Just about every July, my brother-in-law takes his family up north to go camping. They always go to the same place, the Cave Springs campground in
. Over the last six years or so (with the
notable exception of last year), we have tagged along, at least for a few days
each time. Camping at Cave Springs brings
a welcome break from cicada season here in Oak Creek Canyon Phoenix, and relief from all the symptoms of summer
madness their ceaseless droning represents.
Another few minutes of driving and the surroundings have completely transformed into something strangely wonderful. It is a realm constructed entirely from enormous red blocks of weather-sculpted sandstone. The world outside the car has abandoned its standard, bland palette in favor of one that focuses with an artist’s intensity on just three colors: that signature color of the land itself, which we call red, but which is really an indescribable mix of pinks and reds and oranges and creams, and whose predominant hue seems to change with every elusive morphing of the light; the deep, dark, absorbing green of juniper and pine which cover the hills, stud the slopes of the buttes’ bases, and sprinkle across their tops like chocolate jimmies on a cupcake; and the color of a sky so sweet, so juicy, and so thickly blue that for some reason you can only think of watermelon, and how much you’d like to sink your teeth into it, and let those cool sky-juices run right down the sides of your mouth and drip from the point of your chin, puddling sky-blue at your feet. Their combined vitality produces an exquisitely interlocking balance, a harmonization to some secret platonic template of beauty.
It’s no wonder the vortex-worshippers and crystal gazers go ga-ga for it. I know I feel different when I get there, although I’m not there to align my chakras or get my aura read. But there is a mental shift that takes place upon arriving in red rock country, and for me it's the moment of release from all the work and stress that comes from getting the hell out of town. Sedona is my visual confirmation that the escape is real, and now. In turn, my body instinctively begins to relax, and my high-revving mind downshifts to a slower gear, automatically lowering the frantic spinning of my brain to a smoother, calmer rpm.