Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 23 – Such a fine sight to see!

See the girl and flat-bed Ford?
Started our day in Winslow, Arizona.  First went to McDonalds for a quick breakfast, but more importantly for a good WiFi connection.  The connection at the Motel 6 was poor and definitely not good enough to restore my iPad. (Oops, I had wiped it Sunday evening!)  We have decided that we are definitely 3G at a minimum people.  Gotta have it! 

Got everything fixed and headed for a corner and a flat-bed Ford.  (It’s a must-do for Eagles fans!)  Then a short drive to Meteor Crater.  This crater is about 600 feet deep and about a mile in diameter.  A meteor crashed here about 50,000 years ago, crashing at an estimated 26,000 miles an hour.  Mona had visited here about 50 years ago and she’s been telling me about it ever since I met her because she thought I’d love it.  She was right!  This is like standing on a crater on the moon.  In fact, astronauts trained here before landing on the moon.  This is a very cool place to learn about meteors and see a crater first hand!

Next up is The Petrified Forest and The Painted Desert….two sites adjacent to each other.  We started at the north end of the park which begins with view after breathtaking view of The Painted Desert.  We must have taken 50 snaps in less than a mile.  Virtually every color is represented in the sand and rocks…and maybe a few colors that even Crayola hasn’t heard of!
Quoth the Raven!

Newspaper Rock
We stop at Newspaper Rock, where ancient Indians drew their stories by chipping off the patina of fallen rocks.  None of our pictures captured this amazing wealth of drawings of animals, people and strange creatures.  This is very reminiscent of the petroglyphs we saw on the Big Island of Hawaii, but these are thought to be much older.

Now on to the Crystal Forest.  Logs are strewn everywhere….looks like someone went nuts with a chainsaw because most of the logs are cut up in three or four foot sections.  But, a closer looks shows these are petrified logs…trees frozen in stone for about 225 million years. These trees are now log-like treasures of quartz, amethyst, and rose quartz…very beautiful and surreal at the same time.  We’ve seen several polished pieces of petrified trees at the gift shop and they are beautiful!

Some fun facts: 

     Petrified trees are found throughout the world and in all 50 U.S. states. 

     The opening of Route 66 created a great problem for the Petrified Forest, because of all the
     new tourists who wanted souvenirs.   

     Even though the Crystal Forest seems like it has lots of trees, old photographs show that this is
     just a small remainder of what once was.  The rest has been carried off for souvenirs.

     People are still stealing pieces of the forest.  It’s estimated that about a ton of rocks is stolen
     each month.

It’s time to move on.  We reluctantly leave the forest and head east.  We’re going to Gallop, New Mexico and then turn north for Cortez, Colorado.  On the way, we tune into a Navajo radio station.  The announcers all speak Navaho and the music is new country, old country (e.g. Hank Williams) and Navajo chants.  This is a great station!

On the way to Cortez we see “monuments” from the New Mexican end of Monument Valley.  These monuments are huge up-thrusts of stone standing out from the high desert.  We’re driving along, enjoying the desert scenery and all of a sudden these rocky mammoths jump out of the ground!  Such a fine sight to see! 

Along the way, we see that many of the houses and trailers have hogans next to them.  Many times, the hogan is in much better shape than the home.  The hogan is a sacred home for the Navajo who practice traditional religion. Every family even if they live most of the time in a newer home -- must have the traditional hogan for ceremonies, and to keep themselves in balance.

We make a slight detour to visit Four Corners, where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah meet.  Can you believe it, it was closed.  How do you close something like that!?!?!?  But, closed it was.  We took pictures of us under the sign, sighed, and moved on.  We’re coming back to this area and we’ll revisit, but next time between 8 AM and 5 PM.

Rolled into Cortez around 6:00 PM.  Checked into our hotel and headed for Tequila’s.  After all of today’s driving it was truly a fine sight to see!
Of note:  Saw our first herd of long-horned cattle today!  Also, saw a license plate with "Santos" on it.  The vehicle gave us the impression that it was from South America, but we still haven't figured out which country.  Still have not seen any plates from: Rhode Island, West Virginia and New Hampshire.  Where are those people!?!?!

Snow-capped Colorado Peaks
About 9:30 we noticed that the room clock said it was 10:30. Dern! We forgot that Colorado observes Day Light Savings Time so we lost an hour at Four Corners. Actually, we lost it when we went from Arizona to New Mexico, gained it again when we returned to Arizona, then lost it again when we walked over to Colorado. Damn, confusing!!!! Time for bed!

P.S.  Below is a clip of the Navajo radio announcer...just in case you want to practice your Navajo language skills!

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