Thursday, July 9, 2020

Ultimate Road Trip 2020 Days 14-15: July 8-9th: Petrified Forest National Park, Phoenix

Our final national park stop was at the Petrified Forest. It was really cool and had some terrain and things I'd never seen before.
These photos don't really do justice to the true colors of these cool blue/purple mountain type things but there were really fascinating.  I didn't bother reading about how they were formed or where they got their colors but we kind of felt like we were walking around in another planet.  The kids were kind of all hiked out by this point so we kept it short and sweet.
The most amazing feature, as you might have guessed from the name of the park, is all the petrified wood.
This is wood that was fossilized into rock and somehow the pressure and time turned the wood into these brilliant colors.
Gloria was happy to be freed from her backpack on these shorter walks.  
Basically, these logs are as old as the Jurrasic period when dinosaurs were wondering around the area.  

I didn't take many pictures on this trip and I thank Ryan for taking most of the ones we have.  I couldn't stop taking pictures of this petrified wood at the park.  It was a nice, slower-paced day and there were many fewer visitors at this less popular park.  At the end of the day, we headed to Phoenix.  We were disappointed to not be able to enjoy the hotel with the waterpark that we were planning to stay at as the Governor had recently reordered attractions like that to close again due to surging cases of COVID-19.  Adaptability.
We were hoping to end the trip on a bang but it kind of fizzled out in disappointment as most of what we wanted to do the last day or two including a miniature train museum we had to cancel. Adaptability.  However, even though the ending was kind of disappointing and it was depressing to head back to Yuma, I am SO GLAD we took the trip as we got to do some amazing things, see some beautiful sights, and spend some quality time with family.  Thanks to all who made the trip so fun!  We made it home safe and healthy. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Ultimate Road Trip 2020 Days 12 and 13: July 6th and 7th: Arches

On our first day at Arches, everyone got up (relatively) earlier to start our hike before the mid-day heat.
It ended up being a very hot hike back down so we were glad to have gotten up a little earlier.  
We tackled the delicate arch hike.  This was our most difficult and longest hike and everyone made it, even grandma!  One thing that frustrates me to no end it taking good pictures for other people and getting bad pictures back in return.  So frustrating to have the top of the arch cut off.  In hindsight, we probably should have asked someone younger to take the pictures.
Luckily, Larry managed to get in the whole arch for just our family.  

Ryan and I visted Arches when we were college students and loved this hike.  I enjoyed the hike and the views just as much the second time.  

Ryan spotted these mini arches on the way back down that were really cool.

Close to the trailhead were these cool petroglyphs left by the Ute Indians.  
Here is a closer shot of them.
On our way to dinner, the three of us pooped out for a couple of minutes.

I had read in the Arches park pamphlet that it is a Certified International Dark Sky Park which means it has limited light pollution and it is supposed to be really easy to see the stars.  I was hoping to see the Milky Way.  I've seen it before as a child in Pennsylvania.  I wasn't able to see it, probably because the moon was so bright.  But it was cool to see the arches lit up by the moonlight.  
Some of those bright spots are probably planets.  I'm not sure, but it was very peaceful and beautiful.

The next day, we went back to the park to visit a few more arches that were more accessible.  
I wasn't expecting this day to be quite as fun as it was, the kids all had a really good time scrambling and climbing all over the rocks at the base of the arches.

At this point, we said goodbye to the rest of the Furrs and headed south towards home.  
We were planning to drive to Four Corners and then visit Canyon De Chelly the next day.  Unfortunately, since COVID-19 has hit the Navajo Nation really hard, there are strict curfew enforcements and the attractions on their lands are temporarily closed.  So we changed our plans and drove to a hotel right outside the Petrified Forest National Park.   I know Four Corners is nothing special but we were really looking forward to taking some pictures and the idea of being in four states at once was mindblowing to the kids so it was a bit of a disappointment as we are unlikely to be proximate to it anytime soon.  Oh well! Adaptability. 

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Ultimate Road Trip Day 11: July 5th: Canyonlands

On Sunday the 5th we drove down to Canyonlands.  I probably knew the least about this park.  I didn't do a ton of research because I knew we would be visiting in the afternoon and it would be hot.  So I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it was.  I'm not really sure what I was expecting.  The name Canyonlands does imply that it will have canyons but I wasn't prepared for views that rivaled the Grand Canyon with a fraction of the tourists.  
The canyons were nowhere near as deep as the Grand Canyon, but it was still really incredible to look at.  
It was also incredibly hot and I was incredibly nervous to have Gloria standing too close to the edge, so I went and checked out the view briefly and then stayed closer to the car with  Gloria while everyone else took a bunch of pictures.  

We did two short little hikes at the park.  The kids were really hot and tired so I let them opt out of the first one.  Grandma hung out in the car with them while we did this hike to a geological mystery.  The path was cooler than expected.
Apparently, scientists don't know if this is the spot of a meteor crash (the prevailing theory) or if salt deposits somehow pushed their way up from underneath the ground.  Either way, it was pretty cool to look at.

We made our kids go on the second hike to this arch and I'm glad we did because it was really cool.
It looks like we didn't take any great pictures at this arch, probably because it was hot, but the coolest thing about this arch was the view through it to the mountain range behind it. I wasn't expecting it to be as beautiful as it was because even pictures on Google didn't seem to do it justice.

Overall, I'm glad we made time to visit this national park.