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Road Trip to Take your Breath Away

Author: Marie Abrams
Date of Trip: April 2014

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.”

In the famous words of the Italian Author,Cesare Pavese:

We do not remember days,we remember moments we started the journey that took our breath away in seeing these awesome sights.

The travels started at the delux resort The Pointe Hilton at Tapatio Cliffs at 11111 N. 7th St, Phoenix,Arizona 85020-1176 which is 0.2miles off the Dunlap Ave exit 207 of the I-17. This beautiful resort and spa had suites with separate living room areas adjacent to the separate jacuzzi and pools for small sections of guest rooms. Their various 4 star restaurants scattered on the grounds, met up to the rave reviews.

Our first stop was to Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti at I-17 exit 263 at Cordes Junction. Paolo Soleri (1919-2013) was the Turino born and Frank LLoyd Wright contemporary urban architect who established the Cosanti foundation while living and working in Arizona since 1956. He coined the term arcology to describe the concept of architecture and ecology working as one integral process to produce new urban habitats. It may seem logical that he was inspired by Montezuma’s castle exit 289 off the I-17 in the Verde Valley which we visited after seeing Arcosanti on our drive north to Sedona from Phoenix.

Montezuma’s castle is a glimpse of Native American prehistory which was built and occupied 700-1000yrs ago starting with the Southern Sinagua. Many tribes of people lived and farmed in the areas of the cliff dwellings from 600-1425 CE which is the best preserved example of Native American Architecture in the Southwest. The Verde Valley was home to 6000-8000 people who lived in dozens of scattered one and two room buildings clustered into small groupings. by the time the Sinaqua left this valley, they had built more than 40 major pueblos on the landscape to be followed by the,Hohokum ,Northern sinagua Zuni’s and other tribes.

We could not keep our excitement contained as we drove up Hwy 179 to see the various red rock formations named after the configurations they resembled such as courthouse, bell rock in the Village of Oak Creek, cathedral rock, coffeepot rock, capitol butte, shiprock snoopy dog as we drove along oak creek into Sedona. The Chapel of the Holy Cross at 780 Chapel Rd, Sedona,AZ, was designed by Marguerite Brunswig Staude whose concept came to her in 1932 in NY while watching the newly completed Empire State Building. Built to a twin pinnacled spur, about 250 feet high, jutting out of a thousand foot rock wall,”solid as the Rock of Peter,” the building of the Chapel was completed in 1956. There were too many dining options as we left with a big appetite. For those needing gluten free options, Picazzo’s is in West Sedona along 89A a little ways past the Y after Telacquepache .Many scenic routes starting with the overlook and information center at Red Rock Ranger Station and Red Rock crossing, prevailed to get pictures of the red rocks around the upper and lower red rock loop roads just past Sedona Red Rock High where my son had a track meet over the weekend which he described as a “gorgeous” high school where he would like to attend on a regular basis. We attempted to enter Red Rock state park where we had previously swam in the ice cold waters from the melted snow from Mt. Humphreys and warmed up sun bathing like lizards on the rocks. The park ranger there had urged us not to pay the $5 entry fee since we would only have 2 hours before closing at 5pm which would not allow enough time for hiking and enjoying the full extent of what the park had to offer. He told us to take a different route home to Phoenix by taking 260 to Payson through the Coconino National Forest to the 87 which took us through the East part of the valley back to the 202 and 51 back to our hotel. In driving this route we cooled off in the Pine vegetation where we saw an elk as big as our car right in front of us crossing the road on a small town road in the forest.

To top of a nice day, we had artesian bread with sausage, mozzarella and drinks in our hotel room, coffee from the room coffee pot and a dip in the warm jacuzzi in the cooled off desert since sunset drops the temperatures in the evening in Phoenix. the pool was conveniently right outside our hotel door.We could not ask for a better day trip nor a nicer place to stay.

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