So yesterday I eclipsed my 10th week on the road. It’s really hard to believe I’ve been gone that long. But I keep on keeping on!
Yesterday morning, I caved in and did the Petrified Forest. I wasn’t sure on whether to do it or not. My mom had been when she was a kid and didn’t make it seem like it was anything special. A friend (don’t read too much into that, ma’am :-)) suggested I give it a shot since she “thought it might interest you since you’ve been liking a lot of the outdoors-y stuff.” Conflicting reviews. How interesting can pieces of trees that just look like rocks be? But how many times will I be in the area to see the Petrified Forest? So off my outdoors-y self went.
All of my Death Valley rocks got decorated at the main gate. It’s illegal to take anything from the Petrified Forest, so they have to clear any rocks you currently have on you before you go in. My story was that they were just collected from around the country on my trip. I don’t think one National Park would appreciate me telling them I stole them from another National Park! The Ranger from Lake Mead was also dead on. I went in the Southern gate to see the petrified trees first since she had told me the Northern part of the park was only badlands. I stopped at the visitors center, got the passport stamped, and went for a walk to see some old, rocky trees.
It made me a skeptic though. Especially with the second picture, it made me wonder if they poured the concrete and built the steps around the pieces that were already there? Or were they placed that way? The same goes for the logs that are laid out like they fell that way and just split into sections. Is that natural or are they pieced together like a puzzle? These are the questions running through my mind when I walk through these cool places!
The rocks were cool though. I tried getting some pictures of the crazy colors the rocks were but since I was there so early in the morning, the sun was fairly bright and faded out some of the detail. There were bright yellows, whites, greens, etc though. Pretty interesting stuff. After my walk, I drove over to an area called the Teepees. It’s called that because, obvious enough, the landforms are all cone-shaped. The cool thing about them is that they’re really colorful from all of the different layers of minerals.
From there, I went to Newspaper Rock. It’s named that for the “news” it gave about the people living in the area however many bajillion years ago. The rock is covered with petroglyphs, which are images carved into rock. Think of cave drawings only carved and chiseled into rock. That was pretty surreal. All of the drawings look like something Hollywood would portray as alien symbology. It’s just crazy to look at something that was done up to 2,000 years ago, knowing someone was in that very spot creating it. It makes you realize how long people have been around, but also how far people have come. Chances are you’ll have to view the picture full size to see the images, as the park service lets you no where near this rock.
My last stop was the Puerco Ruin Trail. It was a trail that walked through the ruins of the Puerco Pueblo, which is where the people in the area lived. There were more petroglyphs here too. Again, with the neatness of the way the structure was laid out and with how close it was to the walking trail, I’m a little skeptical this was the way people found it. Does it still count as authentic if paleontologists and scientists discover a site, unearth it, then piece it back together with modern technology and concrete/adhesives?
All in all, it was a good stop. A lot better and more informative/interesting than I was anticipating before I went in, so that’s a step in the positive direction.
After I left there, I crossed into New Mexico (only 5 more states to go!) and headed north at Gallup, NM to get to Four Corners. About halfway there, I was checking out my map and noticed it was smack dab in the middle of the Navajo Indian Reservation. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little concerned about how much it was going to cost me to get in. And really, if you think about it, paying anything at all to see state lines is a little ridiculous.
But I eventually made it. And it was only $3 to get in, so I figured that was a low enough dollar figure to fork it over and go see. I was completely disappointed when I got in though. It’s essentially the reason why National Parks, Monuments, Recreation Areas, etc were created – to prevent the commercialization of these amazing places. It was a nice plaza set up around the intersection point of all four states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, & Utah). But walling in the plaza were four walls of booths for the Indians to set up stands to sell their jewelry, trinkets, and “Four Corner souvenirs.” Really? It’s essentially a really nice flee market. The “cheap tourist” feel just dampens the whole experience of seeing something cool. It’s the reason I hated driving to Mount Rushmore. And how I felt when I left the West entrance of the Grand Canyon. Why ruin an informative, educational place with something like cheap gifts and tshirts? If you can’t tell, the Indians and I definitely aren’t on the same page on this trip. So I got my pictures, didn’t even bother looking at the booths, and headed out.
I spent the night in Farmington, NM because it’s right outside of the Aztec Ruins National Monument. So I’m pretty pumped about doing that today! And after that, it’s just driving until I feel tired. I’m supposed to be meeting my grandmother’s sister for lunch in Oklahoma on Thursday. And since there’s not really much between New Mexico and Oklahoma that I’m really interested in seeing, it’s just long drives for me for the next few days!
Hope everyone’s doing well!