Our last full day in Arizona together. Sunrises and mountains seem to go hand in hand. I woke early as usual and made a cup of coffee in our room a sat quietly looking at Thunder Mountain out our window. I tried to sit on the balcony with my coffee but the cold of the morning chased me back into the room. Laurel woke up and we readied ourselves and packed our luggage for the day’s travels. We went down to the hotel breakfast room and had our first meal of the day. When we finished we checked out of our room and found a laundromat in town to wash a few items. Then we went to the Red Dirt store in Sedona and bought a couple of shirts washed and stained with the red dirt of Sedona.
We started our journey out of Sedona when a store caught our attention and I turned the car back and went for a visit. Endless choices of home decor filled the store thru an endless maze of rooms. After a while of eye shopping, we returned to the car and continued on our journey to Phoenix. Before we drove out of the red rocks of Sedona we stopped at the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
I parked the car at the base of the red rock foundation that supported the chapel above. Laurel and I walked up the drive and continue up the ramp sidewalk to the door of the chapel. There were many visitors to the chapel making a pilgrimage to the site. We entered the chapel and were in awe of the chapel. The chapel was small but the Christ that hung on the cross in the front of the chapel and appeared to be life size and was back lite by the windows behind the altar. We sat for several minutes communing the reverence of the Chapel. We exited the chapel and looked out over the valley before walking down the hill to our car. Back on the road and the next stop would be Phoenix at our Airbnb.
The trip was a good easy drive on the interstate. We did make a stop at a rest stop along the way for a leg stretch. Sunset Point is a great stop along the highway. After we parked the car we saw a sign at the rest area warning visitors of poisonous snake and insects. We took a brief walk and took in the scene of the overlook of the valley. We got back in the car and we started on a decent out of the high country. It wasn’t very long and the Saguaros appeared on the landscape and escorted us on or drive all the way to Phoenix. We set our Gramin and cell phone to our Airbnb where we would be spending the evening.
We arrived at the Airbnb and the host wasn’t home from work and we arrived early. He had given us instructions on letting ourselves into the property. I had read the reviews on this place and was noted if you don’t like dogs, don’t stay here. As soon as we opened the gate we were greeted by two dogs. Small and friendly, please give us some of your attention was commanded by the dogs. A little later the third dog joined in the greeting. We set up our room for our stay and then went to a store to find some Arizona sports gifts for our grandsons. We went back to our suite and readied ourselves for dinner. As Laurel spent a few extra minutes getting ready, I sat outside watching the evening news on the TV in the backyard next to the pool and admired the yellowing sky with red streaks from the sun setting over the main house. When Laurel finished we drove to a restaurant to meet two of Laurel’s second cousins.
We arrived at the restaurant and waited for Laurel’s cousins. I took a quick run to the restroom and when I return they had arrived and had already met Laurel. When I returned to our table I introduced myself and met Ann and Terry for the first time. Now it is time to back this dinner meeting up for several months.
A few years ago I took an AncestryDNA test and so did Laurel and her mother. Ann had also taken a DNA test. Ancestry’s information had listed Ann as a close cousin to Laurel. Seeing her last name, I knew how she was related to Laurel and my mother-in-law. I clicked on Ann’s small family tree and looked over her information. Yep, the connection was as I expected. But then her tree gave me something I wasn’t expecting. Ann’s maternal grandfather died in a small town about twenty miles from where I live now. I did some research on Ann’s family and found a wealth of information. I started asking people I knew if they knew Ann’s family members. It was coming together quickly and I wrote to Ann to introduced myself to her and share the information I had found about her family. She wrote me back and helped me fill in her family tree on my master family tree. The other sidebar to this tale is, when Laurel was working at a vet clinic in Menomonie, Laurel was giving care to Ann’s brother’s dog’s. Laurel was giving care to her second cousin’s dogs and didn’t know that he was her cousin.
I took a moment and sent a note to a cousin who was a stranger and asked if we could meet when we were in Phoenix, and Ann said yes. I see so many people doing the DNA test and not filling in their family tree nor answering emails that they may have received. It’s not going to discourage me from sending emails, because a few people have responded and it has been wonderful to meet these family members and share our family connections. We exchanged several emails before we left for Phoenix and we had set up this dinner meeting. We had a great time meeting these two cousins over dinner. We talked about how we were related and shared our life and family stories. We talked as though we have known each other our whole lives.
As we departed the restaurant we drove back to our Airbnb. We grabbed a nightcap and sat out by the pool and watched a little TV in the cool Phoenix air. We went in and retired for the evening. The next morning I met the Airbnb host and had a nice conversation with her. I thanked her for their nice place and their hospitality. I drove Laurel to the Sheraton Downtown where her conference was being held.
I hung out for a while at the hotel before I return to the airport but first I had to return the rental car. My time in Arizona had come to an end and Laurel would remain in Phoenix until Sunday. We had traveled just short of 800 miles on this tour of Arizona and saw a colorful and beautiful state.
Stay tuned for my reflections on our Arizona Adventure.