Enchantment…. and rocks.

 

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Don’t worry Forrest, Sedona’s got more than enough rocks.

 

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They were everywhere..

 

 

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And they were glorious.

 

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This was Boynton Canyon.

One of the most stunning scenic drives we found….

 

 

 

I know, you’re getting tired of rocks…. but come on.

 

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You have to admit they’re beautiful.

 

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At the end of Boynton Canyon is the Enchantment Resort.

 

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I’m not quite sure why it was enchanted…

 

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Though they did have some nice rocks.

 

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And houses built into the rocks…

 

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Rocks.

Houses.

And a couple of scattered cacti.

 

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Nice.

But not my idea of enchanting….

 

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The teepee?

 

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Maybe.

But I’m guessing it was the rocks…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocks… Cathedral and otherwise.

 

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No problem Dick…. you’ve come to the right place.

Day 2 dawned in Sedona and we saw some sun.

We even saw the promised Red Rock from our kitchen window.

 

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Did I mention things were red in Sedona?

 

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Even the sidewalks were color coordinated.

Our first destination was the Back O Beyond Road…

 

 

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Where they build houses on rocks.

And if you want your own rock…

 

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This .40 acre can be yours for $489,000.

I said Sedona was red…. not cheap.

 

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At the end of Back O Beyond Road?

 

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Cathedral Rock.

 

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A rock that looks like a cathedral? Okay, if you say so.

A fellow tourist parked next to us said WE HAD TO drive up to the Sedona Airport mesa and take in the view.  BEST VIEW IN SEDONA they shouted.

We listened, we went.

The drive up was lovely…

 

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The disappointment when we got there? No parking and no stopping signs plastered all over the place.  A little farther up the road? A ticket booth, a guard, a gate and a “viewing” parking lot.

Pay to jump out of the car for 20 seconds and take a picture?

 

 

These are my captures as the husband was flying back down the hill…

 

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Did you know that only 19% of Arizona is privately owned?

 

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That means the vast majority of land is open to the public and you can pretty much camp, picnic or hike anywhere.

 

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Which they do. If there’s 3 feet of shoulder? It’s filled with cars and someone, somewhere is hiking.

The rock formations never failed to fascinate me and most of them had names….

 

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There was supposed to be a Snoopy rock and a Chicken Head rock, but sadly, we never found them.

 

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Though believe me…

 

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It wasn’t for lack of trying.

 

 

 

Rocks… and yes. More rocks.

 

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We spent a lot of time riding around and getting the lay of the land that first day.

Or more accurately, the lay of the rocks.

 

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Conclusion?

They’re really big….

 

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And really red.

 

 

And people will build houses right on top of them.

 

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I know I’ve said this before…. but get ready because I’m going to say it again.

 

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The colors are amazing in Sedona.

 

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And we hadn’t even seen the sun yet.

 

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For a coastal flatlander like me, this was impressive stuff.

 

 

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We have friends who had a spiritual wedding at a vortex in Sedona 2 years ago and they told us they stayed in a neighboring small town.

 

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Small?

Small doesn’t begin to describe it.  The only thing I found worthy of a photograph was a line of John Deere tractors wearing Santa hats.

 

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Granted, you don’t see that every day….but still, we headed back to Sedona.

 

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Where someone was giving my husband a sign to slow down.

 

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Much more subtle than my fingernail imprints on the dashboard, but equally as ineffective.

It really was too cloudy and too wet to fully appreciate the natural beauty….

 

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But Sedona’s businesses were pretty colorful in and of themselves.

 

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Trip Advisor pointed us to Cuchina Rustica for dinner….

 

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Which means rustic kitchen….

 

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And looked anything but.

 

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I started with a prickly pear margarita….

 

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( Hey, when in Rome… )

 

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The Christmas decorations were a little heavy handed for my taste….

 

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But OMG, the food! A delightful scampi like dish with homemade fresh pasta for the husband…

 

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And the most decandently rich veal with gorgonzola mushroom sauce, parmesan risotto with steamed broccoli for me.

 

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We happily waddled out….

 

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But not before the husband had to check if the fire pots were hot.

Tourists.

What can I say?

Arizona sightseeing ….

 

After our trip to the Chapel, the husband headed up Hwy 179 …

 

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Through more canyons…

 

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And an infinite number of roundabouts, some decorated with rather nice metal sculptures.

