Sunday, August 28, 2011


I recently took a trip to Arizona. My first trip to the southwest as an adult and while I expected beauty and an inspiring landscape I don't think I was prepared for how much the city of Flagstaff and the crisp dry air rising out of the canyons would effect me.

Our trip included a three day yoga festival, a visit to the Indian Condos in Walnut Canyon, a trip to Sedona, a day of exploring the beginnings of the Bright Angel Trail of the Grand Canyon, Gallery Walk in downtown Flagstaff, a Navajo festival, several delicious restaurants and plenty of time playing dominoes and cooking with my wonderful family.

Out of this trip Rachel and I have decided to come back in the fall of 2013 to spend a few days in the Grand Canyon. We plan to walk down Bright Angel Trail and camp at the bottom to spend some time seeing the Ribbon Falls and exploring before we come back up the Kaibab Trail. We have also discussed the possibility of MOVING out to the area! I would be interested in teaching on a reservation and Rachel would be interested in possibly working with the different tribes and their crafts.

Also from this trip I may have found a possible career path! The Flagstaff Yoga Festival was a lot of fun! We took Thai Massage, Bellydancing, Yoga Philosophy and then there was this class called In the House of Ganesha. Taught by Candice Garrett, it was a shorter version of a workshop she does on the pelvic floor combined with the root chakra and Ganesha. This was by far my favorite class and I found the subject really inspirational. Candice and her teacher Leslie Howard are working on the west coast to help men and women connect with their pelvic floor muscles to correct and prevent injuries and pain. Candice is the director and founder of Nine Moons Prenatal Yoga. Together they will be doing a teacher training in February that I hope to attend to learn more about how I could blend yoga and therapy to help women with pelvic inflammation and chronic pain.

The big outdoor store downtown. We checked out sleeping bags and shoes for our furture canyon adventure.

Flagstaff neons

Walnut Canyon where we got to visit the Indian Condos. The cliff dwelling people of the Anasazi tribe are thought to have inhabited this area from around 600 to 1400 AD. There were still black charred smoke marks on the ceilings of some of the condos and fingerprints from the construction of the rooms! No one knows what happened to the people here. There was no evidence of war or famine.

I couldn't have asked for a better travel companion :)

You can stamp your passport at the National Parks! I wish I had brought mine.

We met these three lovely photographers who are a part of The Visual Collective. They were doing impromptu portraits in an alley of the main drag of downtown Flagstaff. They asked to take our picture so we in turn took theirs! If I moved to Flagstaff these are the kinds of people and groups I would want to get in with!

One of the most interesting things about Flagstaff is the Native American influence and local population. During our walk downtown we saw this group carrying their banners and passing out flyers to encourage people to stop the expansion of a ski resort on sacred land. The San Francisco Peaks are sacred to 13 tribes of Native Americans and as the ski resorts and shops expand the Native population is protesting.

This site explains that "The Peaks have particular spiritual and resource significance to the Hopi and Navajo. Both of these nations claim ancestral religious rights to the mountain. In the Hopi worldview, Katsinas (spiritual beings responsible for bringing rain and maintaining social and ceremonial order) live on the mountain, to which select tribe members make periodic pilgrimages for visiting sacred shrines. To the Navajo, the mountain is a physical manifestation of sacred forces and also a home to spiritual beings. Both tribes approach the mountain with the utmost respect, and only for ceremony or collection of medicinal plants. To the Native Americans of the Colorado Plateau, the San Francisco Peaks should not be used for personal enjoyment, economic pursuits or even scientific study, as these land uses betray and contaminate this sacred place."

I would be really interested in learning more about the Native American tribes in Arizona. We did get to go to a Navajo Festival and eat some delicious fry bread and watch the Ribbon Dance ceremony and we bought some crafts. At this festival was also a photography exhibit that really kinda blew my mind. Kenji Kawano, Japanese native, has been photographing the Navajo people since 1974 and has been the Navajo Nation's official photographer since 1980. He had a series on display at the festival of the Navajo Code Talkers and the depth of the portraits and his obvious relationship with these people were really inspiring. Check out his portfolio please!

In all I would say our trip was a huge success. I was in love with the weather - no humidity, no mosquitos, cool in the evening and warm during the day. I got tons of inspiration and nature enthusiasm and it was so nice to spend time with family that I don't often get to see. My aunt and uncle are just as fun and youthful as I remember and my two little cousins were surprisingly mature and grown up for such a young age.

I've got two Arizona food posts coming soon!

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