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Stargazing in Sedona

Stargazing in Sedona

The night skies in Sedona are pitch-black, seductive and stunning. Coming from a big night-bright city like San Diego, our family is not accustomed to seeing a sky full of stars, so this was a fantastic experience that drew our attention for hours. When we learned there was a Stargazing activity a short drive from our casita at Enchantment Resort in Sedona led by a former NASA engineer using real telescopes, we booked an evening sky tour with Sedona Star Gazing immediately.

The Andromeda Galaxy

As we drove towards the meeting site way into the outlands of the Sedona high desert, our thoughts veered towards scenes from a horror movie: family drawn to remote location with no lights, no buildings, no one to be seen for miles, unwittingly fallen prey to unspeakable horrors, etcetera etcetera etcetera. The kids even laughed, “Don’t go into that dark room! Don’t open the attic door when the scary music is playing!” (My, don’t we all have active imaginations.)

We safely reached the meeting point at dusk, and were guided us to a parking spot by a friendly group of folks as other cars full of smiling families gathered nearby. Soon we were all comfortable friends, walking into a nearby soccer field to watch the darkening skies. The organizers even had comfortable lawn chairs set up for us, complete with blankets in case the air chilled. Our chairs encircled an enormous telescope – a real one – fat and round and pointed to the stars. I admit I had a kind of nerd attack, geeking out over the thought of peering into the sky for lightyears into the past.

As our guide started to orient us to the night sky, he used a super cool laser pointer to effectively locate stars and planets for us, drawing our gaze towards one amazing sight after another. During our two hours together, we saw nearly a dozen shooting stars (he properly called them “meteors”) with one was so bright-tailed it made our group audibly gasp in wonder. We also witnessed quite a few satellites orbiting the planet, perhaps spying on our little group as we craned our necks to spy back. And planets! And stars! And galaxies lightyears away! It was Trekkie heaven.

It was sooooo cool to look through the telescope and see Saturn and her rings

Some of our favorites:

  • Vega – the brightest star in the sky, made famous by Jodie Foster’s discovery of other life in the movie “Contact
  • Polaris – the North Star which orients us directionally, allowing sailors and navigators to find their bearings
  • Jupiter – the largest planet in the sky at that time, we were able to view it closely and even see four of its 54 moons
  • Saturn – so amazingly cool to look at this planet through the telescope and actually see the famous rings
  • Milky Way – our galaxy is so enormous, we can see it in the night sky because of its dense clusters of stars
  • Doublestar Gamma Andromedae – These twin stars sparkle quite clearly in colorful blue and gold
  • Big and Little Dippers – Right down from the North Star are both dippers, which were also connected to other constellations visible in shapes and signs
  • Signs of the Zodiac – Scorpio, Leo, Virgo and Sagittarius were all visible in the sky during our visit
  • Spinning Satellite – Our guide brought this Russian satellite to our attention because it was tumbling out of control, having lost its power as it rolled in descending orbit visible to the naked eye

Did you know that what makes a star appear to twinkle in the night sky is actually atmospheric turbulence that obscures the light for moments at a time, making the star appear to flash and sparkle? Yeah, we didn’t and were suitably impressed. One star we viewed (the name escapes us now) was shining light visible to our eyes that actually left that star 1,892 years ago. Isn’t that crazy to think about?

This is one activity our entire family can highly recommend. If you have the chance to do this while visiting Sedona, you won’t regret it.

 


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Stoned at Mii amo Spa in Sedona

Stoned at Mii amo Spa in Sedona

*This experience was sponsored by Enchantment Resort and Mii amo Spa, and we thank them for hosting our family for this fantastic experience.

Mii amo Spa at Enchantment Resort in Sedona is legendary. In fact, it has been rated among the top ten destination spas in America by Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler and Town & Country – oh, just a few simple accolades. Not only is it nestled into the stunning red rocks (stones) and picture-perfect cliffs that have made Sedona so iconic, but it is seated fortuitously at the entrance to Boynton Canyon. This canyon is the location of one of the world’s strongest energy vortexes, where the earth’s magnetic energies are focused and the source of Native American rituals for centuries.

The iconic red rock formations of Boynton Canyon are breathtaking

While on a recent road tour of the Great Southwest, we had the pleasure of staying at Enchantment Resort with a special visit to Mii amo Spa. We strolled a short walk down the road from the resort casitas towards the spa, and on the way spied a mule deer and her two fawns nibbling at some grass along the pathway, peacefully unconcerned about us at all. We took this as a very good sign. For more about our visit to Enchantment Resort, visit my blogpost titled Enchanted at the Enchantment Resort & Spa: Sedona.

Mii amo is a jewel within a jewel that attracts visitors from around the world to experience its innovative treatments. Being the big spa whores that we are, we just had to schedule appointments at the best of the best.

