Stop 13: Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona – Tijeras, New Mexico
Today’s drive was from the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park to Tijeras, New Mexico, just off Route 66 east of Albuquerque. We started the morning at Point Imperial—the photos were in the previous post—and started the long drive toward Albuquerque, former home of Walter White.
On the way, we made a stop at Petrified Forest National Park. The process that turned this wood into various-colored quartz is a long one—these trees were already fossilized when dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex were walking the earth. What was most striking about the trees is that you can see the pattern of the tree’s bark, and the circular structure of the tree’s rings. We took in a few vantage points and drove up to the Painted Desert to hop back on Interstate 40. The badlands of this part of the country have such a complex beauty—the harshness of the landscape belies the diversity of the life that finds a way to exist there.
We stopped for lunch in Gallup, New Mexico at a weird old joint called El Rancho after Sarah repeatedly pointed out the billboards. It is an old hotel/restaurant built by D.W. Griffith’s brother and originally opened in 1937. It is funky and cool. We ordered meals called the Leo Carillo (tacos) and the Anthony Quinn (chili, green or red).
We had planned to stop by the Petroglyph National Monument, an urban park on the west side of Albuquerque featuring thousands of ancient petroglyphs, but it closed at 4:30 and we got to town at 5:18. We found a grocery and headed to our lodging for the night in Tijeras. We stayed at a treehouse (of sorts), complete with a kitchen, queen bed, and a bathroom. It was nice to sleep in the desert air with sprigs of lavender under our pillows.
Next stop: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma