Amidst Northern Arizona’s expanses of high deserts and unique geological formations dwells the presence beyond time and appearance. Of course I adore Sedona and her awe inspiring red rocks; and I pay my respects to the National forests and parks. However, it is in stepping off the grid into Arizona’s northern realms that brings me face to face with my mortality and my place in the broader world.
Back in May of 2019, my husband and I drove north of Flagstaff along Hwy 89 to visit Antelope Canyon. And it has taken me several months to process and integrate the impact of that short road trip. The trip from Sedona to Page, AZ was anything but ordinary. Even as I write this, I have trouble distilling into mere words the fiercely stark beauty of that long weekend.
Once north of Flagstaff, the San Fransisco Peaks and the Kachina Wilderness area loomed in our rear view mirror for many miles. Cell phone coverage soon vanished; I set my phone on airplane mode to save battery. I paid silent respect to Sunset Craters and Wupatki National Monument as we drove past, since we could not tarry in those hallowed pueblos on this occasion. Vastness opened us into Navajo lands of the painted desert. There was no way to ascertain distances with spartan road signage and sweeping brushstrokes of pastel desert and sky. After an hour or so, we passed the turn off for the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
A few miles further along, the road narrowed into 2 lanes, with the turnoff of Tuba City/ Navajo and Hopi villages. In and around this area, the geology felt ashen, with gargantuan mounds that fueled my imagination. I wondered if alien ants the size of puppies would emerge from some subterranean labyrinth. But ultimately, the topography morphed once again with few signs of humanity until we passed the turn-of fo the northern rim of the Grand Canyon.
We reached the lovely town of Page, ready to take in the views of Lake Powell from Wahweap Resort. The moonscape did not disappoint, although cell coverage was sparse. Our stay was amazingly comfortable, considering the remoteness of it all. The other-worldly landscape resonated of rarified air and stunning colors. Glen Canyon dam offered remarkable engineering and stark contrast to table mesas in the distance.
Waiting our turn was the hard part; but once we climbed into the back of our tour’s covered flatbed truck, we were off on an unparalleled adventure. The canyon entrance was barely wide enough for a person to walk through.
But meandering through the canyon was AWESOME. Again, I felt as though I were stepping into another dimension.
My feet scuffed through the sandy dry creek bottom as fluid sandstone walls swirled upward around us. Wind carved these narrow passages as much as flash floods. Darkness enveloped it all, except when sun rays of high noon pierced tiny surface cracks.
The next day, we decided to head back south, due to the inundation of tourists with a stop at Horseshoe Bend. A spectacular view at the end of a mile long trail of hot sun and the elements. A wildly popular photo spot, this was worthy the walk in the hot sun. But it was time to head back to Sedona and the world of wifi and cell coverage.
There is no comparison to translate between the world of the Navajo and pre-formatted textures of civilization. One simply steps from one timeline INTO another, like Alice through the looking glass, or perhaps the desperate vibes are too much for the modern soul. Northern Arizona is fierce in its beauty and its mercy, rugged… to be approached with reverence and humility. It carries the peace of a warrior who hunts for survival and cherishes every grain of sand that blows through exquisite spaces designed for unity of creation.
Not only is translation tough, there is never enough time to take it all in! There are worlds within worlds to explore that we merely scratched the surface. But they are world that require more than time with which to commune. Wordless communion… not a usual vacation, for sure!