Southwest trip day 4: Sedona & Tucson, AZ

On our way south from the Grand Canyon to Flagstaff we climbed to 8000 ft., saw many stands of aspen, and experienced our first real rain. We had a nice breakfast at Brandy’s Restaurant in Flagstaff (their bagels were delicious as were the pastries we bought for the road) and then headed for Sedona, only an hour but a galaxy away.


Red rock formation outside of Sedona, AZ

Sedona is in the heart of red rock country. The red sandstone glows in many hues of orange and red. Adjectives like “vermillion,” “crimson” and “carmine” come to mind.


Red rocks near the Chapel of the Holy Cross


More red rock formations

Beyond the stunning natural beauty of the area, Sedona is also a major New Age hub. Followers claim that Sedona is a power center home to spiritual energy vortexes.


Downtown Sedona

I wasn’t surprised to find out that you can have you aura photographed, but I had no idea you could do the same for your dog.



Aura photography for yourself and your dog

We spent a pleasant hour strolling through Tlaquepaque, an arts and crafts village at the southern end of Sedona. It’s full of beautifully landscaped courtyards with art galleries and small shops. My favorite “find” were six metal sculptures by Arizona artist Bruce Butler; they were life-sized and unfortunately far too expensive for our budget.


Metal sculptures by Bruce Butler. Mysterious, creepy and haunting.

On our way out of town, we stopped by another Sedona landmark: the Chapel of the Holy Cross. For more information about this stunning piece of architecture, read this Wikipedia article.


Chapel of the Holy Cross
Chapel of the Holy Cross



Chapel of the Holy Cross

The chapel rises into the sky like an extension of the red rock. Rarely do man-made structures and nature blend so harmoniously.

The house in the next photo (although “house” is too paltry a word to describe it) is located smack down the hill from the Chapel of the Holy Cross and epitomizes the other end of the spectrum. The fact that the City of Sedona issued a building permit for this architectural abomination is nothing short of sacrilegious.


Bad architecture

Just down the road is a perfect example of how modern architecture can fit into its natural surrounding. This house respects its location and doesn’t try to dominate it.

Good architecture

After we left Sedona behind, we hooked up with Interstate 17 and didn’t get out of the car until we stopped for gas south of Phoenix. The temperature was a balmy 108°F and there were cacti everywhere—even at the gas station.


Saguaro cactus at a gas station outside of Phoenix


Saguaro tripod

From Phoenix it was an easy two-hour drive to Tucson. Against my expectations, traffic was light all the way. We checked into our motel, relaxed for a little bit, and then headed for 4th Avenue, a historic shopping district full of funky stores and restaurants.


4th Avenue in Tucson

4th Avenue is undergoing major construction (they’re building a modern streetcar line) but we found parking nearby. Our destination was Maya Quetzal, a small Guatemalan restaurant we had read about in the Arizona Handbook. Some might describe it as a hole in wall, but we love ethnic places like it. The food was fantastic. We had paches (potato tamales) and enchiladas with chocolate mole sauce, and they couldn’t have been better.


Maya Quetzal on 429 4th Avenue

After dinner we checked out a few of the stores on 4th Avenue, and before we knew it, the sun had set.


4th Avenue after sunset

Tomorrow we will spend at least half a day at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and in the afternoon I will pay a visit to a cactus nursery or two.


  1. Thanks for another great post. So good to see Tucson (and Sedona) again. Bill

    1. Unfortunately dinner at Mi Nidito didn't work out. I called at 5pm and the wait was an hour already. Super popular place, as you know. Apparently it was featured on some Food Network show and is busier than ever.

  2. Nice little tour. I especially like the Bruce Butler sculptures!

    1. The Bruce Butler sculptures were $5,000 and up. That's a good decimal point too many for my wallet.

  3. Wow! 108 degrees...a little warm, eh? Beautiful pictures! Thanks for taking us along on your vacation!

  4. Wonderful pictures of the Chapel of the Holy Cross, especially nice that you included a few cactus at the base.

    Sedona has a power over sends me driving away as fast as I can. Too bad as it's beautiful land and I'd love to spend more time there but all that New Age-ism is just too much for me.

    Yay for Tucson! Can't wait to read your nursery report!

  5. It's too bad you couldn't spend more time in Sedona. Heading up Oak Creek Canyon and going to Slide Rock is a must for any trip to Sedona. Sedona green


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