Misery loves company - because I was mildly hung over, I needed some pals. My girlfriends Lauren Parra, Jessica Peraza and Jessica Morales joined me on this weekend's destination: Sedona, Arizona. I hadn't been to Sedona since I was 11 and the only thing I remembered was a place called Grasshopper Point, a huge cliff that swimmers climbed up to jump back into Oak Creek; I just had to go back.
Entering Sedona is a treat (the perfect soundtrack would have been some Creedance Clearwater Revival), we pulled off the road to a scenic view, there was really no better photo opportunity to admire the red rocks and... more red rocks. When we arrived in the actual town of Sedona, I was surprised - it wasn't the rural, small town I had imagined. Sedona looks brand new and is aimed towards tourists - there were stores everywhere selling "native Arizona cactus" and "Native-American turquoise" and crappy t-shirts that said "Sedona" on them. The unfortunate thing about Sedona is that it realizes it's a tourist town, so while its local finds could be enjoyable and tourists would think they discovered something previously undiscovered, it all seems so common.
Our first task was to find good food, and it proved to be more difficult than we had hoped. In my previous posts, the meals were found a little off the beaten path, so maybe we made a mistake by sticking to the touristy part of town. We ended up getting burgers, salads and chicken wraps for our $80 bill (with tax and tip). The food wasn't bad, but for $20 per person, we could have done better anywhere else. Leaving town, my nose was overwhelmed with the smell of chocolate, and Lauren and I dropped into the Sedona Fudge Company, which had a variety of chocolate treats, fudge (obviously), and a window to look at the workers making the goodies. I purchased cinnamon pear caramel, to be eaten with vanilla ice cream, at the risk of gaining 300 pounds.
We headed off towards northern Sedona, more importantly towards Grasshopper Point. My friends and I rolled down the windows and admired the green trees shading the road. Grasshopper Point had a $5 cover, but either because it was Saturday, or we got there at four and the park closed at five, we just kind of drove in. When I was younger, I thought I was the coolest kid on the block for swimming across the creek, climbing the cliff, and jumping off the high dive to do it all over again; I was especially proud because Andrew [from the Tucson post] had to be belittled into doing the same thing (mostly by me, although I'm sure he conveniently doesn't remember this). It's a little hike to the creek part of Grasshopper Point, but not difficult; Lauren did it in strappy sandals and a pearl necklace (skills). When we came through the trees, I was a little ashamed of myself for giving Andrew so much grief, the "cliff" is about 8 feet off the water, and the water was too shallow to be diving into anyway!
Although Grasshopper Point wasn't filled with grasshoppers, over summer I'm sure it sees its fair share of people on picnics, swimmers and the like. We all dipped our toes into the ice-cold water, and didn't dare go further in. Braver souls (a black lab and its owner), were the only two fully submerged.
Afterwards, we traveled further north to Slide Rock, which I had never heard of before. The park rangers demanded we pay $10 at the entrance at 4:55 p.m. when the park closed at 5 p.m. and swimmers were expected out by 6 p.m. It was easy to skip Slide Rock, which I regretted later. We saw a postcard of people at Slide Rock, and I can't describe it any better than my friend who grew up in northern Arizona: "it's a giant water slide made out of rock, not plastic," he doubted we would have gotten in anyway, so in the long run we probably made the more cash-friendly decision of visiting Grasshopper Point first.
On the way out of Sedona, we stopped at a quirky country store we had seen on our way in - the Son Silver West Gallery. It's a little hard to miss; there is a giant rooster outside and hundreds of roasted dried chili peppers hanging on the side of the building. The building is decorated in colorful signs and dozens of wind chimes available for sale. Merchandise ranges from cactus to incense burners to expensive decorated cattle skulls. My friends got a few worry dolls to keep their friends from lingering on money and work. My mind was on the delicious-looking Sting 'N' Linger Habanero Salsa, which I grabbed.
As it was already dark, we headed back to Phoenix, and I purchased tortilla chips to try with the habanero concoction. When I got home, we dug in, and it was almost too hot to handle, too good to put away. Three days later, the salsa is three-quarters of the way gone. I bought vanilla ice cream later, and will certainly enjoy gaining 300 caramel pounds. The caramel is well worth the $8.00 price tag, and the cinnamon and pear taste isn't overwhelming at all.
When travelling to Sedona, drive with your eyes closed through the tourist shops (DISCLAIMER: If you do this, tourists will be hit and you will be prosecuted), open your eyes and roll down the windows through the woods, and bring a towel for Oak Creek. Also, do not regret gaining weight from the Sedona Fudge Company, it was worth it... or at least that's what I keep telling myself.
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