The Chapel of the Holy Cross and Boynton Canyon… Two Sedona Icons

Church of Holy Cross in Sedona Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

While Sedona is known for its spectacular colors, I felt this black and white rendition of Sedona’s Chapel of the Holy Cross emphasized the dramatic look of the church in its natural setting.

Peggy and I have seen numerous beautiful churches in our wandering around the world over the years, but few have matched the simple beauty of the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona. Rarely do buildings reflect the areas where they are built so dramatically. (I would place the Greek Orthodox churches on the island of Santorini in such a category.)

Another perspective on the Church of the Holy Cross, this time emphasizing its colorful surroundings. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Another perspective on the Chapel of the Holy Cross, this time emphasizing its colorful surroundings. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

An inside view of the Church of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Inside, looking out.

Madonna and Child rock formation in Sedona, Arizona.

Surrounding rock formations are also impressive, as they are throughout Sedona. This one is appropriately known as the Madonna and Child. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

View of rock formations near Church of Holy Cross in Sedona Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A distant shot of the Madonna and Child (in the center).

We found this cactus on the road going up to the Church of the Holy Cross. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

We found this cactus on the road going up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

A local rancher from Sedona, Marguerite Staude, commissioned the church. Inspired by the Empire State Building, she had originally wanted to build the church in Hungary. When World War II aborted her plans, she decided to build the church in her hometown. Barry Goldwater helped Staude obtain a special land use permit to build the church on national forest land. It cost $350,000, took 18 months to build, and was completed in 1956. The American Institute of Architects gave the church its Award of Honor in 1957.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

John Muir

While I understand the importance of churches in people’s faith, I tend to agree with John Muir in terms of my own spiritual path. A quiet walk in the woods has always made me feel at peace with myself. Seen from this perspective, Boynton Canyon in Sedona is good for the soul.

It’s also a great place to hang out with friends— and a camera.

A view up Boynton Canyon in Sedona, Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

One of many of the views Peggy and I, along with our friends, Ken and Leslie Lake, enjoyed on our walk up Boynton Canyon.

Boynton Canyon rock formation in Sedona, Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A close up of the same knob as a black and white photo. Note the various patterns in the rock.

The wilderness sign warned people they might find a bear wandering around in the canyon. While most people might find this worrisome, I was looking forward to it. No such luck.

The wilderness sign warned people they might find a bear wandering around in the canyon. While most people might find this worrisome, I was looking forward to seeing one. No such luck.

Rock formation in Boynton canyon, Sedona Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Another dramatic rock formation. I liked the light and dark contrast.

Black and white photo by Curtis Mekemson of a rock formation in Boynton Canyon.

The contrast is even more powerful from a black and white perspective. Check out the halo of light on top.

Face-like rock formation in Boynton Canyon, Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Always on the lookout for faces, I named this open-mouthed fellow, Scream. Maybe he had seen the bear.

Colorful walls of Boynton Canyon, Sedona reflected in the sun.

At one point, the sun reflected off the canyon wall like it was glowing with life. This is the natural color as we saw it.I had never seen anything like it. No wonder the New Agers think of Boynton Canyon with awe. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Native American cliff dwellings found in Boynton Canon in Sedona, Arizona.

At several points along Boynton Canyon, we saw where Native Americans had once built cliff dwellings. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Photo by Curtis Mekemson of a grinning rock formation in Sedona, Arizona.

This formation seemed to be grinning at me. Or maybe it was hungry. I know, I know… I have an overactive imagination.

Rock formation in Sedona Arizona.

This rock formation looked like an ancient fortress. I wonder if the Native Americans ever used it at such? On another note, a number of early Westerns were filmed in the Sedona area.

Statue of horse from downtown Sedona, Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Found this horse in downtown Sedona.

A final photo from Boynton Canyon. NEXT BLOG: A look at Native American rock art near Sedona and a visit to an ancient 'well.'

A final photo from Boynton Canyon.

Old friends. Ken and I have been hanging out causing mischief for close to 40 years. Peggy's sister, Jane Hagedorn, and I hired Ken in 1977 when we co-executive directors of the American Lung Association in Sacramento.

Old friends. Ken and I have been hanging out causing mischief for close to 40 years. Peggy’s sister, Jane Hagedorn, and I hired Ken in 1977 when we were co-executive directors of the American Lung Association in Sacramento. Jane wanted him for his degree in public health education. I wanted him because he had just bicycled across America and I needed his expertise for the long distance Bike Trek program I had created.

NEXT BLOG: It is time to check out some Native American rock art in the Sedona area and visit a very old ‘well.’

 

 

On the Banks of the Klamath… Redwood National Park

We found this beautiful redwood stump with its twisted roots on the beach near where the Klamath River flows into the Pacific Ocean.

In my last blog, I wrote about experiencing the Redwoods through the eyes of our two and four-year old grandkids. There is still some question about whether they were more impressed by the big trees or the yellow banana slug.

“Can we eat it,” the four-year old asked? Peel away boy.

Two years ago, Peggy and I visited the same area along with our friends Ken and Leslie Lake out of Sacramento. We camped next to the Klamath River near where it flows into the Pacific. I have a special affinity for the Klamath. I was conceived on its banks.

At least that’s the story my parents told me. They were living in the small town of Copco, which is located just south of the Oregon border and east of Interstate 5. My mother always claimed she had the flu and it was a weak moment. It’s good to know where you stand with your mom.

After Ken, Leslie Peggy and I had explored our campground we headed for the ocean. We walked through a Yurok ceremonial site to reach the shore. The Yuroks have lived in the area for numerous generations and today constitute the largest tribe of Native Americans still living in California. The site includes several structures made of fallen redwood including a traditional sweathouse.

The Yurok ceremonial site on the edge of the Klamath River and next to Redwoods National Park includes this traditional sweathouse.

The Yuroks considered the giant redwoods sacred living beings. A comment from Zantippy on my last blog about Redwood National Park came close to capturing how the Yuroks must have felt.

“Oh man, these photos are gorgeous!!! How could Mr. Reagan have not felt these trees spirits? When I was ten, we went there, and my dad parked the car and we were going to walk the trail, but I wanted to stay by myself near the car, and just BE with the forest. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. Then I felt bad because my mother was worried about them walking too far away from the car where I was all alone, so they didn’t get to really explore. I think I told them to just stay still and listen. It is silent voices.”

It is easy for me to understand how the Yurok regarded the redwoods as sacred beings.

A recent storm had deposited driftwood on the beach including a large redwood stump and roots. Smaller pieces of driftwood displayed unique personalities. Waves crashed against the shore. Mist touched the ocean and the trees.  A bald eagle watched us from the distance.

Our friends Ken and Leslie Lake stand next to the redwood stump we found washed up on the beach.

Driftwood can inspire the imagination. I saw a wood duck in this piece.

Waves crashing against the rocks, mist and driftwood are typical of California’s North Coast in Redwood National Park.

A lone bald eagle in the trees on the left watched as we wandered along the beach.

Just up the narrow, winding Coastal Road, we came on another interesting site. It looked like an old farm. Appearances can be deceiving. It had been disguised to look like a farm. Once upon a time it housed an early radar warning system and two 50 caliber anti-aircraft machine guns. Its purpose was to guard against invasion from Japan following the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II.

This seemingly innocent farm building found in the North Coast Redwoods overlooking the Pacific once harbored an early warning radar system and two 50 caliber anti-aircraft submachine guns to guar against invasion from Japan during World War II.

Continuing on, we visited the big trees of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. I kept expecting to meet up with Ewoks. But there are scarier creatures about. Scenes from Jurassic Park were also filmed in the area.

I kept expecting to meet up with an Ewok. George Lucas used North Coast Redwoods to film his Ewok scenes. Portions of Jurassic Park were also filmed in the area. (Photo from Google images.)

The only strange creature I found was the Peripatetic Bone who insisted on having his picture take with one of the Big Trees. He considered it a humbling experience. Can you spot him?

Even my favorite Tree Huggers… Peggy, Ken and Leslie, were made to feel small.

The Missing Goats of Coombs… The Vancouver Island Adventure

We arrived in Coombs BC on Vancouver Island looking for goats on the sod roof of the Old Country Market. We found the roof with its long grass, but the goats were missing.

