Out of the 52 weeks in a year, there are two  weeks  each year that I have especially looked forward to ever since college began three years ago. One week contains  a camping trip during the summer months with my neighbor Christian, where we explore a new place every summer.

The other week is a mid-winter break, where I get to accompany my dad on a spring break trip. The past two years, I have been extremely lucky to travel with my dad to snowboard out west in Salt Lake City, Utah, and also to one of my favorite places, Jackson, Wyoming.

This past week, the Paquin family took on the Red Rocks of Sedona.

Jacob Paquin/ Equinox Staff

Jacob Paquin/ Equinox Staff

We flew out late Thursday night where we met my sister Carly, a recent graduate of James Madison University, and one of the newest nurses at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. That night, or morning since we didn’t land until 1:00 a.m. Mountain Time, was the first time my father and I had seen my sister since Thanksgiving, so it was great reunion for all of us.

The first thing we did together was drive four  hours through the night to catch the sunrise at the Grand Canyon. As we were driving, all Carly and I could feel was the pain in our neck from whiplash.

What I mean by this is that when my dad rents a car, he can never adjust to the new breaks. For the entire vacation, we were reminding our dad about the breaks. By the end of the vacation, we were all laughing about it.

Sadly, we missed the sunrise by 30 minutes, arriving at around 7:00 a.m..

My first thought while arriving at the Grand Canyon was  that I could stay there for hours upon hours, sitting and enjoying the view. While driving along the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon, we stopped along the way to take in the view and to snap some much needed photos at various rest stops on the side of the road. Our original plan was to hike during the day and travel back to Sedona by sundown.

Jacob Paquin/ Equinox Staff

Jacob Paquin/ Equinox Staff

Instead, we headed back before noon for some much needed relaxation after traveling all day and all night. The next five days consisted of hiking the Red Rocks of Sedona, and some much needed family fun and photographing beautiful sights along the way.

The trails we hiked not only consisted of breathtaking views, but they also had a variety of difficulty along the way.

On our first day, we nearly hiked eight miles, starting from our room at the Matterhorn in Downtown Sedona, eventually exploring up to Brin’s Mesa and Soldier’s Pass trails in the Coconino National Forest. We walked along Devil’s Kitchen sinkhole, which has a 150 by 90-foot opening.

That sinkhole has collapsed three times, once in the 1880s, once in 1989 and again in 1995. The second hike was a tourist trap, but it is a view that is iconic to Sedona’s Red Rocks.

Devil’s Bridge is a photography hot spot, probably because it is also Sedona’s largest natural sandstone arches. Our third and final hike, Cathedral Rock, was my favorite out of the three.

Jacob Paquin/ Equinox Staff

Jacob Paquin/ Equinox Staff

The distance was short to the top, but it wasn’t easy. We were crawling on all fours to scale our way up the sandy rock surface to skyscraper-like rocks that wait for the arrivals of many hikers each day.

On our first day in Sedona, we searched for activities to do while we weren’t hiking.

These activities included off-roading with Red Rock Jeep Tours through the Diamondback Gulch, five zip-line rides over rescued bears, zebras and giraffes, and a helicopter tour of Sedona.

All in all, putting an ocean boy in the middle of the desert turned out better than believed. At least we found some type of water at Slide Rock State Park, which was a chilly 40 degrees.

Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Jacob Paquin can be contacted at jpaquin@kscequinox.com

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