Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sedona, Arizona

I loved it the moment I saw it. Sitting at an elevation of 4500 feet, Sedona is situated amongst the breathtaking red rock formations at the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon. As we drove in on the Red Rock Scenic Byway I was in awe of the natural beauty of the Coconino National Forestand amazed at the attention to detail the went into planning this unique community.

The colors of the houses match the colors found in the rocks and the surrounding landscape. While driving around in the evening I wondered if there might be a giant dimmer on all the exterior lighting as everything was perfectly lit to enhance and not overpower. A place this special takes a well thought out zoning plan along with an ongoing commitment to planning.

I found this vision for the city on the City of Sedona site:

The vision that the citizens have for the future of their city is . . . 

To be a city that is constantly vigilant over the preservation of its natural beauty, scenic vistas, pristine environment and cultural heritage.

To be a city that retains its small-town character and creates its manmade improvements in strict harmony with nature.

To be a city that is animated by the arts, and lives with a spirit of volunteerism to help achieve our common goals.

To be a city that offers equal opportunities for all and fosters a sense of community.

To be a city that welcomes and accommodates all of its visitors and future residents with a spirit of fellowship. 

To be a city that retains and enhances a strong and vital economy which preserves existing lifestyles without exploiting the natural beauty.

And finally, 
To be a city that lives up to the challenge of proper stewardship of one of the earth's great treasures.

Based on what I saw, they're doing a fine job living up to their vision. The main street is charming and filled with locally owned businesses run by shopkeepers who are friendly and helpful. I met a lovely Swiss gentleman in one shop who told me that he moved here 30 years ago. He traveled back to Switzerland for years to visit his family, "but now that they're gone," he said with a big smile on his face, "this is my home." He loves the clean air, the gorgeous scenery and the charming people. What's not to love?

There's a wonderful arts and crafts village just outside of town called Tlaquepaque (pronounced Tla-keh-pak-keh). It was built in the style of a traditional Mexican village and is filled with art galleries, interesting shops and some nice restaurants. The Rene Taylor Gallery displays these enchanting wind sculptures designed by local artist, Lyman Whitaker.  I could have watched them spin all day. 

Ally and I each picked out a collection of clay beads, reminiscent of the southwest, from a vast selection at this charming shop. I wanted to bring the entire store home to my friend Donna, The Bead Muse.

A gentleman playing a wooden flute in the courtyard caused people to slow down and enjoy the moment.

We had a leisurely lunch at El Rincon. They claim to make a world famous Margarita with their special homemade sour mix. It's deserving of the title. If you don't drink, then just order the sour mix and think of it as homemade limeade. Yum!

My mother, who's on a quest to have chili rellenos at every Mexican restaurant she visits, kept to her goal and said these were right up there with some of her favorites.

Their homemade corn chips and salsa were worthy of seconds, so we did.

Our short list for dinner included Rene's so we took a quick peek at the menu and it moved right to the top of the list. It's a lovely French restaurant with attentive service and delicious food. We had a perfect sole meuniere!

Art is everywhere in Sedona, especially outdoors, with interesting sculptures just about everywhere you look.

Some more serious than others...

Once you're ready to explore the areas outside of town there's the ever popular Pink Jeep Tours. We took a short drive to Slide Rock State Park, a 43 acre historic apple farm, just north of Sedona on Rt. 17. It's a great destination for a picnic and a swim during the summer months. 

As we explored this magnificent area I was continually reminded of how a community of people brought a vision to life, and continue to maintain it, for all of us to enjoy. Keeping that intricate balance between humans and nature is no small feat, and it's what makes Sedona so special.  I can't wait to go back.