Day 125

Tuesday, September 27, 2005Flagstaff, AZ
Miles: 13672Petrified Wood. Mmmmmm.

Today was a somewhat overcast day. Keath learned firsthand how drastically different Flagstaff's temperature is from the rest of Arizona. Frost on the blackberry is probably not a good thing. Ceridwen was still feeling somewhat off, but well enough to get some work done on editing her novel. When we were both done with our respective work, we set out for a day trip out to Petrified Forest National Park (along I-40 again!)

The trip across this particular stretch of desert had far less inexplicable roadside objects. In fact, with the exception of one or two small truck stop towns, it has no roadside anything. Just plain flat desert with far off mesas in the distance. It is quite a sight to see. The winds, however, were terrible. We had to take turns driving in order to give our arms a break from holding the steering wheel in place.

In addition to the obvious and copious amounts of petrified wood (which, for the record, is not wood, but rather a fossil record of wood, where the organic material of the tree has been replaced by minerals and solidified underground) there were rock formations similar to what we saw at the Badlands, but with some more color (blue!) due to the different minerals floating around this neck of the continent. The park also has several spots where you can view far-off petroglyphs through scopes. This was an excellent idea compared to other places we've seen petroglyphs that feebly post signs to say "please don't add your own art."

When we got back to Vantom at the visitor's center, we were quickly accosted by a gentleman hanging out in the doorway. He was very excited to see New Hampshire plates, as he was from New Hampshire and liked to talk to people. It turns out that he moved to Arizona 30 years ago and really really liked to talk about nothing in particular. We finally escaped him and drove up through the park, visiting each of the lookouts with stealth and dexterity so as not to get cornered again.

The park road leads up through some beautiful views of the painted desert. These are the views we dreamed of back in May when we owned a home and wanted to hit the open road. The colors in the ground and sky just can't really be captured in our photos. But they were majestic.

After looking at all the park lookouts, we headed back across the desert. The wind had blessedly abated somewhat, and the sunset was gorgeous, even from inside the Denny's where we stopped for dinner. We had learned (back in Canada, eh?) that Denny's has a veggie burger, giving us a filling option when on the road. Greasy and full of french fries, but a filling option.