We pulled into the visitor center and Heath fed Pumpkin. The rest of us went inside and looked over the post cards and t-Shirts and books and got a map. Heath came and gave us Pumpkin and she went back to pump some milk.
We checked out a few rocks then started watching a 20 minute video about the wood/rocks and the park. Pumpkin got to crawl and walk around the chairs as we were the only ones watching the video. It was actually a good video and really helped explain how the petrified wood got there and what was special about it. Once the video was over we got our map and started off. The park is basically one 28 mile road with a bunch of points with look out points, old buildings, ruins or hikes at them. It was pretty early in the morning and we didn’t have anywhere to go so we decided to do them all. We drove a ¼ mile then turned a corner and we all went WOW.
We had entered the painted dessert and were totally unprepared for what this meant.
With blown minds we grabbed our cameras and went to the look out and check it all out. Not only could we see forever but there was a huge hole in front of us filled with giant hills that were white, red, green, black, brown and many shades between.
We drove to the next point and it was a different angle on the same area. From here we had a hike for about a mile on a nice trail the wined it’s way along the top of the canyon. We looked for birds and lizards and cactuses and all sorts of stuff.
At the end of the hike was another really cool look out and a building that was originally built out of petrified wood then rebuilt in the 30s and apparently needs constant maintenance as the clay shifts.
There was a really cool stone carving of a mountain lion from prehistoric dwellers.
We hiked back along the road then drove to the next point. There were several more stops around the painted desert then we got to see several spots with various ruins from people long ago.
After the ruins there was a historic spot along route 66 and an old car.
Then we got to where all the petrified wood was
There was a few little hikes and a long one that was strait down and then up a huge hill that we skipped and lots of canyon areas with petrified wood in various states.
One of the last points we stopped was the crystal forest and it was crazy there was all sorts of petrified wood everywhere. We were pretty exhausted by this point but hiked the whole thing and rejoiced with the clouds blocked the sun for a bit.
At the end of the road
was a second visitor center/museum. At the first one Peanut got a Junior Ranger packet and during the trip had been circleing the animals we saw and filling out other stuff from the pages.
We showed the rangers his book and they asked him some questions then swore him in. He lifted his hand and repeated a pledge then received a patch and certificate.
He told us later it was the best part of the day, though the rest of us thought the shock of the painted dessert popping out at us was or maybe the super long petrified wood.
I had driven around the park and on the way to the museum gotten really tired so Heath took over. We had 20 miles to the hotel and I slept about all of them. We checked in and the $45 room for 6 was nothing fancy and just barely fit us in. We unloaded some stuff then went to get lunch. The town like all had a lot of Mexican restaurants so we picked one and went in. It was a little pricier then I expected, the service was not great and the food was good but not amazing. We felt lots better after a big meal and did a quick drive around town. We had some sunburns so got a bit of aloe then headed back to the hotel to let Pumpkin walk around and all of us shower and change.
It was great.
I can’t remember real clearly but I think we just showered, digested and laid around for a while. I made a quick run to McDonalds then fell asleep off and on till everyone else was ready to sleep and turn off the TV and lights. At 7:00pm (9:00 our time) we were all asleep. Pumpkin woke up at one point hungry and cold so Heath put her in bed with us and let her sleep with us the rest of the night.
I woke at like 4:50am looked at my watch and worried I would not fall back asleep after such and early night for about 15 seconds but it was not a problem.
I woke up again at 6:15 and worried the same thing. At 6:30 I got up and hopped in the shower. My back was sore so I stretched and got the water really hot. This did the trick. Then I changed and went to get ice and clean up the van a bit. I thought everyone had to get up soon so went back in and laid down. After 10 minutes I was sure everyone was really sleeping good so I grabbed the laptop and went outside. I edited pictures and tried to upload a bit.
At 8am I checked and everyone was getting up. We got some really tasty breakfast from a restaurant sort of attached to our hotel for cheap. Then Heath went to get some fruit and the rest of us packed up. When Heath was back we loaded up the car and hit the road. I’ve been writing on our 3hr drive to the Grand Canyon and we are about there.