Back in the late 70’s (or early 80’s?) I went swimming at Oak Creek Crossing in Sedona, Arizona. But I believe a few people thought I was exaggerating because much of the time Oak Creek Crossing is shallow and there’s no obvious place you can swim.
Yet I’ve recently discovered several photos that prove my case.
When I came here back in the 70’s I had Spiritual experiences here – and it was still pretty well unspoiled. I climbed up to Cathedral Rock and I felt like it was a secluded sacred moment – like nobody had ever been up here before. Now there are hiking trails that go up here and people all over the place. The Spell of Solitude is long gone.
But it’s beauty and mystique can never be completely destroyed.
So Nick, our Guide/Driver, says there’s something else he wants to show us close by.
Lead on …
He points to a nearby tree and says: “See this tree?” “This is John Wayne Tree”.
What?! Really!! How so?
Nick says that back in 1947 when John Wayne was starring in Angel and the Badman
John had posed by this tree for a photo.
I now recalled seeing that photo somewhere? but I’ve been able to find it since.
This did seem seem to be an amazing coincidence though because there’s no way Nick could have known
that I had a blog called My Favorite Westerns where I had extensively featured The Duke.
Nick claimed John posed something like this. (Notice how I bear absolutely no resemblance to John Wayne who was without a doubt about one of the most photogenic Celebrities who ever lived.)
But I really had to wonder though at the odds of this??
We hadn’t planned on taking Jeep Tour at all and these Jeep Tours go to many different locations in the area.
Yet here we were. Pretty amazing.
Angel and the Badman / 1947
One year before I was born.
John Wayne was 40 years old.
He was a Star, but had not yet achieved the unparalleled heights of SuperStardom
he ultimately reached.
Eight years earlier John had Starred the most important Western ever made: Stagecoach. Directed by John Ford which raised Western Film from pulp to legitimate Art. This had been also John’s breakthrough role as a Western Hero.
I never really did tell the full story of our John Wayne Tree adventure at Sedona back in 2013. My previous posts on this were lousy so I want to fix that.
In Sedona my pardner, Rose, won a Jeep Tour prize by getting sucked into a TimeShare presentation. That was the hook. I wasquietly kicking Rose for making me endure the TimeShare thing, but we would never have gone on this Jeep Tour otherwise.Life and Fate, however, often have a different idea that they only let us in on when we’re right in the middle of it all. Sometimes wonderful things happen. Sometimes not. This turned out to be pretty wonderful.
So off we go.
When you realize how many Jeep Tours there are here and the many different places they go,
you have to realize what an amazing coincidence this event turned out to be.
Schnebly Hill Road
A bit of history:
Theodore Carleton (T C) Schnebly and his wife SEDONA Arabella Miller Schnebly
moved to the Sedona area in 1901.
Schnebly Hill Road, of course is named after them and Sedona after her.
The Hill road is an adventure in itself. Below you can see one stretch of the road – and why they use Jeeps. All six of us were all well strapped in, but we still needed to hold on to our saddlehorns. At one point we saw a family in a minivan coming up the road. You can bet they regretted that.
Nick, our driver, was giving us a running commentary on the area as we bumped along. (Can’t remember a thing.)
Nor was there much chance for taking any pics on the way up.
But we did snap a couple.We jostle and jerk our way up to see a viewpoint Nick calls Schnebly Hill Vista
… and jump out for a jaunt.
I look back down and see the old timer still sitting in the jeep. (below)
(He was a very unhappy camper to be along on this excursion – and didn’t hide it.) Possibly another victim of a TimeShare pitch.
Hiking up a short, but steep little path and arrive at the Viewpoint …
Nick was right. This is a hell of a viewpoint.
You can literally see for miles. Sedona in the distance.
There are a lot of such vista views around Sedona area.
I’ve been to Sedona on and off since the early 70’s. On my first visit I hiked up to Cathedral Rock. There were no trails or pathways going up there in those days. And no people. I enjoyed a moment of pure solitude. That evening I swam at Oak Creek Crossing as the sun set. Native ladies and their children came down to sit on the rocks to enjoy a serene twilight. It was truly a magical moment and a once in a lifetime experience. I was One with them. Sedona is not the sleepy secret it used to be, but I hope there is still some solitude and peace to be found here.
I’ve been going to Sedona, Arizona on and off since the 70’s. Love that place. Back then although Sedonaand it’s Waterholeweren’t really a secret, things weren’t overly crowded either. That changed. Some major magazine (was it Look?) published an article on America’s great waterholes. Next thing you know the place was packed. Now it’s called Slide Rock State Park. And you have to pay to get in. Like many National Parks in the US and Canada the whole area has become a Tourist Trap. Frankly, many Parks are being ruined by too many visitors. Hell, Yellowstone has had traffic jams for years. Banff National Park in Canada will soon be forced to limit access. Just too many people. And if you want to camp in most any major Park up here you have to book WAY ahead. Sometimes a year ahead. It’s a crisis situation. Some Parks I visited you can’t even take a photo without 10 people in it. Or more. ??? So I’ve been dismayed for many years on how badly Sedona is being impacted. Jeep Tours, ATV rentals, mountain bikers, motocross cycles – a lot of different things. The place is being destroyed. When I hiked up to Cathedral Rock back in the 70’s I felt like I was in a remote area. Not now. Most of the following photos are from a visit in 2013 (?). Here’s what it looked like that day. We snuck in – it woulda costs 20 bucks otherwise.
“You call that life? If an Apache cannot live in his home mountains like his fathers before him, he is already dead!” Massai: (Lancaster)
When Rose and I got back from Arizona and the Apache Trail … I sat down in my living room and turned on the TV. Guess what’s playing? ??? Apache… of course – on Turner Classic Movies.
