In The Middle

Life, Family, Yoga, Stuff

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Amitabha Stupa

Our tour guide told us about this place and we could see the statue’s top when he took us to his home on Thunder Mountain.  We decided we needed to see it up close and personal.  So we did.  This was a short hike but a beautiful place as well.  There were pretty things along the way, not only in nature but things  placed by people.  

Once we got to the top a guy was leading a lady through a guided meditation, so we kept quiet.  The kids even honored that and didn’t throw any rocks.  That was something they’d enjoyed doing on all of our other hikes.  There are two shrines.  One is very large and another one down another path that is much smaller.  There’s also a gigantic Buddha.  It’s pretty cool.  My friend rested at the guided meditation site so I walked the kids to the smaller shrine.

I told the girls to pick up some pretty glass droplets that littered the area and make an offering since I didn’t want to leave gum.  Some people had done that.  They’d left chewed gum at that.  They’d also left flowers, jewelry and other trinkets.  It was interesting to see what people had left there.  The views here did not disappoint either.  This area was a bit different though as there were a lot of green pine trees.  They were lovely against the red rocks that’s for sure.  We left this wonderful place and headed back to our hotel for a long soak in the hot tub and the pool.  I was dreading the next day, as we would have to leave this magical place.

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A Day At Bell Rock

We woke up on Wednesday to clear blue skies and warmer weather.  We ate our breakfast quickly and got the hell out of the hotel.  Bell Rock was our destination and we wanted to be there by 9 a.m.  We made it on schedule.  This is another beautiful place and powerful vortex point.  Courthouse Rock is seated right next to it as well.  We started our hike towards the rock and peeled off our layers of clothing as we hiked. 

The kids found a place they wanted to climb so we stopped for a rest.  After a short break and a photo shoot, we headed out.  We didn’t hike to the top of this rock but hiked completely around it.  We spent about 4 hours at this place. 

From the back side of the rock, high on the ledge you can see for miles.   I got home and realized I did not take enough pictures of this place.  But that’s OK.  It’s in my mind and that’s the most important place for those images to be.

We looked for Stevie Nicks everywhere we went.  But she wasn’t hiding under any of the rocks that we turned over.

We met several people from different parts of the globe as we stopped on the ledge to take in the view.  Below I could see people hiking and riding bikes.  Straight across I could see the Church of the Holy Cross.  It’s built into the side of the mountain.  We didn’t make it there this trip. 

We hooked up with a senior couple from Canada.  They were trying to hike out of there and so were we.  We forged our own pathway out and down and they followed.  It was the right path to take as it took us between Bell and Courthouse Rocks. 

I had a tingling sensation the entire time I was in this area.  Vortex energy?  Altitude?  Excitement?  Who knows.  Who cares?  It was a beautiful day.

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Cathedral Rock

After our lunch and our tour with Akul, we were ready to explore on our own.  We decided that Cathedral Rock would be our first vortex stopping point.  Even though these places are parks, there are only like 10 parking spaces.  We circled and circled with a bunch of other people doing the same thing and finally said screw it.  We’re parking on the side of the road.  Our guide had told us if we hiked Cathedral Rock, to hike away from the crowds.  That’s a no brainer for me but we appreciated the information anyways.  The day was warmer than Monday of course and we weren’t experiencing snow.  Lots of clouds blew in though so we did have an overcast kind of day.

We started our hike and I noticed all the red dirt.  I immediately thought uh oh.  Missouri red clay.  It had rained the day before so the earth was a bit weepy.  But to my excitement, this red dirt is not like Missouri red clay.  This stuff shakes easily from the shoes as it’s more of a sandy mixture.  Grateful I was.  Let the hike continue.  We forged our own pathway and of course the girls were running way ahead of us.  A few moments later, we heard one of the kids yell, “Hey guys, there’s a medicine wheel up here!”  And there was.

It was a wheel of pretty good size as you can see compared to the 13 year old founder.  We found it to be pretty neat that we ran into this since we’d just been on a medicine wheel tour that morning.  Just another cool and very simple thing that happened on our vacation.  We did not hike to the top of Cathedral rock because it was starting to sprinkle.  This didn’t seem like a good place to be stuck if it were to storm.  Think lightning. 

