Sedona Rocks

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					                                      Sedona Rocks
                               Experiencing Sedona by Jeep
                                     By Tim Cotroneo

         Sedona, Arizona’s red rock vistas are the home of A Day in the West jeep tours.

When John Bradshaw came into this world in 1970; it was fair to call his Sedona, AZ,
birthplace a one-horse town. “My Dad couldn‟t afford to pay for my delivery in cash, so
he traded the doctor a thoroughbred horse,” Bradshaw said.

Two years later, Bradshaw‟s brother Scott was born. “This time, my Dad paid the
doctor‟s bill with two horses. I tell my brother the cost increase was due to inflation. My
brother says he‟s worth twice as much as me.”

Today, John Bradshaw‟s Sedona-based business, A Day in the West Tours, continues
to carry on the family tradition of working with horses. While horseback tours of the
Verde Valley have contributed to Bradshaw‟s business success, it‟s touring Sedona‟s
breathtaking red rock canyons via jeep that has really grabbed the hearts of vacationers
from around the globe.

From horses to jeeps
How Bradshaw got into the jeep tour business could be described as a taxing
experience. “In 1997, the property taxes on my Dad‟s ranch jumped from $2500 per
year to $25,000. I developed the jeep tour business as a way to help bankroll the
purchase of the ranch,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw‟s father, Bob, was one of Sedona‟s key historical figures, and he played a
major part in the town‟s present day popularity and growth. The senior Bradshaw began
working as a stunt man, extra, photographer, and location coordinator for almost all of
the western movies that were filmed in Sedona back in the 40s and continued into the
70s. Bradshaw worked with stars such as Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Robert
Mitchum, and even Elvis Presley. Bradshaw‟s ranch served as the backdrop for dozens
of these films.

 John Bradshaw’s Dad was instrumental in Sedona becoming a movie site for dozens of Westerns

When John Bradshaw began his jeep tour venture, he relayed his insider knowledge
growing up in the movie business to the guides he hired for A Day in the West. His staff
now shares detailed accounts of which red rock formations stole scenes in movies such
as Broken Arrow, The Rounder’s, and Billy the Kid, to name a few. Tourists go home
with rich tales of what they‟ve seen, heard, and experienced while in Sedona.

Just like in the movies
“In addition to tours that emphasize geography, Native American history, photography,
and animal life, customers really get a kick out of learning about real-life locations where
the western movies took place. Our customers experience these movie settings first-
hand during their jeep tour of Sedona‟s spectacular red rock vistas and canyons,”
Bradshaw said.

When driving a car in Sedona, keeping one‟s eyes on the road is easier said than done.
Sky scraping red rocks pop up all around the city and are simply impossible to ignore.
By comparison, a ride in a $40,000 custom-made jeep securely brings the curious to the
precipice of these 3-D sandstone outcroppings. The jeep tour is a chance to see, feel,
smell, and even touch something one usually only experiences in paintings. It‟s an
event absolutely unique to Sedona.

Ride and Guide
Bradshaw knows that hiring top notch guides is the key to his business success. One
Day in the West guide, Nina Rehfeld, has enthralled guests with stories from the
steering wheel of her yellow jeep for the past seven years. “I love the outdoors and
hiking. When I discovered I actually got paid to be a guide, I said „where do I sign up.‟”

            Nina Rehfeld enthralls guests with stories of Sedona from her yellow jeep.

On a recent tour along Schnebly Hill Road, Rehfeld took two Minnesota guests up the
legendary 12-mile ascent built by Sedona‟s founder, Carl Schnebly. Rehfeld explained
that Schnebly, a Missouri native, built the road in 1902 to help bolster the trade of his
apple and peach orchard business.

Schnebly‟s trail is a road in its rawest form. It seems almost unimaginable that during
Schnebly‟s era, travelers were able to scale this vertical passage toward Flagstaff via
horse and wagon. “Our jeeps really get put to the test. Every year we hear about
adventuresome two-wheel-drive rental cars that end up needing an expensive tow on
this road,” Rehfeld said.

