Holbrook, Arizona: WARNING: 30 photos today!
We only wanted to continue west. Leo either misses us, misses my freshly baked rolls, or wants to visit the new skate park in La Quinta. Either way, we are getting messages from Leo. So, west we went. I-40 all day. I wanted to stop in Casa Blanca for lunch at Rick’s Café, but my driver said THAT Casa Blanca is in Morocco, not New Mexico. Then, I asked him to take the Milan exit so I could do a little shopping, but he assured me THAT Milan is in Italy, not New Mexico. Smarty Pants.
47 miles from the Arizona border, we crossed the Continental Divide (again), and the wind picked-up (again). Dang, wind so sucks in a 45-foot bus. We stopped in Gallup for fuel. 100 gallons. $450. Our lunch break was at the New Mexico-Arizona border rest area. Remember the Buffalo Chicken Fingers served during the Duck victory last night? Left-overs became a great, easy, salad for our lunch today:
With a chunk of torn iceberg lettuce, the sliced buffalo tenders, and the left-over celery (all prepped before we left Albuquerque this morning) became a great salad with the addition of a few grape tomatoes and a blob of bottled blue cheese dressing. Win-win. After lunch, the winds calmed a bit, though I-40 was a rough road all the way to Holbrook.
Minutes after setting-up camp at the KOA in Holbrook, Arizona ($67) at 1p, we drove to Petrified Forest National Park. Today was our third visit to this interesting park. Though there are a few long hikes, this park is easily a drive-through with many scenic lookouts, and several short hikes if you choose. The road through the park is only 28 miles long, and can be driven north-or-south. Easily accomplished in half-a-day, and those few hours will transport you back to dinosaur days and up to only 1000 years ago of native history. We covered a lot of territory today, and I snapped a lot of photos. Everything is so pretty and so different!
History says this area was once a dense forest of huge conifers. Imagine dinosaurs flying around. Imagine there was a massive flood and the forest was uprooted and the trees crushed together by the flooding waters. Fast-forward big-time, then imagine a volcanic eruption covering the fallen trees in ash. Imagine all those trees chemically-cooking and decomposing for a long time, and then re-surfacing as petrified trees! This is Petrified Forest National Park. Magic.
Though the highlight of the park are the several areas with petrified trees laying around like Lincoln logs, there is so much more magic in this park. Sand, wind, and rain carve sandy mounds. Cougars, pronghorn, and deer wander. Rivers empty and fill, flood and dry, with the desert rain. There are so many native sites - petroglyphs, village ruins - in the area. We started at the northern visitor center and traveled the park route from north-to-south. Don't forget the binoculars. Sun hat. Water. It is usually windy. Bring a geologist, if you have one laying around.
The Painted Desert Inn was constructed by the CCC's in the late 1930s. A railroad came through the area (a commercial railroad still runs through the park), and the inn served rustic accommodations, food, and day-time tours through the oddity of a petrified wood-strewn desert.
This sheet of sandstone was randomly turned-over in 1934 while a road was being built. Imagine the surprise to find a mountain lion petroglyph! Myrl Walker, the first permanent ranger at the park is credited with the discovery.
Near the Painted Desert Inn, beautiful views to the Painted Desert are found:
Next we drove to Nizhoni Point for more impossibly amazing views:
The Jasper Forest area of the national park contains one of the largest accumulations of petrified wood in the world. All the dots on the desert floor are petrified logs. There are four easy-access hikes in the park to walk amidst the fallen giants.
Though the "trees" look to be cut by a chain saw, they fell in one-piece and have cracked into pieces over time. (Eons.) It is easy to see many logs laying straight (though cracked) and easy to envision their original height:
We were beat, the park was closing! Actually, by the time we exited, the gates were down and we had to wait for an auto-release gate for our exit. Gift shop was closed! We arrived to our campsite in Holbrook to prep cheese burgers because it is National Cheeseburger Day (Sunday night pizza be damned.) They were turkey burgers, spiffed-up with the New Mexican dried chile purchased in Santa Fe the other day, with a mayo-green chile sauce, Jalapeno Jack cheese, on a brioche bun. No sides. It was nearly 7:30p by the time dinner was served.
This was a big day for us. Forgive any typos. A lot of driving... and we have only one driver. Tomorrow, we head out again. Until my next update, I remain, your petrified correspondent.