By Ann Nelson


As a travel writer, I can’t wait for the next journey, the next new day of waking up in a new
place I feel compelled to explore. When I wasn’t traveling, being at home had become one dull predictable day after another. I have a beautiful home, a wonderful husband, cherished dogs, and a black and white  cat named Molly.

Everything looked perfect on the outside. Inside my soul had begun to die. I was numb and exhausted after caring for my elderly parents for eight years. I felt a certain relief when my father died last February. Inside, however there was a profound emptiness. Who was I now? What am I supposed to do? How will I spend my days? Prior to my father’s death, I poured every ounce of my energy into giving him what he had always given me: unconditional love. We were very close.

Soon after he died, I chose to spend my time in a different  way. I turned on the TV, ordered pizza, let my garden die, didn’t return my friends’ phone calls, and slept. I slept a lot. The few trips I did take were magical, but when I came home, I fell asleep again.

After ten months of darkness and inactivity, I knew that if I continued on this path I would be in deep, deep trouble. I felt my father’s spirit  reach down and lift me. I could almost hear him saying, “It’s time to live again, Ann”. I prayed, walked, lit candles, meditated, started to exercise again. I stopped ordering pizza!

I began to listen. I began to quiet my soul. I knew I had to save my life. I was tentative, I was scared. I knew it was time to explore uncharted waters. I booked a trip to Sedona, Arizona.

The moment had come for me to walk toward the light, and away from the darkness. I chose Sedona Soul Adventures to be my travel guide. I am not talking about a geographic travel guide. Perhaps the best  way to describe what I was about to embark on is more like going on a scavenger hunt for the soul.

Each day I was instructed to go to a new destination . . . to see a  healer, a teacher, to participate in a private meditation session involving breathwork. One lazy and wonderful afternoon was spent having a hot rock massage. Each day I would come away with a new profound tidbit, lesson, or tool that became a critical ingredient for healing and getting my life back together.

The magic of my journey was enhanced by my stay at The Wishing Well Bed and Breakfast. Tucked away in a little private pocket up and away from the world, the five room inn (rated one of Arizona’s best B&B’s by Phoenix Magazine) is actually a thirty-second drive from uptown Sedona. Most rooms feature an outdoor Jacuzzi situated on a private deck. The hush of the winter stillness and the magic of the night sky enveloped my senses as I quietly comforted my soul each night in the hot tub before I went to bed. Needless to say, I slept like a baby.

Each morning I was awakened by a knock on my door, and a beautiful breakfast tray, complete with fresh flowers. Snuggled in my soft robe while gazing out at Oak Creek Canyon and enjoying fresh coffee, fresh fruit and stuffed crepes is simply the perfect way to start the day.

Another highly-rated B&B is Casa Sedona, located at the base of Thunder Mountain. The Inn consists of sixteen richly-decorated rooms, complete with spa tubs and fireplaces. Impressive credentials consist of The Four Diamond Award from AAA  and Conde’ Nast Johansen’s list of recommended Hotels, Inns and Resorts. A two-course breakfast is the highlight, served every morning and features the likes of Banana Pecan Streusel French Toast with Amaretto Sauce.

Incorporating the lessons I learned in Sedona is essential for moving forward in my life in a meaningful and purposeful way. I need to practice quieting the mind, and listening to my soul on a daily basis. In her book “The Joy Diet,” Martha Beck summarizes this point perfectly. She says “The best way to break through any barrier is to access a point of perfect stillness at the center of your being, a self deeper than your senses, or your mind.

We modern thinkers are rarely taught that such a thing exists, much less how to connect with it. Every ancient tradition holds that from this still core of the self, this infinitely fertile emptiness, springs all that is authentic about you: your identity, your ability to recognize truth, the real operating instructions for your life.”

Sedona itself is filled with breathtaking charm and wild and simple beauty. Exploring the back country in a jeep is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. After investigating,  I found  The Adventure Company to be less expensive than the others, and the only company with convertible jeeps! The tour guide, Joseph Redondo was not only gorgeous, his peaceful spirit and love of the land was evident. I learned a lot on that chilly afternoon while tumbling over the bumpy back-roads of Sedona. He explained the amazing geological processes that created the red rock formations, talked about the colorful history of the Native Americans and pioneers, and told me fascinating  stories about the Vortexes.

People travel from around the world to experience the power of  the  Sedona Vortex. Vortexes, said to be similar to acupuncture points on the human body, have their own unique energy meridians. A vortex is a point where we can tap into the life force of the planetary body. The subtle electromagnetic pulse of the earth lends itself to bringing our bodies and souls back into alignment with nature. The scientific perspective proposes that “upflow vortexes boost spiritual energy and expansion of consciousness” while “inflow vortexes help one turn inward and enhance introspection.”  

Four well known vortex areas are Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Airport Mesa and Boynton Canyon. Contact Sedona Soul Adventures or The Sedona Chamber of Commerce for additional information and specific driving directions.

A visit to Sedona would not be complete without experiencing the magical presence of cultures and dwellings that inhabited the area centuries before Columbus arrived on the scene. The Native Americans were convinced this land was sacred — they had a strong spiritual connection to Sedona.

Two cliff dwellings where the Indians lived were The Palatki  Res-ervation and Montezuma Castle.  I visited both, but was more impressed with Palatki because I could actually climb right up to the dwelling, and stand in what I suppose was a living room at one time. This experience took my breath away! Montezuma Castle (which you can see from a distance) is the oldest and best-preserved cliff dwelling in the Southwest, and was constructed by the Sinaguans in the 12th century. The complex consists of 20 rooms built into a cliff 100 feet above the valley. Another six-story apartment building of 45 rooms was built at the same time, but it has not weathered as well.

I learned while visiting the ruins how nearby Beaver Creek created fertile ground in which the Sinagua grew cotton and vegetable crops. No one knows for sure why the Sinagua left the area in the 1400’s. Possible explanations include farmland exhaustion, overcrowding and conflict between families or neighboring tribes. There are guides available to provide historical background and weave magical stories about what it may have been like to live there so very long ago.

Even though my schedule was very busy while visiting Sedona, I wanted to experience a few activities not necessarily  related to my spiritual quest. The Verde Canyon Railroad, in nearby Clarkdale is said to be “Arizona’s Longest Running Nature Show”. To be honest, I was disappointed, and felt the fare a bit overpriced. In all fairness, the “color kaleidoscope” of nature in bloom was not available at this time of the year.  In the springtime, it may be a different experience.

The bright note of this day was attending the Blazin M Ranch Chuckwagon Supper, a short distance from the train station. The food was good, the entertainment authentic, funny and fast paced.

Looking back on the variety of activities and the natural beauty of Sedona, I realize how much my trip invigorated me and gave me a fresh perspective. Is it something about just getting away from the day-to-day routine that we all need to do now and then? Creating a calm and stable mind is  a necessity in order for me to build a strong spiritual foundation. It’s no wonder that New Age settlers, spiritual seekers, and artists have chosen Sedona, with its sun-struck red rocks and mesmerizing landscape to be their home. I feel Sedona in my spirit. Sedona is now a part of me.


Lodging information and referral hotline    (800) 288-7336
Sedona Soul Adventures    (877) 204-3664
The Adventure Company  (jeep tours)    (877) 281-6622  
Blazin’ M Ranch Chuckwagon Suppers    (800) WEST-643
Verde Canyon Railroad    (877) 800-7324
Montezuma Castle National Monument    (928) 567-3322
Palatki Reservation    (928) 282-3854
Wishing Well B&B    (928) 282-4914
Casa Sedona B&B    (800) 525-3756


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