Look, I know you thought Star Trek: The Next Generation was nerdy. And I know you don’t care about references to it. Fine. But I will use one…

The first of four movies featuring the Next Generation cast came out in December of ’94. This movie was called Star Trek: Generations. It’s generally regarded as one of the worst of Star Trek movies. Captain Picard meets Captain Kirk in this thing called “The Nexus,” which is some inexplicable energy field running through space, like a comet, that allows those trapped inside it to live the most fantastic life they literally could imagine. The villain’s whole modus operandi is to get back into the Nexus at any cost, even through destruction of entire planets.

Captain Kirk gets caught in the Nexus. He finds himself in California. He finds himself falling in love with the delusion until Captain Picard, also in the Nexus, convinces Kirk it is a delusion, and that they should go fight the bad guy by, somehow, exiting the Nexus to do it. They good guys win, and blah, blah, blah…

A Google Earth snippet of the Red Rock country – most of it. The City of Sedona is built at the base of the Colorado Plateau. At that base are the Red Rocks. Countless canyons are cut into the plateau rim which afford tremendous opportunities for hiking and photography. You could take years exploring the nooks and crannies of this area, and not see it all. Thus, there is always curiosity, and wonder, for new things.

Now, Sedona’s not the Nexus. Life here can be hard. Everyday problems of human nature are here. It can be too hot. It can be too cold. Prices are astronomical. The only real industry here is tourism, and this limits work opportunities, and… I can go on.

The point is that people should never come here thinking that all problems will magically go away, even though there’s an entire industry of healing and mysticism here trying to convince people that it kinda’ is. I wouldn’t say every part of this industry is fraudulent. But much of it is.

And, in spite of the fact that many here attempt to create mystical notions of reality I think are idiotic, I will nonetheless say that there is a lot of raw material in the Red Rocks for such notions. Again, Sedona’s not the Nexus. But, sometimes, it can be.

I’ve been here six years. In many ways things could not have worked out better after leaving Texas, and for this I am grateful beyond words.

The Red Rocks are stunning. As much of them as I’ve seen – and I’ve seen a lot more than most – they still astound me. Their colors and shapes and shadows are sensory overload. Frankly, they’re almost like a drug. The more you see them, the more of them you must see.

Like a little hike I took a couple of weeks ago to the south rim of the West Fork Canyon. I stood above its mouth. To get there I had to take the AB Young trail, and then veer north from it, through briars and thickets, where maybe two people a year go, if that. Some of the hike was unpleasant. But there were moments wherein I totally forgot time, and put one foot in front of the other for miles, eagerly anticipating that view, which made all the world feel perfect for a while.

This is the photo I sought by veering northward from the AB Young. I am on the south rim of the West Fork Canyon. Here the West Fork runs into the main channel of the bigger Oak Creek Canyon. West Fork is essentially a tributary of Oak Creek. The day was cloudy. The lighting was not ideal. A snowy landscape or thunderhead sky, with the sun breaking through clouds, and casting shadows here and there, would be ideal. However, being miles from help in a snowstorm or thunderstorm ain’t ideal for anything but photos.

You don’t have to be in Sedona to experience recreation like this. But, when I stand underneath ponderosa pines, and smell their vanilla resin, and look down upon those sensory-overloading rocks, the experience so perfectly embodies the very best of the American West’s landscapes, which are literally some of the most beautiful on earth. Here is America the Beautiful. Here is where I thank God I’m American – and I’m not exaggerating.

Then there was another recent hike to what’s now named the Stairway to Heaven. I’d passed by this mountain hundreds of times. A friend convinced me to go up it, and so we did. A lot of bushwhacking was involved – and I certainly don’t love manzanitas, yuccas and cactuses. But the top was awesome.

To the west red rocks dotted the landscape to the far horizon.

This is that view to the west from the top of the Stairway to Heaven. You can see Hwy 179 going by Bell Rock in the top-left of the photo. This is not the best view of the Red Rocks. But living here makes you wonder more and more what the views are like from the many different high points surrounding the city. That curiosity is not known to tourists necessarily. It comes from familiarizing yourself with horizons. It comes with time. And that’s another reason why the Rocks don’t get old.

To the north, red rock spires, buttes and canyons unfurled to Oak Creek Canyon’s mouth with those San Francisco peaks – the highest mountains in Arizona reaching over 12,000′ – in the far horizon. I’m not saying this put me on some transcendental high like smoking sativa is for some. But you could stare for hours up there, and not soak in all the details, and still be curious.

Looking due north. I would like a better camera. My Samsung kinda’ sucks.

Or how about a little hike to Secret Arch? I took my baby – my 1989 carbureted ex-Pink jeep that sure as hell is no longer colored pink – down Vultee Arch road to the Dry Creek hiking trailhead with a friend. Then we had to switch to Bear Sign trail. Somewhere along Bear Sign we spotted Secret Arch from afar, and had to bushwhack, again, to get to there.

Now, arches are a rare natural rock formation, and are of course neat to see. An entire national park in Utah is dedicated to arches.

Secret Arch. I got some dang rash brushing against some poison sumac or dang plant. Oh well. It was so worth it. The Seven Canyons area of Sedona, of which Bear Sign Canyon is one, is an area I’ve been through quite a bit, but there is so much more.

But it was pines and junipers with shining silhouettes on top of some red ridge in front of Coconino canyon walls darkened by shadows that grabbed my attention. It was a contrast between shadow and light unique to the Colorado Plateau country. It was a vista I’d not seen before, and it was a reminder that there is always something new here. There’s always something to be excited about.

You can say I’m exaggerating these emotions. And, again, I admit that this excitement to see new things is certainly not always a part of my being because life happens here as it does everywhere else. I can certainly be a moody, crotchety misanthrope at times. But still, it’s like I said in Exactly why I’m grateful for Sedona.