Grand Circle Day 2 - Petrified Forest

March 22, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

***Chinese Version at the bottom***

Getting There
Day two from Flagstaff drive east on I-40 for 2 hours, we arrive at Petrified Forest National Park. This is true desert wilderness without any towns within a hundred miles. There are two entrances, one each in the North and South. Depending on where you are coming from, you can pick either entrance to enter and exit the other one. The distances here can be far, and would be time consuming if you take the wrong turn. We entered from the south entrance on US-180. We stopped by the gift shop to use the bathroom. There won't be a lot of restrooms in the wilderness.

Gift Shop
As soon as we saw the colorful petrified wood, we couldn't resist picking and choosing some for souvenir. We ended up buying a pair of bookends and a few small items. We lingered here for about an hour.

Visitor Center
First stop is visitor center. There is already a tour bus here so many tourists are crowding the visitor center. Behind the visitor center is the first trail with some nice size petrified wood. This one is a short paved trails and is easy to walk. There are many people here. The trails further into the park is much longer so there will be a lot less people. Now is already past lunch time. There are no eatery here. We ate the sandwich we bought in the morning. Then we have to walk about 3 miles to the Agate House. 


Petrified WoodPetrified Wood Long Log Trail
Along the trail there are a lot of broken pieces of petrified wood. Some has diameter over a few feet. There are some trunks 30 to 50 feet long broken off into 2-3 feet each section. Some are half buried in the sand. We can see the petrified woods were originally buried under the sand. The national park website said that millions of years ago the forest was flooded under water. The water penetrated deep into the wood. Over time sedimentary soil covered the trees. As the wood got buried deep down, the pressure turned the wood into colorful fossils after a few million years. The earth later rose and the soft sedimentary rocks eroded by wind and rain. And now the tree fossils are exposed. Many of them are the straight long tree trunks. We can still see the textures of the tree barks. We can see colorful bands in the cross sections. After polishing, the surface is very smooth. The colors are red, yellow, purple, gray and black. Some people call this rainbow rock or rainbow fossil. The man at the gift shop claims that these fossils can only be found in this region. The hardness of these fossils is similar to marble. 

Agate House
We walked along the trail to Agate House. This is a small house built using sections of petrified wood. It is about the size of a single room, one story high. Next to it another small building is half collapsed. They look like a mix between a log cabin and a stone cabin.

From the Agate House we continue on the loop road back to the parking lot. This is already quite far and not many people are here. We saw a lot of small pieces of petrified wood everywhere. You might wonder why I bought from the gift shop and not just pick some from the ground. Because it is prohibited to remove any fossils or other artifacts from the park. 


Blue MesaBlue Mesa Blue Mesa
After we got back to the car, we move onto the next viewpoint. We skipped one that is not too impressive. We went to Blue Mesa that the ranger suggested. From the trailhead we can see badlands. We walked down a paved trail into a series of sand dune looking mesa. The most amazing thing is that the hills has horizontal color bands. The color bands are sediments of various soil types. At various points in time different soil composition are deposited on this region. We are curious and touched the dunes. It is hard like rock and yet very loose and soft and crumpled under our touch. I once heard a tour guide describe this as "to-fu" hills. I think is quite to-the-point. I like this place a lot. We then go to a small pueblo ruin and a small indian rock art pile. Too bad the rock arts are too far from the fenced overlook and we can't really see much.  

Route 66 Landmark 
Before we reached the north exit, there is a landmark for Route-66. Once upon a time Route 66 was the rich culture of the America West. But since the Interstate highway was built, Route 66 was mostly abandoned. 

Getting Lost Heading To Chinle
It is now nearly 4pm. We still have to drive 2 hours to the hotel. There are no towns here to stay overnight. This is the real nowhere land. From Petrified Forest to Chinle, Canyon de Chelly is about 2 hours, take I-40 East to US-191 North. US-191 was broken in the middle connected by a short distance on Route 264 West. But we followed the GPS and took Route 264 East and went on to a road that runs parallel to US-191. The first half of the road was ok but the second half isn't ok. When there were only about 20 miles left the road turned into a dirt road. Very bumpy. We had to go slow. We spent over half hour over the dirt road. We couldn't turn back because there were no other intersections in last 1 hour. The sky is getting dark now. If it is dark, it is even harder to find the road. We are now on Navajo land in the Indian nation. There are no house or any one anywhere. We couldn't even ask directions. The cell phone has no signal. We can only blindly trust the GPS and continue to drive on the current road.  Finally we emerged onto a small town and saw the US-191 not far from where we are. Thank god, we arrived in the right place and found the hotel. We asked the reception at the hotel about the road. They said they knew some GPS points to the wrong road that has the dirt road section but would till got us there. I thought there are only a few roads here and is not easy to get lost so I didn't print the detail turn-by-turn map. Almost got lost here. Once we settled down we ate at the restaurant in the hotel. Today's special is cowboy steak. Since we did not have a proper lunch, we were particularly hungry. 

