The most recent of these tours were in Sedona, Arizona with my friend Georgia two weeks ago. We covered everything from cowboys to vortexes. The Latin-style plural of this word is "vortices." However, as a native speaker of vernacular English, I find that "vortexes" sounds more natural. They are both listed in the Oxford dictionary. Georgia turns up her nose at "vortexes" and says that's only one example of why she no longer considers the Oxford dictionary to be an authoritative source on grammar. Interestingly enough, even as I am typing this sentence, the spell check in Blogger is now showing that "vortices" is misspelled and does not have a dictionary entry for it. Did I mention that I met Georgia in a writing group?
But back to the tours! The classic tour in Sedona is a jeep ride in the red rocks. Our driver was a retired steel industry executive from Indiana who now drives jeeps while wearing a cowboy hat and spurs, with a bandolier full of bullets draped over the seat back. He never did use the spurs on the jeep--he probably didn't want to scratch the pretty red paint. But the jeep ride was fun and took us through some really pretty country.
M and I were both thrilled to see the baby gila monster and cringed at the scorpion on Phil's shirt and found the whole scorpion crew to be delightfully odd. When we got back to my apartment, M made me turn on all the lights and investigate every piece of leaf or paper or dust lying on the carpet. And I was a little jumpy for a few days afterwards!
M was with me on another off beat tour last fall. We found ourselves in Monument Valley watching sunset and moonrise over the huge rock formations known as the Mittens.
Our first stop was a demonstration hogan where a grandmother demonstrated traditional weaving and a traditional hairstyle. When she asked for volunteers, I shoved M out into the middle of the circle, and said, "You have to do it. You have the flowing black hair for it." And the rest of the women in the group, me and several Germans, all had short haircuts. One of M's great grandfathers was Navajo, and our tour guide was the first to take a long look at her face and ask her nationality. The lady doing her hair saw it, too, and asked.