Allison and I grew up just 20 minutes away from Sedona, AZ, a town we visited rather frequently. The reason for our visits have transformed slowly over our growing up years.
In middle school and throughout high school, Sedona was the land of the Harkins Theater. Our hometown, Cottonwood, had just a tiny cinema in the Basha’s shopping center. The seats were miserably uncomfortable, offering no extra cushion and minimal recline, and there was only just the one theater playing a movie we generally were never too interested in. But the Sedona Harkins had more theaters for more movie options, much comfier seats with a slight recline, and the 20 minute drive to the theater was always a sweet lil’ getaway from Cottonwood. Thus, the movies turned into a frequent hangout for us and our friends, especially when we all were getting our licenses and our parents would kindly, but hestiantly, let us borrow a car for the night. Piling into a car, we’d either jam out to music, dancing hard in our seats, or gab about the next school dance we’re all stoked about. (Most of the school dances were planned and decorated by our minds and hands as majority of us were heavily invested in our high school’s Student Council — and those streamer hanging skills have truly showed their worth throughout the years.)
The drive to Sedona at night is certainly not as visually hued and vibrant as a drive during the day, but witnessing the shadows of the red rocks come into view under a twinkling dark sky has a unique beauty. Once we’d reach town and turn right into the Harkins’ parking lot, we’d stuff our pre-purchased treats into the biggest purse of the group. The Harkins’ pink and blue florescent lights bright above the ticket window became quite a comfort to us. These movie nights were always a blast, regardless of the film. An evening adventure that was always an easy going outing filled with laughs, updates on our crushes, secret spilling, and car dancing.
During the last couple years of our high school lives, Sedona turned into a dining and a date location, especially since these were the years when we were attending our school prom. The culture of Sedona and our trips slowly matured, and the twinkling stars, even the restaurant lights, appeared more romantic and dreamy. The food world of $23 entrees, a menu page full of wines that were all too hard to pronounce, and a silverware set with two or more forks came to life for us in our fancy dresses and our high heels. But we loved getting all dolled-up in that more expensive drugstore makeup that we never knew how to apply properly and enjoyed a night feeling like princesses. Our dates, be them sweet and friendly suitors/high school boyfriends or our best girlfriends, would then sweep us away to The Hilton in which our enchanted evening awaited.
Our proms were really some of the best nights of our high school times with a DJ spinning that year’s top 40 and a few fun throwbacks, a patio buffet packed all the cheesecake you’d like, a table we declared as the keeper our high heels (which we kicked off as soon as we’d enter), and a photo booth station that snapped a picture of our sweaty, post-3-Beyonce-songs hair.
As our high school years were drawing to a close, mine just one year before Allison’s, we began to thirst for even more genuine experiences and more outdoor adventures to better connect ourselves to our surroundings before we moved away to college. Sedona hikes started to be that for us.
No matter if we were still living at home or visiting for a weekend, we’d fill up our water bottles that are stored right above the microwave, lace up our Nike’s (until we each made the investment in a solid pair of hiking boots), bag up handfuls of trail mix and drive that incredibly familiar route to the red rocks. The car rides felt quite the same with new music jams, refined car dance moves, and chats about our new life excitements or stresses. And still, that sight of the red rocks materializing is just as vibrant.
Over the years we’ve certainly pinned down our favorite hikes in Sedona and have tired out the trails: Devil’s Bridge, Cathedral Rock, and Bell Rock.
Our most recent Sedona hike was a chilly one on the Bell Rock trail. It’s a hike that’s quite easy, with little inclines here and there. One of our favorite elements about this hike is that you can cater it to your specific adventure/spiritual needs. When reaching the rock, you can decide to scramble up and around it, using your adrenaline rush to get you as high as you feel comfortable. Or you can choose to walk leisurely along the rock base and reach another piece of the trail to loop you back to the start — a more direct and determined adventure. Lastly, which is what we decided this day, is to climb midway up the rock, sneak behind the trees and the local hikers and find a spot to sit and enjoy a bit of silence and solitude. The views from every of the rock are magnificent so no matter where you rest your feet you get an excellent view of the surroundings. Breathing deeply, enjoy refreshing sips of our water and trail mix nibbles, it’s a place that grants needed minutes of relaxation. Something I think we all could use more of in our lives.
Once our time is done in our special place, we rise, throw our backpacks back on, and trek back to our car embracing the calming recharge.
Sedona will always have a warm spot in our hearts, our ears will always perk-up when we hear someone is visiting there, and we will always cherish the movies, the proms, the hikes (can’t wait to head up there for another one!) and all that those memories and experiences have taught us.