4 Corners Road Trip – part 4

After a few days of quality family time, I hit the road again for the last leg of the trip. From Hobbs, NM, I set out for Arizona, with an intention to arrive in time for an afternoon tour of Arcosanti. Since it was a roughly 10 hour stretch of driving, I awoke early and was on the road at 4am. As it turns out, when you start driving in the dark, hours before anyone else, you make really good time. So good, in fact, that I decided to detour through the Petrified Forest National Park and check out the Painted Desert. I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon the visitor center, which was designed by Richard Neutra in 1958 and is now decreed a “national treasure’ by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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Despite the detour, I was still significantly ahead of schedule, so I made a last-minute decision to head straight to Sedona and spend the afternoon hiking there before then making my way to Arcosanti. The drive into Sedona, through Coconino Forest, was particularly beautiful and unexpected – so scrubby and green, not at all the mental picture I had of Arizona.

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My first stop in Sedona was to hike up Cathedral Rock, a short but steep hike (.7mi, 608′). After exploring a bit at the end of the trail, I scrambled back down and then headed over to the Little Horse Trail, taking the spur to the Chapel Trail. This took me to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, right around the daily 5pm service. As I ascended the spiral ramp to approach the chapel, the faintest chorus lured me forward until the chapel itself came into view. It was a really special experience, with the beautiful hymn as a soundtrack.

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After hiking back, I drove out a ways to watch the sunset. The beautiful red rocks looked like they were on fire, it was so breathtaking. I loved Sedona, though found it easy to ignore how commercialized it was since my visit was so brief. I’m not sure how fond of the city I would be if I spent an extended stay there. Once the sun was decidedly behind the horizon, I made my way to Arcosanti and checked into my room around 10pm.

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The next morning, I awoke to see the landscape that had been obscured in darkness upon my arrival the previous night. Light streamed in the wall of windows and the desert hills beckoned. After a quick breakfast in the cafe, I headed out to explore the grounds before the 10am guided tour. I learned that the first tour of the day is typically the best one, because it coincides with their second bronze pour. It was a good thing I changed my plans to rearrange my Sedona and Arcosanti visits, or I would have missed witnessing the bronze casting!

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As the tour wrapped up, I again realized I had a bit more time than expected; out of curiosity, I looked up Taliesin West to see how far away it was. To my pleasant surprise, it was quite close and on the way to the Phoenix airport. I called and lucked into a spot on the guided “Insights” tour for that afternoon. It fit in just perfectly before my flight back to SF.

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