You know why they’re called the Badlands, don’t you? It’s because the area is … bad … land. Having the afternoon temperature pushing 110 degrees – and that’s at 5000 feet – didn’t make them any better.

But I don’t mean to whine about the heat. For someone from the temperate zone, it was kind of interesting. You just have to be smart about how much heat you can take.

Why are we here? We left Scottsdale this morning heading for Santa Fe. Looking for interesting sights along the way, we decided to stop for the night along old Route 66 and visit the Petrified Forest, a vast collection of fossilized trees in the midst of the badlands.

it wouldn’t be Route 66 without funky motels and restaurants from the Golden Age of American Road Trips. We stoped in Holbrook, Arizona at Brad’s Desert Inn. Note the lovely diarama in our room.

We drove about twenty miles east to the southern entrance to Petrified Forest National Park, dodging the flotilla of tourist traps just outside the park entrance and landing at the visitor center.

Not only trees were transformed into fossils here, the center consisted mostly of an excellent display about local dinosaurs. There was also a timeline of geologic eras that must drive the religious fundamentalists crazy since it doesn’t show the world popping into existence 6000 years ago.

Here’s what I don’t get about petrified wood: how come when the organic material is replaced by minerals, it generally comes out still looking like wood? I mean come on, minerals come in every color of the rainbow. Why don’t we see bright yellow or red petrified logs? If you know, put it in the comments. It will save me a Wikipedia search.

Case in point, this jar of petrified fragments was on the reception desk at Brad’s. To look at them, you’d think it was a jar of wood chips. Until you picked one up.

The park has quite a few trails, none too long but most longer then we wanted to do today. Maybe we’ll try for more on our way back from Taos if the weather is a bit cooler. In the mean time, have a look at these rocks that used to be trees.

I’ll close with a few more views of the badlands and a really nice flowering ocotillo.


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