A Trip to Sedona

I spend the day in Sedona, waiting for some passengers.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of flying two very nice people from Canada from Wickenburg to Sedona for the day. We arrived at Sedona Airport, after a scenic flight around Wickenburg, Prescott, and Sedona’s red rocks, around 11:30 AM — just in time for the Pink Jeep Tour shuttle to pick us up and bring us down to the town. My passengers were taking a Jeep Tour; I planned on just hanging around downtown until they were ready to return at 3 or 4 PM. I escorted them to the Jeep Tour desk, reminded them that they could change their reservation, and watched them reserve a Jeep and driver all to themselves for departure at 1 PM. Then I left them to walk around town on my own.

The Pink Jeep Tour company’s offices are in “uptown” Sedona. That’s the heart of the tourist district in the northwest corner of town at the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon. The tourist shops that line both sides of the street there are dwarfed by the massive red rock formations behind them. But all attention in uptown Sedona is concentrated on those shops. I admit that mine was, too.

I hadn’t been to the town of Sedona for years. I’ve been flying in quite regularly with passengers, but I seldom come down off the mesa where the airport is located. There’s a restaurant up there and I usually have breakfast or lunch or whatever while my passengers explore the town on their own. They’re usually gone about 2 hours at the most, so I busy myself with a book while I’m waiting. It’s a nice, relaxing place.

But yesterday, my passengers wanted a longer stay in town. And since the Pink Jeep people offered me a lift in the shuttle, too, I went down the hill with them.

I walked the few blocks of uptown Sedona at a leisurely pace. I saw lots of T-shirt shops and lots of souvenir shops. The usual collection of real and fake Indian crafts and jewelry. Imported Mexican rugs. Jeep tour companies. Reservation centers. The wonderful map and bookstore that had been in one of the shopping areas was gone and I was sorely disappointed. I’d depended on that shop for reading material while I waited and it didn’t appear, at first, as if there were another bookstore in town. I finally found one across the street from the Pink Jeep storefront, the last shop on my walking tour.

My Sedona passengers from last week’s flight had spent only 90 minutes in town before returning to the airport. They called Sedona a “tourist trap.” And frankly, as I walked the streets, I couldn’t argue with them. But I hadn’t really expected it to be any different. I don’t know what they expected. After all, take a beautiful place, make its beauty well-known, and people will flock there. When enough people flock there, the tourist shops will start springing up like mold on old bread. After a while, those shops (like mold) completely cover the area, masking what people found so beautiful in the first place.

Now I don’t want to give you the idea that Sedona is “ruined.” It isn’t. There are still plenty of beautiful sights around town. Sadly, there are so many people there to view those sites, you’re always part of a crowd. You need to come to Sedona with your own Jeep and a trail map to get away from the herd. Bring a picnic lunch and your camera. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t come on a weekend!

I ran into my passengers on the street just before they went to lunch. They invited me to join them, but I felt as if I would be intruding, so I declined. I had lunch at a tea shop across from the Pink Jeep place and sat outside on a narrow balcony to eat and read the book I’d bought in the bookstore down below. It was windy and rather cold up there, so I didn’t last long.

Afterwards, I went for a walk back the way I’d come. That’s when I saw the Hummer tour sign. They had a 1-hour tour leaving immediately. It was the “Jeep Eater” Tour. Supposedly, this tour took passengers places were Jeeps couldn’t go. I pulled out my credit card and, minutes later, was seated in the front passenger seat of a Hummer, about 6 feet away from its driver. (Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that wide, but it sure seemed like it.) There were two passengers, a couple from Baton Rouge, in the open-air seating behind us. That was it.

The road that Jeeps can’t drive on isn’t in Sedona. It’s halfway back to Cottonwood, off of 89A. It’s a power line road — that’s a road built to maintain a power line — and frankly, there were only about 4 places on the whole ride that I would have been uncomfortable about taking my Jeep. That’s not to say that my Jeep couldn’t have done it. But I’m not sure that it could have done it with me at the wheel. During the whole ride, the driver kept pointing out other roads that the couple from Baton Rouge could explore on their own with the ATV’s they’d trailered up from home. The driver was obviously working hard to add value to the ride and maximize his tip potential. Whatever. It managed to stretch the tour out to 90 minutes, bringing us back to Sedona just when my passengers were due back. In case couldn’t read between the lines in this paragraph, I don’t recommend this tour. It wasn’t worth the $100 I spent on the tour plus tip. But at least I know what it’s like to ride in a real Hummer.

I hurried back toward the Pink Jeep place and found one of my passengers outside a gift shop. His wife was inside, shopping. They’d had a great time and had looked for me to join them before they left. I didn’t tell them about the Hummer.

I left them for a short while to pick up a gift for a friend of mine and a piece of apple pie that was really good. Then we got back on the shuttle, rode up to the airport, and flew home.

I’m glad I got to go to Sedona for the day. I feel all caught up with things down there. And I’m sure I’ll be back soon — not only by helicopter, but perhaps by Jeep to see just what my Jeep can do.

What do you think?