As the story is told, the Graaten Family resolved its crisis by consuming several bottles of wine. The grass on their roof had grown quite long and the Coombs Fair was only days away.

Kris, his wife Solveig, and their children emigrated from Norway to Vancouver Island in the 50s. Sod roofs were common in Norway at the time so Kris decided to put one on his market in Coombs. Makes sense, I guess, in a Norwegian sort of way… but it also created the long grass crisis.

Son-in-law Larry had an idea. “Let’s borrow some goats and have them mow the grass.” No one recorded how many glasses of wine the family had downed but the response was “why not.” And the legend was born. Having goats on your roof is a great for business.

Today, the Coombs’ Market with its sod roof and goats is one of the top tourist attractions in British Columbia.

“You have to go to Coombs,” Peggy’s new friends from Qualicum Beach had insisted on the ferry ride between Port Angeles and Victoria. Since we were staying in nearby Parksville with our friends Ken and Leslie Lake, we responded like the Graaten Family, “why not.”

It was snowing when we arrived. And yes, we immediately spotted the sod roof. But there were no goats. It seemed like a no-brainer. What goat in his right mind would stand on a roof in the middle of a snowstorm to entertain tourists? Actually, the goats had another reason for their absence. They were off having babies.

We did find a dog that looked like he was trying to remove a bone from his throat. On closer inspection it turned out he was catching snowflakes. It was quite humorous. Maybe the goats hired him as a substitute.

The dog in Coombs BC looked like he had a chicken bone stuck in his throat. Turns out he was catching snow flakes.

Even without the goats, the market was worth the visit. It is crammed full of artisan bread, great cheese, wine, other foodstuffs and hand-made knickknacks. We wandered up and down the aisles waiting for the snowstorm to stop.

Sunshine sent us scooting outside. We visited a fruit and vegetable stand and then ate at Cuckoo’s Italian Restaurant. The food was great but apparently there is a shortage of waiters in the area. The same young man who had served us dinner ten miles away the night before was our waiter for lunch.

I looked out the window and saw a reflecting pool with a stone Buddha. My mind went into Alice in Wonderland mode. Not only was the same waiter following us around, we had skipped from Norway to Italy to the mysterious Far East in 50 yards.

A calm Buddha gave his blessing to the green reflection pool outside of Cuckoo's Italian Restaurant in Coombs.

 

Chinese vases and another Buddha added to the Oriental theme. The snowflake eating dog is on the left.

 

I also liked this bonsai tree with its wonderfully crooked limbs. The bonsai lived next to Cuckoo's Restaurant.

Next door a 15-foot tall, belled lion stood in front of Fengy’s boutique. Carved wooden statues enticed us in. A large Mongol warrior stared down on us. A sign at its base warned against taking pictures. Fengy came over.

“If people take photos, they will copy my work.” It was either that or she didn’t want me photographing the chair that was based on male anatomy.

“Warrior is too big to sell,” she told me. “You photograph it.”

The market place next door to the Old Country Market in Coombs BC included the Fengy Boutique. A 15 foot tall lion with a bell on its chest sat in front. Arnold Schwarzenegger would have been jealous of the lion's muscles.

 

A giant Mongol warrior carved from wood is the centerpiece of Fengy's Boutique.

Outside, two dogs were driving a car, Peggy went nose to nose with a bear, and Ken had a shouting match with a rooster. There were also a lion, owls and another Buddha. Coombs was our kind of town.

Two dogs were driving a car in front of the Cozy Corner Book Store. I stopped to pet the dogs before going into the store. We have a policy of always going into local bookstores and buying books to support the store.

 

Another view of the car-driving dogs of Coombs BC.

 

Peggy had a nose to nose chat with Bear.

 

Ken had a crow-off with Rooster. Rooster won.

 

I found this family of owls in Coombs quite cute.

 

The lion looked quite regal.

 

And the ubiquitous Buddha provided an end-of-blog blessing.

 

Coombs is located two hours north of Victoria on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. If you would like to learn more about the Old Country Market go to www.oldcountrymarket.com/. I understand there will even be live, streaming video of the roof and goats, assuming the goats decide to return.

With the sun shining I returned to the sod roof. Since the goats were still missing, I took a close-up of the sod.