 

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We turned up 89A and drove through the usually busy, but too wet to shop that day part of Sedona known as uptown. Sedona is large and spread out into separate sections. Oak Creek Village, where we were staying… was quiet and felt like a community. West Sedona was a long main drag of restaurants and strip malls. Uptown was attractive, bustling, and filled with all the expensive tourist shops you expect to see. But continue on 89A for just a mile or two…

 

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And you’re in a different world.

 

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The rocks go from red to brown…

 

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And you find yourself in a pine forest…

 

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On a twisty, turning mountain road….

 

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In the snow!

 

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Of all the things I expected to see in Arizona?

Snow was not one of them…

 

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But we were headed to Flagstaff and apparently it’s a whole different world up there. Kids were playing, sliding, sledding and building miniature snowmen. We saw a pick up truck owner fill his bed with the cold white stuff to haul back to Phoenix. Hoards of cars were pulled over on the side of the highway just so the passengers could get out and romp in the snow. Police were everywhere trying to keep them out of the roads.. it was nuts!

 

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Of course a little snow doesn’t bother us, we’re Mainers!

 

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Although the high elevation, switchback road got interesting in 5% visibility.

 

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As did Arizona snowplows who were literally all over the road.

50 feet? No problem… I’ll give you a hundred.

But there was a Prickly Pear Mule with my name on it….

 

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And nothing can keep me from that.

 

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Mother of God! I’m not exaggerating when I tell you this was the best mule I HAVE EVER HAD! (and that’s saying something) I swore to myself I would find Canyon Diablo Prickly Pear Vodka before I left Arizona and smuggle numerous bottles home in my suitcase… Homeland Security be damned.

I have to be honest and tell you I don’t even remember the name of the restaurant, or where in Flagstaff it was. I was in mule heaven and totally oblivious to my surroundings…

 

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But you could tell by the shooter list the place had a sense of humor.

 

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5 points to the first person who can tell me….

 

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The male equivalent of Camel Toe without looking it up…

Go!

It was Sunday, the place had a big screen tv, and brother… get a load of this.

 

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Brilliant bar marketing, but a person could get seriously sloshed just watching the game!

Oh, and yes.

There was lunch…

 

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A spicy southwestern cheeseburger with awesome hot dill potato salad for me…. and a roast beef melt on rye with Spanish beans for the husband. What’s a Spanish bean? I have no idea… and after 2 mules I couldn’t have cared less.

 

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As we were leaving, this little darling was packing a snowball and had that “let’s hit the tourist lady” look in his eye.

To be honest, I doubt I could have cared less about that either. Take your best shot junior, the drinks were strong and the tourist lady won’t feel a thing.

Prickly pear vodka……  oh yes.

Yes, please!!

 

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The ride back?

Looked something like this.

I think… I was still savoring the vodka and not paying any particular attention.

 

 

 

A rainy day in Arizona….

 

I didn’t even know that was possible, but sure enough we woke on our first full morning in Sedona to fog and drizzle.

 

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Okay, not that much rain…

 

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But even the fog couldn’t hide the beauty.

 

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Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte rise majestically above you as you travel up Hwy 179.

 

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179 is an amazing road that cuts right through the canyon.

 

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It was my first real look at Red Rock country and I was hooked.

 

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Even through the fog, rain and spotty windshield, it was fabulous.

 

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We’d heard a lot about the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross, and even though I’m not the least bit religious…. decided to do a drive by.

 

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I have to say it was pretty magnificent….

 

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Rising out of the red rocks.

 

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The walk up to the top is long and steep, so there are golf carts to help the fat and lazy like me.

 

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But since the weather was bad, we just drove up and turned around.

 

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And planned on going back for a proper visit when the sun was shining.

 

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We noticed some snow on a far peak and marveled at the difference altitude can make. It was 60 degrees down in the parking lot..

 

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So we said goodbye to the church in the rocks….

 

 

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And passed by this little hacienda…

 

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Apparently the locals were livid the mansion was built so close to the chapel.

 

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But when you have that kind of money, I guess you can buy any piece of rock you want.

Our first Sedona resort.

 

Week one found us at the Ridge on Sedona Golf, a nice resort in the oak Creek Village section of Sedona. Out of the way, peaceful and quite lovely.

