Sunday, April 11, 2010

Petrified Forest & Painted Desert, Arizona - April 1, 2010

Hello from Arizona!!    It's good to be out again!     Mel and I took a spontaneous trip out to the great Southwest....

Someone forgot to tell me it snows here!    Isn't this supposed to be the desert????

We flew in to Flagstaff and immediately headed out to the Petrified Forest, where quite possibly the world's largest concentration of petrified wood can be found. A gazillion years ago, this was a thriving forest, which was buried for so long that the wood turned to stone.   Time and erosion have exposed them so we can see them.

We started out at the visitor center.   They have done a great job there - lots of information to tell you about how the area formed, friendly park rangers, free wi-fi so you can upload pictures, and a great video about the park.   It's definitely worth the stop.   Behind the visitor center is a trail that brings you right up close to many, many samples of petrified wood - in some places, it looks like the trail is going right through a tree trunk!!

It was a neat walk, but COLD!!!   It actually started snowing while we were there.   We eventually sought out the warmth of the car heater, and headed on down the 28 mile road that winds through the Petrified Forest & Painted Desert.  

Our next stop was at the Crystal Forest.   This is an easy .8 mile trail that takes you through the landscape that is littered with colorful petrified logs that once held glassy amethyst & quartz crystals (they've all been stolen, sadly)  We walked the trail, and by that time it was getting WINDY too.   But it was a really neat walk - we got to see lots of really pretty logs close up and even were able to appreciate the vastness of the land around us:

Look at the color in that log!
I saw this plant growing there - it must be a hardy one to survive in the harsh conditions in that area!   But it was really pretty - a vivid purple among all the browns of the desert.

Our next stop was the Agate Bridge.

It's pretty cool when you realize that people have worked to preserve this because it's so interesting.   I read somewhere that it's the oldest natural bridge in the world (but of course, now I can't find where I read that, so don't quote me on it) :-)

As we headed down the road, we saw a sight that just made us stop the car along the shoulder and get out.   It's called The Teepees, and they are impressive formations layered with blues, purples & grays created by iron, carbon, manganese, & other minerals.

I just love these!!

Off we went towards the Painted Desert.   The Petrified Forest is actually part of the Painted Desert and the same road takes you through both.   There are lots of other stops, but I was limited on time (and well - cold!) so I didn't get out at all of them, but the ranger at the Visitor's Center had told me to be sure to go to the Crystal Forest & Pintado Point.      So I headed down the road, marveling at the vast wide open spaces and pretty soon, there I was.    There wasn't another soul at Pintando Point when I got there, and I soon figured out why....   I got out of the car and was almost blown over!!!   Those winds had picked up so much I was scared to stand out on the wall to take a picture!    But I couldn't help myself - it's beautiful out there!

I was on my way out of the park, when for some reason I pulled over at Kachina Point, and boy am I glad I did.... How beautiful is this?

And finally - one more "Oh my gosh I have to take a picture of this" stop alongside the road.....

I'm not normally a desert person - I don't like to be hot!  (I'll melt, after all).   But I was so glad I came through this way.    The landscape is so unusual and so beautiful in its own way.   That's something I realize everywhere I go - how grateful I am for a creative Creator who gave us so many very different beautiful places to enjoy!

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