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September 20, 2017 / Jim Fenton

Colorado Road Trip Day 13: Petrified Forest

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Trip Odometer: 2411

I woke in the middle of the night to a dazzling display of stars. The previous evening’s clouds had left, and the moon had set, so I got to see the stars as they were visible to most people prior to the invention of the light bulb.

LightningFieldPerimeterWe all rose just before sunrise to see the sun again reflect off the poles. It wasn’t quite as picturesque as the previous evening because the clouds were gone, but very nice nonetheless. After breakfast, we took a walk around the perimeter of the lightning field; judging from the path in the field, this seems to be a popular activity for visitors. There was surprising variation in the plant life in some areas, including a section of flowers that reminded us of the flower field in The Wizard of Oz. I brought my GPS on the hike, and recorded the locations of each of the poles we walked along to compare against Google Earth after the trip.

About 11 am, Kim returned to retrieve us and we left the solitude of the Lightning Field. We returned to Quemado, where Dave’s Tesla had been charging — slowly — while we were at the Field. Being about lunchtime, Kenna and I opted to drive back to Pie Town for lunch with the rest of the group, where Dave was able to get some more charge on the car at the RV park.

PetrifiedLogs

Petrified Logs

After lunch, we said our good-byes and headed west, back through Quemado and into Arizona. We drove next to Petrified Forest National Park, which neither of us had visited before. The Petrified Forest is, of course, nothing like a forest — it’s basically desert with calcified tree trunks scattered around. The trunks are colorful, due to impurities such as iron and manganese that are part of the millions of years of calcification. The geology of the Petrified Forest was also interesting in other ways. The hills had very distinct and colorful layers of soil that were deposited as the area migrated from close to the equator to its current position. There is obviously quite a story that a geologist could tell about this.

Proceeding out the north exit from the park, we were now on Interstate 40, the old Route 66. It was quite a change in culture from the rural roads we had been traveling the past couple of days. I-40 had extensive truck traffic, but the BNSF railway that paralleled it was also very active, with long trains hauling shipping containers in both directions. We were thankful for the trains, realizing that all of those containers could be on I-40 with us.

We had considered pressing onward to Flagstaff, but decided to stop at Winslow, partly due to a recommendation we received from David and Kelly to stay at La Posada, one of the classic “Harvey House” hotels there. The hotel had been extensively restored; our room had elegant wood floors and area rugs, leather furniture, and a small reading library of its own. We decided to eat dinner at the Turquoise Room, the hotel’s similarly classic restaurant. Kenna and I had a somewhat dressy dinner there (at least by road trip standards), and it was excellent.

This article is part of a series about our recent road trip to Colorado and back. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

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