What do Paris and Sedona have in common?

I stumbled upon a transcendental moment in a tourist trap at the Red Rock Crossing just outside of Sedona, Arizona.

I was new to the area and happy my visiting son agreed to hike with me on a sunny, 70 degree day. Disgruntled I had to pay $9 to drive my car into the state park which featured a creek and red rock formations, with hundreds of others who thought it was the perfect activity for the day, I fought back my instinct to flee and found parking.

After a shot of my son’s head looking like a bowling ball at the base of a slab of red rock, and our quibble over the philosophy of shooting in “thirds”, we found a bend along the creek that was relatively quiet and hiked for awhile.

My old camera captured only a small amount of the beauty of the day.

We debated whether to cross over the bridge of stepping stones and decided to keep on the populated side of the trail which hugged the creek. We turned a corner and noticed several stacks of smooth round rocks up on top of the other.

Some rock towers were as high as four feet, but most were a foot or two tall. It was an unexpected sight bordering on creepy. I imagined I were up in a plane looking down on little, ancient formations dragged and placed by druids.

Whenever we turned a bend, another cluster of rock towers greeted us until we came to a clearing and were surrounded on all sides by hundreds of piles. The creek widened and the water churned. Teenagers on the other side held fast to the vertical red wall and leaped over boulders. On our side, visitors contributed to the rock garden in a quiet communion. Each rock was a person. Each person a rock who came and shared the creek, and their presence became part of an artistic imprint. It reminded me of Paris. “How so?” My son asked.

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I just got back from Paris and one memory that stayed with me involved a similar, secret gesture. Not rocks, but steel locks one uses on lockers.  On the Seine River one evening, our stuffed boat passed under bridge after bridge and I noticed locks covered the chain fences on each bridge. There were thousands of locks hanging. The story behind it, I was told, was that lovers come to the bridges and symbolically lock their love with this gesture of good luck. The locks on the bridges rank right up there as one of the best sights to see in Paris.

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Strangers creating a silent bond; I love secrets in public places.

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