EXPERIENCE BASED ARTICLES
These articles are “experience based” pieces written about fun things to do. For example: horseback riding, a helicopter ride, a hot air balloon ride. It is usually an easy matter to be ‘comped’ (for free) in exchange for an article that provides free advertising. In addition, you get to have fun!
Written under the name: Beverly Dennis in March of 2000
The Wilder Side of Sedona
The breathtaking beauty of Sedona draws worldwide visitors and a drive down 89A elicits “oohs” and “aahs” recognizable in any language. However, the most exciting way to experience the undeveloped, uncivilized wilderness of the Sedona of yester-year is on horseback.
In my efforts to find a guided trail ride offering something unique, I discovered Trail Horse Adventures, the largest horseback outfitter guide service in Arizona. They have four facilities within the state—the oldest is Sedona’s very own Kachina Stables located just west of town.
Convenient and reasonably priced, what separates Trail Horse Adventures from the other horseback outfitters in the area is their envied permit to ride in the Coconino National Forest. Too often disappointed with sedate, ho-hum trail rides and longing for rugged terrain and breathtaking vistas, I booked a two-hour afternoon ride and hoped for the best.
On the appointed day and time, I arrived at the stable clad in jeans and boots, cowboy hat in hand. The weather was a perfect 75 degrees, the sky ‘Arizona blue,’ and I was anticipating an awesome ride. After introductions and a short safety talk, we started out—and I soon found I was not to be disappointed.
Far from traffic, civilization and human noise pollution, the trail wound up, down and through the scenic Coconino National Forest, offering peace and quiet broken only by the sound of hooves-on-stone. It was a rugged trail and we encountered occasional rocks and logs recently strewn about by late winter storms. However, the horses were sure-footed and the guide knowledgeable about the surroundings—both were happy to stop for the abundant extraordinary photo opportunities.
Although healthy and spirited, the horses were well trained, allowing even less-than-expert riders to feel confident and comfortable in the saddle. For example, following a description of how horses love to roll in the soft sand near the creek, we then waded across the water without incident, feeling as though we had survived a possibly ticklish (and wet!) situation. We even spied a hawk observing our leisurely passage with visible interest.
All I had longed for and more, the ride lasted a little over two hours and just as my ‘nether parts’ began sending complaints to my brain, the stable appeared around the bend. Slightly sunburned, a little stiff and totally content, I grinned as we came to a dusty halt. I thanked the guide and mentally added March 19, 2000, to my growing list of ‘Absolutely Perfect Days.’
With over 2000 acres of the finest trails in Arizona, professionally trained CPR/First Aid certified guides, expert horsemen and women, food experts, and event planners, Trail Horse Adventures offers many types of rides to suit nearly any schedule, private party, or corporate event. They provide hourly rides throughout the day, breakfast, lunch, dinner or sunset rides, overnight pack trips, western cookouts, cattle drives and more.
Once the aches fade and only fantastic memories and photographs remain, I intend to return to Trail Horse Adventures and further explore the wilder side of Sedona.
Written under the name: Beverly Dennis in October of 2000
The sun warmed a sparkling blue October sky cooled slightly by a breeze hinting at the seasonal weather ahead. On the tarmac, the helicopter resembled an immense bug, its rotors still and silent antennae.
Once the three of us boarded and buckled up, our pilot reviewed safety procedures – then, with the flip of a switch and a mighty hum, the ‘bug’ came alive. Groaning and twitching, its antennae tested the air.
Suddenly, we rose straight up, swooping away into the dazzling blue. Amazement turned to delight as I quickly became accustomed to the chopper’s behavior and incredible sense of weightlessness. My body thrummed with the machine’s vibrations and, curiously, I felt almost a part of it.
Swooping and hovering, dipping and soaring, we danced across Sedona’s sky — sometimes only 800 feet above the ground, sometimes as high as 2000. The incredible panoramas changed from stately Cathedral Rock to meandering Oak Creek and from Courthouse Butte to awesome views of Wilson Canyon.
Nearly breathless with wonder, we absorbed the knowledgeable 20-minute commentary provided by our pilot. Then, returning to the airport, he gently set the machine down, allowing the 26-foot rotor blades to slow and come to a halt. Once again immobile, the giant ‘bug’ seemed incapable of our recent aerial acrobatics.
