Days 292 and 293 – Petrified Forest National Park, October 4 and 5, 2011
Well, I didn’t see anything of interest yesterday except
road construction taking place in the rain.
Most the time the road is just blocked off with no one there. I couldn’t believe a crew was working in the
rain! I did forget to mention that
while in Kings Canyon I parked behind a car with a Hawaii license plate, and I
recall an Alaska one from Washington.
While I didn’t concentrate on the other 48 states or for that matter consciously
look for Hawaii and Alaska plates, I believe I can say I succeeded at the
license plate game!
Today was actually a very interesting day. I was spared the strong winds and rains of
yesterday and enjoyed a mostly cloudy sky and a cool breeze while visiting the
Petrified Forest National Park. I had
expected to make my stop brief as I had already seen petrified wood in the
Painted Desert previously on my journey, but I ended up staying in the park
When I hear the word forest, I always think of trees
standing upward, thus each time I get to a petrified forest that tends to be a
barren area with fallen trees of stone, I am automatically slightly disappointed. I keep hoping to see several standing
petrified trees. I guess it isn’t easy
for silica-laden waters to cover a standing tree for a period long enough to
turn it to stone. Regardless, the
Petrified Forest National Park was a pleasant surprise in that there were
several WHOLE fallen trees that had turned to stone. Most other places, I have only seen a section
or a stump.
One tree included its trunk and roots. It was known as “Old Faithful”. The colors on all the fallen trees were magnificent:
swirls of reds, whites, purples, oranges.
In one area called Crystal Forest, trees included crystals with the
stones. In addition, it seemed like a
few trees were completely petrified. I
don’t know if that is possible, but the bark was a lighter color and felt more
like wood than stone.
In addition to the petrified wood, the southern portion of
Petrified Forest National Park showcased badlands striped in a various shades
of purple, Indian ruins, and petroglyphs.
There was even a petrified log bridge as well as an old cabin made of
petrified wood. I would have liked to
spend more time walking to the cabin and through the badlands, but that would
have required about 6.8 miles of walking as opposed to about 2 miles for
which I had a mindset. I suppose I could
have made time for more walking, but I didn’t really feel like making a long
day for myself or feel like leaving Petey in VANilla for endless hours.
After visiting the Giant Logs, Crystal Forest, Agate Bridge,
Jasper Forest, Blue Mesa badlands, the Tepees (badlands in a cone formation),
Newspaper Rock, and Puerco Pueblo we crossed the historic Route 66 to visit the
northern section for spectacular views of the Painted Desert. Green valleys contrasted with the orange,
pink, salmon, and rust bands of the Painted Desert as the sun and shadows
accentuated certain areas of the panoramic vista. The colors were striking. I can only imagine what it would have been
like on a slightly clearer day…not too bright, but not as cloudy as today.
Anyway, it was an enjoyable midday stop on my drive from
Flagstaff to Albuquerque…ETB