Downtown Sedona

'The Spirit of the West' Downtown Sedona.
"It's ruined; nothing but a tourist trap," said some people. "It's fabulous," said others. Downtown Sedona is simultaneously neither and both. Oddly enough, there is even one shop where you could buy groceries, vegetables and fruit although they are rather exclusive groceries, vegetables and fruit.

It's full of shops selling Indian jewellery, teeshirts and sweatshirts, artisan clothing, New Age shops, art galleries, hats, bags, leather goods and restaurants. Nothing is cheap; some of it is tacky; some of it is fabulous. That's exactly how it is in every American 'tourist town' I've ever visited.

But Sedona is different. There are no lights above street level at night to guard against light pollution so if you go for a walk in town in the evening you need a torch; every other building seems to offer healing of some kind; McDonalds had to paint their famous arch green as the yellow one wasn't allowed and there's no Wal-Mart. You can view all of that as lovely or pretentious; it's up to you. There is, of course, light pollution from all the cars driving through but it is reduced.

In layout, downtown Sedona is a typical American Main Street, laid out in one straight line, with some shopping arcades either side and, apart from said groceries shop, pretty much nothing sensible to buy. But hey, who wants to buy sensible in Sedona?

Downtown Sedona is an experience. It's best on a lovely sunny day, of course, but our first visit was in pouring rain during November and it still kept our attention. That first day, there was nothing to see bu the shops and the puddles on the sidewalk but, on your-average-Arizona day you can gaze at the wonderful red rock formations while pottering round the shops which makes it a spectacular event just being there. In that way it's similar to our home on Dartmoor where you only have to look over the gate to have your breath taken away, although I have to admit that, at home, we don't sell Indian jewellery or have a Wild West Movies museum… Perhaps we should.

There's a load of free parking just off the main street (head to the right from the 'Y') and it's on the right at the end of the shopping part of Main Street. If you don't know what the 'Y' is, no worries; you'll soon find out if you come to Sedona. Or, you can stop off while take the trolley bus around town. It's fairly cute (on fine days) and goes to several 'scenic view' spots as well though it's not cheap at at $18 a head.

However, we'd got a kick-ass Dodge Challenger so my petrol-head husband wanted to drive everywhere and I didn't fancy pottering around and waiting for the bus to come round again to pick us up.

So, what's on the street that's interesting? There's the fudge shop… They pummel the fudge to death — sorry make it —in front of your eyes and it is utterly forbidden-fruit irresistible, delicious and indulgent (you don't actually believe that Eve was tempted by a piece of fruit, do you? She was a woman for God's sake! It had to be, at very least, a fudge tree).

Okay, the fudge doesn't look very thrilling just like that but the folks were folding it over like flaky pastry and, trust me, the end result was gorgeous.
I wanted to do an interview with Tudy [sic] the owner of Sedona Fudge Company not only because it's fabulous fudge but because its origin was a glorious mistake and I like stories like that. But Tudy was out on the first day we went in and in hospital (not for anything serious, I'm glad to say) when we went back so that didn't happen.

It all began back in 1887 when a chocolate-maker started his own business in Michigan and made a chocolate fondue which went horribly wrong … and turned into fudge with a really creamy texture that everyone went crazy about. I do that kind of cooking all the time but I've yet to make a business out of it so big kudos to him! It's all natural ingredients without preservatives and they include a diabetic chocolate as well sweetened with a natural plant product that begins with M but I've forgotten it and can't find it on Google (if you know its name, do tell me in the comments and I'll edit this - thanks).

What else? Ah, yes, returning to the beautiful original picture of 'the Spirit of the West', Sedona is filled with just glorious bronze statues, mostly of horses. You just want to climb up onto 'the Spirit of the West' and urge him into a gallop. And there's the lovely pony with a puppy trotting at its feet as well… This used to be in a separate shopping area called Tlaquepaque but is now in the main stretch, inside a small mall.

Not to mention the dancing couple that are on a wheel and swing round and round if you push them...

Probably the only really disappointing shop/place was Sedona Motion Picture Museum which has dozens of black and white photos of all the movies that have beens shot in the area (and there were a lot). However, it is only one room and the staff were grumpy and unhelpful on that particular day. One of them half-heartedly tried to offer us a horse-ride at a very cheap price in return for our seeing a time-share presentation. As we'd already been round that loop (of which, more later) we weren't interested.

It is a lovely town centre. Even Lion, who doesn't enjoy shopping, was happy to go around it twice. And if it is a tourist trap, so what? These tourists enjoyed it.


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