An Arizona Winter – While eastern USA was in a deep freeze (lowest February temperature on record), the Gray Nomad was hiking Arizona where the average temp was 70F. Got some great pics! Also learned a deep spiritual lesson while out there, see Post-Script below.

Cathedral Rock in Sedona (click to enlarge then hit back arrow to return).

Cathedral Rock in Sedona (click to enlarge then hit back arrow to return).

INSERT: My new book Weed and Water is now out as a print book (as well as an e-book) and can be ordered at In the first chapter I am rescued from drowning by the teenager next door.

Sedona is red-rock country, and Cathedral Rock is a star attraction. While we were taking pictures, two women got married and the wedding ceremony was held right there in front of Cathedral Rock! It was so beautiful and it was hard to believe it was Winter!

Also in Sedona, I hiked down to Sliding Rock, where years ago my brother Clive and I put on our swim trunks and cascaded down the Oak Creek River on our raw bums (however that was in summer).

Sliding Rock in Oak Creek Canyon, close to Sedona (click to enlarge).

Sliding Rock in Oak Creek Canyon, close to Sedona (click to enlarge).

We drove up to the Superstition Mountains, where gold and murders are the history. You can see more in the book Hiking Toward Heaven. Driving on the Apache Trail past Stewart Lake, we stopped in Tortilla Flat, a very small town nestled in the mountains (population 6). Three men in a band were playing and singing Golden-Oldies. Lots of laughs and hand-clapping, and even a little dancing.

Stewart Lake near Tortilla Flat (click to enlarge).

Stewart Lake near Tortilla Flat (click to enlarge).

As the day waned we took a hike along the First-Water trail, where Jacob the old Dutchman entered the Superstitions to get to his lost goldmine. In this area about 20 Spanish goldminers were massacred by Apaches a couple centuries ago.

The desert was the prettiest I have EVER seen with greenery everywhere. This was due to over 10 inches of rain in the area before Christmas. Green grass was a foot high, and walking-stick cholla had long strings of half-formed fruit hanging down like bunches of grapes. One creek we crossed was actually flowing: a rare event indeed. We thanked God once again for the gift of life…..that we could walk and see and converse.

Three-man band in Tortilla Flat (click to enlarge).

Three-man band in Tortilla Flat (click to enlarge).

True Food Kitchen. This is the restaurant based on Dr Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory food pyramid. We loved it so much we ate there twice in two days. It’s near Scottsdale, and you feel so good after eating there! They are expanding the restaurants like crazy, so watch for one coming to a big city near you.

Hiking on First Water trail in Superstition Mountains (click to enlarge).

Hiking on First Water trail in Superstition Mountains (click to enlarge).

I recall a Methodist pastor from California, Merlin Carothers, who created a stir in his book Power in Praise. He proclaimed we should thank God for all things that happen to us…..good and bad. His position was based on the Bible verse below.

Just before I left for Arizona that Winter, my website (and these blogs) was suspended by the hosting company. My annual payment had lapsed (my fault), and I had lost the password to get into the website to make the payment. I went through a week of hellish frustration trying all the options I could think of to solve the problem, without success.

Raw veggie plate at True Food Kitchen in Scottsdale (click to enlarge).

Raw veggie plate at True Food Kitchen in Scottsdale (click to enlarge).

I was desperate. Sitting by the swimming pool at one hotel, surrounded by stately palm trees and colorful bougainvilleas. At that moment, I decided to thank God for the problem. This wasn’t easy because I had no rational reason to thank him for the problem.

But I did it anyway. The first think I noticed was that a weight was lifted from my shoulder. Because I had turned the problem over to God to find a solution. Then, within one day I received a reply from the hosting company (after four days of anxious waiting), and within two days I was sent new password info (after seeking this for a week) which allowed me to get into my website. I paid the bills and the site was soon up and running.

I would be interested to hear from my readers: have you ever thanked God for a problem? Please comment in the Comment box below this blog.

The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers……

At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. (Book of Ephesians, chapter 5, Amplified Bible).

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12 Responses to Arizona in Winter! Awesome Hikes Toward Heaven



  2. I have two books by Merlin Carothers. I used to do that, praising God for good and bad. I somehow stopped doing that somewhere along the way. I am thankful for the good fortune, but getting hard to face the misfortunes or trials. Perhaps its a good time to start doing that again. I’m going to try it and see how it goes. I’ve heard so much about Sedona and hope to go there one of these days. Thanks for your report.

    • Hi Dale. In my situation, I had tried everything without success before I became desperate and thanked God for the problem. Although I don’t have much experience in this, I will try it again, perhaps earlier in the problem. I’m sure it doesn’t mean I try less hard to solve the problem, but maybe it means I try to trust God at an earlier stage of the problem.

  3. Yes. The idea of thanking God for everything has come by me before. It’s very hard to do. Yet, when I have done it, difficult things resolved themselves more easily. Wish I could have done this practice during a recent health crisis. It’s a good opportunity to reflect on this practice now that I am feeling better…

  4. Mary Ann Pollock |

    I enjoyed reading the blog since I was there hiking in the beautiful country of Arizona. I can understand the pain you were going through not being able to open you website. I have trouble at times thanking God for a problem, but the Bible does say in all things to give thanks. I know it works. Good Blog.

    • Thanks Mary Ann for your honest comment about the difficulty of thanking God when you are immersed in a problem.

  5. Marlene Schlatter |

    My husband and son took their lives by suicide. I thank him and worship him not because He did this. He allowed it but I do not believe it was His perfect will. I do thank him for the way He helped me, walked with me and loved me through it. I did not take a step that He did not take with me. I felt His presence each moment. No matter what we go through He is closer than we can ever imagine…every moment of every day. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

  6. Barbara Leachman |

    Thanks for the reminder. I read Merlin’s books and saw him in person in Houston many years ago. At that time I didn’t understand about praising God for everything. I understand it more now and practice it most of the time. But when situations seem to be going badly, many times I forget. Praising Him all the time definitely lifts the weight off of us. Since we can’t do anything about most of those “situations” anyway, why not thank God immediately because we know He can and will take care of everything that concerns us.

    • Barbara, you fingered a key in all this: “Praising Him all the time definitely lifts the weight off of us.” I came back from vacation (shortly after I wrote this blog) with a flooded house from a refrigerator leak, and its been a tough challenge. Despite ripping out the cabinets and walls and floors downstairs, I am trying to do what you said, and I do feel a weight lifted.

      • John Cameron |

        The way I find easiest to accept the idea of thanking God in times of misfortune is to be thankful for our resources and abilities that enable us to deal with such misfortune. As for the loss of loved ones, a person can be grateful for and focus on the good times and memories plus the learnings from those relationships.


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