First published August 12, 2008
The day started in Santa Fe, with one lone cloud hanging out over the mountains on the east.
There was a great deal of construction down the center of I-25.
Having gone thru far too much road construction everywhere, it took a while to realize it wasn’t road improvement, they were building rail down the center. And of course, the one lone cloud.
Coming back into Albuquerque, early in the day, I couldn’t get any decent shots of the color of the land. But Albuquerque itself believes in color,
(junction of I-25 and I-40, every piece had this brilliant blue stripe)
Sometimes Route 66 would be parallel to I-40, sometimes wandering off over the landscape to pop up somewhere else.
This old steel-truss bridge was in unbelievably good shape. Unfortunately, it was not wide enough for more than one car to cross at a time.
And was replaced with a wider, but boring new section, before being completely replaced by Interstate 40 over there.
New Mexico-Arizona Border: In sunshine this time
Coming up on the amazing border geology again, this time with the company of a freight train.
Looking down tracks has as compelling a view as highways stretching into the distance. “Follow…follow…”
Viewing the cliffs in the sun this time, with all their glorious colors on display. And some of the lava fields.
Being the one driving while crossing out of New Mexico, I had this… This amazing piece of landscape in the rear view mirror. Every time I looked back, I felt my brain stop working, just wanting to stare at the cliffs. This is not a good thing to do while driving, and I felt very relieved when I finally crossed over a hill and could no longer see it.
However, somebody was determined to stun my brain.
Having missed the Painted Desert on the way out, we picked it up on the way back.
Nothing prepared me for the problem of running out of adjectives.
I had an idea what was coming. But can you imaging the expressions on the faces of the first explorers who had never seen this land before, traveling across country that looked like this:
And getting this!
How do you prepare for running out of adjectives? Glorious. Awesome. Unbelievable. Stunning. I think I was seriously stuck on stunned.
Followed closely by *gasp*
A lot of rock formations show their layers on a slant, as the earth twists and deforms to create mountains. The amazing Chinle Formation runs the gamut from reds to grays, all in relatively horizontal stripes.
When I got to the “Blue Mesa,” I realized my adjective generator had completely broken down. I was pretty much left with stunned.
There is water in this desert.
Newspaper Rock: Petroglyphs. They show up better if you click the image to get the larger version.
When this wash was first discovered, it full of petrified wood. It was carried away by the truck-load, blasted for the amethysts and quartz within, vanished to be used for doorstops. It is estimated that one ton of petrified wood is stolen from the Petrified Forest every year, even though there are legitimate places to buy it outside the National Park. At one time, this was was full. Now, this is all that remains here.
There are still scattered pockets of petrified wood throughout the park and around the museum. On some pieces, you can still see the grain of the wood. And life will find toe-holds in any pocket that will hold dirt.
And after that, all that’s left is dusk over the Colorado Plateau, and on into Flagstaff for the night.