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English Rose rides with Tumbleweed Tom
An English Rose in Georgia
Lesley Francis - 2016
Lesley Francis grew up in London, England, and made Georgia her home in 2009. - photo by File photo

I recently broadened my American experience with a big dose of the Old West: towering red rock cliffs, steep canyons, cowboys, horses, tumbleweeds, mountains and the desert.

As part of thoroughly celebrating my 50th birthday, I was lucky enough to take a girls’ trip to Sedona, Arizona.

Sedona has an amazing geology and location. It is in central Arizona and, geologically speaking, is at the base of the 200-mile-long Mongolian Rim. Sedona is spectacular because erosion has eaten away at the rim over the eons, moving it northward a distance of about 4 miles and leaving behind some of the most picturesque canyons found anywhere in the world.

If geology isn’t your thing, how about spirituality? Sedona is also famous for its intersections of naturally occurring electromagnetic earth energy, also known as vortexes. These vortexes are thought by many to be spiritual, creating powerful and transformational energy centers. This has led to Sedona becoming a thriving center of New Age mysticism. You can have a tarot reading, or have your aura read and photographed by special computer technology (really!), and if you really want to go all-out, you can get it interpreted by spiritual shamans.

Sedona has it all for the 21st-century hippy.

But the focus on Sedona’s spirituality isn’t new. Native Americans, including the Navajo, Yavapai and Hopi Indians recognized the energy and spiritual power of Sedona’s vortexes centuries ago. They honored this area and used it only for sacred ceremonies. Often, the area will be even more beautiful than normal wherever there is a vortex, with changes in the light and trees showing signs of twisting trunks and branches, spiralling into the energy field.

Back to my birthday week, much of our trip was devoted to fine dining, shopping and spa treatments. I am a firm believer in good plumbing, soft beds and room service. However, my dear friend, who is much hardier and more in tune with the outdoors than I am, talked me into a Jeep trip out into the desert.

We lucked out and our early Sunday morning tour was just us with our guide — an interesting character who called himself Tumbleweed Tom. One could easily imagine old Tumbleweed Tom making his way across the desert 200 years ago on a horse with a string of pack mules following sullenly behind.

America never ceases to amaze and delight me. I was awestruck by the grandeur and beauty of the desert, and once again reminded of the magnificence and vastness of this North American continent that I am fortunate enough to call home. Tumbleweed Tom pointed out trees, cacti and even beautiful flowering shrubs in the dry desert that can go for years without rain, and my time in this wonderful place conjured up memories of every Eagles song I know and love. I leave you with a line from their hit Already Gone: "When you look up in the sky, you can see the stars and still not see the light." We should take time and enjoy what is around us!

God bless America!

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