Sunday, September 18, 2011

Painted and Petrified

We left Canyon de Chelly at 7:30am this morning, happy in the knowledge that we were picking up an hour as we left the Navajo reservation and drove into AZ, the land of perpetual Mountain Standard Time. We really enjoyed staying at the Holiday Inn which is located right at the Park entrance. This was by far the quietest place we've been on this trip.

Holiday Inn, Canyon de Chelly

Before we left, Claire wanted to take a picture of one of the many feral dogs hanging out around the inn. I know it pays off for them because I saw a van load of women feeding a bunch of pups before we left.

Feral Dog, Holiday Inn, Canyon de Chelly

Claire came to an abrupt stop in the middle of the road to avoid running over this snake, blithely sunning herself. [Not wanting to make unwarranted gender assumptions, here, I flipped a coin.] The closer Claire came to her, the faster the snake moved off the road.

Guardian of the Road, Painted Desert

I had never been to the painted desert, before, and I was surprised at the landscape: I had expected the terrain to be flat, multi-colored sandy expanses. Instead, we saw terrain similar that that encountered in several places, with interestingly contrasting colors at the various geological layers.

Painted Desert

Painted Desert

Unfortunately, the Painted Desert Inn no longer hosts travelers. Instead, it is a museum and bookstore. We loved the simple elegance of it.

Painted Desert Inn, National Historical Landmark

There were at least a dozen overlooks along the road through the Painted Desert, each with a slightly different viewpoint to offer. There were also several trails; but, we only walked the short ones, rushing to arrive at Flagstaff in time to tour the Riordan Mansion.

Viewpoint, Painted Desert

As a child, I recall hearing a song on the radio about "The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe" Railway. Well, this never in fact reached Santa Fe--the terrain was too tough. And, I suspect, too expensive to build upon. In 1996, this line merged with Burlington Northern Railroad to form the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. We were astonished to find that very long freight trains kept running every few minutes either East or West.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway

We are fascinated by the petroglyphs we have found, but frustrated by the lack of knowledge about them--experts only seem to be able to guess as to dating and meaning of these curiosities. The example, below, is surely striking evidence of the origin of the myth that storks are the cause of babies.

Petroglyph--Stork and Baby

Petroglyphs--Dozens of Them

The second half of the road through the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park began to reveal sections of logs scattered about the landscape. Once there were forests in this area, millions of years ago. The trees fell, were covered with silt, mud and volcanic ash. This sediment stopped oxygen from decaying the logs. Eventually, silicon-laden groundwater seeped into the logs replacing the original wood tissue with silica deposits. This turned into quartz, preserving the logs as petrified wood.

Petrified Log

Rock Profile

Painted Desert

Petrified Wood

Crystal Forest

John Muir, famed environmentalist, lived in this area for a while, at the whistle-stop of Adamana. Given his friendship with President Theodore Rooseveldt, he probably influenced the designation of Petrified Forest as a National Monument for scientific study--only Presidential authorization is required for this. Congressional action is required to create a National Park. This did not occur until 1962.

Muir Rainbow Forest

There are many paleontology sites and exhibits in this region. We did not make an effort to pursue this. But there were several fascinating skeletons of "dinosaurs" in the Rainbow Forest Museum in Petrified Forest National Park.

Roadside Attraction

Our friends Pat & Brian from England drove along Route 66 (US 40) during a recent visit. They were impressed with these, noting that they are made of cement and that the rooms were very tiny. We were fascinated by the old cars scattered among the parking spaces.

Wigwam Hotel on Route 66--Get Your Kicks...

This is the only Hupmobile I have ever seen in my life. We pulled up right behind it as we were driving into Flagstaff. The Hupmobile was an automobile built from 1909 through 1940 by the Hupp Motor Company of Detroit, MI.

Hip Car Entering Flagstaff

The train runs right through the middle of town in Flagstaff. We had been warned by the Frommer's guidebook to select our motel based on remoteness from the noisy rail line. As we entered the drive into our Quality Inn, Claire noticed that the sign advertised: No Train Noise.

We also took Frommer's guidebook advice and ate lunch at Macy's European Coffee House Bakery & Vegetarian Restaurante. This is the kind of place we love: Good, healthy food, reasonable prices, casual atmosphere, interesting, mixed clientele. There were people of all ages here, from college students to seniors.

Late Lunch

One of the places that Claire wanted to see in Flagstaff was the Riordan Mansion. The Riordans were lumber barons in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Two of the Riordan brothers married two sisters who were cousins from the Babbitt* family and built this 13,000 square foot American Arts & Crafts style duplex in 1904. There were two separate, virtually identical, homes connected by a common family room, to promote conversation and shared activities. The roofs of the two houses were different, allowing guests to distinguish them and to enter the appropriate residence. Today, one side is presented as it was when lived in and the other side is a museum.

*Bruce Edward Babbitt--whose family is mentioned above--a Democrat, served as United States Secretary of the Interior (under Bill Clinton) and as the 16th governor of Arizona. Conservative Western lawmakers fault the secretary for dismantling the hands-off environmental policies of the Reagan and Bush administrations. Environmentalists, however, see the former Arizona governor as an ally on such issues as mining, grazing, water and timber policies, land management and endangered species.

Riordan House

Large Duplex: Riordan House

We liked Macy's food so much we decided to return for dinner.

Macy's European Coffee House Bakery

Claire's Mediterranean Plate

My dinner selection of cream of cauliflower soup and veggie BLT sandwich was excellent; but, I was still hungry and had a giant biscotti and a steamed hot chocolate for dessert--sorry, no picture.

Chuck's Cup of Soup and Half Sandwich

Inside Macy's

We are enjoying Flagstaff and will be here for one more day.

...Ya know that this town's like a painted desert
Dead heat, movin' in the city
I'm lost in a painted desert
In a painted desert without you... ~ Pat Benatar, Painted Desert Lyrics