Sunday, November 17, 2019

Petrified Forest National Park, Day 1

Holbrook/Petrified Forest KOA
Holbrook, AZ
November 2, 2019

For Joe's 73rd birthday (Nov. 2) celebration, he took me to the Petrified Forest NP.  
The birthday boy!  

It has been on the "I need to get there" list for awhile and this year , we made it happen. 

Maybe it is just me, but sometimes at all the humongous national parks I get so overwhelmed and anxious to do and see everything that it's hard to prioritize.  Not the case with Petrified Forest...sometimes small is a good thing !  We had two days and that was plenty.  

On our first visit to the park, we focused our time at the south entrance.  The Rainbow Forest Museum/Visitor Center was the first stop.  It's a great introduction for a visit to the park.  Even though it is a small museum, there is tons of information and history to browse through.  The murals show life as it was during the late Triassic Period and exhibits contain excavated bones and fossils found in the park.
Not just any bones and fossils, but some that are 223 million years old.

It is both fascinating and incomprehensible...

Just out the backdoor of the museum is the Giant Logs Trail, a short self-guided trail with numbered posts that correspond to a booklet you receive at the museum. 
We make a pretty good team.  Joe reads the book and gives a report...

and I document the day's activities! 

We learned some cool stuff !  
A log is petrified when all of its original plant material is replaced by minerals.  A petrified forest is made of stone.
The fossilized taproot on this log is similar to modern day pine trees.  

Sections of petrified logs appear to be cut, but actually it is the weight from the dirt on top of the buried trees that broke it into sections.  Silica-quartz minerals break on a clean angle.

A short walk "down the street" from the museum and across Jim Camp Wash is the trailhead for the Long Logs Loop and the Agate House trail...our next adventure. 

This trail did not get its name by mistake.  Some of the trees in this Triassic-period logjam are over 180 feet long.

The Agate House demonstrates a very innovative use of petrified wood.  

It is an eight room pueblo that was built and occupied sometime between 1050 and 1300.  The small structure is located near agricultural fields and atop a small hill surrounded by beautiful vistas in all directions.  
The Agate House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. 

It is uncertain if this building was used as a single family residence or as a meeting place.  

Workers from the CCC reconstructed the Agate House under the watchful eye of archeologist Cornelius B. Cosgrove in 1934.  Since its excavation in the 1930s, hundreds of similar petrified sites have been discovered in the park.  

Back in the jeep, we drove a few miles to Crystal Forest.  The paved loop trail meanders its way in a badlands landscape (more on that in Day 2).  


It was interesting to learn why some of the petrified logs are so colorful.  It is all determined by what kind of minerals the log is made of.

Iron oxides with more yellow...

or with more purple.  I couldn't decide which one to post so I just did them both!
Manganese oxides

Some of all three...
After Crystal Forest, we drove the rest of the main road (The road is only 28 miles from the south entrance to the north entrance.) to the north entrance and returned to Holbrook via I-40.  

I should say that the distance form Holbrook to the south entrance is 21 miles and from Holbrook to the north entrance is 26 miles.

It is hard to picture the Petrified Forest as a prehistoric rainforest with ferns, rivers, dinosaurs, reptiles, and amazing 180 foot conifers.  

Wind and water have and continue to peel back the us a glimpse of the once tropical land we know as Arizona. 

With day one in the books, we were looking forward to day two.  So stay tuned, it is up next !


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Winslow, AZ

Holbrook/Petrified Forest KOA
October 30 - November 8, 2019
Holbrook, AZ

We arrived in Holbrook a couple of days early for a 9 night stay at the KOA.  

We chose Holbrook as it is pretty much in the center of two places we wanted to visit...Winslow, AZ and the Petrified Forest National Park. 

Winslow is about 30 miles away and was our first adventure while in the area...mainly because we were waiting for the weather to warm up and we really needed a stop at Walmart. There were three POIs here we wanted to see...   
1. Standin on the Corner Park (November 1)
The Eagles just happen to be my all time favorite band and I have been waiting a long time to stand on the corner in Winslow, AZ.  Their first song "Take it Easy" became a huge hit in 1977. 

