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  • Writer's pictureJayna Newbold

No Wrong Turns

Dear Hearts,

Now that the pandemic has settled down (. . . ahem . .) to a dull roar, and things are getting back to so-called “normal” (I use this term loosely since Merriam-Webster defines the word as “conforming to a standard; usual; expected”), this Happy Heart Writer is, once again, taking a stab at a bit of travel. Since plans for the past two years have been canceled or thwarted, I all but drool as I review my growing list of places I wish to visit and explore.

I started out with a one week “vacation light” by visiting only two states away – a place to which I’ve been once or twice but never truly meandered. Plus, the desert has been calling my name for quite a while now, so I booked a flight to Sedona, AZ where my intention was to hike my Happy little Heart out on as many of their stunning three hundred trails as possible. In my mind, nothing would come between me and my effort to cover as much Sedona terrain on my bare little hoofies (yes, love to hike barefoot) as possible.

Landing in Phoenix on a Thursday morning, I immediately slid behind the wheel of my grocery-getter economy style rental car and took off toward Arizona’s scenic highway 179. The less than two hour drive was easy, pleasant, and uneventful (just the way I like it).

As I made my way to the other side of Cottonwood and drew closer to Oak Creek – a small village just a few miles south of Sedona – I felt a significant physiological change. Soon, those magnificent Red Rocks came into view and I almost wept at the sight. Uncertain as to whether or not my emotional response was from sheer relief of arrival, or finally taking a long-awaited vacation, the physical response was immediate and intense to the bone.

After quickly checking into my reserved accommodations, I simply dropped my belongings inside and jumped right back in my rental vehicle. No lunch. No shower. Just excited to hit the trails.

Funny thing about Sedona, Dear Hearts: I don’t know if it’s the iron in the Red Rocks, the monoliths which surround the area guarding the city like a Templar Knight, or a faulty 5g tower. But from time to time the GPS in my little ride would cut out for a few seconds at a time.

Although Sedona is pretty simple to figure out, I had yet to familiarize myself with the lay of the land. So when my “nag-o-matic” guidance system refused to talk to me, and yours truly still more than determined to fit in a hike or two, I consulted a crude map provided by the hotel concierge and proceeded with determination to carry out my agenda for the day..

Consequently, Dear Hearts, I turned left onto a street which my Spidey-sense told me was the correct way to go; however, it soon became abundantly clear that this was not the proper avenue.

No worries.

With plenty of daylight left and already in :”vacation mode”, I made an attempt to turn around by steering onto yet another side route and stopped short as a local citizen, walking her dog, crossed the street in front of me.

She seemed friendly enough, so I went “old school” and rolled down my window to ask for directions. My father always said I never meet a stranger (Fact: I’ll talk to anybody) and he wasn’t wrong. The stranger (never got her name) and I chatted for at least twenty minutes. In the midst of our confab -- mostly about all things spiritual -- she highly recommended the “Safari Jeep Tour” – especially the one which takes its guests to see several of the Vortices in Sedona.

Intrigued, I made a mental note and as soon as I had the opportunity, called the company and booked a tour for the next day.

Dear Hearts, I will refrain from going into detail about this tour because: 1) If you ever find yourself in Sedona and decide to take the Vortex tour with this company, I want you to enjoy your own experience with no preconceived notions from yours truly; and

2) I would go and on, and this "short" blog post would easily turn into a full-on

Therefore, I shall spare you.

Anywho, the next day, while on the tour, our very knowledgeable and personable guide (a local young man by the name of Wyatt (ask for him by name if you do choose to enjoy this particular excursion) happened to mention that if we were interested in purchasing items crafted by local Navajo and didn’t care to “pay the mortgage” by shelling out prices in local shops, showed us where we could buy the same items directly from the tribe who appeared at a local ice cream spot on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays.

Naturally, this idea appealed to me as I did intend to purchase a few souvenirs for family and preferred my resources to go directly to the source.

What I didn’t expect was to make a friend. Her name is Denise and she is a Navajo wife, mother, and savvy businesswoman. I purchased a few pieces of jewelry from her and, of course, along with another one of her customers who happened to be an immigration attorney from Miami, we began to chat. Denise was a fountain of information, compassion, creativity, and champion for her Tribe.

Long story short (I know . . .too late), Denise became a friend. As we parted, and she packed up for the day, this lovely young woman held out a stunning bracelet comprised of stones and copper wire, made by a fellow Navajo artisan and placed it on my wrist.

“A friendship bracelet for you. A gift . . .” she declared, her dark eyes smiling.

I treasure it.

As it turns out, Dear Hearts, I may or may not have experienced the amazing jeep tour or met a couple of wonderful people had I made the “correct” turn my first day out.

Hence, the titular lesson learned: There are no wrong turns in life.

“Some detours are not detours at all. Perhaps they are actually the path.”

- Katherine Wolf

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