Skydance Helicopters is professional, friendly, and family-owned and operated and has been in business in Sedona for the past seven years, however, they have been operating for a total of 35 years in various other locations. Currently, they also fly out of Lake Tahoe and Reno, Nevada.
From Sedona, there are numerous tours available ranging from a minimum of 10 minutes to a full two-day excursion and Skydance is the only local tour company with permission to visit the Havasupai Village located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
One popular tour is the Mogollon Rim Ride, an aerial visit to Secret and Boynton Canyons and the ancient Indian ruins.
For the most romantic, Skydance also offers the opportunity to wine and dine that special someone in a unique and totally unforgettable way. They will fly you to a secluded spot for a sumptuous, gourmet meal complete with table and linens, flowers and candlelight. You will be dropped off in this romantic locale and picked up one and a half to two hours later. What woman doesn’t dream of being romanced in such style?
Once her heart (or his!) has been won, Skydance will also arrange wedding ceremonies in breathtaking, outdoor locations, transporting the entire wedding party to and from Nature’s chapel.
Located right next door to the Airport Restaurant on Airport Road in Sedona, Skydance Helicopters flies 365 days a year and is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. And to preserve the memories, a new, multi-camera system records your flight for a personalized record of your helicopter adventure.
Visit websites sedona.net/fun/skydance or weddingsinsedona.com, then call (520) 282-1651 or toll free 1-800-882-1651 to book the most unique tour imaginable. Dance across Sedona’s skies in style with Skydance Helicopter Tours!
Written under the name: Beverly Dennis in July of 2000
Dawn Over Sedona
Imagine floating hundreds of feet above the majestic red rocks of Sedona, buoyed gently on the warm breeze of dawn…
People come from all over the world to visit Sedona’s scenic landscape, but few view it from the vantage point of a hot air balloon. Mark and Patricia Stewart, owners of Red Rock Balloon Adventures, specialize in providing safe, enjoyable hot air balloon experiences at a reasonable price. With a zero-accident safety record, licensed balloon pilots and years of experience, they are one of Sedona’s most reliable balloon operators.
Because the heat of the day adversely affects a balloon’s performance, flights are made only at dawn. It requires shuttle pick-up at 4:30 a.m. (yes, folks, I said 4:30 a.m.!) and a short drive to the launch site where passengers are free to take photos and observe the efficient pre-flight preparation by the Balloon Adventures crew.
First, the nine-man basket is positioned on its side and the balloon itself (the envelope) is stretched out upon the ground. The guy lines are securely attached and with the help of a generator-powered, industrial-strength fan and the burners in the overhead grillwork of the basket, hot air is forced into the envelope. The balloon grows, expands, takes shape, and begins its gradual skyward ascent, pulling the basket into an upright position in the process. Now positioned for launching, but tethered still to the earth, it tugs gently on its restraints in the early morning breeze.
Following an explanation of boarding and landing procedures, we eagerly board the Spirit Lifter, ready for our sunrise journey into Sedona’s lightening skies. The safest baskets, utilized by Balloon Adventures, offer two compartments on each side with one larger compartment in the center to accommodate pilot and propane tanks. Tucked two-by-two into our compartments, we begin our leisurely ascent.
Buoyed gently on the balmy breeze, we rise slowly into the sky, floating over rocks and trees and incredible dawn-lit vistas. At first it seems we barely clear the top branches; then suddenly we are wafting through the low clouds blurring our view of Doe Mesa. As the sun rises over the easternmost formations the haze dissipates, visibility improves and we behold the awesome scene below. For one hour that early Sunday morn, nine people left earthly cares and worries behind, simultaneously visiting Heaven and Mother Nature in a hot air balloon.
Following a gentle landing and an impressively efficient deflating and loading procedure, the Balloon Adventures crew provided us with a sumptuous champagne breakfast. Each passenger received a champagne glass (real glass, mind you, not that cheap plastic stuff!) filled with chilled Spumante and orange juice and was tempted with various muffins and delectable fruits. Each person also received a diploma and a videotape!
Red Rock Balloon Adventures is located in Sedona and flies seven days a week, weather permitting. Reservations are required. Call 1-800-258-3754 and set your alarm for one of the most extraordinary experiences of your life…