It was really nice to not have to drive a gazillion miles these last two days! When I woke up yesterday morning I made my way into Sedona - I drove through Oak Creek Canyon to get myself a campsite, and I really had to be careful to not drive off the road because I was all agog at how beautiful the canyon was.
See? Even Cookie Monster is amazed at how beautiful everything is! So, the story behind Cookie Monster: when I was in high school, I took AP US History my junior year, and that class pretty much kicked my ass. Around that time, Tickle-Me-Elmo was all the rage. While I was studying for the AP test, my mom got me one to cheer me up. He was surprisingly popular with my friends, so for my birthday the next year they got me Tickle-Me-Cookie Monster. I think it was my sophomore year of college when I tried to bring them back with me, but my mom protested; when I was growing up, she would always look in on me in the morning before she went to work. She got used to looking in on Elmo and Cookie Monster in my absence, so I didn't have the heart to bring them with me, and they have been at my parents' house ever since then.
Sedona is full of amazing sandstone formations that are all sorts of pretty colors. It is also kinda New Age-y: there are several vortices in town (sites where the earth's energy is believed to be highly concentrated) and I saw tons of flyers advertising "vortex hikes" and whatnot. One nice spot to view the sandstone formations is at Airport Mesa, which is also home to a vortex. I hiked to the top and sat on a cliff for awhile - I didn't feel the energy resonate, nor did I achieve greater clarity, healing, and awareness - but I did feel slightly dizzy as I looked down into the canyon.
Jacques wanted his picture taken hugging a cactus, because that guy will hug anything. Jacques was a gift from my brother - while he has many talents, sewing is not one of them, so he had his friend create Jacques. Jacques' long appendages make him a good hugger.
After a spectacular sunset, I had dinner back at the campsite. As I was enjoying my couscous salad, something furry ran over my foot. There were lots of little dogs at the campground so I didn't really worry about it too much, until the furry object scampered near my mosquito candles and I saw that it was......a SKUNK. That was when I FREAKED OUT. I mean, skunks are cute and all, but I'm pretty sure a 3-minutes-for-1-token campsite shower would not get rid of the smell if the skunk decided to spray me.
Disadvantage #1 of traveling/camping alone: all the funny noises outside your tent at night seem way scarier. Cookie Monster insisted on finishing season 5 of Entourage before we went to sleep so that distracted me a little.
This morning, I went to Slide Rock State Park, and experienced disadvantage #2 of traveling/camping alone: sunburn! Gah. I tried so hard to keep my hard-to-reach places out of the sun, but the sun here is EVERYWHERE.
On my way to New Mexico, I drove through Petrified Forest National Park. It was so beautiful I ended up staying longer than expected so it was dark as I drove into Gallup. So I don't really know what it looks like, but I'll explore tomorrow morning before I drive on to Santa Fe. New Mexico is also an hour ahead, so I had to drive like a maniac to get dinner before everything closed at 9 pm:
Yum! I'm in green chile country now! I think there's a tamale hidden under all that cheese.