"Take it Easy", co-written by Jackson Browne and Glen Frey, put Winslow on the map.
"The Corner", which opened as a park in 1999, is located on Route 66 in historic downtown Winslow and features a life size bronze statue of a balladeer known as Easy which resembles Browne.  Frey said in an interview that Browne came up with the line after getting stranded in Winslow and was stumped on how to finish the verse.  Frey and Browne were neighbors at the time.  It was Frey who added the flatbed Ford line and the rest is history !

A mural that depicts the lyrics of the song is painted on a brick facade    

and in 2016, a statue of Glen Frey was added to the corner.  

"Such a fine sight to see"...

2. La Posada Hotel (November 1)
La Posada embodies the visions of Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, the hotel's renowned architect and Allan Affeldt, the current owner.  But the real story begins with Fred Harvey who "civilized the west" by introducing linen, silverware, crystal, and impeccable service to railroad travel.  Harvey developed and ran all the hotels and restaurants of the Santa Fe Railroad. 
Colter worked for the Fred Harvey Co from 1905 until she retired in the 1950s.  She became famous for her buildings at the Grand Canyon, but considers La Posada her masterpiece.  She was given the freedom to design everything from the structures to the landscape, the furniture, the maids uniforms, and even the dinner china.

For 27 years, the hotel remained open for business.  It was closed in 1957 and all the furnishings were auctioned off in 1959.  In the early 1960s much of the building was gutted and transformed into offices for the railroad.  As recently as 1994, the building was nearly demolished when the railroad made plans to move out for good.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation found out about the La Posada's perils and added it to their endangered list where it came to to the attention of Allan Affeldt.  He purchased the hotel and after three long years of negotiating legal, environmental and financial obstacles he took on the enormous risk and complexity of the estimated $12,000,000 restoration.  

Not only is this a beautiful building, I find it's history interesting.  In 1997, Allan (who oversees the design, architecture, financing and planning)  and his wife Tina Mion (a renowned artist who paints in her studio upstairs and whose art is on display throughout the hotel), made La Posada their home.  

Oh if these walls could talk...such famous folks as Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, John Wayne, Bob Hope, Howard Hughes, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable and many more have walked through these doors and stayed at La Posada Hotel. 

3. Homolovi State Park (November 7)
Homolovi SP was established as an Arizona State Park in 1986 to prevent illegal collecting of artifacts and destruction being caused to structures, burial grounds and kivas that were left behind as far back as 620 AD.

If you want to meander in peace and quiet, enjoy endless  desert vistas and come away with a small sense of what living in this environment may have been like, Homolovi (Hopi for "place of the little hills) is a must stop. The day Joe and I visited, we saw one other person at the Visitor Center and not another person the rest of the day.  

On our way to the Homolovi II site, we stopped to hike the Tsu'vo Trail (Hopi for "Path of the Rattlesnakes") to look for petroglyphs and milling stones.  We wandered on a path between the fallen boulders and two small buttes and found neither.

We extended our walk and joined the Dine Trail to a gorgeous overlook.  The sun felt warm on our backs, the sky was so blue and the clouds were low on the horizon.  
If you squint, you will see a bench on the mound just right of center in the photo.
 Homolovi II is the bigger of the two archeological sites containing an estimated 1200 to 2000 rooms.  Today the pueblos are covered with dirt with only a small block of five rooms excavated.    

Kivas typically had roofs, fire pits, ventilation tunnels and sipapus...holes or indentions in the ground that represent emergence: how people originally entered the world.

The kiva on this site was quite large.

Homolovi II and Homolovi I are at opposite ends of the park.
It's short drive with wide-open vistas and the day we were there, we had our very own personal guides.

Homolovi I is adjacent to the Little Colorado River (signs warn about the river bed being unstable and may have quicksand so we didn't go there). The site is much smaller with only a wall excavated.

There are pottery pieces...lots and lots of pottery pieces at both sites.  We found a few and added them to the others.  We also found some beautiful flint rock, but don't know if it was used in trade or if it was indigenous to the area.

We stopped at the Visitor Center on our way in to pay the entrance fee ($7 per car) and see a small collection of artifacts.  

Since we had a couple of extra days, we decided to make an appointment with Freightliner in Flagstaff (November 4-5)  for service and maintenance.  

So glad we did as they found a couple of things that needed done.  We spent the night in their parking lot and Belle was ready to go by 2:00 pm the following day.  Joe was pleased with the service writer and the parts and service department.  If you are in the area, we do recommend them.

Up next...Petrified Forest National Park

Until then,