Tag Archives: Painted Desert

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!

church

raincoats

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.

hail

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

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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.

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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.

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