Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Another day, another lesson . . . with interesting results

For those of you who thought I couldn't blog two days in a row, who figured that I wouldn't have five full lessons as promised, well, I have this to say:


That's right. It's lesson #4! The joke's on you, baby! Our Man in LA is ready to share his learned wisdom again!

All right, I'll get on with it.

4. SOMETIMES IT PAYS TO TAKE THE HARDER PATH. This is a much more fun lesson.

As many of you know, Our Woman in LA and I took a much-needed vacation over the holidays to Arizona, where we saw the Grand Canyon and the Red Rocks of Sedona, stayed in a spa, visited the Navajo reservation, and generally just got away from it all.

Christmas Day in Arizona, most everything was closed. So we figured it to be as good a time as any to hike around the gorgeous rock formations and canyons that surround Sedona. But we're city folk, my lady and me, and so we wanted to make sure that we did something well within our ability. We bought a book about the various hiking trails, and selected the two easiest ones. We conferred with the Concierge (whose name was Lars) at the spa to see if they really were the easiest. They were.

So we headed to the first hike, called Cathedral Rock. It looks like this:

Beautiful, right? So Our Woman in LA and I were psyched. A great Christmas day hike around one of Arizona's most beautiful red rock formations. Healing vortexes, for God's sake!

So we got there. A few people milled about, starting out on the Cathedral Rock Trail. Being city folk, Steph and I felt that we were new to this hiking biz. So we followed them. What harm could there be, right?

In fact, here's a pic of us right at the base of the rock, getting started.

This'll be great, we figured. A nice, easy hike. And it was. For about 10 minutes.

Then it started to get steep.

And then steeper.

And then it pretty much required you to scale a freakin', frackin' rock wall.

At this point, being the City Slickers that we are, the wife and I considered turning back. "I don't see how this can be the easiest trail," Steph said.

"I could really use a latte," I agreed.

So we were going to turn around. And that's when the old guy came along.

Picture this. An old man. Wearing an Arizona Diamondbacks cap and a tattered khaki trench coat. Grizzly Adams beard. Grande cup of coffee in one hand. Traveling with his dog.

Then picture him walking right by us, with the dog, and climbing the sheer rock wall.

"Well, now I've got to do it," Our Woman in LA said. "But let's watch how the dog does it." And so we did.

Here are a couple of pics. When you get to the top of Cathedral Rock, the view is incredible. And it really is sort of like being inside a church. Quiet and serene.

Now, it bears mentioning that once we came down the rock and got back in our car, we took a look at the guidebook. After all, we were heading to Bell Rock afterwards, and we needed to get the dirt on that hike. And that's when we learned that we hadn't done the "easy" hike at Cathedral Rock.

Nope. That's just a stroll around the base of the rock, with a view of a cute little stream.

Climbing Cathedral Rock's not even in the "Red Rocks for Dummies" book that we'd been looking at. We'd actually bitten off way, way more than we should have been able to chew.

But therein lies lesson #4. If we hadn't taken the difficult trail, we wouldn't have climbed to the top. We wouldn't have been humiliated by the old guy and his dog, but we also wouldn't have seen the views and been able to tell everyone that we climbed the damn thing.

"Pretty cool, isn't it, baby?" I asked Steph after we were done. "We're like real hikers now. We climbed a rock. We're not such city slickers after all."

Alas, wrong again. You can take the girl out of the city, but . . .

"How's my hair look?" Steph said. "You know, after the climb?"

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