We added five hours on to our trip to the Grand Canyon opting to stay off the interstate and get a more scenic route. If I never stay at a recognizable hotel chain again long as I live, I think I’ll be just fine. There are so many places we wanted to visit including the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona.

We woke up from our cozy beds at The Hotel Magdelena in Magdelena, New Mexico to a beautiful sunrise and a mountain view. Since we arrived at night we had no idea the morning that awaited us. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as we drive down a red dirt road through a neighborhood that was less than desirable and the surrounding buildings were all run down.

The coziest porch right outside our room
Picnic breakfast before we head to Arizona

As I packed up, Ryan got us tea from the hotel lobby to enjoy on the porch. The girls rode their scooters around the hotel as I nursed Norah on a couch outside. Ryan walked with the girls to grab some ice at a convenient store a block away. They returned with the most delicious breakfast burritos.

We loaded up and decided to stop in at the local church. St. Magdelena is over a hundred years old in a basement. Originally they intended the basement to be the Hall for events and the upstairs portion to be the chapel. Lack of finances caused the St. Magdelena parish to celebrate Mass for a century in a cool basement. We met the sweetest couple, Bryan and Rene. They have three children , grew up in this small town and have served the church in various ministries for twenty five years. We chatted about religious education and our kids. We enjoyed meeting these selfless servants.

St. Magdelena
Ryan reading the gospel

The couple from St. Magdelina told us of a popular tourist site that they referred to as antennas. We didn’t quite understand what they were talking about but they assured us we couldn’t miss it and we should stop and check it out.

Our next stop was a late lunch at Pietown Cafe in Pietown, New Mexixo. It was a small dining room that greeted locals and visitors passing through on their way to somewhere else. Our food was taking long and the heat inside forced Norah and I out to the patio. I asked if I could share a table with a sweet older couple from Mississippi traveling from Sedona with their dog. They had three grown daughters who were all very adventurous. The couple had spent six years sailing the world before children, island hopping. We told them our destination and they urged us to take a longer route through Sedona. They claimed it was one of the most beautiful places they had seen. If world travelers give you travel advice…. you listen.

We booked an Air BnB and arrived in Sedona around 8pm after grabbing groceries. Our hosts Luanne and Thomas were very sweet and welcoming. Ryan and I did laundry and cooked food in preparation for our three day camping trip at the Grand Canyon. After we our the kids to bed and made ourselves at home we saw our board couple jumping on trampolines in front of the television. The informed us that they needed to get their steps in.

Our morning view in Sedona

Leaving our AirBnb in Sedona

It was a perfect Sunday. We enjoyed an early breakfast on the huge wrap around porch with a view of the the red mountains. We made our way to visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a magnificent feat of architecture.

Chapel entrance
Chapel of The Holy Cross Sedona, AZ

We left the Chapel and attended Mass at St. John Vianney. It happened to be the feast day of St. John and after Mass they were serving blueberry pancakes and sausages. The congregation was very welcoming and we sat with another visiting family probably the only other family with children as we ate breakfast. We enjoyed our conversations and our fill of sausage. I accidentally took a wrong turn looking for a restroom and found a picture of the priest who baptized me. Father Eduardo Nivarez is auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Phoenix.

Beatiful view from the church parking lot

We got back on the road after taking in the scenery and wearing the girls out with pictures. It was getting hot and the girls we relieved to get back in the van.

We finally made it to our destination. We hoped to find a camp spot at Mathers Campground but instead crossed our fingers and drove forty minutes around the South Rim to Dessert View Campground. We prayed for a spot and hoped that we didn’t have to set our tent up on the side of the road or sleep in the van.

Read about our adventure at the Grand Canyon here.

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