This is uncommon for us to do, but Larry Preston is not only an excellent writer but an avid hiker as well. Please enjoy this guest blog post of Larry’s, we certainly did!

This was my second trip to Sedona. The first one was over Memorial Day, and it was so crowded that I went home almost as soon as I got there.

This time was different. I brought Pixel the Wonder Cat along, as she rather enjoys riding in the Jeep and sniffing out a new place. I also booked a room at El Portal, and this place is wonderful. I would put it in my list of top hotels ever. And they aren’t even paying me to say that.Was it crowded again? Yes, but not as bad. I also planned it out this time so I could go nowhere that was crowded.

As a first for me, I booked a guided tour for my first hike on Saturday morning. When I saw the option to book with Sedona Philosophy Experience, I assumed it was about experiencing Sedona. Nope. It’s actually a hike with a guide who shares their love of philosophy with you.

What a great surprise that was. Matt Goodwin, my tour guide, was extremely knowledgeable about Sedona, Arizona’s history, and of course, Philosophy. It made for the most interesting hike I may have ever been on.

When I was a kid, I wanted to build a go-kart. I found a man not too far from my house that was willing to help me weld it. Sadly, I cannot recall his name, and I am sure he is long gone. This guy was a welder by day but a philosophy lover at night. So as he was welding, he told me all about Plato, Socrates, Dante, and John Locke.
I studied a bit more of it in college and had read many books on my own. But Matt clearly has dug into it at a whole other level, making for a fascinating 2.5-hour hike and conversation.

The highlight of the hike is the House of Apache Fire, Built by Helen and Jack Frye, who, in the early 1940s, caught sight of the land during a flyover. Jack was the president of TWA Airlines, and Helen was his artist wife. By 1947, construction began for the home on what the Fryes dubbed the Smoke Trail Ranch—some 700 acres of red-rock country land with the creek running through it.

The house is not being used now and is surrounded by a barb-wire fence. That’s sad because you can see it was truly an amazing place with perhaps some of the best views in the world. Certainly in Sedona. This place struck me because it was about the same time (1948) that my grandparents, Herb and Millie Borah, built a gorgeous log cabin on Lake of the Woods in Minnesota. Both places, at the time, were about as remote as one could get, yet both couples preferred to be there and far from the hustle and bustle of the towns and cities of the time.

Helen was clearly a larger-than-life character with multiple husbands and homes. She is certainly a Sedona legend.

Dining out in Sedona was tricky: The nicer places have strict dress codes and are booked far in advance.

As always, it is tough to get reservations for a party of one. The one place I did get into (who shall remain nameless) has mediocre food and awful service. When you go to eat by yourself, too many places have a tendency to stick you at the worst table and then pretty much forget about you until you club them over the head for more water, the check, or to find out why every table around me got their order before me.

Be sure to book your meals ahead of time.

Sunset in Sedona

As the sun got close to going down, I headed over to Margs draw for hiking a little, but more so to take in the sunset – where I got some of my favorite photos ever.

Day Two

I got up early and headed to the Adobe Jack trail. About 4 miles, mostly in the shade. Great little hike, but you are in town so you’ll walk buy a lot of houses and hear some traffic noise in parts.

I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping at Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village – where I checked almost every store but bought nothing. There is some very nice high-end art there, but the vast majority of it is tourist trinkets.

Next up, I drove the Canyon almost all the way to Flagstaff, stopping at several points for the view.

I then hoofed it in the other direction all the way to the Jerome Ghost Town. Unfortunately, Jerome was anything but a ghost town – it was packed!  After looking for twenty minutes, I could not find a parking spot. So I headed back and walked through all the tourist shops in Sedona. Then it was back to the hotel, gather up the cat and head home.

All in all, Sedona is an amazing place… but it’s also so crowded that it’s tough to enjoy it. So the next time I head north, I will make sure I go in the off-season. That should do it.

Thanks, Larry for the great blog.
If you would like to see more of his photos, you can visit him on Instagram @larrypreston.

All photos copyright by Larry Preston, and used here with permission of Larry Preston.
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