The red rocks of Sedona are tall and warm. When you hike them, you can’t help but notice how unusual they are.
Our house in Florida is ten feet below sea level. We do not have rocks except for the ones my cousin’s kids painted to raise money for a church trip to Wilsonville.
My wife and I have been hiking this mountain since morning. It’s almost suppertime. We have another hour left on the trail.
We pass a man who is sitting on a rock. His beard is white, he looks too old for this terrain. He is breathing heavy. His daughter is seated next to him.
“Dad, do you need to check your blood pressure?” she keeps asking.
The old man is trying to catch his breath and cannot answer.
“Dad? Answer me.”
He removes his Gilligan hat and reveals a bald head. He surveys the miles of colored rock and sagebrush. There are tall orange mountains. Long khaki walls. Two-toned skyscrapers of cinnamon and white
He starts to laugh at the view.
“Well,” he says. “It sure as hell ain’t Iowa. You definitely don’t see this sorta thing on the farm.”
“Dad,” says his daughter. “There’s no shame in turning back.”
“Good,” he says. “Then YOU turn back. I’ve been hiking for hours. I’m getting to the top if it kills me.”
He’s been a farmer all his life. He’s never gone anywhere or done anything famous, he tells me.
The most notable thing he ever did was grow a contest-winning pumpkin the size of a tractor tire. That, and he married a lovely woman who gave him the best years of his life.
He misses her. She always wanted to see Hawaii, Alaska, Florida, and Arizona, but it never happened. She never left Iowa. She passed several years ago unexpectedly, and he wishes…