Day 25 - Tuesday 9 August 2016

The Canyon Wren, buffalo scrotums and a Mexican treat

The Sedona Westerners at Oak Creek (for some reason everyone looks lost?)

I was up this time 3 minutes before the alarm went off at 5.17 and out the door at 6.10. Hassan was taking me for a walk with his hiking group, the Sedona Westerners. Hassan had told me much about this group so it was good to finally meet, and hike, with some of them. At 6.30, the designated meeting time, we were parked at the side of Midgley Bridge, about 5 minutes north out of Sedona, and were soon meeting the others. There were about a dozen or so people who turned up this morning ready for the walk ahead, which consisted of going under Midgley Bridge, then up a small canyon underneath the bridge to its end point, a further short walk up Oak Creek, then into a small section of the Huckerby trail before making our way back up to the car park. It was a really pleasant walk, green and leafy with much shade, the sun was shinning (as usual) but it was surprisingly cool this morning. The group were made up of a mix of people with accents from all over America. I had been told that it is very rare to meet a local Sedonan (if that's the right word for it) and here was evidence. Everyone in the group had moved here from somewhere else.

My abode left (the casita) for the past few weeks, Charlotte and Hassan's house centre Some fallen rocks at the bottom of Oak Creek Lush greenery in the desert, a refreshing anomaly, Oak Creek More beautiful rock

The hike down was easy, the path a good one, once at the bottom we deviated right where there was no path and rock hopping ensued, at various points this became a little tricky, but the outcome was worth it as once we were well under and had left Midgley bridge behind, and where the canyon narrowed to a dead end, there was a great crescent sweep of towering rock above and around us completing this part of the trail. Breaking the silence, as we all sat around having a sustenance break, was the sound of the Canyon Wren crisply whistling a set of harmonious scales that cut through the morning air. It was making such beautiful sounds and the little fella kept us entertained for some time trilling on one set of scales after the other.

Underneath Midgley Bridge Rock hopping underneath Midgley Bridge More beautiful rock Nearing the end of the trail

On the way back down I was handed some wild blackberryís that were tasty if not very tart. The silence of the canyon soon gave way to the flow of running creek water, of a creek that was in full and fast flow. The air was a buzz with dragonflies chasing fleas, crickets, birds, butterflies and cicadas mixed in with a splash of running creek water. It made for a pleasant yet quite cacophonous sound. It was picture book stuff. Down by the creek, nature buzzing around in the morning sun, peace and tranquility. (What a softy romantic I can be sometimes) Anyway, we had another break as it was a good chance to take it (life and its complexities) all in.

A beautiful rocky natural amphitheatre

Soon afterwards we were moving on, over Oak Creek, on a somewhat hazardous loosely placed bridge-like pile of wet and unstable logs, to the other side where the Huckerby trail commenced. We walked only a small section of it before being face to face with another but even more hazardous creek crossing so we turned back and retraced our steps.

In my mind, I was counting people. There were 10 of us I thought to myself. I seem to count things when I do residencies or go away observing landscapes, perhaps phenomenology (or the weird little details that occur within my mind) suit me? The leader broke my concentration when she asked if anyone needed a bio-break, what did I just hear, oh yeah. We moved on and soon were climbing back out of the creek and canyon and were at the car park about 2 and half hours after we started.

The end of the trail and canyon Space, and rock Looking across to Steamboat Rock from the trail The Sedona Arts Centre, with awesome backdrop

I had brunch at Charlotte and Hassanís (yes it was excellent again) before spending an hour or two in the casita writing and image making. At 1 I was to meet four artists from Ohio (Melissa, Cameron, Sean and Sarah) who were invited by Eric at the arts centre to undertake a 2-week residency (the last of the summer residents that the centre are hosting). I met three out of four of them last Friday night at the open studio First Friday event and we struck up an interesting conversation so I really wanted to meet them again. We met at the centre and drove 5 minutes down the road to the Indian Gardens, found a table out the back in the shade and had lunch together. As mentioned in an earlier blog post they are doing a four-way collaborative drawing/performative project whilst here that sounded really interesting to me. We talked much about drawing in its extended forms as well as landscape and the places that we all come from. I enjoyed their company and really liked their ideas. Iíll definitely be keeping contact with them.

After saying goodbyes I dropped into the arts centre to also say hello then goodbye to Eric but unfortunately he wasnít there. However this was my opportunity to take a closer look at the Clear Creek Trading store across the road from the centre, which has a shop front of old Americana signs and other weird whatnots. The store consisted of seven rooms of oddities, where one could purchase items such as crocodile skulls (in fact they had just about any type of skull you could think of except human), exotic bird feathers, hunting knifes, there was a bear hide on the ceiling (yes it had somehow been tacked onto the ceiling), deer heads mounted on most walls that curiously seemed to be looking right into me, Indian dream catchers and what I think was the strangest item of all, buffalo scrotums at the bargain price of $30 each. Suffice to say I didnít purchase anything, perhaps next time, but the shopkeepers were extremely friendly and helpful (just another reason why I think fondly in awe, curiosity and delight of America).

I do love a skull, or thirty The odditity that is the Clear Creek Trading store Skulls for sale Watch out for the dangling buffalo scrotums

I was back in the casita by 3.15 and spent the afternoon writing some more and packing as tomorrow I begin the long haul back to Australia (including the weirdness that is missing a complete day as I travel over the dateline Ė there has to be a void-like project in that somewhere.) At 6 I went over to Charlotte and Hassanís next door. As a thank you for having me I had planned to take them to Elote, a Mexican restaurant I had continually heard about since being here. (Elote is an entrťe dish predominantly made up of corn, mostly served as street food in Mexico). First we had a drink and chat together in their living room that lasted about an hour before jumping in the car and travelling all of about 5-10 minutes to the restaurant. The food was fabulous with the highlight being a guava and jalapeŮo margarita, but the seafood enchilada and mango sorbet dessert were awesome as well (and an honourable mention to the smokiní hot habanero sauce the waiter bought out specially for me.) Dinner and conversation was just the tonic for nearing the end of this intense and inspiring trip. I know Iíve said this before but I have been extremely fortunate with the hosts I was allocated for the majority of this trip. Charlotte and Hassan are generous, funny, helpful, intelligent and energetic (that about sums them up in my mind) and I thanked them from the bottom of my heart for making my stay feel like I was a part of their family. I was back at the casita by about 9.45, I tried watching a film (that was boring and had a dull and ridiculas premise titled Room) but was too tired to continue watching. I switched the light off, and the film, shut my eyes and thought to myself how strange this is to be my last night here.