Red Rocks, Valleys & Writing

The Verde Valley with Mingus Mountain at the horizon
Shaded mound, Sedona Red Rocks at the edge of Sycamore Canyon
hiking the Red Rocks
Devil’s Head plateau
Two Caves
Standing on Devil’s Bridge
All of it.

It’s 1928, and fictional characters Kay, the Hopi Indian, along with Sally and George are included in a gentleman’s exploration of Sycamore Canyon with a band of real-life characters.

     Sally sat on a tall, blonde horse next to the others and tried not show her nervousness. She had little experience riding, but she wouldn’t miss this opportunity to be around these many men who interested her: The director, William Howard, who she hoped would cut her a break and let her do more in his next picture than stand around now as an extra in The Thundering Herd. His cinematographer, Lucien Adroit,  who was excited to film footage for a future project. Jack Holtz was an established star in Howard’s westerns. Zane Grey was a famous writer and his stories were made into movies by Paramount Pictures. Adventurer Billy Clark was the grandson of William A. Clark, the copper baron. As a major stockholder, Billy oversaw the United Verde Copper Company and the company town, Clarkdale. Finally, she was sweet on Gary Cooper. This was his first film, and he had charmed Howard with his potential to be a star. His face was soft and his eyes dreamy. She saw them as a dynamic couple where they could help each other rise to stardom. She wanted to kiss him and mean something to him, but if not, at least he was good looking and more fun to flirt with than the other older men. This camping expedition had a purpose. Sally knew from her mother that it was the associations you made that got your foot in the door, not your talent. One of these men would bend her way and help her advance. She would see to it.

     William Howard picked her a gentle mare named Marigold, and as she sat there waiting, Sally relaxed a bit and let the anticipation fill her. They were on the top of a plateau looking north across the valley to a range of bluffs layered in red sandstone, limestone, and siltstone. To get there would take all morning after a gradual descent across exposed flat land through juniper and creosote bushes and a large mound which Zane Grey said was a volcanic deposit, but to Sally, the solitary hill made her think of a chocolate Hershey’s Kiss…

 

33 thoughts on “Red Rocks, Valleys & Writing

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  1. Great to read the enticing excerpt, set against the photos of the actual place. That really brought the words to life, Cindy. (The two caves look interesting!)
    Best wishes, Pete. x

  2. Lovely photographs and fabulous prose Cindy. I do like the fact you weave the likes of Gary Cooper and Zane Gray into this piece. I’d bet any money my grandmother read “The Thundering Herd” she used to devour those novels.

    1. That’s great! Zane Grey has a fine sensibility. I love his descriptions of canyons and the landscape of the southwest. The heroes were morally upstanding, the women were strong, and the settings beautiful.

  3. I can remember borrowing Zane Grey books from a little book library near our holiday home when I was a young kid. To a kid from a rural town those were great books. I’m too old to remember story lines now but can remember coming back from the beach and settling in on the bunk bed for an afternoon read. lol. The red semi desert country in the US is very similar to our vast red inland desert here.

  4. Great pictures 🙂 You know just staring at them, I am reminded of the Monument Valley scenery of some of the Westerns that John Ford has directed. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

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