Although I'm still nursing a bit of island withdrawal (what do they call it when it's the opposite of island fever? Is it an island cold?), it was a welcome distraction to focus on a family vacation immediately following my departure from Maui - the wee little rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that's been my home for the past year. I joined my entire family in Berkeley to celebrate my sister's graduation from the Master's in Social Welfare program (she crushed it!), and my parents had decided that Sedona, Arizona would be the chosen Fritz family party spot for our celebration week. When we started planning this trip a couple of months ago, I acknowledged the location blindly and without a second thought, more focused on how to, once again, pack up my whole life in two 50 pound suitcases (disclaimer: I didn't. Impossible). So I found myself waiting around in the Kahului airport with an obnoxiously oversized guitar case in hand and a backpack that weighed more than a baby humpback, not sure what the heck I'd be doing once I got off the plane in a few hours.
Kahului (4.5 hour flight...) --> Oakland (2 nights here, yay Allyson!) --> Phoenix (rent a car) --> Sedona (2 hour drive later)
The graduation ceremony and mini-Berkeley tour happened in all their splendor, and afterwards, the Fritz clan boarded our plane to Arizona cattle-call style, the way only Southwest can do it, and settled in for the journey to Sedona. My parents and brother have been before, but for my sister and me, this was a first. "It's absolutely beautiful, you'll love all the hikes, there's these vortexes that hippies say are spiritual power centers, there's even places to go wine tasting, just wait 'til you eat at Elote's..." Clearly I had a lot to look forward to.
Aaaannnnddd, they were right. Sedona, a short 1.5-2 hour drive from Phoenix (longer for us, naturally, since we absolutely had to stop and take a picture with these giant cacti), is a haven for any outdoor enthusiast. Hiking trails abound, with beautiful views and scenery around every little twist and turn. The weather was pleasantly cool for being in the "desert," and it's because Sedona is at about a 4,000 foot elevation. Hate to say it, but it was a welcome break from the sweat-inducing day-to-day norm on Maui. The red rocks that Sedona is famous for loom up everywhere you look, and regardless of whether or not these mysterious "vortexes" do exist, I really did feel a sense of peace and calm throughout the week (except while playing tennis, I get really angry). I even found the best acai bowl I've probably ever had (I've been having withdrawals since leaving Maui) and had the chance to wine taste in the beautiful Cottonwood area. UGH...not to mention Elote's. I won't even talk about it. It's too good. It can't be described in words.
It was nice to have the family together again for the first time in a couple of years. Numerous antics ensued. Thank you Sedona! Now, everyone, back to the real world. Allyson's back in Berkeley, Michael's happily in Portland, Mom and Pop in Coeur d'Alene, and I'm about to gallop off to the San Juan Islands for the summer. At least we're all in the continental U.S.!