Sedona, Arizona

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Sedona, Arizona

“Wow Even the rocks in Sedona meditate!” Ilchi Lee

Plan to be amazed.  As the sun started to set, the red rocks started to glow in the light.  We sat on the hotel terrace restaurant with Mexican food and margaritas, watching the color of the sky change with rocks. I would have forgotten that there was a Corona virus except for the masked waiters. 

As you drive through the mountains to enter the town, you can clearly see the outlines of Sedona because of the distinct shift between the typical brown/beige desert surroundings to the intense red color of these rocks.  

 We had a very different  trip planned the week everything closed for quarantine in March to the Mii Amo spa in Sedona.

This time we were masked and social distancing so the spa was out of the question for us.  Everyone else was using it. The most dramatic red rocks of Sedona’s Boynton Canyon  set the tone for an experience beyond compare.

  Enchantment Resort is a little pricey but there isn’t a more beautiful hotel to stay in.

When we arrived it was crowded and no one was wearing masks, except the staff. It felt unsafe as far as the virus was concerned. All the rooms have beautiful views of the red rocks so just hanging out on your terrace is amazing. The rooms are “casitas” and have both a kitchenette with a table and an outdoor table and grill. You have different options for  room service both cooked and ‘raw” if you want to do it yourself.  Somehow with all the different hikes, spa treatments and activities that they have,  we were able to avoid crowds of people and eat in all the restaurants at off hours, hike, walk and feel safe.  Doing yoga, qi gong and meditation on the terrace facing the red rocks was a spiritual experience.

  The Bf was off hiking and mountain biking.

The activities at Enchantment were limited because of safety. There were no large classes or group hikes. You had to hike on your own or hire a private guide.

Our guide was George, a 76 year old Apache who started the mountain biking experience and cut many of the trails that people hike on.

There was no one more concerned with masks and social distancing than George – except for me. He was horrified by all the hikers who don’t wear masks.

With his Apache spirit he guided them away from us and made us wait for the air to clear when a group passed by.

It was a special treat to see “The land of the red skin” with him.

And then there are the stars. Sedona has strict rules about lighting at night because the skies are ablaze with stars. Being a city girl, the night skies are one of the marvelous splendors of the area. 

We will definitely come back to Sedona to have the full experience when this is over. But during these uncertain times, finding beauty is a necessity. 

Stay safe,

JAZ

Road Trip In The Time Of Corona

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Road Trip In The Time Of Corona

“That’s why I love road trips, dude. It’s like doing something without actually doing anything.” John Green

The world changed in March 2020, when the country — and the planet — shut down to help slow the spread of Covid 19. For most of us, the pandemic signaled the first time we were asked to shelter in place, maintain our distance from our friends and family, forgo handshakes and hugs, and cover our faces.  

Being at risk, I have been home for six months. The California wildfires changed all that for me because I am violently allergic to smoke and was getting sicker and sicker from the air. We decided to drive to Arizona.  Venturing outside brought up very mixed feelings. On one hand, I was excited to go on a trip to anywhere, have room service and eat in a restaurant.  On the other hand, I had adapted to being at home and felt safe there. The virus is still very active and it was scary to change what I was currently doing for fear this would lead to getting the illness. But I had no choice.

We jumped in the car the next day. When you’ve been inside for a long time, it feels strange to go out. Eventually we had to stop and get food and use our first public restroom in six months. We were armed with masks, gloves, alcohol spray and  hand sanitizer. As difficult as it was to get used to lockdown, it is just as difficult to come out of it. We drove by a crowded restaurant and decided no way.  We saw a Subway. It was not crowded and everyone wore masks and stood six feet apart. The bathroom was clean. I ordered my favorite-turkey on whole wheat with pickles lettuce and tomato and then I put potato chips in it to go. It tasted like the best sandwich I had eaten in six months.  I felt the sensory overload of being in a restaurant for the first time..The second rest stop was super crowded. Everyone wore masks and kept social distance. I felt so much anxiety about being around all those people. 

We got to the hotel in Arizona. The staff wore masks and gloves. Everyone had to wear a mask when indoors. There was an automatic temperature checker as you walked in.