  I was grateful for the zoom on my camera so I could bring some things closer to me.  Like this house for instance.  I think I’ll take this one.  Most of the homes are made of glass and that only makes sense.  Like I said before, there’s not a bad view in this city.  We hiked up to the ledge about halfway up the rock to take in the views from there. 

We also found a very twisted Juniper tree.  The trees grow in this twisted fashion where the energy is the strongest.  We hugged several of them.

We said good-bye to Cathedral Rock and I’m sure I’ll return there some day.  This is a beautiful place and you can easily kill an entire day here.  Be sure you allow time for that to happen.  It’s worth it.



Medicine Wheel Man

Our tour guide, Akul showed up at our hotel right on time.  We’d booked a tour of medicine wheels and we were excited and ready for an adventure.  The girls had seen several pink jeep tours running about town.  They asked Akul when he entered the hotel if we were going to go on our tour in a jeep.  He smiled and said, “No, we’ll be going in a Taurus.”  I immediately liked this guy.  He was a bit beaten by the weather and was dressed in casual safari wear.  He asked us if we wanted to see places where medicine wheels had once been, or where new ones were today.  We said how about both and he replied with, “Good answer.”  We clicked and it was awesome.

Our first stop was at a road not far from our hotel.  The view above was where we planted ourselves for a short while.  He hauled a couple of bags of stuff up this trail.  We also hiked away from all of the other people which is exactly what I wanted to do.  Once we stopped he told us that this place was a previous ancient medicine wheel site.  If it wasn’t it missed a good chance to be because this place was amazing.   Akul set out 4 purple cushions for us to sit on.  We sat up high on a ledge and from here we could easily see the major vortex points of Sedona.  Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock to name two.  The view was magnificent.  We settled in for a meditation.  I heard the wind, I heard some birds and most importantly I heard my inner voice.  I hate it when that happens, because the inner voice is usually correct.  After our meditation we had a little discussion about what or how we felt.  He asked us about any visions we had.  One of the girls saw orange with a white dove.  The other one saw a green snake.  I got a few of the upper chakra colors in pastels which was different for me.  I can usually get a dark blue or purple with yellow or gold around it.  It was very easy to settle into meditation quickly in this place.  There’s just something about it that I cannot explain.  I have a feeling that I will live in this place at one point in my life.  But that’s not important right now.

After our discussion we had another short meditation.  We were smudged with sage and cedar.  I’d had this done before but out in the desert you cannot light a fire or make smoke, so we were spritzed with a smudge if you will.  He fanned us with the feathers of a few birds of prey and I liked the sound of the feathers flapping us.  Again we had a conversation about what we felt at this time.  And of course by now our two 13 year old girls were thinking that their mom’s were a couple of raging lunatics.  They were totally good sports.  We’d warned them ahead of time that this was not their vacation and they were lucky to be tagging along.  I know.  Evil aren’t we?   

After our meditation and smudging ceremony we headed down the mountain.  I didn’t want to leave.  We would return here on our last day.  I think it’s one of my favorite hiking places in Sedona so far.  It would also be a great place to take a mountain bike.  We hopped in the car and were driven to a private home.  In this yard a modern day medicine wheel was being constructed.  It was amphitheater-like with concrete walls and large flagstones in the center.  Someone was spending some serious time on this one.  It was way cool.  Our next stop was a new age store.  The store had a medicine wheel in the backyard.  In the center was a gigantic crystal, it was pretty cool as well.


Our third stop was at Le Rouge Spa and Hotel where ironically enough, Akul said his wife teaches yoga.  Sadly, I never made it to a class while I was there.  In the backyard at the hotel is a medicine wheel that he and his wife had constructed.  It was beautiful and had a walk way like a labryinth.  No one broke into any David Bowie songs from the movie Labryinth so it was all good.  I was afraid Lauren might start dancing and singing “jump magic, jump magic” but she didn’t.  I guess it could’ve been pretty funny if that would’ve happened though eh?

