December 5, 2006

Arizona: Images of the Southwest

Road trip!! I love road trips. Especially when done with good company and when the destination is a place as beautiful and magical as Sedona.

Bright and early on the morning of October 16, Sheila and I jumped into her SUV and hit the road. She was just as excited as I was though she’d been to Sedona twice before. Without giving away too much, she told me about her past trips to Sedona with family and how the place had left a significant impression on all of them.

We rolled down the windows and let the wind play with our hair as we headed north on I-17. Arizona is the definition of sprawling. Green arid landscape dotted with tall cacti stretch out on each side as far as the eye can see. It is mostly flat with some hills, much of which is Indian reservation. The scenery is lovely in the morning light. My cactus friends are out in full force, waving those prickly arms – did you know that the Saguaro cactus only sprouts arms when it reaches the age of 100? And that they stand anywhere between 15 to 50 ft. tall? Yup, just in case you haven't learned anything new yet today. :)

The landscape gradually started to change, the soil now a sparkling reddish hue. We were approaching Oak Creek Canyon, renowned for its stunning red buttes and monoliths. I shifted in my seat, barely able to contain my excitement. I was about to see terrain so completely and utterly foreign to me. I enjoy this thrill of discovery immensely, this is when I feel most alive! I let out a squeal when I saw my first red rock butte. The redness of the unique formation was a stark contrast to the blue sky and the green sycamore trees.

My first pumpkin patch!

We stopped at the Son Silver West store and gallery, a fine place specializing in western art and various knick knacks like chile ristras, jewelry, pueblo pottery, souvenir items, saddles, and other cowboy paraphernalia.

No, I didn't get any kicks cos we weren't on Route 66. I hope to drive on the historic Mother Road someday soon though. This is part of Son Silver West's facade.

But what dominated the grounds were the chile ristras (string of chili). Hundreds of years ago these chilis were laid out to dry and then strung together as a way for the people to preserve them long after the growing season. Long after the invention of the freezer, these chile ristras continue to be a popular kitchen ornament found in many southwestern kitchens.

Chile Ristras

The sun-bleached cow skull is another typical symbol of the Southwest

Chimineas, these are front-loading outdoor fireplaces usually made of clay

The image of the Kokopelli or Flute Player (the cute hunched-over figure with the funky mohawk in the picture below) is commonly found in traditional southwestern pottery, jewelry and artwork. Legend has it that the Kokopelli traveled around the the Southwest and Mexico playing his flute to announce his arrival to villagers. This mystical deity is now regarded as the universal symbol for fertility.

Kokopellis, geckos and sun faces

Being a sucker for local crafts and souvenirs, I left with some prickly pear cactus jelly, a pair of dainty silver & turquoise earrings, and a pretty Native American clay pot. We then climbed back into the car to cover the last few miles to Sedona.

Son Silver West / Robson Design

1476 Hwy 179, Sedona, AZ

Phone: + 1 928 282-3580


Up Next: Arizona: Let your spirit soar in Sedona

2 comments:

Garrett said...

Such vivid pictures and such beautiful chile peppers! You must have had quite a time.

christine said...

They're beautiful right?! I have more pictures of it but it would have been overkill to include more in this post. I wish I could have brought home one to hang in our kitchen here. And yes, I had a blast! I loved the landscape in Arizona, I wanna explore the Southwest even more. I wanna rent an RV and just drive around for days.