Amy Jo had freckles and wore her red hair short, in a sort of pixie cut. She moved like a yoga instructor, somehow radiating a sense of harmony and connection with her surroundings. She was, as far as I know, Google’s first full-time nutritionist, and had this Jedi mind trick she’d use if she saw you leaving the Chinese food line in Charlie’s Cafe with your plate piled high with something deep fried.
“You know,” she’d say, looking concerned for the welfare of the world, “You’re going to want some greens with that, too.”
Yes, you found yourself saying, I’m going to want some greens with that. And you did, because you wanted to keep Amy Jo happy. Because you knew that Amy Jo was tapped into something deeper in the cosmos, and you knew from her furrowed brow that grabbing a side of steamed broccoli really was a small but important step in the long process of achieving global harmony.
She moved on, rather precipitously, from Google one day- I asked after, but no one knew where she’d went. Someone on the kitchen staff thought she might have gone back to Sedona; another friend said Bali. In my mind, both of those places were linked with the same kind of magic, but for me, Sedona was only a place in my imagination.
Now, on my second morning here, I do think I get it. I’ve been waking early on this trip and used the unfortunate habit yesterday to scramble out and catch first light on Cathedral Rock. I stood there for perhaps five minutes with a handful of others with the rising sun at our backs, watching as the shadows shrank and crept eastward, leaving watercolor red rock in their wake like gifts from the receding tide of night. It was, honestly, breathtaking.
A few minutes in, I heard the sound of footsteps on loose rock behind me and turned to see an older woman joining our little band of pilgrims. We exchanged good mornings and I asked, reflexively, how her day was going. She got a lovely, goofy smile on her face and looked me in the eye without answering. Then slowly looked out at the spectacle of dawn playing out in the valley below and back at me. We both laughed aloud – yeah, silly question, I realized, and we turned back to watch the show.
Eventually it was time for things like breakfast and showers and getting properly dressed. Non-paid endorsement: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes at the Mesa Grill? Worth the trip to Sedona if for nothing else. But we suspected that the town’s charms were not limited to sunrises and sunsets punctuated by pancakes, so set out on a three mile loop hike around the mesa.
Go ahead and cue the Gilligan’s Island theme here, if you will (“A three mile loop…”). We’d picked up company in the form of a fellow pilot named Buzz and figured the hike would take us an hour and change, getting us back before the sun got good and warm. Yes, of course we brought water. No, of course we didn’t bring sunscreen. It was a lovely hike, and by the time we made it back to the airport mesa road three hours later, we weren’t above accepting a ride from the van driver headed up to Red Rock Balloons. “I figured I’ve got an empty van, and you guys just looked a little tuckered out there.”
Recuperated in town with lunch in the shade (bison burgers!) and commiserated as we moseyed through the craft shops at Tlaquepaque: “Uh oh, I can’t let Denise see this, or it’ll be hanging in our living room.” and “This is gorgeous, but Devon will throttle me if I brought it home.”
Made a good show of it – it wasn’t until almost 4:00 that our feet gave out and we called for a ride to bring us back to the refuge of air conditioning and the promise of poolside drinks. This morning, weather and mechanical gods willing, we’ll launch early to try to beat the heat. It’s not the heat that’s bad – we have turbo-normalization (and, if you can believe it, air conditioning), but with heat comes turbulence, and with turbulence comes, well… we’re just hoping to launch early. Probably a fuel stop in Mojave or Bakersfield, then a short hop home. Stay tuned!