Sunday, July 29, 2012


July 27th, Friday

We left the South Rim and drove to Homolovi State Park just outside of Winslow. Homolovi is Hopi for land of small hills. It is basically in the desert but on the Little Colorodo River which is pretty dry. There are two ancestral puebloans ruin sites in the park that are basic mounds of ruins with no real structures but has artifacts within the mounds. They are fenced off from the public so that no one can take these artifacts. They were populated between 1200-1300 and left the area for an unknown reason. The Hopi claim them as their ancestors. A lot of the the current day Hopi live on two different Mesas while others live in the surrounding communities.

Once we were settled, we drove into Winslow, AZ so we could see the famous corner from the Eagle's hit "Take It Easy".. "..stand'n on the corner of Winslow, Arizona what a fine sight to see. A girl, my lord, in a pickup Ford slowing down to take a look at me." Other than this corner and the La Posada Hotel which was built by the same man, Harvey, that built the El Tovar and 21 other Santa Fe restaurants and hotels, the town was unremarkable. But it was fun seeing the statue on the corner and taking Tim's picture there.

July 28th, Saturday

We packed our lunch and headed out to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. This area was first established as a protected Wildrness area by the Federal Government and then was designated as  a National Monument in 1906 . It was then named a National Park in 1962. The oldest geologic layer called the "Chinle Formation" is 225 million years old and was from the Triassic Period which is before the dinosaur age. They have found fossils from this pre-historic age that resemble our current day crocodile. They say that this land originally was closer to the equater and with the shifts of the earth's crust, it was moved to the southwest portion of the United States and uplifted 60 million to 70 million years ago.

The Petrified Forest is a barren desert like area with fossilized logs that are uncovered from the earth's depths when the rain and time wears away the upper layer of clay. The logs range from full size to chopped smaller pieces that have broken off from the larger logs. They were formed when flooding knocked them over and lava from volcanoes encapsulated them. The capture of water and the slow drying out under pressure, along with the mineral deposits in the tree is the process of petrification. Some have many different colors depending on the minerals and others look crystallized. They were all over the desert and we are told that this area has only about 10 percent of the petrified wood within Arizona so that you can stop and buy some at local shops, but you'd better not pick up a piece in the Park. Fines are heavy duty.. up to 5 years in prison and $150,000 in fines. It was noted in the literature that all states have some petrified wood. In fact, the huge forest that was buried during the eruption of Mount St. Helen in Washington will probably produce petrified wood millions of years from now.

We stopped at several overlooks and viewed the petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock. There were several rocks with petroglyphs on all sides of them.

 We walked through the ancestral puebloan ruins at Puerco Pueblo located near the Puerco River. There was an entire village at one time at this sight and the village outline had been discovered and reestablished by the park.

The Petrified Forest road takes you right into the Painted Desert. As you drive in, you are rewarded with a brilliant display of  buttes and mesas with layers of colors from white to green to pink, purple and red.

At the Kacina Point was also a Historical Monument, the Painted Desert Inn, also built by Harvey and designed by Mary Colter. She had designed manu of Harvey's previous hotels as well which was quite unusual in the early 1900s to have a woman architect even before women got to vote.
Kate in the Desert

We enjoyed the Park and learned quite a bit once again about the geology and history of the area. The skies turned dark and the monsoon rains started just as we completed our tour.

Tomorrow we head to Las Vegas with a stop at the Hoover Dam along the way. 

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