Who We Are

We sold our home in June, 2007, and spent the next 7 1/2 years traveling full time in a Cross Roads Fifth Wheel. (We had been traveling during our summers for several years before going full time.) We loved the full-time lifestyle! Each summer we spent a month or two volunteering in State Parks, first in Indiana at McCormick's Creek State Park, near our family, then in later years as the grandchildren got older, at the Bluewater Lake State Park in New Mexico. We spent 6 months each winter at Cactus Gardens RV Resort in Yuma, AZ, where I worked mornings in the park office. The remaining months were spent on the road, seeing this great country of ours. Our favorite places are our National Parks. Anita loved photography and the freedom of digital photography, taking sometimes hundreds of photos in a day. We hiked as much as our legs will allow. We also really enjoyed square and round dancing as we travel across country, and meeting all the wonderful people who dance and/or travel.

But as in all things, there comes a time for change, and we decided it was time to create roots once more. In the fall of 2014, we purchased a home in Cactus Gardens, and in the spring of 2015, sold the 5th wheel. Anita also retired in the spring. We will continue to travel each summer, but for a shorter period of time. We hope to continue blogging about those trips, but it will obviously be on a more limited basis than in the past.

Please explore our past posts if you are interested in traveling this great country. You'll find an index in the left column. We hope you enjoy our blog, and appreciate all comments

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Petrified Forest National Park

or "The Painted Desert and its Trees of Stone"

Next stop on our list was the Petrified Forest National Park. We passed the entrance on I-40 as we drove toward Holbrook. Looking around, we asked each other if it was really worth the night's stay at Holbrook and the 30 mile drive back to the park. We decided we were too close to the park not to see it. After all, any national park has to be worth seeing, right? Absolutely. We are so glad we took the time to spend a day there.
The park is actually 2 parks in one, the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. Not visible from the interstate, we were amazed at the beauty of the desert.
The Painted Desert actually runs all the way from here to the Grand Canyon. It has been said that there are "168 distinct colors and shades in the sands of the Painted Desert, and to any beholder this seems conservative, rather that an exaggeration".

The northern half of the 28 mile park road runs through the Painted Desert. An interesting stop is the Painted Desert Inn, a museum renovated by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 30's on the site of a popular inn on historic Route 66.

As you travel south on the road, you begin to spot chunks of petrified logs. I had a vague concept of how petrified wood was formed before visiting the park, but the movie shown at the Painted Desert Visitor Center was excellent in its explanation, as is the park brochure:

"This high, dry grassland was once a vast floodplain crossed by many streams. Tall, stately conifer trees grew along the banks. A variety of plants and animals lived there, known only as fossils today. The trees fell, and swollen streams washed them into adjacent floodplains. A mix of silt, mud and volcanic ash buried the logs. This sediment cut off oxygen and slowed the logs decay. Silica laden groundwater seeped through the logs and replaced the original wood tissues with silica deposits (cell by individual cell). Eventually the silica crystallized into quartz, and the logs were preserved as petrified wood."

Think of that. The original wood cells were replaced, retaining the grain and texture, by gemstone! The resulting display is amazing.
The color patterns are gorgeous, including yellow, red, black, blue, brown, white and pink. Petrified wood is surprisingly heavy, weighing 200 pounds per cubic foot.
In the mid 1800's stories of this unusual place were carried back east, and before long, pioneers and sightseers were common in the area. Naturally, everyone who visited stooped to choose a piece to carry home, and much of it was pilfered to be sold locally as souvenirs. Finally in 1906, sections of the area were set aside to be federally protected, and in 1962, those areas plus more than 50,000 more acres became the Petrified Forest National Park. Today, federal law prohibits the removal of even a small chip, but only a fraction of the original petrified logs remain.

During the last few days, we have seen many reminders of the Historic Route 66, which ran through the center of the park. The community of Holbrook holds many such remnants of the "Mother Road" which made travel through the west so popular.

For more scenes from our trip through the National Park click here for our slideshow:

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