Up bright and early we met the Native American Journey’s Tour at reception at 7:10am. At least they are picking us up so we don’t have to make that drive again today. I will be able to sit back and enjoy the scenery too.
They were right on time. They had already picked up two couples from the Sedona Pines resort. We were traveling in a van. Our driver and guide’s name was Joe. He didn’t appear to be Native American but the web site was a bit “iffy” on that. As long as he knows the history as promised that will be fine.
Our drive took us through Sedona and up RT 89A through Oak Creek Canyon. In all my travels up and down this road I had never seen the bottom of the gorge. If I had I would have been in it (Ha Ha). Now sitting high in a van I could see well into Oak Creek Canyon. WOW! I think maybe it was a good thing I didn’t know how steep and deep it was when I first started driving this road.
Joe is a bona-fide “rock hound”. I have never seen anyone get so excited over rock formations! He would pull the van over to the side of the road, pull out a white board and start writing information on it while he explained what we were looking at, just like a geology teacher. He had a pile of different colored sponges that he had cut to represent a fault so he could demonstrate the way the earth shifts when a fault line moves. He would have made a great teacher.
As we passed Flagstaff Joe told us a story of how the city got its name. The story goes that the early settlers were going to have a big party to celebrate the 4th of July. So that everyone would be able to find the location they picked the largest tree and stripped off all of its limbs then hung a flag from the top. They told everyone to come to the celebration where the Flag Staff was standing.
It was quite a long ride part of which was on the famous RT 66. I’m not sure I could find my way back on my own even though Joe said you can get a permit without going with a tour. The section of the Canyon we were going to and the road that would take us there is on a Reservation so we had to stop at Peach Springs at the Visitor Center for the Hualapai Tribe to pick up the tour permit. We had a brief rest stop while we were waiting for Joe. There was a gift shop and rest rooms.
When Joe came back waving the permit we all clambered back into the van but we didn’t head out right away. Joe said we had “bookkeeping” to do. He handed out all of the charge slips. As he did he said if we didn’t sign them he would leave us at the Visitor Center so we could find our own way home. I don’t know if he was joking or not but turns out that it put me in an awkward position.
When I tried to make the reservation several months ago, I had my tax refund money in the account so I used that card. When the charge never went through I called them back. They told me they were just using the card # to “Hold” the reservation and wouldn’t charge it until the trip. ( This was actually my 3rd call as I had wanted some more information before I booked the tour and there had been 1 email. ) Before we left for the trip, I wanted to consolidate everything in one account so I could keep track of my expenses. I made my 4th call to them at that time. I said since they hadn’t charged the card yet, could I change the one I was using. I was told yes, just email the new card #. I started to protest that it wasn’t safe to do that but finally gave up and complied. I also asked for the “Bottom line” as the ad said $179.00 per person plus tax and tip and I was getting a AAA discount as well.
I was told the real cost of the tour was now $229.00 plus tax and tip per person. I protested and said I would cancel as that was not what was advertised and that in spite of numerous requests, no one had been able to give me a final figure for the tour. They back tracked quickly and said ..Oh that’s right you saw the web page plus we can give you the AAA discount. He threw a number at me as he said he had to go to a meeting. I wrote the amount down and sent off the email with my card #.
Now here we were in a van in the tiny town of Peach Springs on a reservation miles from Sedona and the tour guide is saying I have to sign the charge slip or get out. My charge slip was for the wrong credit card( bank account) and over charged by $40.00. Since I was in the back of the van I couldn’t discretely speak to the tour driver. I had to yell it out so everyone could hear.
Joe told me to go ahead and sign it and call Dave, the owner /manager later after the tour and he would straighten it out. That didn’t leave me with many options if I didn’t want to walk home. I had a feeling the damage was already done anyway and the signature was just a formality for the tour operator so I complied and resigned myself to having to deal with that after the tour was over. Since there was nothing more I could do now, I might as well relax and enjoy the trip down, especially if it was going to be more expensive than planned.
With that out of the way (for now), Joe pulled the van out onto the road and our journey to the bottom really began at that point.
Now I don’t want you to think I always have these financial difficulties. This was the first time I’ve had so many things messed up over money. I always travel on a very tight budget so I must have all my little ducks in a row or there’s no way I can go on these vacations . These issues from Payless Car rental to Native American Journey’s are the exception, not the rule. They just happened to all come up on this trip. I have tucked the experiences away and will now be even more diligent before I book a tour or reserve a car.