Automatic hand sanitizers were everywhere.  We had our choice to carry our own luggage or  park our own car and a bellman came to the parking lot in a golf cart. We ordered room service.There are no checks to sign. 

The next day we hiked and we were shocked that no one wore masks.

We decided to venture out to the restaurant for lunch.

The tables were eight to ten feet apart and the restaurant was not crowded. There were individual ketchup packets and individual water bottles. I forgot how it felt to sit in a restaurant and have someone serve you. What a treat that I used to take for granted. (first waiter in six months!!!)

We were upgraded to a room with a small swimming pool and large outside area so I was totally fine to hang out there. (the view)

We went to the restaurant for the rest of our meals.

I changed clothes for every meal.

Being in sweatpants  for six months  has made me appreciate my clothes.

If you are like me, and worried about safety and the virus, The Four Seasons in Scottsdale is a great place to start going out again.I felt very safe and was able to relax and heal. 

There has been a lot of talk of a ‘new normal’ – but normal is changing and uncertainty, and managing risk, is going to be the reality for the foreseeable future. New normal’ for most of us will mean ‘what we need to get through today, or this week – it’s going to be very difficult to predict what the course of the rest of the year will look like.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Ranch Advice

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Ranch Advice

“These people have learned not from books, but in the fields, in the wood, on the river bank. Their teachers have been the birds themselves, when they sang to them, the sun when it left a glow of crimson behind it at setting, the very trees, and wild herbs.”Anton Chekhov

I visited my friend’s ranch and winery in Creston, California for a few days. Here are some of the lessons  that I have learned.

When you take an egg from a hen, pet her and leave one egg for her to sit on.

Have empathy for those around you even if they are chickens.

Feed the animals early in the morning. It even says that in the Bible. Feed the animals before yourself. Once you are responsible for something, you must take care of it.

Every time we went hiking or rode in the four by four vehicle. Bandit ran along side of us. The dog ran all day long, stopping to jump in the lake or horse trough to cool off. Bandit is not afraid to get down and dirty rolling in the dirt to dry off. What are we so afraid of? We don’t always have to be clean and perfect all the time. Physical exercise and activity is scientifically proven to release endorphins, making us happier. That’s why  Bandit  looks happiest when he is running.

 The white dogs, Blanche and Stanley (named after Donna’s parents) protect the house all night long and sleep during the day. They have a purpose and they are faithful. There are no ulterior motives, no mind games, no second-guessing, no complicated negotiations or bargains, and no guilt trips or grudges.

The fourth dog Lizzie  knows the importance of family and quiet time which is something we all need. She sits in the four by four with Barry when he goes out. 

Looking at the sheep, cows, horses  and their babies, connects us back to how simple life is supposed to be.

Just assume that every gun is loaded. It’s the first rule of gun safety. Guns on a ranch are tools. It is the crazy person that was able to buy the gun legally that is the problem.There are  certain things that you should always be careful around.

You were so close. Try again. I think this one is self-explanatory.

 Pass the bush and turn right at the tree. It’s taken me a long time to learn the importance of good directions. Know when it’s time to make positive changes. Proactively make the change for yourself or they may be made for you.

An alluvial fan is a fan-shaped deposit of sediment crossed and built up over thousands of years by streams.

In dry areas they help with irrigation. Beauty and art take time. 

Hiking up a hill for me is harder than going down but going down is tricky. The secret is to be unaffected either way. 

Being in nature, deepens our human connection to the world. It just makes you feel better to pay attention to the sights and sounds of the ranch.

It helps to have a Fernando. Everyone should have someone in their life who is kind, helpful, responsible, intelligent, creative and there for you. It is good to have people around who support what you do with or without a plan. 

If a gate is closed, leave it closed. If a gate is open, leave it open.

There will always be closed gates or doors but others will be open. Have faith and keep moving forward.

Thanks to Donna and Barry whose hearts are even bigger than the ranch.

And Maureen (camper of the days) and Mike for making it such a fun trip.

Fly safe,

JAZ