Cow Pie Nuptials
Rehfeld‟s future husband was so enthralled with one of the rock formations seen on this
trail that he convinced Nina that this is where they should be married. The beautiful
landscape setting Nina‟s husband selected has a not so beautiful name. Cow Pies Rock
describes the flat and rounded sandstone mesas (the Spanish word for table) that
punctuate the impressive red rock presence that juts into the sky.

               Sedona’s sandstone outcroppings seemingly pop up out of nowhere.

The German-born Rehfeld recalled her wedding day in perfect English; “Our wedding
party arrived at Cow Pies Rock at 6:00 in the morning. We wanted to say our vows
surrounded by a Sedona sunrise. I walked out on Cow Pies Trail in three-inch heels.
Luckily, I could hold on to my Dad‟s arm. The only thing better than our wedding
ceremony was the party that preceded and followed,” Rehfeld said.

Rehfeld has a left-brain, right-brain gift for telling wonderful stories while navigating her
jeep along Sedona‟s roller-coaster trails. Rob DeMayo, the Day in the West General
Manager, explained that great care goes into hiring guides who deliver something
special to their audience. “Each of our guides brings something unique to the job. Our
reservations people do a great job of matching guides to the customer‟s passion. We
can tailor-make a tour experience for someone 365 days a year,” the New Hampshire-
born DeMayo said.

                      A jeep tour reveals views of Sedona from 6,000 feet.

Lightining Strikes Thrice
For DeMayo, his personal best experience was a day when the Arizona sun refused to
shine. “A storm broke in the middle of my tour. The family I was guiding actually
witnessed three lightning strikes. We took things real slow and safe. We were all
wearing ponchos and the family was absolutely thrilled with their tour. That‟s when the
other guides started calling me Rain Man. That‟s a nickname I enjoy to this day,”
DeMayo said.
The passion A Day in the West tour guide has for his or her job is apparent upon your
first introduction. John Bradshaw explained, “Being a guide in Sedona is a special thing.
Guides usually aren‟t doing this job for the money. A guide loves the outdoors, they love
people, and they love telling stories.”

Father, Son, and Elvis
John Bradshaw is no slouch himself when it comes to story telling. The topic of his
Dad‟s early days on the red rock frontier spews more stories than a Sedona flash flood
during the summer monsoon season.

“At the age of 17, my Dad left home in Cleveland, OH, and hopped trains cross-country.
He lived the hobo life until he discovered Sedona in the early 40s. He felt Sedona was
the most beautiful place he‟d ever seen. He arrived here about the same time
Hollywood started making westerns in the area. My Dad became quite a photographer
and he has an extensive collection of personal photos featuring many of the major
western movie stars. These photos cover almost four decades of film,” Bradshaw said.

John Bradshaw recalled that one of his Dad‟s favorite experiences involved a photo
shoot with Elvis Presley. “In 1967, my Dad worked as a photographer in Presley‟s film
Stay Away Joe. A good portion of the film‟s footage was shot on our family‟s ranch. My
Dad‟s fond memories of The King were due in large part to Presley being a somewhat
uninhibited 32-year old. Presley had yet to feel the crush of public scrutiny. During the
film‟s production, Presley and his entourage literally played cowboys from dawn to
dusk,” Bradshaw said.

Whether one spends a day, a week, or a lifetime in Sedona, one can‟t help but be
impacted by the sheer beauty of the area. If every picture tells a story, then your
Sedona photos will read like a best selling novel of the old west.

A great way to write your own Sedona chapter is to view its stunning landscape by jeep.
Revel in Sedona‟s panoramic imagery while your guide shares stories of the Old West
and today. You may even hear the true story of a father who paid for his son‟s delivery
with a horse.

Tim Cotroneo is a freelance writer from Lino Lakes, MN, who specializes in travel,
business, and golf.

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