I had a 6am flight to Phoenix. I always tend to get a little wired from excitement before a trip. My sleep has been weird the last couple of weeks, falling asleep without a problem very early – like 8:30 – but having trouble staying asleep. Friday night was no exception and I found myself awake at 1am and not able to go back to sleep. I called for Lyft around 4:20.

The flight itself was uneventful. Everything around it was not as laid back, starting with the Lyft driver who passed me twice – I didn’t get to the airport until 5:15, thank God for TSAPre because security was a nightmare. And then an extra 40 minutes added to what would have been a 2 hour drive due to an overturned rig on I17. All while learning to drive again, it felt like, in this monstrosity of a vehicle Thrifty talked me in to because it was the Manager’s Special.

A nice cactus shot, however, on one of the many slow downs on the freeway.

I made it to my hotel around 12:40 but it was too early to check in. Breakfast has been around 3:30am so I was starving.

Nick’s was across the street. BBQ and Mexican food. What could go wrong?

The menu claimed “where the locals eat” which made me happy, and it was actually really good. I had a brisket sandwich, onion rings, and coleslaw.

Right behind Nick’s was Namti, a massage place. This had been recommended in my reading so I was pleased it was so close.

I went in a booked a massage for 6pm. After a fairly stressful month at work and the trip over I was ready.

Next door to Nick’s was Crystal Magic. I’d heard about it in the reading I’d done to prep for the trip so decided to take a gander.

Sedona has a reputation for being earthy, spiritual, New Age, etc. I had an interesting conversation with a psychic there; you don’t have to be psychic to sense my skepticism. I believe in the possibility, just not that everyone who claims to have it does. I have friends who have gotten readings who swear by them. Who knows, maybe I will be back. When in Rome and all that.

I haven’t been a crystal person in the past, but I did get a couple of small rocks and a couple of books, including one on the 10 best hikes in Sedona. They had a lot of dragon and unicorn stuff which I like so it was fun and worth the stop. One of the workers also recommended I go to Stupa, which I hadn’t heard of. “Just a few minutes up the road, worth checking out.”

One of the first big adjustments I had to make relative to the way I prefer to explore: this is not a walking town. Despite the luck of a few things being very close to my hotel, I’m going to be driving a lot.

But he was right – an easy 5 minute drive and an interesting stop.

This is essentially a Buddhist temple. It was a good way to start my vacation, since I’ve been studying various Buddhist things for a couple of years now. I spent about an hour here and got some nice photos.

This is the Stupa. This is a place of prayer and meditation. I will skip the history for now but there was good information about how this came to be here and the traditions practiced.

This was on the hill behind the Stupa and there were some nice trails to follow which had beautiful vistas.

There is also a Native American medicine wheel with a nice write up about the coexistence of the two belief systems in the same place. Lots of similarities so an easy mix.

Required selfie of the day.

I left a little after 3:30 to check into my room. The price was right on this place but I may have overshot budget consciousness. Without going into a lot of detail, there’s a long list of things that make it just short of comfortable. While none by themselves would be enough to leave, the totality is having me seriously consider. The biggest is lack of WiFi – which is present but not functional. I’m doing this from my phone which is a nice test of that option, but not great.

I had a wonderful 90 minute massage then went up the road to an Italian place for dinner, Gerardo’s. I was already leaning in that direction, solidified by the massage therapist who had it first in his list as well.

It was full but I got a table easily.

photo of calamari

I will always get calamari when I see it on the menu.

They had this as a special appetizer so I decided to have two and skip the main. This is arancini, another item that I will always get when I see it on a menu, but so rarely do. It’s why I had to get it this time. It is a breaded and deep-fried ball of risotto and cheese. This one also had crab meat in it. So different than any I’ve had before and it was wonderful.

Their special dessert was a vanilla crème brûlée and boy was it special.

Heading out for my first official hike this morning. That’s all I have planned so far so will see what else I come up with tomorrow.

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