Sunday, February 8, 2015

Meteor Crater And The Petrified Forest

Last weekend I was planning a 3 day trip up north but the weather turned bad. So I cancelled it and ended up working instead. It ended up being a crazy weekend and start to my new week. Saturday night I was on call for 4 hours and spent 2.5 hours on the phone. Sunday I worked 6am to 1am Monday morning without a break (19 hours). I got 3.5 hours of sleep and then got back up for work. The good part was since I had a late night I got to work from home. So I got up for work at 6 and worked until six with a two hour nap during lunch break. After those two days alone I was beat.
So Thursday morning we woke up and drove to Flagstaff for breakfast. Following breakfast we drove 40+ miles to the east to Meteor Crater. Natalie saw this on The Cosmos and wanted to go. I'd been before and it wasn't worth the drive just to go to the crater but I had other plans for the weekend so we went there on our way. 
Right before we got to the crater we were driving through a ranch and there were cows everywhere. I decided to moo and to my surprise Zach mooed back at me. That's the only time I've got that response out of the kid and it was pretty funny. We spent about 3 hours at the crater, took the tour, watched the movie, carried a sleeping kid around. It was pretty cool but our next stop would be even better.
A couple weeks ago I was at the chiropractor and he mentioned hunting in Holbrook. I looked up Holbrook out of curiosity and saw Petrified Forest on the map. I decided to look up Petrified Forest and decided that we had to go there. Little did I know, or remember, I actually stayed in Holbrook for a night nearly a decade ago and ate the worst Mexican food ever at the Rancho. The girl at the front counter said she's from Los Angeles and she knows Mexican food and this was the best she ever had and it's so much better than CA Mexican food. I got a burrito that tasted like boiled cardboard. I think they boiled the meat in water and threw it in a tortilla. Anyways back to this weekend.
So after the crater we drove through Holbrook to the Petrified Forest. I have to say it wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be. Definitely not petrifying. By the time we got there it was already 3:40 and they start closing at 5. I still wanted to spend some time there and check things out before our big day on Friday. So we made our first stop about a mile north of the museum. We pulled off the  side of the road and started hiking down a canyon. Eventually it became too much of a hike for the family. Natalie tripped and took a knee with Zach (no baby was hurt in this hike) and then she didn't want Adri to continue because the trail was too petrifying for her. The sand, soil, whatever it was would be hard in some spots and then in others it would be hard until I stood on it and then mud or something almost like quick sand underneath. I took a couple steps where I went sliding. So I left them for a couple minutes and took off on my own to do some exploring. This is definitely a spot I'd like to go back to some day without the kids. I could spent an entire day walking through that maze.
After our hike through the canyon we went over to the museum and the big log trail. I have to say I was really impressed. I've seen some garbage that people try to pass off as petrified wood but nothing like this. This stuff was like solid rock. On a hardness scale 1-10 with 10 being a diamond petrified wood is actually an 8.  One of the things we couldn't help but notice was that the logs were in slices like someone took a chain saw to them. They are way too hard to cut like that so we were kinda baffled. Well this happens naturally. You can read all about it here. We stayed there until 530 and then drove back to Holbrook.
Now driving down the main strip I think Natalie was already on edge about our stay. There were abandoned hotels and some that were boarded in the back but people were still staying there (at $25 bucks a night). The kind of hotels that give you the "hourly rate" with a gallon of bleach and no questions asked. So we didn't have a whole lot of options for hotels out there. No Hilton this time. We got to stay at a Howard Johnson. The hotel was clean but smelled like cigarettes and prostitute, even though we got the non smoking room. So Natalie wanted a gas mask the minute we got to our room. But you have to love a child's innocence. Adri walks in the room and yells "It's so beautiful. It has a tv, a bed, a fridge, and a microwave". It was pretty funny. It actually wasn't a bad room except the smell. Zach's pack n play still stinks and is going to need a good washing.
So the next morning we got up early and were back on our way. This time instead of going to the South Entrance we went to the north. We stopped at the visitors center, got a map, watched a movie, and were on our way. We spent about an hour doing the first 6 mile horse shoe shaped road. There was something like 15 stops, some a football field apart, others a half mile or mile apart where we could park and take a short walk to a vista. There were some amazing views there. This is the part of the park known as the Painted Desert. After we finished this part and got over to Route 66 we turned around to have lunch back at the visitors center. Even though the road crosses 66 we couldn't leave the park so we had to go back or drive 20+ miles the other way for lunch.
So after lunch we headed back the same way were just came from over to the next 10 or so stops. Every stop we made had something different. One stop was Newspaper rock and had old Indian carvings in the rock. My favorite had to be Blue Mesa. At Blue Mesa we were able to park and take a mile hike down the canyon. When we got about 1/3 of the way down this guy was huffing and puffing and saying that there's no way it's only a mile. I was laughing afterwards because he made it sound like such a long hike and it was only about a mile or a mile and a half. Blue Mesa was the first time we could actually see how the trees got there. 220+ million years ago Arizona was tropical and down by where Panama is today, allegedly. Trees would fall down and get washed downstream into swamps where they were covered in silica. The trees became rocks, the water drained, Arizona climate changed, the dirt washed away, and now we see what's left. So we could see logs laying down on top of a hill or sticking half way out. It was pretty cool.
After Blue Mesa we went over to a place called Jasper Forest where trees were littered all over the place. And after that was probably the next coolest spot of the day, Crystal Forest. Here crystals were actually growing in the petrified logs. Allegedly back in the day people were blowing up the logs for the amethyst inside. Natalie didn't want to get out of the car thinking it would just be more of the same. We were all tired by this point and I had a hard time finding the motivation to get out of the car but we decided we're there we might as well do it. It ended up being worth the hike. After that we left through the south entrance and headed back to Holbrook from disgusting food from a restaurant that claims to have the best food in town. I've now decided from multiple experiences when they advertise best food in town stay away.
By this time we were done with this city. I have to say this is the skeisist town I've seen in this state. The streets are old and run down and everyone walking down the street looks drunk. I got stopped by a lady in Safeway that asked me if I'm a cop. When I told her no she told me she needs to get a gun like mine because the cops and the paramedics in that town are crap and the paramedic got his degree off a cracker jack box. Some interesting people all around town. 
Yesterday we left Holbrook and drove down to Payson. We first went to mine some crystals and then some geodes. I didn't get any pictures yesterday but we got two bucks full of geodes and will be opening them up sometime next week. It was a fun little trip. I've realized that Arizona has some of the best geology in the world. Between the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, all the extinct volcanos and petrified wood, there's some really cool geology here. If you really want to see the evolution of hte planet Arizona is a good place to look. In Florida there's limestone. 
98 of my favorite pictures from our trip.
 1450 pounds. That is one compact piece of rock.

