After my too-short detour to Monument Valley, I returned to the Sedona area last week to visit my friends, Belle and Bill. I’ve known Belle since the 6th grade. We were (and are) horse girls, although not the Pony Club new-jumping-saddle-for-Christmas variety. More the I’m-shoveling-manure-in-trade-for-a-ride type. One time when we were twelve, we rode out to the two-lane highway into Scottsdale, and got our horses to buck and rear for the people driving by. Thrilling! Dangerous! Belle’s idea!
Belle and Bill live in Cornville, about 15 miles west of Sedona. Cornville is not really a town, just a handful of small businesses on a desert road that connects two bigger roads. The area has an interesting mix of environmentalists and maskless trumpsters (the buffalo horned insurrectionist grew up near here). In a single quarter mile, you might see mobile homes, adobe cottages, stucco ranch houses, and white-washed corrals of purebred horses.
Belle and Bill live on a couple of acres at the end of a dead end road with hillsides of protected federal land on two sides. They have gardens — “it’s all a garden” — and welcome neighbors who drop in unannounced. They buy eggs from a local farmer. In the evenings, we usually meet outside on the patio for (distanced) dinners, sometimes with neighbors or visitors. Bill makes breads and pasta from heirloom grains he mills by hand. Belle and I make too many “healthy” desserts. I’ve been trying to attract some crows to my patio with a peanut-heavy birdseed mix. They aren’t interested so far, but I have made friends with a family of quail, LBBs and a road runner.
Belle and Bill are slowly phasing out of their careers in the world of seed saving. Seed saving is part of the effort to beat back GMO food, farming with toxic chemicals, and corporate control of agriculture. You can learn more about that here. https://rockymountainseeds.org/ They’ve been leading the movement for many years, and it’s finally becoming a part of the conversations about ways to deal with climate change.
When I’m here, I hike every day, not too surprising. Besides the miracle of hiking in the Sedona red rocks, there are other adventures in the area, such as….
Montezuma Castle National Monument was built 800 years ago by the Sinagua tribe. It’s not a castle and has no known relationship to Montezuma. It’s an ancient ten story apartment building, 90 feet up a limestone cliff. Totally impressive.
Tuzigoot National Monument is the ruins of a 1,000 year-old pueblo built by the Sinagua tribe. Tuzigoot is such a cool word. It’s Apache for “crooked water,” a reference to the marsh nearby. Much of the site was restored as an historical project during the New Deal. The museum allegedly has an impressive collection of pottery, but I stayed outside.
Jerome is an old mining town perched on the top of a hill about 10 miles from Cottonwood. It attracts tourists who like to wash down their history with a little shopping. The main street has lots of funky antique shops, gift shops, and places to get coffee and ice cream. Tip for travelers: avoid the back road from Jerome to Prescott unless you are looking for a terrifying mountain drive, which I wasn’t.
But the main attractions here are good friends.