The next day, we headed to the Petrified Forest. My mind was occupied with the truck acting up all the way out there. It made it difficult for me to enjoy the sites. It made it worse trying to drive between them. Having had the repairs done and looking back I wish I had been able to focus on the actual views. Our first stop was the visitor center outside of Holbrook. There’s a gift shop here, and I’d suggest getting the petrified wood you were looking for here. It’s still cheaper than at the roadside shops. There is NO gathering of petrified wood in the park AT ALL! Leave it there! People find petrified wood on their lands elsewhere, and can sell that. Leave the park’s petrified wood there for future generations to enjoy.
Unlike the Grand Canyon Cavern there really were fossils here. All of these trees were once massive trees that through various means died and floated down the river, and settled in the sand. They got covered up and the minerals replaced the wood. All in the span of just a few years. Something like millions of years or so.
I hate to say it, but the pictures really do not do the Petrified Forrest any justice at all. It sounds like a cliche'(probably because it IS a cliche’) but seeing it in person is much better than in pictures. You don’t really get the massive scale of the park in the pictures. Nor do you get the feeling of seeing a piece of the prehistoric world. I find it a little amusing that this area was once so covered in trees it would have been a rain forest, and is now a hot desert.
If you visit the Petrified Forest, make sure you have enough fuel to make it through. There’s a filling station on the north end, but it’s a long drive in between(and their fuel is obviously a bit more expensive than just an arm and a leg). This is why having my truck stumbling made it harder for me to enjoy the natural beauty I was seeing. As best as I tried, my mind was on the repair bill that was sure to be in my future. (note: Turned out it was covered under a previous warranty)
We traveled through the park to the crystal forest. Then to the Arroyo Bridge. Interestingly enough, the previous policy was to defend the Arroyo Bridge from collapsing. Now the national park would allow the petrified arroyo tree to crumble and fall. I find that interesting, because so much of the past would be lost if not preserved, but yet, we can’t stop the natural processes that change our landscapes. There’s a touch of that duality in how we preserve and protect our landscape but can’t allow ourselves to become overprotective.
We drove from site to site and saw the lands change. Seeing the logs that were held up by sandstone that eroded away and eventually dropped them was interesting to me. We probably could have saved them, and protected them from the elements, but winds blow and time takes it’s toll. Eventually the huge log that is held up by the weak sandstone must fall. I’m sure there’s something rather philosophical in that…
Some animals seem to be less than scared of people. I’m guessing the Petrified Forest national park gets enough visitors that the ravens out here have pretty much just taken to just sitting pretty for the cameras. Of course it was really hot out, and it’s not like they could just change into their white t-shirts and shorts, so the hot sun just flat out stays hot. My sweetheart got extremely close to one, just about close enough to touch it, before it indicated that it was not happy and was going to leave.
Newspaper Rock had some Native American news from before this was desert. My ancient translation is a bit rusty, but I gathered it was NOT about what we call news today. I didn’t see a celebrity mentioned once on the rock…
We stopped at the painted Desert before we headed back to the camp site to prepare to leave. We generally pay for an extra day just to make sure we don’t have to leave too early.
Good thing too, because right when we got back to camp the wind picked up and it became a horrible storm. Obviously we need it here in the desert, but it’s a bit rough when we’re trying to get ready to leave. I had already hitched the truck to the trailer, and got everything set to leave. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving the safety of the campground while a massive dust storm was rolling across I40.
After the storm mostly passed, we headed off back to Phoenix with my truck stumbling and complaining along the way. I had my engine monitor running on my phone to make sure it wasn’t anything permanent and we limped home. The wind still kicked up and apparently it was enough to take our solar panels from us. If you see a pair of slightly mangled solar panels on the side of I40 or I17, those would be ours.