Tag Archives: Arizona

Rainy Deserts and Mountains

dinosaurs Rt 66

During our trip to the Painted Desert last year, we learned that we should have brought raincoats.The day started out sunny, clear and hot, at 94 degrees, just the kind of day you would expect to experience in the desert. As we explored the petrified trees and historical sites, however, we began to see dark clouds in the distance. The temperatures began to drop. Our plan was to be in Petrified Forest National Park for only one day, so we raced against the storm clouds, trying to see as much as we could before the storm started. When the lightning started to get too close for comfort, we spent some time in the Visitor’s Center.

petrified forest 1

After the storm, it was cold and drizzling. But this was a place that we would probably not visit again for years, and I had to walk among the blue mesas. In sunny weather, anyway, they look blue. In the cloudy gloom, they were layers of greys and browns. The girls and I only had sweatshirts on. While our walk was well worth it, we got soaked. It took a while to warm up, and swimming in the outdoor pool was not going to happen!

rainy blue mesa

As many of you know. this past summer we ventured into Sunny California, which has been in a drought for three years. But still, based on our desert experience, I decided we all needed to bring raincoats on our vacation. For the most part, we didn’t need them.

But then…we did.

On our drive from Yosemite to Death Valley, we made a stop in Bodie State Historical Park. Bodie is high in the mountains; it used to be a gold mining town. Now it is a abandoned ghost town. Everything is left as it was left, so most of the building are locked because they are unsafe to enter.

ghost town kitchen

We wandered around the town with other tourists, and could see the rain clouds approaching. Pretty soon, it started to sprinkle. I was so glad that this time, we were prepared!



We weren’t as prepared as we thought, however, because then it began to do something we really didn’t expect to see in California in the summer in the middle of a three year drought.

It began to hail.


What unexpected things have happened to you when you’ve traveled?





Picnicking {Spin Cycle}

Our family loves a good picnic; or as Fancy Nancy would put it, we dine al fresco! Every once in while, I’ll call Ed and tell him to meet us at the roller slide park after work. I make pizza pasta salad* and buy Cheetos, and the girls and I arrive early so that they can play on the playground before Ed gets there.

Most of the time, our picnicking happens during a road trip. I pack sandwiches, fruit and veggies so that we can stop at a picnic area to eat lunch instead of eating fast food.

Sometimes, the weather doesn’t cooperate and it’s a bit cooler than we expect. We just bundle up and eat outside anyway.

roadside picnic

Sometimes, we can’t find a picnic table. So we pull over in a turnaround on the side of the highway to Fairbanks, Alaska, and eat in the back of our rental van.

picnic in a van

alaska picnic

Sometimes, we can’t find a picnic table, so we use a rock instead.

Hiking in the Rocky Mountains, CO
Hiking in the Rocky Mountains, CO
Lunch at the Grand Canyon
Lunch at the Grand Canyon

And sometimes, there’s nothing like a hot dog in your own backyard!

hot dog

*I don’t have a recipe; I just make some rotini noodles, throw in some pepperoni, grape tomatoes, mozzarella cheese chunks, onions, green peppers and black olives, and toss it all with a vinaigrette. Voila, pizza pasta salad!

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This is a rock

This. This is a rock.

rock 1

Here is the same rock, a little closer. Notice anything yet?

rock 2
This is starting to look like something more. Like something more than just a rock. More like a newspaper, perhaps.

rock 3Thousands of these pictures communicating messages we can only guess about cover the rocks. They were made a long, long time ago by the people who lived here, in the Painted Desert in Arizona.

desert 1

These pictures are called petroglyphs, and I am fascinated with them. When we were at Mesa Verde, I desperately wanted to take a 4 mile hike to go see some, but reason took over after realizing that my six year old would not be up for such a long walk in the two hours we had until sunset. She is capable of walking that far…both my kids have proved that they are awesome hikers! But that day, it was not to be.

It turned out that I would have my chance to see hundreds of petroglyphs in the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. Ancient people scratched away the “desert varnish” from the rocks to create pictures, and amazingly they can still be seen today a thousand years or more later.

This. This is a blog.

Blog header MOAM

My blog is my Newspaper Rock. My attempt at communication, with you, with others who might stumble here accidentally. With myself. So many times I haven’t even known what I was going to write until I just sat down and started typing. And there it was; another blog post. Another few hundred words, sent out into the world. Communicating messages that in a thousand years no one will understand what it was all about.


Quirky Little Stops

It was hot in the desert, and I noticed that the teenaged boy who waved our car along was carrying a water bottle. I thought he was smart to stay hydrated on that arid day. I soon realized, however, that that was not the purpose of the water bottle after all. After we parked, he led us around the rocky ground showing us dinosaur tracks that remained behind from a long ago age. As he sprayed water on the tracks, we were able to see them better in the blazing sunlight.

dino tracks 2

This was a stop that we normally wouldn’t take the time to make on a vacation. When we were eating breakfast at our hotel, we met a couple that had stopped at the sign that read “Dinosaur Tracks” and they told us it was neat. We had some extra time, so we thought “Why not?”

dino tracks 1

Just a couple of miles outside of Tuba City, Arizona, this little Native American tourist stop is based on tips only. We thought it was neat to get out of the car and walk along the stony ground where dinosaurs used to tread.

dino tracks 3

Another fun stop on our vacation was the Four Corners, where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet. We had to pay a fee to visit this monument. Even though there is not much to see, it was fun to be in four states at one time.

Four Corners
“Four states here meet in freedom under God.”

As we were leaving Four Corners, along came the Wiener Mobile! We couldn’t pass up a chance to take a couple of pictures.

Wiener Mobile

At the end of our vacation, Ed pulled into a place on a whim….

Gus's Jerky

Let me tell you something…Gus knows how to make jerky! We bought some Cowboy Jerky, and it was quite tasty!

Do you stop at quirky little places when you’re on vacation?


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