Sedona is a scenic two-hour drive from North Scottsdale. One of the prettiest towns in Northern Arizona and home to the famous red rock mountains, some named according to the image they conjure up such as Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock.
Visitors to Sedona are sure to leave better than when they arrived, if not on account of it's healing powers from the Vortex it is said to be - a swirling center of energy conducive to healing, meditation and inspiration. If the Vortex doesn't uplift or recharge your spirit, the sheer beauty, clean fresh air, good food and hospitality of the locals will not disappoint.
Here's how Sedona provided everything two shopaholic, hiking diva, food junkie midlife women could possibly want in 24 hours... minus anything Gucci!
First stop, check in at our hotel, the Best Western PLUS Arroyo Roble in the heart of uptown Sedona with magnificent views of the red rocks on one side and the main thoroughfare of shops and restaurants on the other. We needed to work up an appetite and what better way than to go shop!
We walked along the main shopping street to the arts and shopping village of Tlaquepaque nestled beneath the shade of the sycamores on the banks of Oak Creek. The atmosphere is reminiscent of Europe although it's fashioned after a traditional Mexican village, with cobbled walkways, fountains and flower beds, Spanish style buildings with wrought iron gates and tiled stairways. We went in every single shop, we don't discriminate! There's high-end art and sculptures, jewelry, sensible walking shoes and candles that smell of everything known to man. Curiously these candles held our attention for a very long time, try as we might to find one that didn't smell as it was intended. Every candle nailed it, from the roasted coffee to gasoline!
There's shopping and then there's shopping. Sedona didn't get the Gucci memo... be warned! A $300 Salomon Trail Runner is Sedona's equivalent to Jimmy Choo... and a wax candle doesn't go amiss!
All this candle sniffing works up quite an appetite! We continued our walk further out of town to a Mexican restaurant called Elote Cafe which has quite the reputation... it is VERY popular! I have never seen a queue this long for Mexican food which was almost to the street. When we finally reached the hostess, there was still a wait of more than an hour for a table, so we decided to try it next time!
We went instead to The Hudson, an American eatery with a chic atmosphere, a large central bar, great wine and very good food. We were not disappointed, our change of dining venue may have been a blessing of the Vortex!
Yes, sorry for the half-eaten dessert photo, when this dreamy delight arrived, we became all unnecessary and had to dive right in! Or was it the extremely handsome young man that took up residence next to me that made us go unnecessary... either way, it was all good!
Glad of the long walk back to the hotel to work off some of the scrumptious dinner and prepare us for an early night before the hikeathon the next morning! We battened down the hatches and spent the rest of the evening binge watching The Real Housewives of New York, I had a lot of catching up to do!
the next morning
After a delicious buffet breakfast included in the hotel rate, we were packed up and on our way to the first trail head at 8.30 am.
A Red Rock Pass must be displayed in your car windshield in order to park at any of the trail heads. These can be purchased in the town at various stores, tourist information office, or via vending machine at the more popular trail heads. It's just $5 a day or $20 for an annual pass. It's a small price to pay for washroom facilities and well-kept trails.
There's a hike for every palate in Sedona, from wooded trails along Oak Creek Canyon running alongside the creek itself to more advanced levels involving steep and arduous rock climbing for those seeking more thrill and adventure.
We planned on two hikes, first the short but challenging Cathedral Rock. The stunning beauty of this rugged red (more like orange) country can be seen for miles throughout the ascend to the top. It will take your breath away if not from the climb itself, but the magnificence of the surrounding country.
The rock is smooth hardened sandstone built up in layers. Cathedral Rock is a 1.2 mile hike out and back but rated as difficult due to some steep areas that for me, required climbing on all fours!
I highly recommend gloves for the climb, my wedding ring took quite the beating! Also recommended, wear your least favorite pants because there's a number of areas where slithering down on one's butt is the safest option, and red rock dirt doesn't come out of clothes easily!
Heights affect me differently depending upon where I am in relation to said height. Reactions run the gamete from stomach drop pains to full on hyper-ventilating... I'm not overly keen! So, this hike was a challenge, especially as there is no trail per say rather, rock climb after rock climb!
