Southwest 2015 – Chapels and Cathedrals

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Tuesday, December 1st, 2015
Julia and I woke up in some very cold weather that morning. We spent our first night at the Roadway Inn & Suites in Williams, Arizona and the night was a very balmy 16ºF (-8.8ºC). Fortunately for us, the heater in our room was blasting heat out like summer’s day. Our room was literally on Old Route 66 and everything in town was a quick walk away, so we got ourselves up and ready. Our breakfast was actually more of a snack as we decided to just hit the road for Sedona that morning and figure out what to eat for an actual meal when we got to Flagstaff.

“Highway junction at Flagstaff, Off to Sedona we go!”

Sedona, AZ

We picked up some Flame Broiler in Flagstaff and hit the highway as soon as we ate. The drive started off a little bland, but got really interesting as we hit a big descent with lots of tight curves and a few hairpin turns. It wasn’t long before we arrived in the beautiful city of Sedona surrounded by monstrous red rock known as the Schnebly Hill Formations. Our first stop was at the Chapel of the Holy Cross to see what the place was like and what it had to offer in terms of scenery. Although I had been to Sedona just once in the past, I never got to visit this place so it was a pretty cool stop for us.

“Julia starts her way up a curvy ramp leading to the chapel.”

Chapel of the Holy Cross

GPS Coordinates: 34.8321° N, 111.7679° W

The chapel was inspired and commissioned by local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude, who had been inspired in 1932 by the newly constructed Empire State Building to build such a church. After an attempt to do so in Budapest, Hungary (with the help of Lloyd Wright, son of noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright) was aborted due to the outbreak of World War II, she decided to build the church in her native region. Richard Hein was chosen as project architect, and the design was executed by architect August K. Strotz, both from the firm of Anshen & Allen.

The chapel is built on Coconino National Forest land; the late Senator Barry Goldwater assisted Staude in obtaining a special-use permit. The construction supervisor was Fred Courkos, who built the chapel in 18 months at a cost of $300,000 USD. The chapel was completed in 1956. The American Institute of Architects gave the Chapel its Award of Honor in 1957. In the sculptor’s words, “Though Catholic in faith, as a work of art the Chapel has a universal appeal. Its doors will ever be open to one and all, regardless of creed, that God may come to life in the souls of all men and women and be a living reality.”

In 2007, Arizonans voted the Chapel to be one of the Seven Man-Made Wonders of Arizona, and it is also the site of one of the so-called Sedona vortices.
(source: wikipedia)

“There are a lot of great succulents lining the path here, Julia stands within the chapel.”

“There are a lot of these candles here, each dedicated by a different person of group of people.”

After spending a good amount of time within the chapel, Julia and I wanted to explore the surroundings so we started our way out and around the side of the chapel to see the view from up here. The building is nested a little ways up on a rocky outcrop at the base of some tall cliffs behind it. From here the views of the surrounding area are pretty great. One of the most prominent features was Courthouse Butte to the south of our location, it’s summit is 5,440 feet (1,660 m).

“Courthouse Butte lurks in the distance.”

“Directly west of the chapel are some pinnacle like rock towers.”

We didn’t have a lot of daylight left so we set off for our second destination. Red Rock Crossing is the place we were looking for and for the simple reason that Cathedral Rock is not only a uniquely beautiful butte, but it’s simply amazing when the light of the golden hour begins to fall upon it. We got a little lost along the way because recalling the directions after 9 years was a bit difficult. We asked a ranger at a park nearby and they pointed us in the right direction. Julia and I raced to get there as we only had roughly an hour left of daylight. We made it!, the parking was $10 bucks and I gladly paid the fee.

We found a parking spot and grabbed our gear quickly. We followed a trail and the golden hour was now upon us. Since our trip was being re written as we went along, I decided that we will get the shots we can get here with the time that we have left and then return the day after tomorrow for some great pick up shots. Julia like the sound of that! =)

“Julia takes a good, long gaze at the amazing rock formation that is Cathedral Rock.”

Cathedral Rock

GPS Coordinates: 34.8207° N, 111.8032° W

Cathedral Rock is a famous landmark on the Sedona, Arizona skyline, and is one of the most-photographed sights in Arizona, USA. Cathedral Rock is located in the Coconino National Forest in Yavapai County, about a mile (1.6 km) west of Arizona Route 179, and about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) south of the “Y” intersection of Routes 179 and 89A in uptown Sedona. The summit elevation of Cathedral Rock is 4,921 feet (1,500 m). The Cathedral Rock trail (USFS Trail #170) is a popular short, steep ascent from the “Back O’ Beyond” trailhead to the saddle points or “gaps” in Cathedral Rock.

Geologically, Cathedral Rock is carved from the Permian Schnebly Hill formation, a redbed sandstone formed from coastal sand dunes near the shoreline of the ancient Pedregosa Sea. Ripple marks are prominent along the lower Cathedral Rock trail, and a black basalt dike may be seen in the first saddle.

Cathedral Rock was called “Court House Rock” on some early maps,[2] and Courthouse Butte was called “Church House Rock”, which has caused endless confusion ever since.(source: wikipedia)


“Catching shots of Julie in the golden light, Cathedral Rock reflections in Oak Creek.”

“The final moments as we had to part ways, but we will be back!”

With the sundown, Julia and I walked back to the truck and contemplated on where we would eat. By this time we were pretty hungry, so everything sounded good. There were a lot of fancy places, but we were’t dressed appropriately and just wanted some place were we could brush our dusty keisters off and enjoy a tasty dinner. We parked in the main downtown area of Sedona and took a stroll to a place called the Wildflower Bread Company and boy was it good! the place reminded me of a Panera Bread.

“Some soup, a sandwich and a scone sealed the deal for me!”

When Julia and I finished up, we started our way back to Williams for the night. I had told her about how amazing the night sky can be when it’s clear and tonight was definitely one of those nights. It was damn cold, but it didn’t matter, I had to get a shot of the cosmos. Julia decided to stay toasty in the truck while I took some shots outside.

“My only good shot from the that night.”

When I had enough, I went back in and we started the rest of the way back. We were tired, but happy with the way the day went. Now for some well deserved shuteye and some good rest for tomorrow’s train ride to the Grand Canyon! =D

Until the next travel blog, remember to get out there and “Shoot the Planet!”



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