Things didn’t start out exactly how we planned today. Thanks Spring Break. The plan was to spend the bulk of the day exploring Sedona, Arizona. Neither of us had been here before, so we wanted to check it out, with the added bonus of getting to spend some time with my friend Robin, who moved here a few years ago, but had not yet met Angie. Our main plan was to spend some time on our bikes during the day, and then meet Robin for a hike after he finished work.
Robin had recommended some routes on which we might want to ride but also expressed some concern about the spring break traffic. Driving into and through town confirmed that his concern was not misplaced. We drove into town from Flagstaff via route 89a, which was a more scenic route than highway 17. We noticed as we drove, however, that all the campgrounds and trailheads along the way appeared to be full. It did not get much better once we were into Sedona itself. Robin had suggested that if the traffic wasn’t too heavy, Highway 179 would be a nice ride, but there really was a lot of traffic, and even with a bike lane, we weren’t sure we wanted to slog up and down it on our heavy touring bikes. The shortish rides on dirt around Bell Rock would probably have been manageable, but again, there were so many pedestrians around, we weren’t sure we wanted to tackle it. Not to mention, our first swing around the main parking lot did not bear the fruit of an open parking space.
We drove on down the road back towards Sedona proper to see if any of the other trailheads had any spaces. It didn’t look good, so we decided for the moment to see if we could have any better luck getting to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, an iconic structure built into some rocks in Oak Creek, which is very close to Sedona. I had heard about this structure for its architectural rather than religious value. Parking was limited and a bit of a hassle. However, after driving part way up the hill, we decided to u-turn and we got lucky to find a space down at the bottom of the hill. Our first walk of the day was a short but steep walk back up to the chapel. In the end, Richard Hein was the project architect and August K. Strotz did the design. Both were from the firm Anshen & Allen. There was a Frank Lloyd Wright connection, so I was interested to see it. Arizona sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude had been the impetus behind the design and construction of this chapel, though her first effort to get something built, working with Lloyd Wright, Frank’s son, had been focused on Budapest, Hungary. The location was on federal land, so Sen. Barry Goldwater used his influence to get approval for the project. For me, the main attraction of the structure was the exterior. It is a pretty spectacular setting.
After walking back to the car, we decided to give Bell Rock another try, though we agreed it might be better to walk it rather then ride it. On our return to the main trailhead, we got lucky, and someone was pulling out of the first spot in the parking lot as we arrived. We grabbed it. We loaded up some snacks and headed off. We enjoyed a nice hike to the far side of the rock, but did not go up it. It was only a mile or so, but it was hot and fairly busy, including with cyclists, who were generally good about letting us know they were coming. After our hike, we annoyed some of the incoming motorists by holding onto our spot until we ate some lunch, but it didn’t make sense to try to go somewhere else for our picnic.
We whiled away the rest of the afternoon by stopping at the Snap gym to buy a day pass and take a shower. Angie also did some of her exercises before we moved on to the coffee shop next door. They were just about to close for the afternoon, but kindly let us in. We bought some coffee drinks and a gluten free cookie and decided to sit out on the patio so that the staff could go home. Big thanks to our barista at Sedona Roasting Company though (previously known as Java Love, which is what the signage still says).
It was soon time to meet Robin. Robin and I have known each other since 1981. Although he’s also a native of Britain, he was actually the first friend I made when I moved to Santa Barbara. Robin moved to Sedona several years ago, and is a veteran hiker in the area. Hiking is his favorite activity I think, so of course it was what he suggested when I let him know we’d be visiting his town. He met us near the town’s Whole Foods and we drove up to the trailhead after a quick change of plans due to traffic issues getting to the first spot he’d picked. The Teacup Trail actually takes one up toward the rock formation known as the Coffee Pot. We hiked for about an hour, up and down. Since Angie and I had already walked for a couple of hours earlier in the day, this was plenty for us, but it was great to have a chance to catch up with Robin while we talked.