***Chinese Version below***

Getting There
第二日由Flagstaff上州際公路I-40 向東走兩2小時,到Petrified Forest National Park木化石國家公園. 由此開始進入荒漠地帶,這個地方有兩個入口,南北各一,看你從可處來,何處去,選擇適合自己的路線,這裡距離任何地方都遠,寃枉路一走動不動數十里,我從南入口US-180進入,先停一停入口處禮品店,去個方便,有得去就好去了,陣間荒山野嶺冇得去。

Gift Shop
一見七彩晶瑩的木化石製品我就左揀右揀,最後買了一對沈重的書鎮子,和一些零碎小紀念品,足足逗留一小時才開車入公園。

Visitor Center
第一站訪客處,遇上一輛旅遊巴士,所以有不少人在,訪客處後面就有一條小徑有木化石可參觀,很容易行,所以人多,之後的路就沒有那麼容易行了,這時已到中午但附近沒有任何食店,先在停車場食咗早上買的麵飽,之後就要步行約三里去Agate House。

Long Log Trail
小徑四週都有散落的木化石,有的直徑超過幾尺,比人合抱還大,有些幾十尺長斷裂開二三尺一段段,在沙地上露出來,可見這些化石本來深藏地下,話說已經有幾百萬年,從前是一個森林,但地殼變化,樹木被水浸透,沈積沙土把樹木埋在地下,經過幾百萬年,變成化石,地面成為沙漠,風化後露出埋在地下的樹化石,大多是一棵樹的主幹,又長又直的主幹,外面可看到本來的樹皮,紋路依然清楚可見,斷面處露出七彩斑爛顔色,打磨後光滑如鏡,有紅黃紫灰黑色,叫rainbow rock or rainbow fossil, 彩虹石,世上只有這裏有這一種化石有這些顔色,這些化石硬度跟大理石一樣。

Agate House
沿著小徑一直走到Agate House, 在茫茫曠野有一間小房子,長濶約十多尺,只有一層高,旁邊還有半間倒塌了的,都是就地取材用堅硬的樹化石砌成,它像一間log house木屋,又像石屋。
從這小屋往回走向停車場,繞一個圈,到這𥚃已經離停車場很遠,只有少數遊人。看見滿地散落的化石碎片,你會問我之前為什麼花錢去買,因為國家公園內是嚴禁拿走任何化石,標本之類,被捉到是要罰的。

Blue Mesa
取回車子沿途到下一個景點,看一下沒有甚麼特別,爭取時間再到下一個,直至Blue Mesa,從小路起點的觀景台看進去只見一片badland,意思是一個個沙丘似的小山,寸草不生,只有一條鋪過的行人徑向下進入山谷,四週圍有小山環繞,山的顏色是一層層不同的,白色,灰色,紅色相間,好像千層糕,不同時期有不同地質沉積,有些沙丘之間露出樹化石,我們好奇,摸摸沙丘,又不是沙,但很疏鬆,用力按就化成沙掉下來,曾聽過有導遊形容為豆腐山,一觸即碎,又幾貼切,這處景色很奇特,我十分喜歡。再去其他景點有些印第安人的廢墟,有小部分石畫古蹟,只見石畫在亂石堆中,可惜距離馬路太遠,有欄杆隔開看不清楚。

Route 66 Landmark 
最後到達北邊出口之前有個紀念66公路的路標,曾幾何時66公路相當繁盛,但州際公路通車之後,66公路就沒落了。

Getting Lost Heading To Chinle
這時已近下午四點,還要駛兩小時去下一站酒店,這𥚃太荒蕪,方圓兩小時車程,百多里路都沒有任何住宿的地方,係真正的nowhere land, 由Petrified Forest 到Chinle, Canyon de Chelly約二小時,I-40 East to US-191 North.  US-191在中間應該接Route 264 West,但我們跟GPS,走Route-264 East行了一條跟US-191平行的路,直到後半段不對路,變成沙路,慢慢行,本來只餘下大約十多二十里路,駛了至少半少時差不多一個鐘在沙路上顛簸,又不能走回頭,因為之前一小時車程都沒有分叉路,天開始暗了,黑了就找不到路,到這𥚃已是印第安人土地,一來怕不安全,二來跟本冇人冇屋,想問路都唔得,手機冇訊號,只有瞎信GPS繼續駛,終於天黑之前駛出小路,一看小小鎮的另一條路就是原本該走的,相距其實不遠,唉,安慰自己好彩到了,入酒店登記時問一下,原來佢都知道GPS經常指錯小路,我以為這些地方只有一條路不會走錯,沒有打印中段道路的詳細地圖,幾乎走失,人定定神之後去餐廳食晩飯,今日的特餐係牛扒,都幾好味,中午時只食過麵飽和罐頭,所以特別肚餓。

 

Back to Day 1-Sedona Day 2-Petrified Forest Next to Day 3-Canyon De Chelly
and Monument Valley

 


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