Day 22 - Saturday 6 August 2016

Sunset Crater, and Navajo Fest

Sunset Crater

I woke at about 6.30 got myself ready as usual and was out the door at about 7.15. I was on the road north out of Sedona heading up Oak Creek Canyon towards Flagstaff. My first stop for the day was Sunset Crater National Monument. I checked in to the visitors centre about an hour later, the Indian ranger said he had a friend in Tasmania somewhere but couldnít remember where. A short 5-minute drive later and I was at the trailhead of the Lenox Crater walk, a short 1-mile walk to the top of Lenox Crater, a 250-foot high cinder-cone volcano that erupted hundreds of thousands of years ago. The ground was covered in volcanic rock, small and very light in the hand. It was a strange landscape, as if the volcano had only erupted yesterday. The debris fields were scattered about everywhere and looked so fresh.

I walked down off Lenox and onto Sunset Craterís Lava Flow Trail nearby. Sunset Crater erupted a mere 1,000 years ago, spreading ash over 800 miles away, and loomed above at over 1,000 high above the trail that I was on. Sadly no longer is anyone allowed to hike up it as its edges are very fragile, but the lava flow walk at its base consisted of a variety of rock formations in all sorts of twisted and contorted shapes. The trail twists in and out of the black rock before I made my way back to the car and a short drive to the nearby Cinder Hills lookout showing me a great view of the other side of the volcano.

The peak of Lenox Crater Lenox Crater looking south Lava flow pushed up against each other and split whilst rising Crazy wild rock

I was soon in the car again headed back to Flagstaff and a visit to the Museum of Northern Arizona who this weekend was holding the 67th annual Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture. I paid my $12 to get in and wandered around the museum for a while. There were dozens of artists selling their wares and even a few making. There was a big marquee set up outside for various performers. I listened intently to the flute playing of Aaron White, a Grammy nominated musician. Iíve heard Indian flute played before but nowhere near this good.

Lava flow field

After 20 minutes or so I wandered through the dozen or so rooms of the museum and through the courtyard. Every spare inch was taken with Navajo artists work from really incredible high-end expensive goods to run-of-the-mill and there were lots of people in attendance, which was great to see. I was just about to leave when the heavens opened up and a hailstorm hit. So I waited about another 20 minutes before it cleared and walked back to the car.

Sunset Crater lava flow field Wild lava flow formation Sunset Crater Aaron White and crowd

I was back on the road and once again got a little lost taking a wrong turn in Flagstaff before righting my way onto 89A and the Oak Creek Canyon road back into Sedona. A few miles in, and before making the long descent into the valley, I pulled into an area where Navajo artists sell their wares (mostly jewellery) on the side of the road. Charlotte had said that was the best place for Navajo goods; avoid the tourist stores. There were about 12-15 stalls up on the ridge overlooking the valley below. Each stallholder was so friendly, many marvelling at the accent coming out of my mouth. My plan is to swing by tomorrow and perhaps purchase something or other. I was back on the road, and made the long, narrow and windy descent into Sedona.

Museum of Northern Arizona

Whilst driving I had tuned back into the rock station (The Mountain its called) that I was listening to last week (having spent the week listening to classics and documentary radio) and was taken back to my 70s childhood when my older brothers would listen to The Doobie Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Steve Miller Band and I found myself loving it, radio cranked up loud, elbow out the window in the hot breeze (Sorry Sal, no country or western). Look what youíve done to me America. There was a lot of traffic and it slowed to a snails pace once at Sedonaís city limits but I didnít care as I was transported in another rock induced fuzz guitar place.

I drove into West Sedona, purchased some supplies at Whole Foods and Safeway before heading back to the casita for and an afternoon of eating and writing.