Moving on – to Sun Valley, AZ and Petrified Forest National Park

4/22/15 Wednesday in Sun Valley, AZ (Crystal Forest Gift Museum & Gift Shop-dry camping)

We left right at 9 to avoid any congestion in Albuquerque and it worked. Still on Route 66, basically. All freeway (I-40) until the Petrified Forest in Arizona, so that was nice. Lots of sky and plains with some mesas and mountains to give variety to our experience.

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Arizona’s Painted Rock Welcome Center where we enjoyed lunch and a l hour break.

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As we took the 311 exit into the Petrified Forest National Forest, I’m telling John to turn right, he’s insisting he needed to turn left. I yelled the signs all show to the right! The only road is to the right! He went left despite my vehement objections. Then he saw that this road was not taking us into the Park. So our adventure on this trip is an extra 10+10 miles to the nearest exit and back. He said his internal GPS was saying the park was to the left, the South because we were headed for the South entrance. I reminded him that whenever we’ve been in doubt we trusted the signs. Oh well.

The Park road was paved, but I wouldn’t consider it smooth. There weren’t potholes, but there were lots of small heaves. It’s pretty twisty as well. So it’s doable with a big rig, but the freeway could have been easier. We did get to enjoy lovely painted desert scenes this way, though.

Crystal Forest Gift Shop is just past the entrance/exit gate at the south end of the park, on the left/east. So easy to just drive up and into an empty site. It’s all a good flat gravel area with concrete pads and picnic tables. Nicer than many FHU sites. Little to no cell phone service and, of course, no power, water or sewer. Great when it’s for free! Since it was pretty windy we left the slides in and set the jacks down. The posts for the gift shop are filled with all sorts of amazing rocks!

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Since we’d had our lunch at the Arizona Welcome Center, we took off in the car for the Rainbow Forest Visitor Center. This NPS park is free with our Senior Pass.

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Long ago, when the continents were still tied together as one, this area was near the equator and a lush tropical forest. When the huge trees died or were knock down by storms they’d fall into a stream. They would drift awhile, become waterlogged, then sink into the silt, absorbing silica. This would replace the trees’ cells microscopically, changing cellulose into quartz. Thus they became stones and were buried over the years. This was the Triassic Period, sort of like Jurassic Park, so there are many fossils, including dinosaurs buried here too. Eventually as lands shifted and were uplifted, the logs and fossils were exposed.

Dinosaurs: the tiny one is of Dimorphordon, a genus of pterosaur, that flew. The large one is an Aetosaur, omnivorous (eats plants, roots, invertebrates).

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Giant Logs trail

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Time for supper, reheating our chili, then TV. Our batteries seemed to be holding well so we didn’t run the generator and went to bed with 12.4 volts available, leaving our generator on Auto Gen Set. This way it was programmed to not come on during the quiet hours of 10pm to 7am.

Surprise!! The generator started up at 2am, startling both of us awake. My first thought was “Well, at least we know that the batteries won’t get too low. Then it stopped at 2:20, then started up again for 10 minutes. At this point John got up and turned it off (manual setting). He also turned off our fridge.

Naturally, I didn’t sleep much after that, feeling terrible that we’d disturbed our neighbors, Dennis and Diane. John slept okay.

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About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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