 San Francisco peaks just past Flagstaff about 50 miles away. We could also see this peak from the north side of Petrified Forest 120 miles away.
 In the middle of the crater is a 12 foot boiler. From up here it looks like a small bbq. There is also a 6 foot American flag with a fake astronaut next to it which you can barely make out. The crater is big enough to have 20 football fields with 2 million fans.

This looks like a normal rock but it's not. This rock actually came from the bottom of the crater and landed upside down.

 Another rock from the bottom of the crater. The crater is 750+ feet deep and used to be 200 feet deeper with a rim 30 feet taller. I don't know that even Thor could toss that rock out of the crater.

 At our first stop in Petrified Forest.

 One of many caves in the rock, sand, whatever it is.

After I ditched the family. Can hardly see them here but they are at the top of the hill 1/4 way from the far right.

 Zach wants to touch and chew on everything.

 The lighting was best around 5pm. Wish we had time to see the whole park at this time.

 The next day at the Painted Desert (north side of the park.)

 Must have been some big birds that pooed on the desert.

 Newspaper rock. If you zoom in you can see the hieroglyphics.

We stopped here to take some pictures and this guy who was alone offered to take some pictures of us. He was driving from Ohio to Los Angeles. So he took the camera and a minute later said "Oh wow you're packing heat. It's ok I wasn't going to run off with your camera". We got a weird vibe off that guy.

 At the beginning of the Blue Mesa loop. Look at all those logs coming out of the hills.

 Agate bridge

 Jasper forest. Have to zoom in to really see how littered this place is with petrified wood.

 Crystal forest
 They split naturally like this.

 Crystals growing in the log.

 Zach hitting the rock with his own rock.
 This wood wasn't quite turned to rock like the others but had nice lines of crystals running across it.