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Friday, April 20, 2018

Off-roading in the desert - Scottsdale, Arizona

Man, was it nice to be in the warmth of the desert.  After a week in Banff, spending my 30th birthday in negative-something-degrees, I was looking forward to - hell, I needed a week of warmth and sunshine.  And let's be honest, it is so much easier to pack shorts and tank tops than thermals, snow pants, and puffy coats.  After landing in Arizona, I embraced the sunshine and tolerated the chilly night famous to desert life.  But in the morning, it was shorts and sunscreen as we headed out to our first excursion of the trip.  

Off-roading in the Sonoran

We jumped in the bus and headed to the headquarters of Green Zebra Adventures where we would be taking off-road tours on Tomcars "specially-designed, military grade, off-road vehicle".  You get to drive your own tomcar but you are following your guide train style.    Tomcar in the desert is probably not something I would organize (and pay for) on my own.  But in a group setting where the plans were made and the excursion was paid for, I was all about tomcars in the desert.  I did know I had nothing to lose.  I did not know just how dirty we were about to become.  


At the ranch, you are given a bandana to help with the dust and I promise you, you will need it.  Because you are traveling caravan style in a line, you are literally eating everyones dust as you follow along the desert.  Without recent rain, the dust clouds would get so bad that for short spans you could not see a single thing in front of you.  This meant for periods of 5-10 seconds you are driving completely blind, hoping you stay on the trail and don't rear-end the tomcar in front of you. 

Despite the sandstorms, the Tomcars are easy and safe to drive, and very (very) simple.  Gas, break, steer... go.  Follow a guide, drive your own car, and learn about the beautiful Sonoran. 

Post sandstorm

After our ride, every inch of me was covered in silty dry Sonoran dirt.  Never have I ever dreamed of a shower as I did at the end of this ride.  It was in my hair, between my teeth, coating my camera, and lodged in every nook and cranny. 

Caravan style off roading

Dust layer on everything

We stopped at several points along the tour to chat with some water and learn about the landscape from our guides.  The trail got dustier, we got dirtier, and took turns with our partner driving the Tomcars through this sandy landscape. Was this something I would actively seek out?  Likely not... I enjoy an adventure but typically more of the physical kind.  But did I enjoy it? Absolutely, in the sense it was a planned (and paid for) excursion and something I would not normally book on my own.  This is a great activity for all types of individuals, and something that would be really fun in a group.  Be warned you will get dirty so wear something you do not care about (aka not your lovely white converse kicks).  

When in the desert, hop on a Tomcar and learn about the Sonoran.  Be prepared and have a little fun getting dirty. 

Happy Travels, 

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