My wife, Sam, and I took a weeklong “driving vacation” in the Grand Canyon state in early October. We wanted to see as much as we could while driving no more than two to four hours per day. Our payoff was a nonstop lesson in geology and the history of the Old West — and near-perfect daytime temperatures in the 70s.

We flew in to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, rented a minivan with hand controls, drove two hours in darkness to Sedona and checked into a La Quinta Inn. The room was accessible, but no roll-in shower (they put a shower seat in the tub). The next morning, opening the curtains, we might as well have been on Mars — red earth, red rocks, red sunrise.

Sedona is otherworldly in more ways than one. It hums with vortex vibes and New Age mind-expanding activities: HeartWalks (get in touch with your inner self); healing stones (please don’t throw them at the local psychics); crystals (no, you can’t snort these). Kind of like an upscale Haight-Ashbury, circa 1967.

A graying hippie wanted to photograph my aura and do a reading for $80.

“How about a discount?” I asked.

“Why a discount?”

“Half of me is paralyzed. Shouldn’t I get half off?”

The Yavapai and Tonto Apache settled near Sedona hundreds of years ago, only to be driven off later by the United States Cavalry, clearing the way for settlers to “discover” gold. Little has changed. There’s still gold to mine, but now it’s in tourists’ wallets.