April 27, 2015 Cottonwood and Sedona, Arizona

We are back from New Zealand and glad to be home!!  Except for things like high prices for food and gas and unusual food selections, we really enjoyed our time in New Zealand.  It was fun and exciting to visit the North and South Islands and live amidst a different culture.  It was challenging to drive on the opposite side of the road and learn new traffic laws and patterns.  Some parts were easy such as New Zealand being an English speaking country and their monetary system is based on the New Zealand dollar and therefore similar to ours.  Before going to New Zealand Bill and I wondered what would happen if we fell in love with New Zealand and wanted to live there.  No worries.  There is no place like home.  America’s greatness far outweighs the problems and Americans are truly blessed to live in the U.S.A.  We can also truthfully say that New Zealand, with all its natural beauty, doesn’t begin to compare with the magnificent beauty we have seen in America, from sea to shining sea.
A couple days before leaving New Zealand I picked up a bad cold which made the long two day travel back home especially miserable.  The day we arrived back in Phoenix, Bill came down with my cold so we were both down for the count.  After spending the night in a Phoenix hotel we hit the ground running the next day despite us both feeling pretty miserable.  We got the RV and car out of storage and after checking them out we were relieved to see they both survived the two month storage and were in fine shape.  With the refrigerator empty and the pantry pretty bare we had to make a big grocery run.
We then drove two hours north to Cottonwood, Arizona for an eight night stay.  When we turned off the main road to drive the two miles to the campground we occasionally had to stop and wait for cows to cross the road since this is an open range area.  This “Home, Home On the Range” feeling added to the western charm of the area.  We reached the campground which is a Thousand Trails resort with full hookups and a nice clubhouse, restaurant and pool/sauna.
Cottonwood is a small town with a population around 12,000, about thirty minutes from Sedona and the Red Rock Canyon.  We had hoped to spend our time there exploring the area, however our colds seemed to get worse instead of better.  Except for some short trips into town to get soup, juice, tissues and stop by McDonald’s to check our email, we stayed inside.  We went to the pharmacy to ask for advice on what to take to relieve our colds, and the pharmacist told us this was high allergy season in Arizona.  The cottonwood trees are in full bloom causing many people allergy problems.  Since the town is called Cottonwood, you can imagine how many cottonwood trees there were!  So it appeared we were hit with the double whammy of a cold and allergies.
On our last day in Cottonwood we refused to let our colds stop us and we decided to drive to Sedona and the Red Rock Canyon area on the Red Rock Scenic Byway. The beauty of the Sedona area has long inspired artists, musicians, architects and craftsmen to settle in the area.  Sedona is known around the world for its unusually high number of active vortex sites and a place for spiritual and holistic healing. These vortex sites are points at which the earth is believed to emit swirling waves of energy and Sedona is one of the few places in the world that emits all three forms of energy; electrical, magnetic and electromagnetic.  These sites are thought to enhance prayer, meditation, and stress reduction.IMG_20150427_105814IMG_20150427_111758IMG_20150427_104726
We saw the Chapel of the Holy Cross, one of the seven man-made wonders of Arizona and recognized as a Sedona vortex site.  The chapel is built directly into the buttes of Sedona’s red rocks.  It is possible to park at the bottom of the chapel and walk up the road to the interior of the chapel with its magnificent views, but we did not feel up to the walk.  We settled with stopping long enough to take some pictures.IMG_20150427_124931IMG_20150427_130242
We passed colorful rock formations ranging from bright red to a pale sand color which change colors as the rays of sunshine and clouds pass over.  The rocks are mainly sedimentary and constantly eroding and changing shape.  Some locals have named the rock formations with names such as Chimney Rock, Cathedral Rock, Thunder Mountain, Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte.  With some imagination we could see how the formations received their names.  This area has served as a backdrop for many Western movies.IMG_20150427_112653IMG_20150427_112632IMG_20150427_113030IMG_20150427_125752
With more than 200 miles of hiking and biking trails and two state parks, there is so much of this beautiful area left to explore so we put it on our list of p!aces we definitely want to return to someday.  Between the allergy season in the spring and the extreme heat of summer, next time perhaps we will come back in the fall.IMG_20150427_191145

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