Day 27 - Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Albuquerque to Painted Desert National Park in Arizona — 211 Miles
This morning we got up and did some more RV preventive maintenance while Sylvia visited the base gym for here morning exercise and swim. This morning we found it relatively cold (lower 50s with gusting winds) compared to what you would expect of New Mexico this time of the year; it actually felt closer to the mid to high 30s!
We topped off with gasoline here at Kirtland for $2.47/gal before heading off to Arizona where we heard the gas was more expensive. Then around noon we headed out toward Arizona into the extremely gusty winds. I was finding it difficult again keeping this large vehicle going straight down the road. About an hour into our drive we actually ran into a blizzard…. I’m talking about snow folks!! This is certainly not what we expected. The blizzard was really spotty and short in duration as we drove on and out of it and then back into the snow from time to time.
We soon crossed the Continental Divide where we took a short break for me to take a nap and Sylvia to shop in the Indian Trading Post.
We made it to the Arizona border where we stopped at the Welcome Center and picked up some pamphlets on Arizona. We spoke to the lady behind the desk telling her were headed to the see a lot of sites in Arizona including the Grand Canyon to which she replied that it was supposed to be only 18 degrees there tonight!! Luckily we are not going there tonight but instead we are going to go to the Petrified Forest National Park where we hope to spend the night just outside the park. We were told the park closed at 6pm, so we jumped back on board and headed out to try to make it before closing.
We did arrive at what out watches said was 5:55pm; I quickly ran into the park welcome center to see if we could find a place to camp in the park. I was told we could not stay in the park and had to be out of the park, or at least on our way out, by 6pm. That didn’t give us much time until I found out that Arizona was not on daylight savings time and it was really 4:55pm and we had about an hour to drive through the park. The ranger told us that there was a couple gift shops just outside the south gate that had some places where we could stay the night for free; so off we went into the park to see some of the wonderful sites and get a few pictures for our friends…. you! These are some of the beautiful sites and canyons we saw as we drove a little way into the park. If you look closely in the right picture you’ll see little specs of white in some of the crevices… that’s snow folks and let me tell you it was just a bit chilly here at the painted desert and the petrified forest. Just look at that expression of “frostbite” on Sylvia’s face! Doesn’t she look cold!
Here are some more photos of the beautiful scenery that we quickly stopped and took for you to see. The pictures really do not do justice to this place. I really needed a very wide angle lens to really give you the perspective of what we actually saw.
Just look at that storm coming in from the West; this is one with a lot of snow in it… sure hope we get out of its path when we get to where we’ll be spending the night!! As we drove on through the 24–26 miles of the park we came upon the “crystal forest” area where that was a very lot of petrified trees and their remains. This petrified wood is over 160 MILLION years old (that’s 160 with SIX zeros after it!) and it was buried at the bottom of a sea where it was replaced by Quartz and is now the most colorful wood in the world!
We’ll by this time is was really getting on to 6pm and closing time for the park, so we loaded back onto the RV (Lucy did so reluctantly) and headed on down the park road to find our camping spot for the evening.
We did find the gift shops just outside the south gate just as the Ranger had said. We found a spot and pulled in where we could hook up to the electricity since we knew that it was going to get much colder tonight and we wanted to be able to use a small electric heater. So here we are tucked in for the night as I finish my writing of this evening’s addition to our blog. Stay tuned for more adventures tomorrow as we decide whether we’ll head on to the Grand Canyon area or to the Canyon de Chelly.