And it was. Best, that is. I think the sign of a very successful spa is when you feel like every person there is dedicated to just you and your well being. From the time we entered and were greeted, we experienced singular – and I mean singular – service better than anything we had expected. The locker room attendant, the massage therapist, the facialist, the desk attendants – all were exemplary ambassadors of “ahhhhhhh”. We were relaxed and at peace before a single treatment started, and never saw another soul in the building although they were fully booked. That is some fancy scheduling, and we loved it.

Signature Hot Stone Massage

I’ve had a few hot stones in my day (save your jokes for later) and have always left feeling “meh”. However, there is a reason this massage is a signature at Mii amo – it really is that good. Under the guidance of my masseuse, I melted into a puddle of relaxation. There is something in the combination of very hot stones, which are nestled underneath you at your chakra points, and the very cold stones, with icy punctuation that counterpoints the hot. I’ve never had this treatment – or seen it offered anywhere for that matter – and it was pretty awesome.

When I am able to have massages at home, I always opt for deep tissue treatments to ease my tired and aching old carcass of a body. I often leave feeling more sore than I started, and it takes a day or two to settle into relaxed muscles. With Mii amo’s stone massage, my relaxation was immediate and profound.

Even the towels at Mii amo Spa where the plushest and softest ever

Journeyman’s Facial

I always appreciate when a spa has a men’s facial on the menu. Triton and I like getting facials once in awhile, and are often bummed if we have to endure treatments which were more designed for a woman. This facial was manly all the way. Well, except maybe for that fruit salad they smeared on my face (not complaining really, because it smelled amazing).

My fruit salad included a citrus cleanser, a strawberry serum, a tingling citrus mask, a pineapple scrub (that one was my favorite – I tried to lick my own cheek it smelled so delicious) and a bevy of other natural scents including lavender and eucalyptus. I loved it, and better yet, I looked AMAZING. All buffed, polished and hydrated, I felt like a million bucks.

A Peaceful Moment

When I was finished and back in the lobby fully clothed, Triton was still in his treatment so I wandered around the cavernous lobby for a bit. Clearly we had not planned this to our optimum benefit because I soon realized we could have spent all day long at Mii amo, checking out the nooks and crannies, sweating out the evil toxins in the hot and cold saunas,sampling their delicious natural juice concoctions, and lounging in the indoor or outdoor pools.

As I explored the area I came across a man playing a Native American wind instrument, which I had thought was a recording the spa was playing on their sound system. He was that good, and the perfect accompaniment to this beautiful environment.

Medicine Wheel – Circle of Life

A short distance away, I found a quiet interior courtyard with a Medicine Wheel, a centerpoint of American Indian spirituality that features the Four Cardinal Directions and the Four Sacred Colors:

  • East (Red) symbolizes Fire/Creativity & Energy
  • South (Yellow) directs us towards Air/Communication & Knowledge
  • West (Black) helps us encounter Water/Emotion & Insight
  • North (White) honors Earth/Home & Abundance

The red earth of nearby rock formations is reflected in this inner courtyard featuring the Medicine Wheel

I immediately gravitated South, where the guide suggested I would experience the fresh and new. It stated this is the direction to appreciate the potential for new learning experiences – to see the miracles and harmony. Hmmm, I will have to think on that some more.

The Crystal Grotto

That sounds like the title of a good book, “The Crystal Grotto”. However, this book would be about you and only you, because this Crystal Grotto is based on the Native American Kiva, a place of ceremony and transformation. It was a round room, made from the red earth Sedona is so famous for, and carefully created with energizing crystals placed at North, South, East and West. A round skylight in the roof shines directly on an enormous quartz crystal in the center, which we were told lights up in the middle of the room at high noon on the day of Summer Solstice. Darn, we missed it by just one week!

Taking a moment of zen inside the Crystal Grotto

We Shall Return

OK, it was very nice of the Enchantment Resort and Mii amo Spa to host a portion of our experiences as part of us writing about our Great Southwest Family Road Trip Adventure. And it worked – we are hooked. Triton and I are already comparing calendars to determine when we can come back. It really was just that special.

And no, we did not get stoned. The natural high was exhilarating enough.

The Mii amo Spa lobby is enormous, tranquil and gorgeous

 

 

*This experience was sponsored by Enchantment Resort and Mii amo Spa, and we thank them for hosting our family for this fantastic experience.

 


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Enchanted by Enchantment Resort & Spa: Sedona

Enchanted by Enchantment Resort & Spa: Sedona

*This experience was sponsored by Enchantment Resort and Mii amo Spa, and we thank them for hosting our family for this fantastic stay.

