In Phoenix: The Heard Museum of Native American Art. This museum is fascinating, exhaustive, instructive and almost overwhelming in the size of its collection and the detail in which it explains the many culuture of Native Americans of Arizona. Fortunately, we had a time limit. We focused first on a special exhibit of Georgia O’Keefe paintings of the Southwest. This was on its last day, but if it is a sample of the quality of special exhibits at the Heard, I would suggest you pay attention to whatever is being featured on your visti.
Of the Heard collection I was most fascinated by the collection of kachina dolls donated by the late Senator Barry Goldwater, maybe because as a child I was given a Kachina doll by a visiting relative. Learning the stories and symbology of these artifacts could have enthralled me for the entire afternoon.
Another bonus which lured us back outside was the Annual Indian Market and Fair, featuring Indian dancers in elaborate Hopi feather costumes and juried Indian art.
If you go to the Heard and need a break from all that culture, I can recommend their lunch restaurant. We ate tacos and Mexican salad in the plaza – a lovely, lively setting.
Along Higway 17 to Sedona –
About half-way to Sedona you’ll need a rest stop. The Rock Springs Café offers deservedly famous pie: a killer lemon meringue, pecan pie made with Jim Beam, plus serviceable salads, burgers, and homey fare. And a stuffed polar bear in the gift shop.
Montezuma’s Castle National Monument – this small but fascinating park features a 5 story cliff dwelling, positioned high on a cliff overlooking a lovely sycamore-lined creek. The visitor’s center is a fine introduction to the site, and the stroll on the loop trail looking up at the mysteriously abandoned structure is a welcome break to the highway.
Once you get to Sedona, you’ll need to get in tune with the New Age vibe, so you better seek out a good Vegan restaurant. I can recommend Chocolatree, an unpretentious combination restaurant and chocolateria along the road west from the main Y intersection. My less-adventurous companion was dubious bout the tarot cards on the table, but ate every bit of her black bean chili. My Meatless Mushroom Medley was gray but yummy. The Mediterranean Madness ordered by my other fellow traveler -quinoa, almonds, raisins, sunflower seeds, coconut milk, and more- was too rich to finish. Still we managed to share a Chocolate Ganache of dates, raisins, macadamia nuts, coconut milk, and raw cacao, but we had enough leavings to share the next night with a table of 8 and it went around twice.