 

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Admittedly, the bright green grass on the course was a bit of a shock after all the brown and red…

 

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But the contrast with the red rock cliffs was stunning.

 

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This was our building…

 

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Which was not the one I originally requested. Seeing that it was a special trip (35th wedding anniversary) and we’d never been to Sedona before, I asked for a top floor unit with a great view. Lush green golf course with stunning red rocks in the background? Sign me up!

 

So we went to the first assigned condo and found a stunning view…. which was completely obscured in every window by thick black netting used to hold back the waywardly struck  golf balls. It was hideous! So hideous, I didn’t even get a chance to grab my phone and take a picture of it’s hideousness before the husband was storming out of the unit and back to the front desk. Mind you, this was prime season in Sedona and resorts are usually full of snowbirds. Thankfully they were able to switch us to another quiet section, although our balcony view wasn’t as impressive.

 

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It was still a canyon…

 

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But the back end, with no red rocks.

 

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Unless you count the ones around the grills…

 

 

 

Oh well, at least it was net free.

The condo was nice enough.

 

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Done up in the southwestern colors you’d expect.

 

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New appliances, granite countertops…

 

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Of course the toaster sucked, as they always do.

 

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It never ceases to amaze me how these places that will spend thousands on renovations and decorations can’t shell out the extra $10 for a decent toaster… but I digress.

 

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It was a comfortable, if smaller place than we’re used to.

 

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But the king sized bed was comfy…

 

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The bathroom was big…

 

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With a tub…

 

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And shower.

 

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Our neighbors were quiet…

 

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And before long a mist descended on the canyon obscuring the only peak of red rock we could see from our kitchen window.

 

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Past the tree, through the parking lot and over the other building…. it was there, I promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Arizona trip…..

(Sorry highlight people, but the vacation vote was 8 to 3 in favor of details and minutia. If that’s not your thing? Check back with me in a month. Maybe longer… it was a helluva trip!)

We started out at zero dead thirty.

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Yes, that’s 12 minutes after 2 in the morning…. not my finest hour. I’m a chronic insomniac and usually don’t fall asleep before 1:00, so you can imagine how pretty I was leaving for the airport.

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Delta did their best to make me feel special, but all I felt like was a zombie. (Probably looked like one too.) Did I mention I went for a slight trim before the trip and came back minus 10 inches of hair?

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It used to be halfway down my back, so on what planet is this a trim? No more ponytail  bad hair days for me. Anyway…

I’m one of those annoying fliers who has to sit by the window and gawk at our world from on high. It never ceases to amaze me…

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Soaring above big fluffy clouds…

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And little puffy clouds…

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And mountains that look like crumpled paper… it never gets old. Airplane magazines however, do. I have to say I never realized their target audience was bald people.

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Every other ad seemed to be about regrowing hair.

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Sure, my hair can go to the gym… just leave the rest of me home on the couch and we’ll be fine.

We landed in Atlanta, which is always a zoo…. and I had to laugh at this hotel that was right on the runway.

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Hell, I complain when I hear cars in the parking lot below my room… who needs a disembarking 747?

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I’ve never been out west before and was oddly fascinated with the patchwork topography.

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Crop circles? Or giant Pac Mans…?

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The mountains meeting the desert was pretty impressive.

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Phoenix? Not so much. Sorry, but I hate your airport. It’s not laid out well and the fact that your rental cars are miles away which force me to slog my giant stone filled luggage aboard a shuttle bus and sit like a stuffed sardine in cramped seats with a driver who takes pleasure in turning too tightly and seeing all his passengers flung from side to side is not my idea of a good time.

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But I did get a kick out of Arizona cowboys…

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Who apparently wear two hats at a time.

Driving out of Phoenix was a traffic nightmare and again, sorry Phoenix… but ugly. Brown, flat and boring. Though they did try to perk it up with some interesting highway rock art.

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The overpasses were painted as well…

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So kudos for the beautification attempt Phoenix. Leaving the city made me smile because I spotted my first cactus…

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I was giddy!

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For a Yankee girl like me, this is exotic stuff!

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There were veritable cactus forests springing up alongside the road. Squeeeeee!! This is what I think of when I envision the southwest.

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That, and scary badass road names.

All too soon the cactus disappeared and things turned brown again.

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But then…

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They started to turn red….

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And I knew we were getting close to Sedona.

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