Day 128 – Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert – Not a Halloween Theme Park as Julie had Guessed

Day 128 – Friday, November 1, 2013

After a leisurely morning at the USA RV Park, we packed up the camper and headed west to Arizona. Julie notes “It was time to leave New Mexico as the poor wrinkled and stained New Mexico pages in my giant Rand McNally map book had literally come loose and fallen out of the book. A sad ‘state’ of affairs so it was time to turn a new page in our travels.” We travelled on I-40 into Arizona and then toured through the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. Julie notes “Again I thought this was a Halloween theme park where we would be petrified with fear as painted desert and forest zombies and other creatures would jump out and scare us. I was on edge the whole trip!” Another amazing and unique place. After a few hikes on a couple of recommended trails we headed westward towards Winslow, AZ and the Homolovi State Park.

Before touring the National Park, we had lunch at the park restaurant, gas bar, gift shop, and information centre. We both ordered the lunch special of Italian Wedding soup and a fish (Pollock) sandwich. Once again, don’t order seafood in the middle of the desert. When will we learn? Actually, it wasn’t too bad and the soup was excellent and the cafeteria ladies were very friendly. Julie notes “Maybe we were very hungry, or the square fish patty was cooked perfectly because we gobbled it up. But it was the fancy advertising outside the cafeteria of ‘Cap’n Jacks catch of the day’ fish sandwich with all the fixings, that got us. We instantly forgot we’d been travelling through desert and badlands, no water in sight for miles when they dangled the bait, caught us and reeled us in like the suckers we are. There was also another beautiful gift shop there with some different and interesting items than we have seen so far. We decided, for a change, to think about it and come back after the tour if we decided we still wanted the items. We didn’t realize the route is one way so we didn’t go back. A good way to save money but sorry for all the folks that were going to get gifts from there. (So basically there will be no gifts for anyone, just a heads up.)”

The road winds through the park for about 28 miles. There are numerous overlooks and side trails to explore but no campgrounds within the National Park. We chose, based on some ranger advice, the Blue Mesa trail (1.0 miles) and the Crystal Forest trail (0.8 miles). We also stopped at a few of the overlooks and Newspaper Rock where you can view some distant petroglyphs through binoculars. Another stop was the Jasper Forest filled with remnants of the petrified forest that is left behind after erosion exposes the forest.

We carried on past the town of Holbrook to the State Park near Winslow, AZ.

I-40 parallels the Sante Fe railroad through the desert and through the largest Indian Reservation in the US. It is Navajo land.

The painted desert. Julie notes “Sorry, this humble photographer did not portray the beautiful reds, blues, oranges, greys, etc. in the following pictures that we saw with the naked or rather progressive lensed eye, so we suggest you all need to come and see for yourself. I am pulling out the ‘spectacular’ word Barb.”

The Painted Desert Inn. A famous landmark within the park. Julie notes “Notice the speed we are going past this. There is a museum within and Brad didn’t want to chance me jumping out and going for a ‘quick stroll’ through the exhibits. I did not attempt a tuck and roll out of the truck due to the speed and the unfriendly landing areas. Next trip perhaps. I will tell him there is a beer parlour, a BBQ pit and a camping supply store there that sells firewood.”

The highpoint at the start of the decent into the Blue Mesa trail.

The trail descending into the badlands valley where the exposed petrified wood is visible. Julie notes “Again put on your rose/blue/purple coloured glasses and look at these. Then you will see the colours pop.”

A view of the exposed petrified wood littering the ground.

Your guides through the Blue Mesa trail. So far no one has signed up for our tours. We can’t figure out why? J

A view of the valley and trail below from one of the overlooks.

One of the logs being exposed in the Jasper Forest. Julie notes “Again, the colours of this wood/stone is wonderfully varied in oranges, browns, reds. The areas look like a giant came with a chainsaw and cut them into chunks, piles of small petrified pieces as if he had chopped up some wood for a fire, big long logs that looked like just fell and broke into segments. And beautiful stumps that would make the best coffee tables.”

The Crystal Forest. Julie notes “This area, and the rest of the park were plundered and stripped of most of the crystal and train loads of the petrified wood, even after President Roosevelt declared it a National Monument. It is now a National Park and according to the park records, people are getting much better at leaving for other’s enjoyment. We could see the temptation though.”

Chopping up some petrified wood. Julie notes “Finally a chance to use our karate moves.”

More petrified wood. Julie notes “We have about 90 more pictures of Brad’s wood fetish if anyone is interested.”

No one was looking when I loaded this baby into the camper but Julie made me put it back for others to enjoy. Julie notes “I had to convince him it would be hard on his axe and even harder to light. Plus there was the old ‘take only pictures, leave only footprints’ rule we were abiding by. (plus it weighs a ton, literally).

Oh, you didn’t think I would forget to put in a windmill shot, did you? This one in a town square in Holbrook, AZ along historic Route 66. And the image number from our camera is #666. Coincidence? Julie notes “hmmm that is kind of WTF! (Way Too Freaky!)”

On the road, I-40, to Winslow, AZ.

…over and out, the muleskinner and his sidekick

Julie notes “He did not mention that I did the dinosaur museum at the end of the route, in under 15 minutes. I even declined the 17 minute video. So we left the park happy with visions of 4 foot long skulls of crocodile type beasts dancing in my head.”

2 thoughts on “Day 128 – Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert – Not a Halloween Theme Park as Julie had Guessed

  1. Quentin

    I can’t believe brad left all that good wood. And I bet the giant who cut it down probable carried it around in his travois for weeks till it was just like stone and his wife made him throw it out…

    A museum in 15 min… WTF… (Way too fast)… But I know if you stay too long you get WTF..(why that face) hen you have to stomp your foot and say that you just WTF…( want the facts)


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