There were a couple of borderline terror moments... specifically a part of the climb where I'd managed to get part way up a slope several feet high, only to find myself clinging on paralyzed with fear. A gentleman on his way down asked if I needed help. Frozen in position I responded with "I'm scared". He said that was okay and it was better to be scared than to be foolish. Somehow, this gave me the confidence to propel myself up bringing me to the safety of the next flat surface. I was decidedly worried about how I was going to get down, but quickly discarded those concerns as I had no idea what still lay ahead!
A jutting boulder narrows the pathway to this ledge and must be negotiated in order to enjoy the exhilarating photo opportunity! People wait in turn to risk life and limb. I made it; I am now officially a rock hugger!
My friend and I were up at the trail's end for some time as we became surrogate photographers for all the Billy-no-mates (British term meaning person with no friends, in this case solo hikers)! Sound travels well between the spires of the Cathedral Rock. One lady took advantage and was doing all kinds of yoga poses whilst her photog snapped away mindlessly. I think she heard us when we said, "Enough already, there's a time limit!" Well, we needed Billy on the ledge so we could finish our work and begin the downward journey!
I was surprisingly deft on the way down, perhaps due to having faced my fears head on and lived to tell the tale! My butt served as an additional stabilizer on more than one occasion, but once at the bottom, I brushed myself off, and in true British pompous style said, "Piece of cake, where next?"
We went on to do Bell Rock, getting our fill of those Vortex vibes in the 24 hours! We were expecting an easy trail, but lost the pathway and began the ascent to the top... again. Bell Rock is more of a free for all, no markers to show the best route and it becomes more difficult and dangerous the higher up we went. We called it a day... a grand day!
I hope you enjoyed this short travel and hiking blog. Feel free to leave a message if you have any recommendations in Sedona or other parts of Arizona. I would love to hear from your experiences.
You can shop my hiking outfit below via the thumbnail links.
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It seems being married brings on additional symptoms of midlife, in that husbands become less adventurous. Wives on the other hand tend to kick things up a notch during their midlife, am I right?
As was the case this particular Sunday for us three girl friends. A spur of the moment idea, a day trip to Flagstaff for a hike, a brewery tour and a visit to Camp Verde. Granted, my first reaction was "What time are you setting off?", and my second reaction, irrespective of the early start time, a resounding "Yes!"
My husband didn't want to get up early and had a ton of work to do, another wanted to stay home and watch the baseball and the third wanted to take his new car for a spin... yawn! Midlife man symptoms, this is why you need girl friends ladies!
There are many jewels to be found in the state of Arizona, but some are well hidden, like the Hermosa Inn tucked away in Paradise Valley. It's the last place you'd expect to find a hotel, situated alongside multi million-dollar resort homes in one of the wealthiest property zip codes in the country. But that's part of the charm, it's not like staying in a hotel, more like house sitting for your affluent relatives with full access to enjoy their spectacular southwestern style home whilst the staff take care of your every need. The only difference is, you pay for the privilege!
Using tennis as an excuse for a girl's trip to Las Vegas is a sobering thought. What could possibly go wrong? But it's as good an excuse as any given that these six ladies in their midlife have friendship in common because of tennis.
The trip had been in the pipeline for months until one evening at the bar during a happy hour gathering, and far from sober, dates were secured, and flights were booked right there on cell phones. A mere $45 each way from Phoenix to Las Vegas... cheers to Southwest Airlines!
In case you're unfamiliar with the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auctions, they are the car lover's dream and for those who can afford to bid, and win - perhaps a dream come true!
Haven't been able to steal the time away for a proper holiday of late, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't enjoy a little time away from home. A change of scenery with the ones you love, namely hubby (aka Brian) and the dog (aka Rigsby), is all you need to recharge the batteries for a while! A staycation in Arizona is never a disappointment when there is so much to do, see and enjoy here. So we drove all the way down the road to the new Mountain Shadows resort to see what all the hype was about!
If you live around Scottsdale or have passed through recently, you may have noticed the giant white tents standing alongside Loop 101 and Hayden Road. For ten weeks at the beginning of every year as many as 100 of the finest artists from across the country gather in this enormous arena to display their work. Many of the artists create new work whilst visitors, art lovers and art collectors meander the studios taking in spectacular art in various forms from paintings to sculptures, and can chat with the artists and see how their work is created.
