Witwithwords Blog

Archive for March 2011

Sedona – Red Rocks, Arts, Cowboys!
The morning air is frigid (40s F) for Scottsdale, AZ, in the Sonoran Desert as my friend Paula and I head out for our side trip to Sedona. While the temperature is expected to rise to almost 70 degrees in Scottsdale, I know it will be cooler there, as we climb almost 4000 vertical feet. I urge her to grab her jacket.

Paula is excited and wired, as this Kentucky blonde has never seen any desert formations before. For me, it will be my second time to Sedona, a two-hour ride north of Scottsdale, and I am looking forward to the awe-inspiring vistas of its legendary Red Rock formations.

Sedona is 19 square miles of some of the most vibrant landscape of buttes, mesas and canyons you will ever see. It’s part of the Coconino National Forest. In fact, the first time I came upon the crimson and rust formations, I had to pull off the road and just let the scenery rush… swoop over me. Today, I do the same for Paula as she spots the first red rock formation, surrounded by tall green pines and forest and says simply, “Wo-ow!”

Sedona is a geological wonder – the result of layers of sandstone and limestone left by a receding ocean in the area from millions of years ago. Eventually iron oxide covered the sandstone to form rust and what you see today are red rock formations of all shapes and sizes.

Although Sedona was formally incorporated in 1988, the area was first populated by Native Americans. In the late 1800s, it became a cattle grazing area. In the 20th century, it has been known for years by movie directors and Hollywood moguls. The town and its outskirts have served as the backdrop and scene for numerous movies, westerns and commercials and movies. In fact, later in the day, a tour guide points out that one its famous residents was Walt Disney, who owned a vacation home here! (Anyone who has taken the Thunder Mountain ride now knows where his inspiration came from.)

Halfway through our drive to Sedona, tremendous gusts of wind blow and surprise -snowflakes begin falling. I pull into the Enchantment Resort http://www.enchantmentresort.com, a renowned 5-star resort set into the red rock formation that overlooks Boynton Canyon. This resort not only has the legendary Mii Amo Spa, (the Native American word for journey,) it also has the 4-star rated Yavapai Restaurant. We choose its casual sister restaurant, the Mii Amo Cafe for the scrumptious food and the soulful scenery.

Paula raves about her chicken apple sausage and egg pannini with tomatoes, avocados, Jack cheese and peppers on dark, dense whole grain bread. I enjoy the spicy taste of my egg frittata, smothered with caramelized onions, roasted peppers, spinach, goat cheese, salsa and toast. We share a Prickly Pear Margherita, (the restaurant’s signature drink) and then have our strong western coffee.

Time for the Red Rock Western Jeep Tour, http://www.redrockjeep.com, through parts of Red Rock country. Paul, our Cowboy tour guide, has us soon in stitches laughing and me hiccupping. As the wind and snowflakes swirl around us, his red jeep bumps over rocks and creeks to take us to well-off-the-road spots – some you can’t see without hiking in 3 miles.

We choose the Soldiers Pass Trail tour, a very rugged and historic trail that a US General Crook led his soldiers over during a rampage against the Apache Indians in the 1870s. We stop at the formations, Devil’s Kitchen and the Apache’s Seven Pools. These crimson rocks and canyons are so beautiful; we become silent, sensing the wonder and mystery of the areas. Paula closes her eyes and hugs herself on one outlook.

Sedona is known as a place of spiritual healing and mysticism. There are several Sedona vortexes, or so-called powerful energy spots, because it is believed that these spots are where there is the right energy flow for prayer and meditation. Boynton Canyon is one and where the Native Americans still hold ceremonies. (It should be noted that major scientists are studying the area and its effect on people and trying to determine the science behind these energy fields. Sedona is said to have 10 vortexes.)

Dan also drives our 4×4 over more rocks to show us Teacup Trail and Thompson Trail. Knowing that we could not have seen this land without hiking miles and knowing that only this jeep outbacker has special permission by the US Forest Service to go this far on sacred land, we appreciate our experience even more. As Dan says, he is a modern cowboy who loves this land and wants to share it with us.

If you don’t have time for a jeep tour, try a trolley tour in downtown Sedona and then drive to more accessible monoliths, such as Coffeepot, Cathedral and Thunder Mountain. In fact, Paula and I drive to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. It is a chapel built into one rock formation and has just outstanding views from every direction. Paula vows that if she ever tries marriage again, she’ll do it here!

Because of its natural beauty from the forces of nature, many artists have settled in Sedona. In fact, this small community has more than 40 galleries showcasing Southwestern art, Native American art, traditional art and modern art. On the first Friday of every month, the arts association offers a free trolley ride to each group of galleries and a chance to meet and watch the artists at their crafts.

We spend about an hour on the trolley tour and are not disappointed. We especially like the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, the Sedona Art Center and the Uptown shops and galleries. We shop a bit and I add to my collection of American Indian turquoise jewelry, while Paula chooses a Red Rock painting for her office.

As we view a spectacular multi-colored sunset, we wish we had booked a room to stay in Sedona one more day, but we can’t. I’ve stayed before at the Inn on Oak Creek, http://www.innonoakcreek.com, a modern bed and breakfast with 11 airy rooms that is located next to a private creek and the gallery district. They have a special outdoor spa and fireplaces in every room. Their breakfast is also hearty and wonderful. But no matter where you stay, the sights outside the windows are the major play here!

Paula and I leave Sedona very calm and refreshed. We share confidences about our lives. Then, we get silly again, like two young girls. Paula wants to see a “real” cowboy, and a gas station attendant directs us to the Horny Toad Restaurant on Cave Creek Road in Cave Creek, just north of Scottsdale.

We enter this old saloon-restaurant with several bars and it is packed with families chowing down. At the bar, there are several real life cowboys, with dusty hats, jeans and boots. One of them advises us to order the barbecued chicken, the best around. We do just that and are served a whole half of a chicken, with an ear of corn, spicy french fries and cole slaw! We’re hungry, but neither of us can finish even half our plate, so we offer one whole dinner to one of the cowboys! We stay for some rousing, foot-stomping country music for awhile and then decide it’s time for these cowgirls to head back. We have an early plane to catch!

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As a food demonstrator at a local grocery, I can assure you consumers really want to know MORE about what they are buying. This is why the nutrition information on the package is so important. In my unofficial capacity, I can tell you, four out of five consumers want to know exactly what you put into their food.

Those on diets want to know the calories per serving. Please provide what an actual serving size is! Many want to check if you used trans fats (the bad kind) and the percentage of saturated fat (the good kind) per package. Next, how much sodium was used? Those with high blood pressure, watching their cholesterol or total salt intake, really need this information. Another important feature is the total number of Carbs (grams) in the package or per serving. They also want to know where those sugars are coming from. Finally, please list all of the ingredients on the package and whether the food contains wheat, milk, soy, sugar substitutes or nuts.
Food manufacturers, if you make this nutrition and ingredient information easy for them to find, they’ll like you even more!

Right after Thanksgiving, I took a part-time demonstrator position at a membership grocery to get me away from the computer.

What I’ve learned: I know more about food handling safety, calibrating a food thermometer and how to stand on my feet for six plus hours, without regretting it.

The biggest surprise: how people act when you offer a product sample for FREE. Many grazers never go more than hours without sustenance and yet, they will forget every manner they were taught when it comes to FREE food samples. They often grab the plates right from my tray, don’t wait their turn in line and some even take several samples at once. Their children follow suit, copying their parents. We need to re-invent Emily Post today! PLEASE!