I played with Barbies until I was way too old to do so, because I loved making up stories and drama between my Barbies and my younger friends’ Barbies. My Barbies had to use human socks as beds and sneaker boxes as cars, but I had a friend who had the Barbie dreamhouse, a red convertible, and that elusive pink jeep that everyone wanted. I hadn’t thought about that pink jeep for almost two decades, but this September, there it was in front of me – lifesize – and I was going for a ride.
My family and I were in Sedona, Arizona on the first leg of our Southwest roadtrip (which you can watch a video of here). We didn’t even notice the red rocks when we were driving in because it had been pitch black that night, but we were thrilled when we woke up the next morning and realized that we were surrounded by them in every direction. I’m always taken aback by mountains and rocks since I didn’t see them much when I was a kid, growing up by the beach. I’m glad that that feeling of awe hasn’t left me yet.
We had signed up for the Broken Arrow tour, the most popular and the first Pink Jeep Tour in Sedona. While there are other (and maybe less expensive) vehicle tours in Sedona, Pink Jeep seems to be top dog. It is the only company that’s permitted by the U.S. Forest Service to ride on the red rocks within the Coconino National Forest.
In true family fashion, we’d convinced ourselves that this was going to be a little scary because we’d be off-roading and crawling up and down rocks. Since my mom gasps when we are driving in NYC when a cab comes up quickly next to us and grabs the handrail each time a turn is made, we thought she should sit up front with a more secure seat. The rest of us piled in the back with a few other folks. I think we had one too many passengers back there as you slide a bit as you drive around. My sister and I both got squished by a particular person at different times who presumably didn’t realize it. The optimal number of passengers is probably 7 (that’s including the person sitting shotgun).
My family and I LOVED our tour. It helped that it was an absolutely gorgeous day with absolutely gorgeous skies and that the rocks themselves are absolutely gorgeous, but a lot of it had to do with the tour itself. Our driver, Roger, who happens to also be a successful musician and friends with Tom Hanks, was awesome. I can’t speak about the rest of the drivers, but we all wanted to hang out with Roger way past the time the tour was over – and not just because he took some good photos of us for our Christmas card.
Roger told us all about the wildlife out in Sedona, including the Javelina, a wild creature that looks like a mix between a boar and a porcupine. I’d seen depictions of the creature around town, but had thought it was mythical for some reason. My family saw a pack of Javelinas in person later that evening and got more of a kick out of them than people not on vacation would have. We fed them some tortilla chips from the balcony of the Mexican restaurant we had just left which maybe we shouldn’t have done, but they were pretty cute. On the tour, we also learned of local plant life and what the Native Americans used each plant for – for medicines, for toothbrushes, for smoking, and more.
While the commentary is top-notch, the real reason to go on the tour is the views. It’s a good thing the jeep is open-air because you’ll want your camera out at all times and you wouldn’t want glass or glares to affect your views or pictures. There’s so much to see in Sedona and it’s all beautiful and for me, unlike anything I’d seen before. You’ll stop a few times along the way to get out and climb further up the rocks and to take more photos. Take those photos but also make sure you really take it in. Walk a little further out than the rest of the group and just spin yourself around and enjoy the 360-degree views. Look in the rocks for the different figures that people have decided are sculptures – including Snoopy, Submarine Rock, Coffeepot Rock, Bell Rock, and Smokey the Bear (which took me a really long time to figure out). Imagine you’re on another planet for a few minutes. It won’t be difficult.
I did end up becoming nervous at a few points during the ride, because of this weird “fear of falling” thing I deal with, but of course we didn’t tip over or fall out of the jeep, even when we were going down the rocks. My hands didn’t feel so great after grabbing the overhead bars as tightly as I was, but that’s kind of typical for me. It was quite the adventure.
I’m pretty sure Barbie never had this much fun in her jeep.