There is always somewhere good to be in Arizona at any time of the year, despite the soaring temperatures in the summer. It's a state with it's own climate control. A couple of hours north or a couple of hours south, we've got it all covered, just find your comfort zone. At this time of year, you want to be right here, Scottsdale and Phoenix, the places to be, weather included. With so much going on, from music festivals to rodeos, art shows to championship golf tournaments and everything in between. It's alive with life, the State's own entertainment capital.
Locally, this event has quite a reputation for being the single most popular people watching arena in the west. Of course, some people do actually go to watch the golf! Many girls dress up as though they're going to a star studded party on a yacht in the Caribbean. It was a gloriously warm day which favored the skimpy clothes, and with no concern for the general terrain of such event, the scenery was more than entertaining with high heels and platform shoes tottering about the sloping grassy banks of the vast 18 hole championship TPC golf course.
This was my first time to a golf tournament, and the first time to any event that hosted a record breaking almost 205,000 people on a single day. It was a sight to behold. I didn't see much golf but that wasn't really why I was there, as I believe was the same for a large number of other folk in attendance!
Every year in January, Scottsdale Arizona hosts the Barrett-Jackson collector car auctions. This year it takes place from January 14th to January 22nd.
It's the largest concentration of cars from old classics to modern day prototypes and everything in between here in the beautiful city of Scottsdale. Rows of gleaming polished chrome like the dinnerware on a banquet table, paintwork in every imaginable color like perfectly lined up bottles of nail polish. Proud owners dusting off their pride and joy, the crowds milling through the tents, browsing, dreaming! Celebrity cars for sale, rare cars in impeccable condition, so much to look at, not enough time. Then there are the auctions, the excitement, the big spenders looking to catch their dream toy. Outside, the tempting smell of barbecue, food trucks, and if you're game, you can tackle the worlds largest turkey leg!
What's in it for us girls? Men are not the only ones that these cars invoke fond lifetime memories for. Today, I saw my very first car, a red Mini Cooper. Forty years on, I can't believe I actually fit inside that car! The Morris 1000, the very first car my parents owned when I was 10 years old. The day my daddy brought that car home, I spent the whole day playing inside it pretending it was my play house! There's a huge Exhibitor Marketplace to stroll around and shop, plus, there are lots of happy men walking around, all in very good moods, some dashingly handsome!
This is my first time visit to a car show and I liked it! If you are in the neighborhood and have a chance to go, it is well worth a visit. A general admission ticket is just $20, with senior, military and student discounts available. Auction and VIP packages vary, but all can be purchased from the Barrett-Jackson website here.
This amazing property is referred to as the "Jewel of the Desert" situated in the heart of Phoenix, AZ. Since 1929, accommodating U.S. presidents and legendary film stars, the luxury resort currently boasts eight swimming pools and two championship golf courses amid 39 acres. It's stunning architecture was designed by the famous American architect Frank LLoyd Wright.
The Biltmore "Sprites". These original architecture sculptures were designed by Frank LLoyd Wright in 1914 to stand guard over Chicago's Midway Gardens. These same Sprites, meaning fairy or elf, now grace the grounds of the Arizona Biltmore Resort.
Having spent many years working in the hotel industry, I have a passionate curiosity for interesting properties around the world. The Arizona Biltmore Resort is no exception. We enjoyed a lazy afternoon, sipping wine, overlooking the lush gardens of the hotel, watching their guests come and go, and the scenic beauty of the Camelback Mountain Range beyond the golf course. It was idyllic.
The transition into fall is a slow process in Arizona, so I wore an off the shoulder blouse by Topshop from Nordstrom. It had the feel of fall with it's autumnal floral colors on a black background, bell sleeves and a light-weight silky feel. The black coated skinny jeans are by Citizans of Humanity, (similar here) and the clutch bag is Vince Camuto. (Similar here). I love this bag, because it's big enough to fit a substantial amount of girl stuff, and when you need to be hands free, it has a handy gold link chain shoulder strap, plus it has the leather coated bear claw charm giving it an edgy feel. The booties are Via Spiga and are my favorite new purchase this fall, they just seem to go with everything, plus they're "walk all day" comfy to boot!
Karen Serino is a life and style blogger, sharing fashion, fitness and fun for youthful women in their forties, fifties and beyond.
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Click the picture below to see my interview with the lovely Jonet Wooten from Fabulously Chic Over 50