With this traveling full-time gig, it’s hit and miss. Just like the wide swings with the weather, some days are more fun than others. Today was definitely better than yesterday.
Yesterday, we woke up in the cold pines, expecting to head up to Page, Arizona and spend a couple of nights there. However, I saw signs along the highway that the road to the North Rim was closed.
Yep, a search on the internet revealed that it’s closed until the middle of May.
Not wanting to go that far North without being able to do everything on our list there, we opted to return to the original route and check out the North Eastern part of the state, as neither of us had been there before. We decided to drive through the Hopi and Navajo Reservations and back down to the Painted Desert area.
So we turned east at Tuba City, and the landscape was beautiful red rocks and canyons and bluffs. We missed the turn for the Dinosaur Tracks, so we drove on – our goal was to explore the north eastern side of the state. Quite a nice drive, although there were no places to pull off the road to take pictures or explore.
Per a guide book we received as a gift, we decided to stop at the Hopi Cultural Center and check out their museum. Wasn’t quite what I’d expected. NOTHING like the well-curated and beautiful museum at Jerome. But still very informative (once we put on our reading glasses because of the dim lighting). It was however, a little disheartening to see what our government did to remove the Natives from their lands. By the time we drove through the Reservations, we were about done with the remoteness of the area, and ready to get back to civilization.
As soon as we hit I-40 (as soon as we passed up the gas station at the on-ramp) Tom saw smoke in the rear view mirror.
Turns out the front tire on the Jeep was flat – and had been for a while. Completely shredded the tire, but we had a good spare and Tom changed it safely on the side of the road. So we headed to our free campsite for the night at the south entrance to the Petrified Forest. We had been driving ALL day. When we parked the wind was gusting and we had to have the slide in. And it was another cold night.
So all in all, not the greatest day.
But today…was probably the best yet. We had all day to leisurely explore the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert.
No doubt the sun on the mountains would have been beautiful at sunrise, but with temperatures in the high 30’s, I didn’t care. So we took our time getting ready to drive the park. Our first stop was the Visitor’s center where we watched a film, explored the exhibits, and hiked around the trails there. It was sunny and beautiful – until we got in the Jeep to drive on. It clouded up and we missed the Agate house, but decided to hit it on our way out, because we had to return on the same road, and maybe the sun would be out by then.
Well, it stayed cloudy most of the time. in fact, it SNOWED on us!
But even beneath the grey skies, the area was awe inspiring.
We hiked every trail. At least we were dressed for it – we passed people running back to their cars with shorts on! It was really just a nice experience the whole day. And so nice to be getting out of the vehicles and getting exercise and getting into nature (two main goals for this adventure).
Our last hike was the Long Trees and Agate House that was at the South entrance. The sun had come out and because it was late in the day, we had the trail completely to ourselves. The Agate house was reconstructed with “bricks” of petrified wood, based on the ruins found there. The signs said it was an eight room home for one family. It had no windows (although they put one in in the reconstruction) and you could only enter and exit through an opening in the roof. It just didn’t make sense to us.
So as I hiked a little further, Tom sat and thought, and an explanation was revealed to him that I’m sure is more “true” than the history markers. He thinks it was a fort or lookout or trading post. Perched on a hill with a view of vast distances in all directions, it would make a perfect look out. Maybe it was a supply depot, and that is why you could only enter/exit through the top. Whatever the specific case, Tom convinced me that no way was “history” correct. Which reinforces my belief that you can’t believe everything your told. Listen to your gut. (Or your ancient Indian Guides!)
Anyhow, it was a fun day, and since we arrived back home with plenty of daylight left, we decided to head on down the road and move our campsite from the gift store parking lot to beside a lovely lake!
Peace & Love, Joy