For our last day in Sedona, I wanted to get up early and shoot a sunrise. Since our hotel, Bell Rock Inn, was literally a minute or two drive away from Bell Rock, this was the natural choice. Shooting the sunrise here was a great start for the last day in this beautiful location…
I got to Bell Rock well in advance of sunrise so that I could do a bit of scouting and find the best location to shoot from.
When I got there, I noticed that Bell Rock wasn’t the only big rock sticking up in the area. There was also another big rock structure to the east of it. Since the sun also comes up from the east, I whipped out my phone to see exactly where the sun would be coming up from, and if the rocks to the east would block the light of the sun.
Bell Rock is at the center of the X.
To the right is the lighter colored blob, the big rock to the east that I was wondering whether or not would block the sunrise light.
The yellow line leading up to Bell Rock is the path of the sun’s light at sunrise. (The other lines represent sunset, moonrise, and moonset.)
Looking at this screenshot, I was able to see that the sunrise light would be unobstructed this morning. Woohoo!!
So after parking my car and hiking towards Bell Rock from the south (the blue dot in the above screen shot is me), I started scoping out the area and taking some sample shots.
I experimented with a different compositions. Some with the trail leading right into Bell Rock. Others with the trail swooping off to the side.
As the sun would be rising from my right, the moon was quickly setting to my left, behind another array of red rocks.
I was hoping that I could get a wide, sweeping panorama with the sun rising on one side, the moon setting on the other, and the rocks aglow all around me.
The way the lighting and timing and weather worked out this morning, the clouds would thicken and cover up the moon as it set, but it would dip down behind the rocks in the west a few minutes before the sun peeked up from the east. Oh well.
After doing some scouting and getting the best vantagepoint I could find for nice trails in the foreground, desert plantlife scenery in the middle, and as much of the rocks as I could get fitting through the trees and all, I got my camera gear in place to shoot some panos.
While shooting panos with my main camera, I also pulled out my phone camera for some quick snappy snappies to post on facebook.
As the light progressed and the sun continued to rise, I got to shoot a number of different panos.
I think this is one of the places where you really have to be there to really get a feel for it, to turn your head from side to side and see everything standing up before you, to watch the light as it changes as the sun rise… but hopefully a panoramic photo will work.
After successfully shooting several panoramas (in between people hiking through and walking their dogs down the trail), I packed up and headed back to my car.
From the parking lot I was overjoyed to find a picture perfect photo op of my rental car in front of Bell Rock. (I love my car in scenic location pics!)
After heading back, packing up, and checking out, Anna and I hopped in the car and headed out to go meet Matt and Julie at a stupa they knew about. What’s a stupa? I’m not quite sure but it’s time to go find out!
So in Sedona you’ve got this stupa, which seems to be a place where Buddhists go to pay their respects to Buddha and perform their rituals. It’s this big tower with a worn trail that runs around it where people have walked laps around the stupa.
Curious to learn more about what this was, I found this stand with some information about the stupa, as well as a nice photo of it from behind. Great idea! I like it and am gonna copy it!
(Sometimes it definitely helps to see other people’s shots for ideas, especially when they’ve spent quite a bit of time there…)
Anyways, after doing the photo thing, I set down my gear and spent some time quietly meditating. I also decided to go try out walking around the stupa and found it to be really enjoyable. It’s like your mind would go quiet as you would focus on the repetitive task. Out of your head and into the moment. Cool.
There was this one guy who, well, you can read the caption above. He had these rosary-like beads in his hand, which I guess would help him keep track of how many laps he’d done this far. He just kept walking and walking, doing countless laps around the stupa.
Wrapping Up and Heading Out
After finishing up here, we all headed out together to go visit some stores together before heading out.
Anna wanted to find some bird feathers which she wound up finding.
Julie wanted to get an agave didgeridoo from literally a guy who makes them, and she wound up doing exactly that, which was an interesting story unto itself!
While we were at a shop looking for didgeridoos, at one point I approached some Native American knives on display. I picked one up and somehow instantly knew endless details about these knives: how to use them in combat, how to hold them, how durable they are, different materials used over time to craft the knives including wood, stone, bone, metal, etc… and yet I’ve had no training with Native American weaponry or any serious training with knives in the first place. (Just a few basic ways to defend yourself against a knife from karate years ago when I was young, sure, but nothing like this…)
Just after all this information flooded into my awareness, Julie walked up behind me and casually said, and I paraphrase, “In this lifetime you’re not meant fight and kill with your knife. This time you’re here to use your sword of love to penetrate into the depths of other’s hearts.”
“Whoa,” I thought.
“That reading was free,” she jokingly added.
(Since then I’ve purchased a military grade knife off of Amazon. It’s a huge step up from the smaller and lighter backpacking knives I carry. I don’t know why but I feel like I have experience with this knife, a familiarity with it. At the same time, I have this unexplainable disinterest when holding the blade and using it, similar to a child who’s just tired of playing with his old toy.)
Past life stuff and me evolving, perhaps?
(I accidentally wrote that as evoloving… and I like that.)
Gassing up our car to hit the road, I was taken aback by finding these sitting by the cash register…
Yes! Those are real scorpions inside those suckers!! Crazy…
From here on out, it was pretty chill. Took Anna to a Cracker Barrel in Phoenix since she’d never been (southern comfort food!!), gassed up the car, and off we headed back to Seattle.
What a great trip! Full of plenty of unexpected events, but that’s how these things always seem to go.
Until next time!