I don’t think I could begin to do justice to today’s scenery no matter how many photographs I took (and, believe me, there are a lot in the camera). Nor will I be able to paint it in words either, so for those who love majestic scenery, painted in all colours of the rainbow (no pun intended), a trip to The Petrified Forest and The Painted Desert should be high on your ‘to do’ list.
We made a leisurely start from Gallup because I had wanted to wish my youngest grandson a very happy first birthday on FaceTime. I think Oliver was happy to let me interrupt his teatime and it was lovely to have a chat to Tilly too, who made sure I knew it was her brother’s birthday.
We headed out towards our stopping place for tonight and I had persuaded Carolyn, who had no idea what to expect, that a 35 mile drive through a National Park would be perfect!! We started off in the Information Centre and immediately ran into Mark and Linda… again! (You may need to go back a couple of posts to understand how far we are now stretching coincidence). As ever, we were happy to run into them for the third time.
Armed with maps and information, we set off to drive, but we’re both out of the car taking photographs as much as we were in it. The desert floor and the majestic bluffs in their multi colours were set off by the pure blue sky. We wandered around some of the trails and it was so easy to imagine the Native Americans living there in their tepees (or tipis), their pueblo houses and even before that in the multitude of caves. Their primitive drawings on the rock faces live on.
Once again, and even our American friends commented, you simply cannot comprehend the magnificence of the 360 degree vista, because it is never a matter of merely looking forward but also remembering to look at the different panorama behind you.
The Petrified Forest was fascinating in a different way. Seeing huge logs which had crystallised long ago and become bejewelled rocks scattered liberally across the desert floor, was something I had never experienced.
Just a few miles further and we arrived in Holbrook to stay the night at Wigwam Motel. Wot? Actually, the Tepees are made of concrete and house within them a very spacious room, complete with 2 double beds, and a very small shower room. Very sweet, a completely new experience and with the Santa Fe railroad behind us, we may well go rushing off to a ‘normal’ hotel tomorrow.
Firstly, apologies that this is late in posting. The tipi was sufficient accommodation but the wifi wasn’t! In fact, the evening was punctuated with the railroad behind, the Route 66 in front and the intermittent, yet frequent, electronic buzz from something/somewhere within the tipi. Plus, one of us, who shall remain nameless but it wasn’t me, didn’t put her ‘phone to silent and had a spam call at 01.00! However, was it worth it? Yes! Great fun. And, I’ve lived in a caravan which was even smaller.
Earlier in the day… American road signs etc. are different. We joke that everything in America is bigger. Certainly, the roads are wider and longer. But, they also seem to try to exceed us in speed limits. Very few speed limits are round numbers. Our 30 is 35; our 40 – 45;… our 70 is 75! And another thing… traffic light sequences omit the Red/Amber prior to Green. Here they go immediately from Red to Green and it is a test of reaction time to get away promptly.
Kath has commented on the sheer size of the views. Prior to this trip, I didn’t have much of a clear idea of how far this country stretches. Obviously, I knew the mileage but seeing it on a map or flying it is nothing compared to driving it, seeing it and feeling it. It’s vast!
The Painted Desert National Park is quite superb and awe inspiring by its scale and contrasts. Added to that, the ‘authorities’ have provided signage and facilities which enhance the incredible natural beauty. Very well done!
We travelled, for part of the day, through Navajo Nation which is a semi-autonomous Native American territory covering 27425 square miles, occupying portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah and northwestern New Mexico. A consolation for losing their lands those years ago?