Trip Start Aug 04, 2012
68Trip End Mar 06, 2013
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After the first mile of driving in the park, we came to a beautiful lookout over the painted desert! The painted desert reminded my mom of the Badlands in South Dakota. I found it striking that the rock formations in the desert, seemed to come out of nowhere, and both my mom and I learned that the "Badland" like landscape is created through years of rainfall and snowmelt. Being a hydrology major, and Earth science junky, I love learning obscure little facts like that! The second stop we took to look over the desert was next to a beautiful adobe style lodge that showed me a close up view of the unique southwest style
The entire park is along one main 28 mile stretch of road with most of the attractions right on the road. As we continued to drive through the park we were accompanied by fabulous rock formations and wide open spaces. It took us a bit of time to see our first piece of petrified wood, but slowly the red stones were seen marooned out in the arid scrubland. Soon we made a quick turnoff at the "Agate Bridge", which was an entire petrified tree that had fallen across an arch in the rocks, creating a bridge. This was a very neat sight and we met a friendly pair of Polish travelers who were doing a big road trip across the western United States via motorcycle. From here we continued south a little ways until we stopped at a beautiful little trail that seemed to be garnished with the lithified tree trunks. It was absolutely incredible! The colors elicited by these rocks were beyond description. As we puttered along the trail, we came to a plaque that told us all about the formation of petrified wood, which pleased me very much! According to the sign, the trees were covered under a thick blanket of silt, back when the area acted as a floodplain, and with the force from being buried, along with the replacement of oxygen with silica rich minerals (such as quartz), the trees turned from biomass to stone
After our fantastic detour, that we couldn't stop raving about, we trekked west towards the town of Williams, which acts as the gateway for the Grand Canyon! The journey was 200 miles, but we made surprisingly good time, pulling into Williams at lunch time. After we fulfilled our hunger, we decided that we should go to the canyon! The trip from Williams to the Grand Canyon seemed to take forever, possibly because we had been driving all morning, and adding an extra 50 miles was a bit daunting, or because I was super excited about the destination! The drive took us through the Kaibab National Forest, past a group of wind turbines, and across a seemingly endless scrubland. Eventually we made it to the park, where we immediately had trouble finding parking. After a few minutes of circling the parking lot we parked our car in some non-existant parking spot next to some RVs
After we purchased a water bottle, and some more post cards from the museum, we walked back to the visitor's center and tried to formulate a plan for tomorrow, when we will have all day to explore the park. After chatting over some possible ideas we decided that we should just take the shuttle down about 10 miles from the visitor's center and spend all day walking back. And although we had our game plan for tomorrow, we both weren't to thrilled with the idea of leaving the park just yet, as it was only 3 o'clock
The drive back to Williams seemed to go quicker, and once back in town we stopped at the Safeway and bought some strawberries, chips, cookies, and wine for a relaxing evening at the hotel. I'm so excited for tomorrow, knowing I will get an even better look at the fantastic and jaw dropping Grand Canyon!