Arizona with my camera

Kathy and Milly at Horseshoe Bend Canyon

Kathy and Milly at Horseshoe Bend Canyon

Arizona taking pictures! 

Yikes! I’ve never packed as heavily as I did for this trip to Arizona. I would be going from 90F degree temps in Pheonix, to 85  in Sedona, to 60 in Flagstaff. I would spend the majority of my time in Flagstaff where the temperatures at night would go into the 30’s and snow wasn’t impossible. Then there was the hiking boots, laptop, the cameras, tripod etc.

Pheonix to Sedona Shuttle 

I arrived in Pheonix, Arizona about 5 pm and went to the Pheonix to Sedona Shuttle desk adjacent to baggage claim to catch the 6 pm shuttle. The shuttle was on time.  We made a couple of stops and ended up with 7 passengers.  My seatmate had just returned from two very long days of travel from Australia and she was talking nonstop (as only the overtired can do) about the differences between the US and Australia, lamenting about Australian food, and why didn’t they have grape jelly. When she started on about why other countries can’t be just like the US I tuned out and kept my mouth shut. Nothing good can come of commenting on that subject and it usually falls on deaf ears. 

La Vista Motel on the main street of Sedona

Finally, we stopped at Camp Verde where my friend was meeting me.  We grabbed food and went to our hotel for the night. La Vista Motel is nothing fancy but its right on the main street in Sedona and the price is right, especially for one night.

L’auberge de Sedona

The next morning we headed out for coffee, we had a 10:30 reservation at L’auberge de Sedona for their famous Sunday brunch. I was more than ready for a relaxed day in a beautiful setting and was not disappointed. Our table was right beside a river with ducks, a heron, and the sound and sparkle of flowing water. White linens and friendly waiters started us off but when he offered champagne I knew I was finally starting my vacation. Then when he kept filling my glass through the brunch I was feeling pretty good! The food choice and selection was excellent. 

Lovely Sunday Brunch setting at L'Auberge de Sedona

Lovely Sunday Brunch setting at L’Auberge de Sedona

Sedona to Flagstaff

After a little shopping in Sedona we started out for Flagstaff, about an hour from Sedona, mostly uphill. Sedona is about 4400 ft elevation, and Flagstaff is about 6900 ft. The drive is lovely, much of it through Oak Creek Canyon and the weather close to perfect.

Meeting the Roads Scholar Group for our Photography week

We found our hotel, La Quinta, close to the downtown and checked in before meeting fellow Road Scholars who we would spend the week with learning how to take better pictures ( I hope). There were twenty people from all over the US, a friendly group. Jeff Strange, our group leader, has been working for Road Scholars for 13 years, and our resident photo instructor was a fill in for the original, her name is Kyra Oellig. It was disappointing not to have the original photographer James Q Martin bail on us. He was part of the reason some of us signed up, his work with landscape photography all over the world is inspiring.

Day One

Day one – after a brief photography lesson we headed back to Sedona, first stop Red Rock State Park which was quite crowded. The National parks closed because of a government shut down, so the tourists were looking for alternative places to visit. We waited in line to park for about 30 minutes. Once settled, we started looking for interesting sites to photograph, everyone’s jazzed after the lesson earlier in the day.

F stops, shutter speed,  lens aperture…… 

I was ready to start fooling with F stops and shutter speeds even though I still had no idea what I was doing. At one point I headed down to the stream that bordered our walking path to try some water shots, I climbed down the bank and proceeded to set up my tripod and fool with my camera settings. Not as easy as it looks folks! After several attempts, I was stymied and headed back up to find Kira. Perhaps more reading of the camera’s instruction booklet would be a good idea.

Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts 

After a bag lunch, we headed to Tlaquepaque arts and crafts village. The village recreates a traditional Mexican town with the colors and unique architectural features the camera loves. We all spread out and started snapping everything that caught our eye. Great fun.



Tlaquepaque arts and crafts village Sedona AZ

Tlaquepaque arts and crafts village Sedona AZ

From there we went to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Church of the Holy Cross Sedona

Chapel of the Holy Cross

Seeing this structure perched on the red rocks is quite spectacular. The chapel is quite small, but the structure itself is impressive. I’m pleased to be getting good shots, but I have the camera set on automatic most of the time, so why am I here? When I fool around with the settings, the shots are either overexposed, underexposed or blurry! Perhaps the “smart” camera knows what it’s doing, more than I do! 

Sedona Sunset

Sunset red Rock Crossing Sedona

Some good shots despite my tiny, unimpressive camera.

We’ve changed our schedule, and we’re headed to watch the Sedona sunset at Red Rock Crossing before going to dinner.  Red Rock seems to be THE place to go for sunset. There are people with huge cameras and tripods guarding their chosen spots, checking equipment, adjusting and readjusting.  I wander around knowing my little Lumix is a joke beside their Nikons and Canons, super long lens and fancy tripods.

My automatic camera is good enough it seems. 

The rest of the week went quickly, but more and more I just let the automatic settings on my camera take over. As much as I liked Jeff and Kira, there was very little constructive photography instruction. I learned more from my fellow, more seasoned than I, classmates during critique sessions than I did from our instructors.

Red Mountain

Red Mountain

Horseshoe Bend Canyon This little smart camera of mine knows what it's doing!

Horseshoe Bend Canyon , Arizona. This little smart camera of mine knows what it’s doing!


Painted Desert Natural colors are amazing.

An Arizona Painted Desert
Natural colors are amazing.

Slot Canyon - The very soft and porous rock has been washed out by the river to form taffy like formations.

Slot Canyon, Arizona – The very soft and porous rock has been washed out by the river ttaffy-likefy like formations.

Slot Canyon - the week before we were there they'd had a flash flood with water racing through the canyon. These rock formations are the result of many such flash floods.

Slot Canyon – the week before we were there they’d had a flash flood with water racing through the canyon. These rock formations are the result of many such flash floods.

The natural colors of Arizona are brilliant especially at dawn and dusk.

The natural colors of Arizona are brilliant, especially at dawn and dusk.

Fountain in the shopping mall in Flagstaff.

Fountain in the shopping mall in Flagstaff.

All in all, it was a great week seeing the beauty of Arizona. Due to the closing of the National Parks that week we never did see the Grand Canyon, nor did  I  learn much about photography, but I like the pictures I took so it was a successful week!


I'm in my sixties with the world at my feet and thoughts mostly of "where to next?". I retired in 2017, sold my house in Massachusetts and most of my furniture and "stuff." When not traveling you can find me in Florida in the winter and Rhode Island in the summer. Travel has been a passion from a young age, over the years I've discovered I'm a traveler, not a tourist. I prefer traveling solo, with a travel friend, or small groups. Whenever possible I would rather spend time in one place rather than moving around. I'll never turn down an opportunity to go to France, but my travels have taken me all over the world. I've met some incredible people and had some fantastic experiences.

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