|Joe, Debbie and Cassie at the Painted Desert|
I am not going to write much today—it has been a long day and it’s late. But more important, a picture is worth 1,000 words! And the views we saw today are worth 10,000 words, for sure.
We began our morning before eating breakfast, leaving our Cracker Barrel overnight spot and heading west over the Arizona state line to finally get our Arizona sticker onto our states visited map. We stopped at the visitor center at the border for breakfast. I was dismayed when I went inside, however—the lady there told me that the visitor center would be closing next week! Apparently state budget cuts are responsible. I think this is terribly short-sighted of the legislature; we have stopped at every visitor center as we cross state lines, and it has encouraged us to visit more places (and spend more money!) The one time we entered a state with no visitor center, we felt unwelcome and were not inclined to stay very long. In any case, she encouraged me to “take as many brochures as you want”, so I took a number of things which I hope will be informative in the future, if not on this trip.
After breakfast, we sped off down I-40 again until we came to the exit for the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest National Park. We followed the single road from the north end of the park to the south end—it took us the entire day. The park is dog-friendly, so Cassie joined us on a number of walks and overlooks. We spent much more time than we expected—the park was just so beautiful! Here are some photos of the Painted Desert:
The Painted Desert is the only national park through which the original Route 66 passed. This 1932 Studebaker and the sign by it are on the site of Route 66.
The southern part of the park (south of I-40) is the part with the petrified trees. I was not expecting to be blown away by rocks that looked like trees, but I was wrong. The longer I looked at them, the more fascinating they got. As Joe put it, they really “mess with your head.” They look JUST like trees on the outside, yet the insides are so colorful and clearly a mineral, not a vegetable substance like a tree should be. Here are some photos:
|It's almost impossible to believe this is a rock!|
At one point, we were entirely alone on an outlook, except for this raven (we think), who kept cawing and cawing at us. Finally as we stood watching him, he deliberately walked closer to us and I took these photos. He opened his mouth VERY wide—we could see his dark pink throat as he cawed LOUDLY at us. He finally made us a little bit nervous, because he was clearly totally unafraid of us, and he seemed to be quite determined to communicate something. Being merely stupid human beings, we were unable to understand the details of the message.
When we left the park, it was about 4:30ish, and we were tired. We decided to spend the night at a “real” campground, as there was a KOA in Holbrook, the next town to the west of the national park. So we drove there from the southern park entrance. This turned out to be a serendipitous decision for us, because I checked with my Route 66 guide, and discovered that old Route 66 runs right through the town. The centerpiece for us was the Wigwam Motel—it is just the iconic Route 66 landmark! But we also took photos of several other vintage signs and businesses on the main street. We just loved the place!