As a 23-year-old with a bucket list about as lengthy as Sandi & Rick’s – and still growing by the day – I had decided to toss out my original plan to “someday in the future” begin knocking things off that list. I had taken the time to do some reflection, and the good old saying “Never put off until tomorrow what you could do today” repeatedly came to mind. What exactly was I waiting for? In all reality, I am currently at a point in my life where aside from work, school, and a hand full of bills that I have been balancing out quite well, I really don’t have too much holding me back. I had also realized that to many, this is a rarity and a privilege. So, in that moment I made a firm decision to take a leap and start living. That leap began with a rather spontaneous airline ticket purchase, and soon enough I was headed to a location that had landed its way onto my bucket list numerous times for various reasons – Arizona.
I flew into Phoenix where I was greeted by hundreds of Cactus more than twice my size in height. As a Florida girl, typically surrounded by Palm Trees (which are cool and all…), it should go without saying that I was easily excited by this natural feature.
Bucket List: Hug a Cactus… check!
Might I add that I later discovered how TASTY they are!
Cactus fries at the Barking Dog Grille – Sedona, AZ
I did not spend much time in Phoenix, as I was very eager to travel onward towards Sedona – a unique city that I had only seen in photos on Instagram, accompanied by the usual reference of it being “a place that everyone must visit at least once in their lifetime”. I can’t say that I was ever skeptical, but I did certainly feel driven to experience this place for myself. As I traveled down Highway 179, approaching my destination, I was immediately able to confirm these claims that Sedona is, indeed, a place that everyone must visit at least once in their lifetime.
Bucket List: Hike Bell Rock, Hike Cathedral Rock… check & check!
I was finally there. I was surrounded by those majestic red rocks I had only seen in photos on Instagram. It was reality, I was living it, seeing all of it up close & personal, and I was in awe. Sedona is said to be the center of a handful of energy vortexes. Without getting into the science of it, I can certainly vouch that Sedona is absolutely positively charged with energy. From the minute you arrive until the minute you leave, you can most definitely feel the difference within yourself.
The energy felt while hiking this natural masterpiece is truly indescribable.. It feels as though the earth is fueling you with the power to push harder, climb higher, & wander further into the depths of nature. You just get lost in time and never want to leave.
I had encountered many of these stacked rocks on my hike through Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock. It is said that these are a symbol to protect the natural energies of the land and ward off the negative / evil.
You can feel these positive vibes flowing out of the people who reside there, as well. Sedona seems to primarily attract the artists, the writers, and the healers. The townspeople are very outdoorsy, and very down to earth.
With so many unfamiliar paths to explore, plenty of quaint little shops to visit, and friendly people everywhere you go.. I could have easily spent my entire trip in Sedona. But I was still on a bucket-list-driven mission and it didn’t stop there. My next destination was Antelope Canyon, located in Paige, AZ.
Images of Antelope Canyon have been used for numerous purposes from computer backgrounds, to recently being featured on the cover of National Geographic. It is unique in its extraordinary beauty created by the power of mother nature. The caverns of the canyon are comprised of sandstone that has been cut and formed by wind and water over millions of years. Antelope Canyon consists of two separate slot canyons known as Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. It was originally on the itinerary to visit the Lower Canyon, but due to prior excessive amounts of rainfall, the canyon was temporarily closed for flood clean-up. So I ended up at the Upper Canyon, which turned out to be an extraordinary experience all the same.
The Canyons are owned by the Navajo Nation. Our tour guide (a member of the navajo nation) was very pleasant and knowledgeable, and he did an excellent job at sharing his information with us.
Crossing this destination off my bucket list was most definitely a momentous experience. It felt surreal to be within the subject of so many famous photographs. And such a naturally photogenic wonderland it was, indeed. However, to experience this place firsthand goes beyond what any photo can possibly portray.
None of these places or experiences can be accurately represented by words or even photos. Therefore, I strongly encourage anyone to embrace the access we were granted to this magnificent planet, and make it a point to travel out there and experience these places for yourself at some point, as well. For me, this is just the beginning of my journeys. Next stop: California.