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Tlaquepaque Village

By Nate Hansen
Larson Newspapers
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Florida residents Bill and Renate Feyerabend lived up to their name — German for “leisure time” — Monday morning when they took one of six Tomcars in Sedona Off-Road Center’s fleet for a spin.

In addition, they said they felt thoroughly educated about all-terrain vehicles, not to mention responsibility required on all trails.

During their self-guided tour up and down Schnebly Road and through Soldiers Pass, they added they understood why such care was emphasized.

Sedona’s natural beauty and pristine wilderness coupled with temptations to ravage adventurous trails and radical routes are a combination for trouble, they suggested.

Thankfully, Mark Ranges and Val Stewart, co-owners of Sedona Off-Road Center, vow never to let that happen.

Exhaling the outdoor heat from their lungs with a sharp whistle, the Feyerabends thanked Stewart and Ranges for the information, all of which included orientation maps, tips and brief lessons on conservation.

Before leaving, Renate Feyerabend admitted the owners’ warnings “sounded more serious than was necessary,” but thanks to the “tread-lightly ethics” they were given, they left both terrain and Tomcar unharmed.

 

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“We even saw a boulder in our way and wondered, ‘Are we supposed to go over those?’” the city woman said.

They were and they did easily, remarked Bill Feyerabend, adding how effortlessly the Tomcar worked boulders, impediments and steep inclines.

“The only problem was, nobody was around to take our photo,” Renate Feyerabend concluded.

In March 2006, Stewart and Ranges pooled their resources to start their present business.

He often recommends tourists to take guided tours as opposed to renting out their equipment, depending on their familiarity with Sedona.

This type of hospitality complements responsibility, which is something to which Stewart dedicates his life.

Though a four-wheel drive enthusiast since a small child, Stewart says he grew up under a strict code of conduct protecting the outdoors.

These practices led him into game and range management, where he learned to educate ranchers and forest service personnel on brush control and soil and water conservation.

His priority was to pass on how livestock and wildlife could cohabitate in a conducive manner, Stewart says, as is the mission for all-terrain vehicles to co-exist with nature.

They feel they do a large part by freely exercising their right to refuse service to anyone.

“We don’t have any problem telling someone they can’t use our toys. There’s always people standing in line,” Stewart says.

“Last week, we tore up somebody’s contract because they were acting shady and being smart alecs,” Ranges adds.

Stewart admits reporting violators to the U.S. Forest Service.

“We’ve assisted in the prosecution of resource damages,” Stewart says, proudly.

Hospitality and responsibility are nothing without ingenuity. And aside from typical ATVs, these two gentlemen acquire the latest technologies in the off-road world.

One driver of a four-passenger Tomcar called his drive up Soldier Pass “butter.”

The all-terrain vehicle glided over boulders and slid around obstacles as a hot knife through margarine, he said.

The latest in the center’s

fleet is the Stinger, another

“off-highway” vehicle.

Stewart and Ranges say the man who designed the Stinger stopped in their shop and offered them one of 100 prototypes. In return, they provided feedback from test drives and analysis.

Because of them, the 2008 Stinger will be taller, wider and more powerful — thanks to

critiques from 6-foot 4-inch Ranges.

Recently, Stewart and Ranges’ shop was featured on Fox Sports’ television show “Motor Sports Mania,” as well as a four-page story in CartWheel’n Magazine, but what they pride themselves on most is the “five-leaf rating” from Outdoor Products Research Service.

Seven days a week, the four-person operation keeps busy. Though the employees keep their noses to the grindstone, they say they watch the sky hoping for rain.

As with all tour companies, rain can be an economic disaster, but what’s best for the land is what Stewart and Ranges are all about.

They add they aren’t against forest closures and don’t blame the forest service for anything they deem necessary.

“A week or two of closures would probably be a good thing,” Stewart says.

Ranges agrees, but adds it would most certainly hurt the pocketbook.

Then again, who can put a price on safety, they conclude.


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