Our family is a careful balance, really. A balance of rough-and-tumble wanderlust with an equal part luxury retreat thrown in. These two things don’t always fit together, so planning a vacation can sometimes be hard unless you find one of those unique destinations that offers it all – like the Enchantment Resort & Spa in Sedona.

Little did we know that when planning this trip we could not have chosen a better stay for our mixed bag of needs. The Enchantment Resort & Spa is, well, enchanting in every sense of the word.

En-chant–ment (n)

1..A feeling of great pleasure; delight                

            ie: ‘The enchantment of the mountains’

2. The state of being under a spell; magic

            ie: “A world of mystery and enchantment’

Clearly, the good people behind the Enchantment Resort & Spa took the definition of this word literally as they created this amazing destination.

Gorgeous Setting

The resort’s setting amidst the red rocks and incredible vistas of Sedona’s Boynton Canyon offers the perfect combination to infuse the word “enchantment” with even more meaning. Driving into the property, you have the feeling this little encampment is the only thing here – and it is. Other than the occasional conversation overheard from other guests, you are alone in the quiet to enjoy the beauty, the sound of birds and a stillness we rarely experience in our busy lives. Even our kids felt the calm, and their frenetic energy was quelled.

Wandering the grounds, we found constant points of interest. Easy hiking trails on both sides of the canyon lead to rocky outcroppings and fascinating terrain through the famous red rocks. On our walk, we ran into a group of mule deer grazing on the lawns, a meditation circle in the grass, a collection of rocks stacked in a balanced tower, and tons of interesting flowers and plants that enjoy this arid terrain.

The cliffs and rock formations surrounding Enchantment Resort are just stunning

Both kids said the surrounding red peaks and valleys reminded them of scenes from the “Cars” ride at Disneyland, and they were right. Except this is the real thing. Oh, and those ubiquitous Pink Jeeps I wrote about in an earlier post? There is one parked in the lot here too.

Vortex Adjacent

Many make a pilgrimage to Sedona from around the world to experience the magnetic energy vortexes here, and Enchantment is situated on top of one of the most powerful. Vortexes are focus points for spiritual energy coming from deep inside the Earth, and the Boynton Canyon Vortex is thought to be the perfect balance to bring peace and harmony within oneself and relationships with others. What a great place for a destination spa resort.

Truth be told, none of us felt any special energy from the vortex, although we aren’t sure what that would be expected to feel like. If pure relaxation, calmed emotions and inner peace are what these spiritual pilgrims are talking about, then I guess it worked!

Enchantment Resort is practically sitting on top of Earth’s strong magnetic energy of the Boynton Canyon Vortex

World-Class Accommodations/Dining/Activities

We love to visit smart resort destinations like Enchantment that sprinkle just the right amount of luxury into their natural surroundings. Our family of four fit comfortably into the spacious casita, and the bathroom was enormous – really huge with whirlpool tub, shower and double sink with signature amenities (the soap branded by their own Mii amo Spa smelled so good that I saved a small bar to bring home).

Best yet, we never left the resort because the food was so delicious. Lunch at Tii Gavo (which means “gathering place”) was refreshing and inventive, especially the hot-pink Prickly Pear Margarita. Dinner at Che Ah Chi was 5-star food and equally fantastic service. Even our kids remarked on how friendly and attentive our server was, and at 13 and 15 they are darn hard to impress. We sampled several menu items that were all delicious, especially the Lobster Bisque Cappuccino, the chef’s favorite family recipe for chicken with preserved lemon and tomato confit, and the grilled lamb with mint, feta and kalamata olives. Mmmm, I’m making myself hungry!

The signature Prickly Pear Margarita was a nice greeting at Tii Gavo Restaurant inside Enchantment Resort Sedona

Plus there’s a fantastic pool and Jacuzzi overlooking the cliffs and canyons, serving up a postcard perfect view. Seven Canyons Golf is world-class play on a gorgeous course (those views!). If that’s not enough, there are also tennis courts, hikes, bike tours, and a host of complimentary resort activities that include yoga, photography workshops, aqua fitness, guided meditation and much more. If we had the time, I think we would have signed up for every single one of these activities – they all sounded so amazing.

The Enchantment Resort pool was a cool and refreshing welcome after warm day of hiking and exploring Sedona

Top Rated Spa

Okay, Enchantment’s renowned and awarded Mii amo Spa was a must-visit on this trip, and I am so glad we did. While the girls slept in back at the room, Triton and I walked down to the spa for some transcendent treatments. This place is amazing and well worth the visit – read much more about our experience in my blog post entitled Stoned at Mii amo Spa (soon to post).

So would we suggest Enchantment Spa & Resort as a great family getaway destination? Four out of four thumbs up from the 2DadsWithBaggage gang – a resounding and unanimous YES!

 

*This experience was sponsored by Enchantment Resort and Mii amo Spa, and we thank them for hosting our family for this fantastic stay.