Interesting that foreign posters are often better than domestic.
But all they would have had to do was stick a pic of Jean Peters on the
poster and the theatres would have been full.
Jean … with a bullet
Well, I’ve known about this movie for some some, but never gotten around to seeing it. But since this was such a coincidence (I don’t believe in coincidences), I figured I better watch it. I’ve also known for a long time that my attraction to Sedona and Arizona country was due to past lives that I had spent here as a native in times that pre-dated the coming of the Whiteman. Much of Apacheis filmed around Sedona and though I have no clear recollection of being Apache in particular, Apache is a very large and board label that covers many tribes in the American Southwest.
Apacheis not high on the list of most Western Movie fans, and I don’t consider it to be a major Western classic myself. But it still has some interesting and noteworthy features. For starters, it stars Burt Lancaster – one of the greatest Western Film actors of all time.
“The film was the first in a series of movies Lancaster made for United Artists (under the Hecht-Lancaster studio)
It was originally budgeted at $742,000. The film was a big hit, earning over $3 million in its first year of release and $6 million overall.”
A study of the film industry gives is a study of inflation: The recent The Lone Ranger (starring Johnny Depp) cost approximately $250 million to make.
Besides Lancaster as Massail, it also has other notable casting: Jean Peters as Nalinlel; John McIntire as Al Sieber; Charles Bronson (as Charles Buchinsky) as Hondo; John Dehner as Weddle; Paul Guilfoyle as Santos; Ian MacDonald as Clagg; Walter Sande as Lt. Col. Beck; Morris Ankrum as Dawson; Monte Blue as Geronimo.
Charles Bronson billed as Charles Bruchinsky
Jean Peters, John McIntire, Charles Bronson, John Dehner, Ian MacDonald would all be well recognized actors even today.
Another 1950s pro-Indian Western featuring Caucasian actors in brown body paint speaking pidgin “Native,” Apache nevertheless manages to dispense more than the standard revisionist bromides. Showcasing his energetic style, director Robert Aldrich doesn’t stint on the violence perpetrated by either the whites or by star Burt Lancaster‘s athletic blue-eyed brave Massai, while Massai’s rough handling of Jean Peters‘ Nalinle makes him tough to admire. Nevertheless, Massai’s trip from Florida to his ancestral lands early in the film concisely and potently sums up the ruinous spread of white “civilization” across indigenous tribal territory, turning him into a Machiavellian hero saved by the agrarian ideal and Nalinle’s familiar instincts. As Aldrich figured, that salvation rings jarringly false, but the powers that be overruled the relatively inexperienced movie director’s artistically sound yet commercially difficult instincts. Aldrich’s first collaboration with producer/star Lancaster, Apache was also the director’s first hit and the beginning of Lancaster’s fruitful run as a Western action hero. According to historical accounts, the actual Massai’s eyes really were a Lancasterian azure.
Director Robert Aldrich
The film is directed my none other than Robert Aldrich – who also directed The Big Knife (1955), What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), The Flight of the Phoenix(1965), The Dirty Dozen (1967), and The Longest Yard (1974).
Aldrich further directed the Western Classic Vera Cruz(1954) that featured Lancaster, Gary Cooper, Cesar Romero, Charles Bronson, Ernest Borgnine … among others.
Other Westerns directed by Robert Aldrich:
– 4 for Texas (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Anita Ekberg, Ursula Andress, Charles Bronson, Richard Jaeckel, Jack Elam,and The Three Stooges.(Yep, you’re reading correctly – obviously a comedy.)
– Ulzana’s Raid (1972) starring Burt Lancaster, Richard Jaeckel, Bruce Davison and Joaquin Martinez. The film, which was filmed on location in Arizona – portrays a brutal raid by Chiricahua Apaches against European settlers.
– The Frisco Kid (1979) – another Western comedy with Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford …
Apache – Cathedral Rock in background, Sedona Arizona
Rose and I (and four other folks) took a very bumpy Jeep ride
(hang on to your saddlehorn folks) up Schnebly Hill Road. (Theodore Carleton (T C) Schnebly and his wife SEDONA Arabella Miller Schnebly
moved to the area in 1901. Guess how Sedona got it’s name?
Sedona Jeep tour
Eventually we jostled and jerked our way up to a viewpoint near Schnebly Hill Vista … then jumped out for a jaunt. Climbing a short, but steep,
little path we arrived at a location overlooking the whole valley. Beautiful! There are lots of vista shots around Sedona.
Sedona – the view from Schnebly Hill
Here’s where Nick – our Jeep driver – points to a certain tree and tells us “This is John Wayne Tree”. Really!! (He had no knowledge that I had a blog called My Favorite Westerns). There’s a photo (somewhere) of John Wayne posing by this tree when he was filming Angel and the Badman in 1947.
I believe I saw that photo once, but after hours of searching the net was unable to locate it.
John Wayne Tree
Nick claims that Wayne posed somewhat like this (above) in the famous photo. You know … I could almost hear Duke whispering in my ear: “Get yer hand off my tree pilgrim.”
I’m not Catholic … or a Christian …
But I have no problem with most anybody’s else’s religion.
If I see a Church, a Chapel, or a Temple,
I figure there’s an Altar in there.
And that’s about God. Love.
As far a I know.
So here we have the Chapel of the Holy Cross near Sedona. It’s a popular place for many visitors – and many who feel the same way I do. I spotted a van load of Buddhist monks, bikers … people of every stripe.
An enjoyable experience – and for some a profound spiritual pilgrimage.
Chapel of the Holy Cross Catholic Church with Cathedral Rock (appropriately) in the distance.