fall break 2016

During my kids’ Fall Break, we took a short trip to see more of Arizona. The first day we went to Meteor Crater, which was impressive. The only way I could get the whole thing in one photo was the panoramic feature on my phone. We learned in the visitor center that there are craters much larger in other parts of the world, including one about 150 times as large (wow!). Then we stopped in Winslow to see historic La Posada Hotel (which was like stepping into another time and place) and the intersection with a huge Route 66 emblem painted on it. We spent the night in Holbrook; another old Route 66 town with a working Route 66 era Wigwam Motel accented with a collection of vintage cars (which reminded me of the Cozy Cone Motel on the movie Cars, which was no doubt based on such places, fun! But no, we didn’t stay there).

Meteor Crater Arizona

Meteor Crater, Arizona (panoramic photo from the highest viewing point)

The next day we set out from Holbrook to the Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert. The volume of petrified wood scattered across the desert was more than I imagined. The trail outside at Rainbow Forest Museum let us see a lot of petrified wood up close. It was beautiful, like colorful jasper inside a tree trunk. It is illegal to take any pieces (even small ones) from the park, which was a challenge for a couple of us who love to collect rocks from places we go! I bought an assortment of small pieces from the official gift shop that are collected legally from nearby areas (there is more petrified forest than what is contained inside the park).

Petrified wood (also called agatized wood or fossilized wood) is created through a process where silica replaces the wood. The presence of other minerals creates the various colors, such as red from Hematite, yellow/brown/orange from Goethite. The white areas are pure silica. A fascinating fact I learned in the museum was how hard and dense the petrified wood really is. They had a huge, gorgeous piece that had been cut and then polished on the cross-section surface. The accompanying information explained that it took many times longer to cut than it would take to cut a similar size piece of granite.

Arizona Petrified Forest

part of a large petrified tree trunk

Arizona Petrified Forest

my younger son (who also likes rocks) checking out a cross-section of petrified tree trunk

Arizona Petrified Forest

up close view of some petrified wood

Arizona Petrified Forest

another up close view, this time of a cross-section of petrified tree trunk

Arizona painted desert

Painted Desert, in Petrified Forest National Park

Arizona Painted Desert Pilot Rock

Painted Desert, at north end of the park (near Highway 40), Pilot Rock in background

The second night we stayed in Flagstaff. The next morning we took a drive toward the San Francisco Peaks to look at the aspen trees. Our timing was perfect, the leaves were golden and not many had fallen off yet. I’m a sucker for fall leaves, and had wanted to see the aspens in autumn ever since we moved to Arizona a few years ago. So beautiful.

Flagstaff Arizona San Francisco Peaks autumn color aspen trees

aspens and other trees with San Francisco Peaks in the background

It was great to visit a few more places in Arizona that we had wanted to see. We were blessed with perfect weather, too! And I did come home with some Arizona petrified wood beads, they are extra-large nicely polished chip beads that will be made into wire bar style necklaces. Watch for them in my Etsy shop!

For more information about these places, visit their web sites: Meteor CraterLa Posada HotelWigwam MotelPetrified Forest National Park / Painted Desert

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