trip to Sedona had nothing to do with personal development, spirituality, or business. Quite the opposite.
In the early 2000s, I spent a lot of time with my two single girlfriends, Debbie and Ruth. I had met Debbie at ADP, the corporation I worked for after leaving teaching in 1997. Debbie had introduced me to Ruth.
Virtually all of my long term friends had married. Many had moved to bedroom communities outside of Toronto and started to have children. I wanted that for myself, but I was happy and relieved to have new friends to go out with. As much as I loved my long term friends, the more time I spent in their company, the more I was reminded of how life was turning out different than it was “supposed to.”
Debbie, Ruth and I all loved to travel. We were three single women in our early thirties. All three of us had senior roles in our careers. We were late bloomers on the get married and have kids front, but we each had thriving corporate careers. We had the means, and none of the responsibilities on the home front. Why not get out and explore?
Our very different personalities seemed to complement – or at least offset – each other on the road. Ruth liked to be in charge. She would gather information and make detailed agendas. Debbie, the most easygoing of our trio, provided contrast on the organization front. She was comfortable with going with the flow. I floated somewhere in the middle.
The least experienced with travel outside of business where everything was dictated for you, I liked the certainty that we would get where we were going, and the freedom to explore and follow what showed up. Plus, it was vacation. The thought of having to be “on all the time” like I was at work sucked the life out of me.
It was a dynamic that worked – at least most of the time.
We had been planning our Sedona trip for months. We were booked in at Quail Ridge Resort, just west of Highway 179 as it winds through Oak Creek.
It was October 2001. The twin towers in New York City had fallen at the hands of terrorists mere weeks ago. Most of the world had been shut down for air travel since 9/11. In the weeks and days leading up to our departure we had had to weigh the fear and uncertainty of what it would mean to get on a plane with our desire to live and explore.
It was unanimous. The trip was on.
I had never been to Arizona before, let alone Sedona. My boss at ADP was adamant that we pull the car over when we got our first glimpse of the red rocks. “It’s the best view you’ll get on the way in. Make sure you pull over!”
Despite her overt enthusiasm, nothing could prepare me for that first look. We were driving in our rented silver Toyota RAV4, listening to music, and planning what we would do on arrival when we rounded a curve in the road and Sedona showed herself to us for the first time. It took my breath away.
“Stop the car!” I shouted above the din, and reached for my camera.
We pulled over on the sandy shoulder where the highway had been carved into the landscape. The RAV4 fit on the red gravel surface just before it disappeared between the white line and embankment on the right. Camera in hand, I carefully crossed the north and southbound lanes to stand on the narrow strip between the asphalt and guardrail. The vantage point would be better over here.
It had been a long day of travel. My two co-pilots were impatient to move on, but I was captivated. The road disappeared around a descending corner to the right, leaving me with a 180 degree view of Sedona in all her splendor. Red rock formations of every conceivable shape reached rose above the greenery of the pine trees. To the east, pale sandstone walls marked the outer limit of the canyon.
Time stood still and revealed itself in the countless striations of warm red and orange sandstone deposited almost three million years ago. Pine trees dot the landscape, but disappear as the earth rises up in hundreds of columns. A magnetic feeling entered my body from above. I felt rooted to the earth beneath my feet. Tears of joy welled in my eyes as I realized this is where I would play and explore for the next seven days.
“Laura, let’s go!”
I raised the camera to my eye and zoned in to the frame. Exhaling to steady myself in the late daylight, I gently squeezed the shutter, hoping my camera would get it right.