Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Jenny and I spent much of the week between Christmas and New Year's on the road, sharing hours of conversation, music (and sometimes lovely silence) as the miles flew by. We drove some insane distances too. For starters, we cruised all the way from Scotts Valley to Sedona - a little over 750 miles - on our first day. We chose Arizona as our initial destination to enjoy days of sunshine and blue skies, a welcome respite from the Pacific Coast's gloomy, drizzly winter.

For our first Sedona morning, we hiked to Devil's Bridge, a "moderate" trail known for some occasionally steep climbing. It was such a treat to cross that narrow stone walkway and survey the vivid colors of Sedona's panorama. In the afternoon we opted for a supposedly easy hike from Little Horse Trail to Chicken Point. Only problem: after circling the butte in rapidly fading sunlight, we discovered just how far away from our car we'd wandered. So we faced another two mile trudge - this one along the highway to our trailhead. And believe me, we felt every rise and fall of that danged road.

After all that hiking, I was actually kind of excited the next day just to drive south to Bisbee. First, though, Jenny wanted to experience a Sedona vortex. You've heard of these, right? Those famed convergences of masculine and feminine "energies" that have attracted artists and other mystics for years. Well, even through we didn't have much time to commune with nature, we found a perfect spot for some quick enlightenment: a formation near the local airport that also offers an amazing view of the surrounding region.

After inviting Jenny to join the "Ancient and Mystical Order of the Red Rock" (an informal cult I formed during my first visit to Sedona in 1997) we began the long drive south through Phoenix and Tucson, all the way toward the Mexican border. Our goal was Bisbee's Shady Dell Trailer Park. There, we stayed in a museum-quality midcentury "Tiki Bus," complete with Hawaiian music on the phonograph, 50s-era magazines on the table, and a tiki idol near the bathroom. We drove for hours just to enjoy this evening, and we savored every minute.

The next day found us heading west from Bisbee to Los Angeles - a nine hour slog (presuming no traffic). Depressed at the prospect of retracing so much of our journey, we detoured slightly to I-8, dipping toward San Diego. While we found some amazing pie at Black Cyn City's Rock Springs Cafe, we were also forced to stop at four border patrol check points along the way. Annoyed but determined, Jenny and I finally arrived at our final destination: Disneyland. Sure, we sometimes mock the kitschy excess of the "Happiest Place on Earth." But we just had to see Disney's winter transformation.

For Jenny that meant three visits to the Nightmare Before Christmas-ified Haunted Mansion. And I made sure that we endured a passage through "It's a Small World," which was equally decked out in relentless holiday cheer. With our pricy park-hopper passes, we collected fastpass tickets at both the Disneyland and California Adventure parks, bounding between rides and attractions from 8 a.m. to well past midnight. We celebrated the New Year with thousands of folks who'd gathered for the "World of Color" watershow at DCA before finally collapsing into bed at 2 a.m. The next day was all about the drive home. We were exhausted - but also ready for 2012.

(Photographs by Andrew and Jenny Wood, and a cool dude we met at Sedona)

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