Ah, Sedona!

Snoopy Rock

This is beautiful red rock country, mountainous, with elevations ranging 4,800 and above. This is also a mecca for hikers, rock climbers, mountain bikers, and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. The communities of this area…Sedona, Oak Creek, and Jerome, are all a bit different, as you would expect, and each capitalizes on the sun, Native American art, pioneer spirit, the magnificent scenery, and shopping, shopping, shopping!

Sunday afternoon we went to a state park just out of town called “Slide Rock,” and joined others who were out for a cool and natural version of a water park. Slide Rock has natural rock formations in a shallow creek that allow you to slide through the water, just like you would at a water park. Only this slide has surroundings of beautiful red rock cliffs and rock formations all around it. It’s a popular kid destination, and a lot of families were there for the day with coolers, water floats, and assorted members of multi-generations gathered to enjoy a sunny Arizona afternoon.

Stephanie, Matt & Riley at Slide Rock

Sedona has a plethora of spiritual and psychic centers, and there are “vortex” points where there is a concentration of energy. You can seek counsel or guidance if that’s your interest, and with the variety of places offering these services in town, you shouldn’t have to stand in line too long.

There are “Pink Jeep” tours that take you on different sight-seeing rounds, looking at the rock formations that have inspired names like “Snoopy Rock” or “Coffee-Pot” or “Castle Rock.” You can rent bikes if you don’t have your own, go on horseback rides, or do it the old-fashioned way and hike the canyons.

Yesterday we stopped at the Chamber of Commerce to pick up some info on bike trails, and a gully-washer rain, the likes of which I hadn’t seen before, came down while we were inside. So we waited it out, watching as huge drops of rain and hail beat down, and literally created a white-out so that the magnificent views were obliterated. Let me tell you, Ketchikan rain has nothing on a true Arizona monsoon storm! Fortunately we weren’t prisoners too long. These storms are short and sweet, and keep the temps in a manageable range of low 90s…not bad for August in the high desert.

Tomorrow we’re going on a bike ride. We’ve hauled bikes all over this country, and I’m sorry to say don’t use them as much as we should. But in such a setting as this, it seems essential to get out and see nature in a more personal way.

Ah, vacation…the time of slow pace, discovery, adventure…the sweet life!

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My Dad

A friend was saying yesterday that she had to get out and buy a Father’s Day gift to get in the mail. I don’t have that task; my dad died in 2008.

If I was sending a gift to him, I would choose music. He loved music and shared his love of many types of music with his family. As a small child I remember him bringing reel to reel tapes home. Many nights I would fall asleep hearing music playing in the house. We listened to folk, learning the songs of Peter, Paul, and Mary; the Seekers; The Brothers Four; The Kingston Trio. We learned the words and tunes of movie musicals: My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, Funny Girl. He loved bluegrass and country music. I grew up on Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, Charley Pride, Marty Robbins. He introduced me to Ricky Skaggs and the music of Alison Krauss.

Car trips always included favorite music, and many songs are ingrained in my brain from listening to the same tapes over and over again. It didn’t matter if the music was cutting edge or not. It was family music, part of the personal library of favorites that were always popular, whether new or something from my dad’s youth.

Over the years, music was my most frequent gift to him, because I knew it would never be a wrong choice. Once, when he and my mom visited us in Colorado, I got tickets to an Alison Krauss concert at Red Rocks, the amazing outdoor amphitheater at the edge of the front range foothills. We enjoyed a beautiful evening under the stars, listening to wonderful performers share their art. It’s something I’m glad I did with him, for him.

I saw my dad connect with others through music. Besides our immediate family, he and his youngest brother enjoyed a lot of the same artists, and I heard many conversations between them about favorite tunes. He also shared personal favorites with friends. It was a bonding tool for him, but one that he used out of pure pleasure, not for any other type of gain.

I love music too, and although I’m not always up to date, when I find something new, I want to share it. I mention a song or artist to my husband, to my kids, put something on my blog, find the song on Pandora. But there is a part of me that always wants to call up my dad, to say, I found something beautiful, you have to hear it. I find myself wishing I could share with him, my first music buddy. Sometimes, even yet, I can’t believe that it’s not possible to do that.

My dad shared many things with many people: his faith, his love of beauty, his love of flowers; his interest in history and national parks. If I had to say that any one thing defined him, I would say it was his faith. But a close second would be his life-long love of music, and that was a gift I could sometimes give back to him.

Thank you, Daddy, for giving to me. Thank you for creating the desire to give back, to share.

Happy Father’s Day, 2011.

J.C. Choate, 1932 ~ 2008