The Petrified Forest and the Painted Dessert

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Once in a while in my life Dallas calls to me. Not the city. It is a typical American megalopolis, sprawling across the flat Texas semi-dessert as if exhausted by the heat. The torrid weather wave has been torturing most of the heart of North America for some time now. No, the city does not call me. It is urgent business with the International Service Center of Pioneer Bible Translators which caused Grace and I to pile into Charmaine Cossette, her miniscule Chevy Aveo for a one-week road trip across the baking southwest.

The visit to my former place of torture (I have been a bad boy on several occasions) went well. Things are different now. I would call the two days of confabulation exquisitely productive. More to come . . .

On the way from Dallas back to Sedona, we decided to savor a bit of the ragged beauty of this part of the world. Amidst hundreds of thousands of square miles of boring dessert lie pockets of breathtaking beauty. Old Teddy Roosevelt had the wonderful idea to grab huge chunks of American soil for National Parks. It was one of the smarter ideas any politician has ever had. The conjoined parks we visited were the Painted Dessert and the Petrified Forest. Here is a shot of Grace Preval (recently changed from Grace Flicker) decorating one of the plainer areas of the park:

The lighting was terrible. It took considerable thinking to set my Canon G11 to get the best shots. Here I used a fill flash to put some light on lovely Grace. Boosting the contrast in the background made the rainstorm stand out.

I’ll back up a bit to show you a couple of shots from Tucomcari, New Mexico, a rather small town along the old Route 66. The town was once billed as “The Gateway to the West”:

It seems to me to be pretty much the middle of nowhere, but, to be fair it does serve as a rest stop for those who are on their way to somewhere:

I took advantage of the poor lighting and blustery sky to get some nice panoramas. Here is one of the Painted Dessert:

The two parks are really one geographically. The petrified wood is prevalent all across the landscape. I was amazed how much of the stuff there is. Here is a typical overlook:

In these shots, if you click to enlarge, you can see big chunks of petrified tree trunks strewn all about, especially in the gullies. Most of them appear as red squarish shapes:

We intended to visit the Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona, but the weather turned very foul, dumping much needed rain on the barren, parched countryside. We’ll save that for another time.

As we came down out of the mountains nearing Sedona, we stopped so that I could work up one more panorama. This one, as do the others, covers more than 180°. You can make out the Mingus Mountains in the far distance:

Much of the land we saw brought back memories of Sicily, but the colors are much more vivid here. We have some other great landscapes to explore before I return to Madang in November. I like it here.

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8 Responses to “The Petrified Forest and the Painted Dessert”

  1. Laura Says:

    The photos are beautiful, Jan. Maybe one day we’ll get out there–but who knows! Meanwhile, thank-you for sharing the beauty with us! I hope you get a break in the heat! If you do, send some cooler weather and some of that rain this way, will you?

  2. kristy Says:

    The panoramas are gorgeous!

  3. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Kristy.

  4. MadDog Says:

    There is a spare room, Laura, but I don’t recommend driving the Spitfire. I don’t think there is any cool weather to spare, sorry.

  5. Ali Says:

    I’m not keen on the word awesome Jan, as I think it is used a bit too loosely these days…. but your desert-scapes are truely that…Awesome! Thanks for sharing this part of your trip with us.
    Stay cool.
    Love from down town Toogs. x

  6. Laura Says:

    Ha! No worries there, Jan! We’ve only had her out once in the past couple of weeks–we don’t want to fry on the road!
    It’s good to know there’s a spare room, though!

    Love you! Laura

  7. MadDog Says:

    HA, Ali. Wait ’til you see my seventeen shot panorama of Red Rock Country in a thunderstorm. This place is fantastic. Thanks for the plug.

  8. Bev Says:

    Great stuff — another good post to read.