Mile 3,189 - Sedona

If you are not familiar with Sedona, AZ it has been in the news quite a bit lately.  Sedona is the place where several people died in a sweat lodge.  We stayed just a few miles away from where the trial is taking place.  I’m not sure what people do in a sweat lodge, but it is supposed to be a spiritual experience.   Getting hot seems sort of anti-spirtitual to me.  Southern men do all they can to avoid getting overheated.  Southern men think that air conditioning and iced tea is a spiritual experience.  

But that is the sort of place Sedona is, a strange landscape of misguided spirituality.  The Bible speaks of Jerusalem as the center of the universe.  Since moving to Alabama I think it may be Jasper.  If you are into aliens, new age spiritism, and soap without a center, you probably think Sedona is the center of the universe.  Sedona is a very new age, spiritist, mecca for weirdos, and then there's the rest of us who just want some nice pictures and a good restaurant.  So in Sedona you have this eclectic mix of people looking for a good steak and people looking for a good vortex.  
Our first night in Sedona we went to Airport Mesa to watch the sunset.  We had just eaten at a good restaurant.  Upon entering the gate at the overlook we met a woman who had just been to a good vortex.  She was sitting on a stool in a white dress, wearing a tasteful straw hat with a white ribbon, and talking on a cell phone.  When we walked through the gate she paused her cell phone conversation and said, “Welcome to your birthright.  This sunset is your divine right to behold.”  Then she directed her attention to my daughters.  “Girls, no matter what faith we are we are all welcome here.  If we would just tell people of all the beautiful things of the universe the world would be a better place.”  If I am not quoting her exactly, make it more spiritual, influenced by marijuana, and new age and you have it.  The best I could get out was, “O.K.”  
Shortly after the sun set the moon began to rapidly rise behind us.  I went to the van to get the camera.  Ms. Moonbeam was also in the parking lot wrapping up another evening of handing out birthrights.  I retrieved the camera from the van and began to take a picture.  There is a setting on our camera designed for night shots.  To get a proper picture you must hold the camera incredibly still.  Seeing as how the shake in my hands could be measured with a Richter Scale, this would be quite a challenge.  After snapping several pictures Ms. Moonbeam stopped across from me and said, “You hold that camera as if it were an infant child, so beautiful.  You must be a father.”  I responded, “Um.”  Before I could say anything else she said, “Or maybe that camera is your baby.”  I said, “No ma'am, its just a camera.”  Moonbeam then boarded her hybrid vehicle and drove off into the universe.  Peace out.
Sedona is a beautiful place indeed.  If there is anything spiritual about it, it is the way it unfolds like a spectacular mural before your eyes.  The hills and cliffs look like a setting sun no matter the time of day.  The Grand Canyon was beautiful because it was so colorful and vast.  It is in a class all its own.  If that is so, then Sedona is the beginning of a new category.  There is no sentence or picture I can submit to you that would help describe this place.  You must see it for yourself.  
An interesting side note to our stop in Sedona is that we have driven over 3,000 miles to be served for dinner by a lady from Chattanooga.  Small world.
Our final night in Sedona Morgan and I drove a few miles away from the city and found a pull off on an empty desert highway.  We went there to look at the stars.  We had intended to do so the night before.  Yet, the night before Morgan made me mad.  A road trip is a wonderful way for a family to draw closer together; close enough to kill one another.  In 3,000 miles we have yet to draw swords.  On the next to last day before we turn back to ‘Bama the swords were very near coming out of their sheathes.  Sedona was beautiful.  We were a little on edge.  Morgan became totally impatient with the “waiting for the stars process” and paced back and forth venting her boredom in my direction as if I needed to get the message.  She made me mad and when we got back into the car I made her cry.  
Dads hate making their daughters cry, but apparently when I explained how much I love to look at stars and have always wanted to see them in a big western sky she realized how much that moment in the trip meant to me.  Isn’t it funny that after living with me since May 2000 it took a 3,000 mile road trip for her to learn that her dad loves to look at stars.  So it meant a lot to me that on the final night, when I polled the family to see who wanted to go with me one last time to look at the stars, Morgan eagerly came along.  It was a redeeming moment that became one of my favorite experiences of the trip.
We pulled off the road in the perfect spot to star gaze.  I opened the sunroof on the van and because I was wearing flip flops and was so afraid that while I am in Arizona I was going to step on a scorpion, I chose for us to stand on the seats and watch the stars; both of us standing though the sunroof.  Morgan put her mom’s Michael Buble CD on and turned it up.  The second song that played was Buble’s version of the classic “Georgia.”  You talk about an awesome moment for a dad.  There I was watching the moon rise over a mesa with my oldest daughter listening to a song that reminded me of everything about my life growing up, especially wanting to see all the things I have been able to see on this trip.  I shared a lot of it with Morgan.  I hope that these 3,000 miles have helped Morgan know more about the 37.9 years of me.  
I love my girls, but it saddens me to realize how quickly they are growing up.  I cannot preserve time.  Hopefully for Morgan watching the moon rise in the desert with her dad will be a memory forever etched in her mind.  It will be in mine.  There have been a thousand great moments on this road trip, but certainly standing out the sunroof of a van on the side of a desert highway watching the moon rise over the mesa with my oldest daughter will be a moment that supersedes even this trip.  That moment for me was worth the entire trip.
Sometimes it takes 3100 miles to realize what an incredible stewardship it is to be a dad.
Its time now to turn toward home . . .


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