The Painted Desert

The day following the Powwow, we hitched up our wagon and headed west once again leaving New Mexico and entering Arizona.

Not far into Arizona along I-40 are the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Parks. In effect, they are one park stretched out along a 28 mile long road through Arizona ranchland.

We’d been seeing beautiful red-stone strata in the mesas along I-40, but weren’t prepared for the amazing layers of color, texture and variety of landforms that each well-situated overlook offered along the route.

Grateful for the roomy spaces provided for a truck pulling an ePod, we parked, climbed out, Sprocket included, to stroll, to shoot, and marvel. We did this over and over, offering water to our thirsty little dog after each stop. He got quite good at leaping up into the cab from the ground, perhaps motivated by thoughts of water.

We didn’t get to the park until 4 (perfect for the raking light) but, were told that the park closed at 6:00, and that we could be on the road, but shouldn’t make stops after that. We managed to see the Puerco Pueblo ruins with their kiva and petroglyphs, as well as the Agate bridge, which is a fallen petrified log spanning a gully, before 6:00.

After that, we tried shooting from the moving vehicle, but the road was bumpy enough to discourage that quickly. We crept past lots of small clusters of thick, log-like forms, some lying in a row just as the original tree had fallen, some scattered among the yellow broom barley and grasses of the high desert

It was a quick tour and we exited the end of the park and headed for the KOA in Holbrook.

We pulled into our site at dusk, hooked up electric and water, but didn’t bother unhooking from the truck–we’d be back on the road in a few hours.

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