Thank you for visiting The Haley Hiatus, aka Travels with Barkley, where we're tracking our year-long 2010 travel adventure. We'll post pictures and journal entries as we travel the country by a wandering route from Pennsylvania to, ultimately, Alaska and back. If our trip captures your interest, please stop in occasionally to see what we're up to.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Arizona: The Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park

We left Albuquerque on March 16th. This is the Historic Rio Puerco Bridge on old Route 66. Traffic no longer crosses it.

Soon after seeing the Rio Puerco Bridge, we came upon this neat old Corvette on US-40 West.

We saw quite a few trains moving cargo around New Mexico. This one was a loooong train of double-stacked containers being pulled by five BNSF locomotives. Unfortunately, we just couldn't get a clear picture of it.

We also saw a couple of these badminton shuttlecock-looking structures (silos?) along the way.

Marking the Continental Divide: (It's not a clear picture, but we expected the sign to be on the right side of the road, and it caught us unawares by suddenly popping up in the median!)

The Painted Cliffs didn't last very long, but were spectacular! On the New Mexico side of the border with Arizona . . .

and at Arizona's visitor center.

The Painted Desert is gorgeous! It swoops through the Petrified Forest National Park, where it seemed there was more Painted Desert than petrified wood!

Since there was no wind to carry the sand when we were there, the air was so clean we could see snow-covered mountains 120 miles away (although the snow doesn't show up in the picture).

A neat way to line some of the walkways in the Petrified Forest National Park:

Early Indian petroglyphs, possibly from the 1200s:

Remains of an early pueblo, on the trail to the petroglyphs:

The same Corvette we saw on US-40! We never got to meet the owner.

We read several articles about how the trees in the Petrified Forest became stone, but still don't quite understand it. Apparently, some (catastrophic?) event millions of years ago sent logs into a now-gone river where they were so quickly and deeply buried under sediment - without oxygen - that the usual decay process just didn't take place. While Bill had been to the Petrified Forest before, Karen was expecting to see whole trees and was surprised to see them broken into chunks (the result of upheaval sometime after the logs had already turned to stone). It was very odd!

Petrified log jutting out of rock:

Broken log-rocks lying in the valley below the jutting log:

Some of the chunks are actually pretty large:

A few close-ups showing citrine, amethyst, and other types of quartz, which slowly replaced the organic matter in the trees and turned them into fossils.

Barkley's favorite:

Even though they're broken, their pieces remained in-line for two large specimens in the park. The first is the Agate Bridge; the second is Old Faithful.

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