Thursday, July 19, 2018

Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

On Saturday the 7th we ate breakfast, checked out of the hotel, and started a long journey headed east on I-40.  We were originally going to go to the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest on Thursday, but the delayed rental car debacle postponed our plans until Saturday.  

For those wanting to know:

The Painted Desert is a United States desert of badlands in the Four Corners area running from near the east end of the Grand Canyon National Park southeast into the Petrified Forest National Park. It is most easily accessed in the north portion of The Petrified Forest National Park. The Painted Desert is known for its brilliant and varied colors, that not only include the more common red rock, but even shades of lavender.

The Petrified Forest National Park is a United States national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona. Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, the fee area of the park covers about 230 square miles (600 square kilometers), encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlandsThe Petrified Forest is known for its fossils, especially fallen trees that lived in the Late Triassic Period, about 225 million years ago. The sediments containing the fossil logs are part of the widespread and colorful Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert gets its name. Beginning about 60 million years ago, the Colorado Plateau, of which the park is part, was pushed upward by tectonic forces and exposed to increased erosion. All of the park's rock layers above the Chinle, except geologically recent ones found in parts of the park, have been removed by wind and water. In addition to petrified logs, fossils found in the park have included Late Triassic ferns, cycadsginkgoes, and many other plants as well as fauna including giant reptiles called phytosaurs, large amphibians, and early dinosaurs. Paleontologists have been unearthing and studying the park's fossils since the early 20th century.

There is one area where the desert and the forest are intertwined and you drive in and out of each over and over.  That's where we went. 

Elliott woke up half on/half off the air mattress that morning.
Multiple people had told me that the Painted Desert visitor center had nice bathrooms.  It had bathrooms.  They were not what I would classify as "nice". 
It was hot, hot, HOT, so we drove with the AC blasting, popped out of the car, took pictures, then popped back in to the AC.  Repeat for 28 miles. 

Michael and his two wives. 

Spencer thought this bird was fake until it turned and looked right at him. 


See the petrified log?  Can you imagine that this used to be an actual forest? 

After we left the desert/forest we drove to Winslow and ate lunch, and then stood on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.  It was such a fine sight to see. 

And then we drove to Meteor Crater, because, even though the kids and I were there in June, Michael and Cathy had never been. 

Meteor Crater is far too windy for a dress, which I had been wearing all day, so I changed clothes.  Quickly.  In the empty movie theater.

Cathy and I took this picture, 

So we could make this side-by-side. 

After Meteor Crater we drove back to the Valley, picked up our cars from Michael's work, returned the rental car, drove to the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs, checked in, got all of our stuff into the rooms (no easy feat with a hotel built into the cliffs of a mountain with not nearly enough parking), got Spencer started on the nebulizer, left Cathy as a baby-sitter, Michael and I drove into Phoenix and picked up dinner, came back and parked, took a shuttle to our room, ate dinner in our room at 10:00 pm and then went to bed.  No pictures at all because it was all too exhausting and hot. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Grandest of Canyons

We got up on Friday morning (this is Friday the 6th, for those of you who have lost track of the days), ate breakfast at the hotel, stopped at Target for snacks and new shoes for Spencer and then hit the road. 

Oh, Elliott was cute when we woke up that morning. 
It took about 90 minutes to get from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon.  We had banned kids from devices and screens that day, so we had a lively conversation on the way there. 

The Grand Canyon is PACKED in the summer, so we had to drive by the first six parking lots before we could find a place to park.  The Canyon is 277 miles long and we probably drove by about five of them. 

We parked, walked up a little hill and:

We took in the sights and then went into a little museum to learn about how the Grand Canyon was made. 

The plan was to hike down into the Canyon on a three mile round-trip trail, but it became apparent on the very short walk to the trail that Spencer was not going to be able to do it.  

Instead we decided we'd take 1 million pictures and then head to the Visitor Center via free bus. 

The visitor center had a cool movie played on a planet earth screen. 
We bought some souvenirs and then took the bus back to where we had started.  We hiked in the other direction on the trail and took another million pictures. 

We remembered to take Spencer's monthly pictures too.  

10 years- 10 months. 


After that we got back in the car and headed about five miles west to where the Grand Canyon Railroad stops.  I'd like to take it up there sometime. 

We saw and went into the El Tovar hotel. 

And then we went even further west where we found a food court (yes, at the Grand Canyon) and a hotel lobby for Spencer to use the nebulizer. 
At that point we were all Grand Canyoned out, so we decided to hit the road.  There was a huge backup on the road out and we couldn't figure out why.  

Oh, it was just people rubbernecking the wildlife. 

I tried to convince everyone to stop at the Flintstones Bedrock City, but it was everyone against me and I lost. 

See Dino's head?

We did stop in Williams for ice cream and a bathroom break.  We got to see the Polar Express.  Maybe we'll take it again this year. 

Elliott enjoyed his ice cream. 
We drove back to Flagstaff, Michael tried to get into bed to take a nap, I yelled at him to get his ass up and do something (anything!) and then we went to dinner. 

I got the Navajo tacos.  Cathy was surprised to learn there are different kinds of Mexican food: Baja Mexican, Sonoran Mexican, New Mexico Mexican, Tex-Mex, Navajo Mexican.  To name a few. 
And then, finally, to bed once again.  Elliott took his turn on the air mattress because God forbid my two kids share a bed.