Our final stop was on Thunder Mountain at Akul’s home.  He told us about the Amitabha Stupa (giant Buddha nearby) that we could see on another day.  He has a pretty decent teepee (that he had built) in his backyard.  We entered through the little hobbit door and checked it out.  It was cool, just plain cool.  We all had a seat and talked a little about our day.  Akul grabbed a big Native American tambourine-like drum and started to chant an Indian song.  I totally forgot to ask him what it meant, go figure.  He sang for quite awhile and near the end his two big Alaskan Husky Wolf Mix dogs joined in.  It was awesome, so awesome that I thought he was going to cry.  I love hanging with people that are totally passionate about what they do.  He is definitely one of those people.  He spritzed us with this awesome smelling stuff from Peru.  He told the kids to pick a crystal out of this five gallon bucket and we were driven back to our hotel.


Once back at the hotel, we decided that lunch was in order.  Our 2 1/2 hour tour had lasted 3 hours and it was well worth it.  Akul has been featured in Elle Magazine and some other things as well.  And we found him because Darlene walked down the street to schedule a massage and picked up his brochure.  I love it when things fall into place like this.  When things are unplanned and turn out beautifully.  This is how I like to live my life.

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Las Vegas For Thirty Minutes

Our all girl vacation was awesome.  We flew into Las Vegas and retrieved our luggage quick-like.  Then we headed to the car rental counter and were out of there.  Thank God.  I don’t like that city but it was cheap to fly in there, so we did.  Plus one of the girls would want to ride the rides on top of the Stratosphere on the way home.  We made that happen.  I’ll try to stay on track here.  Those of you who know me well know that I tend to talk in circles and hey, I might write the same way on occasion.  Bear with me the photos are worth it if the words aren’t.

We immediately drove to Flagstaff which is a beautiful place.  I’m glad we drove.  I really enoyed the ever changing landscape from Nevada to Arizona.  One minute we were viewing deserts and canyons.  The next minute huge piles of rocks were rising up from the ground in sporadic Stonehenge-like fashion.  The next moment we were checking out pine trees and mountains.  Flagstaff actually reminded me a little bit of Minnesota believe it or not.  There were mountains, tons of pine trees and lots of trains in the area where we stayed for one night.  And for one night only we crashed, at the Holiday Inn Express on Lucky Lane that was NOT marked.  Just in case you go there.

The next morning we drove to the Grand Canyon to tour the south rim.  It was a cold and cloudy 38 degrees.  I had a sleeveless vest with a hood to wear and I was glad.  Lauren stole my fingerless gloves my mom had bought me in New Zealand.  Good for cold weather camera toting, that’s for sure.  I love this photo of Lauren shooting a picture at the edge of the canyon. 

The Grand Canyon is just huge.  Ginormously huge.  Vast.  You just can’t even imagine how large it really is until you are actually standing there looking at it.  We had clouds all day long so it didn’t make for the best photos.  But of course I shot several anyways.

We spent the day there at the south rim, loaded up on souveniers and headed out.  Sedona was our main destination and we couldn’t wait to get there.  I drove this stretch from Flagstaff to Sedona.  We took the scenic route of 89-A which took us through Oak Creek Canyon.  This is the part where I wish I wouldn’t have been driving.  It was spectacular eye candy.  Once we arrived a little more deeply into the mountains, we had red rocks on one side and white mountains with pine trees on the other.  As we drove further, we hit Oak Creek with its massive round boulders in the water.  I wanted to just camp there and forget Sedona.  For a minute anyways.

We checked into our hotel which was thankfully located away from the touristy shopping district (looked like Branson…yikes) and we got settled in.  My friend took a walk down to Le Rouge Spa and Hotel to make her massage appointment for Monday.  It was supposed to rain on Monday.  And it did.  And it snowed for most of the day as well.  What did we do?  We cruised the touristy shopping district and devoured an over priced lunch at a joint with an exceptional view.  But that’s the norm.  The view that is.  Every direction you choose to turn your head allows for an amazing vista.  I found it distracting to even drive the car because the views are fantastic no matter where you are.

At first I was somewhat disappointed that we had rain and snow the first day.  The second day we had clouds most of the day.  The third day, we had bright blue sky and sunshine.  I found myself actually being thankful for nature.  We were able to experience Sedona in different weather during the four days we were there.  On Tuesday we would hook up with Akul for a tour of some Medicine Wheels.  Read on.