What were you thinking? Oak Creek Canyon is sacred ground, filled with millions of memories. Picking up just north of Sedona, Highway 89A lazily winds up the canyon, topping out south of Flagstaff. The sun rises and falls early there, and the air is always crisp, smelling of pine trees. Every season is unique; they are all my favorite. In autumn, the canyon is a feast for the eyes. Fall colors stretch as far as you can see. Wintertime means cold weather, even snow. Fireplaces keep busy, with cabin dwellers snug and warm inside. Spring brings bright green grass, flowers, a sparkling creek dancing along the edge of the road. Summertime is much cooler than down in the Valley. Picnics, hiking, and fishing abound. Always hungry; we blamed it on the elevation, but I think it was just because we were so happy to be there.
I first drove through Oak Creek Canyon as a high school student, stopping to slide down Slide Rock in my jeans. As a young woman, I discovered the Forest Houses, and ended up staying there often for well over twenty-five years. In 1979, suffering horribly from morning sickness, my husband drove me all the way to Garland's (over two hours) so that I could buy a box of apples...Oak Creek apples.They were the only thing I could keep down. It wasn't long before our daughter starting making the drive up from Tempe with us; we all loved it. I introduced friends to the Forest Houses, and soon people I knew were there all the time. My sister honeymooned in the Trout House. Eventually, my love for Oak Creek Canyon outlasted both of my marriages. I scattered a beloved Golden Retriever's ashes in Oak Creek. I began sharpening my photography skills there.
Last night, a friend made a comment on Facebook about a forest fire near Slide Rock. It caught my eye right away, and I went to an Arizona newspaper's site and started reading more. I read over and over that the cause of the fire was suspected to be man-made. As of this writing, over 4,500 acres have burned and many areas are under mandatory evacuation. I close my eyes and picture that bright blue sky, those red rocks, the ice cold creek. I can still smell the forest. I've traveled extensively throughout my lifetime, but there is only one Oak Creek Canyon. How anyone can not want to protect its magic is incomprehensible to me. Shame on you.