So this weekend was my birthday and we're usually broke when it comes around and haven't gotten to really do anything in years. So this year we weren't broke and we went all-out. We picked up a copy of Madden 09 and a new sixaxis/dualshock wireless controller for the PS3 and had a blast breaking it in on Friday. On Saturday we headed up to Sedona for the BIG present: A 24 hour Jeep rental.
We went up Soldier Pass, to the 7 Sacred Pools and the Devil's Kitchen. Then we went to the other side of town for a hike up to the Honanki ruins (wow!), then some more off-roading on the West end of Sedona. Later we trucked back out there for a little bit of sloshing in the mud. Next morning we headed up to Broken Arrow's Devil's Dining Room, Submarine Rock, Chicken Point and the Jeep Playground.
It was a true experience, I gotta say. All in all, I would recommend it, but with the following caveats:
1. Do your research
While the rental company will provide you maps, they are not necessarily complete and you may find yourself turning down a road that isn't the road you think it is and spend 3 hours lost in the desert hoping to God you can outrun what you discover later was officially a flash-flood-producing storm system (NOAA had even put out a warning for 2 counties while we were out in it!) as we had. I would also recommend, though the cost is disproportionate, taking a trail tour before going out on your own. You are likely to get lost at worst and miss the REALLY fun stuff at best. (We never did find the Devil's Staircase, the Slide, or the Crack on Broken Arrow and had to head back down - the wrong way - to get the Jeep back to Farrabee's in time)
2. SUNBLOCK SUNBLOCK SUNBLOCK!! WATER WATER WATER!!
3. Bring extra batteries/memory for your camera and put it on desktop (rather than email) resolution. There are a thousand things out there that are photo-, even poster-, worthy and you'll regret not getting as much as you can in the best quality you can.
4. Be aware that you're in Sedona and you will need to bring an extra dose of patience. There are alot of space cases wandering (literally) around, many service people seem to be sick of all the tourists and teeter on the thin line between aloof and downright rude (though the ladies at Farrabee's Jeeps were sweet and energetic).
5. The Coffeepot restaurant, while always busy, having 101
omelettes, a giftshop and a wall covered with signed photos from
various celebrities, is overrated.
The decor: A sensory overload of overly-vibrant quasi-native reproductions that very nearly devour every available inch of space on the walls
The food: The hashbrowns are burned, the omelettes watery and slapped together sloppily, the gravy tastes like water,
The tables are BURIED in condiments including a full pitcher of water already there, over 100 packets of sugar, a cereal bowl full of creamer, every typical sauce a restaurant offers and two extra place settings more than any table needed.
You very quickly discover that the idea is to prevent the waitstaff from having to be attentive...and it works well because they are not - TWO of them even walking away in the middle of our conversation with them and at check out the clerk made a personal call, not even making eye contact with us, nor stopping to help the 3 parties that were there before he or we got to the desk.
The seats were uncomfortable and damaged.
I recommend Red Planet instead.
While they also have uncomfortable seats and ugly (yet creative) decor they make a better breakfast. They have about 10% the varieties of omelette Coffepot offers, but they do them 90% better. The waitstaff is considerably more attentive and, while still having a little of that Sedona aloofness, are much more personable.
6. Leave early
The Pink Jeep guys are like flies on a cowpie on the trails. Get there right as the sun rises if you can. By 7:30, on our way back down Broken Arrow we passed no less than 3 Pink Jeeps. We got out there at dawn and had a pleasant, uninterrupted couple of hours on the trail and it was fantastic. The early dawn views are incredible. Also, it gets hot fast this time of year.
7. Consider: One of those safety belts they give warehouse workers to keep your guts all in the right places, Advil, Tylenol, Aspirin, Ben Gay and making full use of your hotel's hottub and the end of your day. Jeeping is fun... but it can huuuurt!
You can see our videos at www.youtube.com/jelask