The following account is the tragic tale of how my foot was introduced to Echinocereus fendleri, known to biologists and Jeopardy contestants as the “Fendler Hedgehog Cactus.” But because I am haunted every night by the ghosts of Shakespeare past, I feel obligated to start at the beginning of the story.
My uncle and his family used to live in Sedona, Arizona because, like our family, they tend to accept “familiarity breeds contempt” as a central doctrine and move around frequently. Either that or he’s a repressed linguistic compensating for his semantic yearnings by moving to places that rhyme.
Whatever the case, we decided to travel to Arizona to visit with them and more importantly, to hike. Sedona is one of the agreed-upon most beautiful places in America. It boasts towering mesas, red sand, fresh air, and depending on the season, tourists wearing all the seven major varieties of the “awful polo.”
We spent two days in Sedona after visiting the Grand Canyon (which is another story for another post), so naturally the bar had been set high. However, Sedona did not disappoint; I, unlike WolframAlpha, think that Sedona is cooler than the GC.
Our first day involved some intense road-tripping and poor verb creation. We traveled 3 or 4 hours to Sedona by car. Depending on your personal affinity for driving and how much you like playing “I spy” (ignore the libelous ‘warning’ to avoid playing in cars; the directions were written by ruffians), I would recommend long drives as part of your trip. The Arizona desert is possibly the most gorgeous landscape to drive through. Rock formations smeared with vibrant reds and oranges as well as a variety of plant and animal life will make the drive well worth the while.
We actually got the opportunity to drive part of the way through a thunderstorm, which was also something everyone should be able to see. The winds whip the rain into pseudo-twisters that whip back and forth around you; quite a remarkable sight!
Once we arrived in Sedona, we hiked as much as we could. ‘Hiked’ is a loose term here; there were other people on the trail with backpacks they could drink straight out of and goofy improvised ski poles, glancing at us with disdain as they shuffled past. I suppose they were the ones that were actually hiking; we ‘vigorously walked’ the trails around Sedona. It’s really unfortunate that I was at the stage where I would never take pictures of anything (because I thought that worrying about a camera ruined the experience). The Sedona trails boasted some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen. If you ever have the opportunity to walk these trails, do so. Ski poles or not.
For the most part, these trails are very safe and well marked; but on the last day, I wandered off the path and stepped right on a cactus (a Fendler Hedgehog Catcus to be precise, see above) wearing only sneakers. I may or may not have said some unspeakable things; words that I didn’t even know I had access to. Which leads me to my most important recommendation: WEAR BOOTS.
The Culprit. Looks sinister, doesn't it?
Despite this painful turn of events, I watched an Arizona sunset from a Mesa, which is when I once again felt an irrational urge to scrapbook. Oh well, such is life. Next time, I’ll bring a camera. For now, here's a YouTube video posted by someone who had the sense to bring one.