You’ll find a lot of baby boomers in a retirement mecca like Sedona, Arizona. Including Seattle writer Ron Gompertz. Trouble is, he found Sedona so “new age” that its famous vortex almost killed granny.
Sedona, Arizona. New Age Mecca. Home of the mysterious vortex.
After a day of hiking the red rock canyons, my wife and I went to investigate Airport Mesa, a local vortex site, to see if we could feel the legendary power emanating from deep within the earth.
Scorpions. Rattlesnakes. Black widow spiders. Coyotes. Wild boars. Women carrying babies on their backs and revolvers on their hips. Seems like everything in Arizona can kill you. Surely the vortex would offer some balance to the relentless assault of natural hazards.
After competing for a parking place with drivers who were less than mellow, we climbed up to the mesa and competed for photo opportunities. Nobody was meditating or doing yoga. No chanting. The closest thing to interpretive dance was a kid trying to bug his grandmother by doing the Gangnam Style dance. He seemed to be having a spiritual moment. She wasn’t.
I couldn’t feel any earth vibrations but the sky was darkening and the views were beautiful.
A storm was approaching so we stayed to watch it arrive alongside the frail old woman whose family and dancing grandson had already descended.
When the wind gusts hit, we were nearly knocked off the top of the summit. (The next day, I would learn that the gusts had hit 55 miles/hour up there. To get a sense of this, stick your head outside the car next time you’re driving down the freeway.)
My wife smartly dropped to her knees to minimize wind resistance.
The old woman was disoriented and her oversized jacket filled like a sail. She was about to paraglide off the edge when I grabbed her thin arm. Her jacket hood blew over her face.
My face was getting pelted by the fine red dust that makes the region so beautiful when it’s not trying to kill you.
Both of us were in trouble until my wife grabbed the old woman’s other arm and guided her to a cable that serves as a guide rail.
Once stabilized, I looked down the hillside and saw the old woman’s adult son or son-in-law watching the whole drama unfurl. I waved frantically, hoping he would come and help his scared and uncooperative old granny, but he just turned and left. Not exactly a moment of new age love and understanding.
The three of us all inched down the hillside half blinded by stinging dust, buffeted by the crazy winds gusting out of the canyon. It was really scary.
So, yeah, I got my vortex.
Truth is, it almost got me.
Ron’s book is Life’s Big Zoo.