Leaving Santa Fe, we couldn't help but think the pueblo style
buildings and desert terrain looked a little like
pictures we've seen of the middle east
At one exit, we stopped to fill up with diesel and saw a sign for "Indian Fry Bread Tacos". Well I'm not one to pass up an opportunity to eat (no wonder I keep gaining weight on this trip!), so we stopped at the Indian Arts Center. That whole area off that exit was considered a Navajo Pueblo. The way it was explained to us is that the difference between a reservation and a pueblo is that a reservation was land given to the Indians by the government, and a pueblo was land that the Native Americans had occupied for hundreds of years and have never left. Either way, the young man that waited on us was a wealth of information and the Indian fry bread tacos were delicious! If you ever find yourself traveling I-40 in Arizona, its a great stop!
Indian Fry Bread Taco -mmmmmmm!
We continued to drive on 40 until we found the exit for the Petrified Forest National Park. We stopped at the visitors center and Noel took a glance at the truck where he had duct taped the sensor that was giving us trouble. The whole thing had come apart, including this metal spring, and miraculously had landed on the manifold and stayed there, despite all the bumps and hills and turns we had driven over.
We duct taped it again and continued through the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. Every turn out and overlook was beautiful and the geological history so interesting to learn about.
The different minerals made some of the logs
Playing with different settings on the camera
we were lucky to see these mule deer!
A huge petrified tree
They call this "Newspaper Rock". Lots of petroglyphs!
One stop was where the old Route 66 came
through. Beep Beep!
The park closed at 5 and the ranger had warned us that at 5pm we'd better be in our vehicle heading out of the park, so we only made it 1/2 way through all the stops along the main road before 5pm. It was decided we would come back in the morning.
We drove into Holbrook and found a campground. When the sun sets here, it gets cold FAST! The moon was full and there were a zillion stars and it got down to about 19 degrees (high 50s during the day).
The next morning we headed back to the petrified forest, about 20 miles out of Holbrook. We continued to walk some of the trails and stop at the various pull outs and my camera was getting a workout, since each area was so incredible. Basically, thousands of trees had fallen in some sort of weather event and quickly were covered by flood water which stops the oxygen needed to break down the wood. Over thousands of years, volcanic ash and minerals replaced the cellulose in the wood, creating "petrified trees". As wind and water have then un-covered the long buried trees, it makes this rocky valley look like its been scattered with this fossilized tree trunk pieces.
An ancient indian agricultural village
Iron and Manganese makes these so colorful!
The area is also the ancient home to native peoples, so indian ruins, petroglyphs, arrow heads, pottery shards and more are found throughout the park. Before that it was home to many dinosaurs, whose bones have been dug up by archeologists and geologists that study the area. That explains all the businesses that have dinosaur statues out front.
Rrrraaaaaaaa! Did I scare you?
We saw this cute wigwam motel on Route 66!
Much to my discomfort, the bathrooms were closed for the winter! Fortunately, we pretty much had the park to ourselves so even though there wasn't a real tree or even a bush that didn't have big thorns, I can now say I peed on something from the triasic period! Can you?
Cover me Noel! I'm going to have to pee on this rock!
After we left the park, we stopped at a few of the rock shops that sold petrified wood, since taking anything out of the national park is illegal. It's amazing that there is any left in the park since we saw so much of it for sale, in people's yards and in front of businesses, even in the campground. Once place did have some un-set cabochons of cut and polished petrified wood for sale, so I bought a few to make into jewelry, and then we purchased a few pieces as souveniers for the "grandkids" and nephews.
It's amazing there is anything left to preserve!
I was pretty tuckered by afternoon, so we kicked back in the trailer and fixed some dinner. That night, Noel woke up to the cold, like, really cold. He threw some extra blankets on me and braved the cold to switch propane tanks. We went through that tank quickly in these cold desert nights!
In the morning, we headed southwest to Mesa, our final destination for a while, but not before driving through several mountain ranges. We opted to take the "scenic" route instead of the interstate, and scenic it was!
We made a little detour just so we could get a picture of us in front of the "Snowflake, Arizona" sign, since our friends in Ohio were experiencing such a snowy winter.
We passed through the Tonto National Forest and each pass brought new scenery and changing landscape as we dropped in elevation. Soon we began to see more and more cactus. The pictures don't look that great, but I was pretty excited, since I've never been to this part of Arizona.
Can't you just picture cowboys chasing after these
trains for a heist?
Soon we began to see saguaro cactus! Aren't they awesome? Whole hillsides of them!
So are getting settled in our new home at Mesa Spirit RV Resort. Wait till I show you how fabulous this is! Tomorrow we are going to Quartzite for the big rock and gem show, so I will have to wait until the weekend to blog some more! Stay tuned.....