Destination: Petrified Forest National Park (and the Painted Desert)


Petrified Forest National Park

Standing in front of the desert’s Blue Mesa.

I visited the Petrified Forest National Park and Arizona’s Painted Desert the day after visiting the Grand Canyon. I’m a busy lady with a penchant for parks.

Confession: I liked the Painted Desert better than the Grand Canyon. The latter is stunning, but here’s why I feel this way:

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Destination: Sedona, Arizona

Entering Sedona, Arizona

There is nothing quite as high quality as taking a picture with a camera phone through a car window.

I saw a lot of tours for the Grand Canyon while staying in Flagstaff. Didn’t see a lot for Sedona. Thought that was odd, but went anyway.

Sedona was the finale of my three-part Sunday visiting Jerome and Montezuma Castle. By the time I reached the rocks I wasn’t so much in the mood to hike up a rock, particularly given the day’s heat, but the vortexes they supposedly have out there were calling my name.

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Destination: Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument’s main attraction is this first large structure along the path, which is said to be more like an apartment complex than a castle.

I’m frugal. I think frugality is what divides the middle class from rich folk. Studies show that the richer people are, the more discerning they are about where and how they spend their money. One day I plan to be extremely discerning, get my drift?

Somewhat unrelated, I decided to spend my money on a National Parks Annual Pass last weekend. This pass grants unlimited access to all national parks and monuments for one year, and I can bring up to 3 people for free. Because I’m frugal (back to that now), I’m determined to get to most out of the $80 I just spent.

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Destination: Jerome, Arizona

Up the hill to Jerome, Arizona

And then I drove ten hours to see a small town.

Had I never met Matt, my then-23-year-old neighbor when I lived in La Jolla, I wouldn’t have known to visit this mountaintop town. One day I told him that I liked road trips, and he told me on a next day that I needed to visit Jerome.

It’s on steep hillside with amazing views, he said.

And I thought, when will I ever drive ten hours to see a small town?

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Destination: Oatman, Arizona

Oatman, Arizona

Me, hanging out with a very pregnant wild burro more interested in cribbing the boardwalk than saying hello.

In Oatman, Arizona wild but friendly burros roam the streets. Or rather, “street.” Oatman is an out-of-he-way ex-mining town with all of one way through, and it would no longer exist if it weren’t for tourism. It is tiny.

It’s a park-anywhere kind of town with a plethora of gift shops geared toward visitors. Lots of janky junk from China with a few finds in between. I counted two restaurants, no bar and no Starbucks. The U.S Post Office at the end of the town looked like it needed to be condemned (but out here people make it work).

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One More Day

Road trip 2014

A rough sketch of the miles to come.

One more day before I begin my solo road trip across the Western United States! Somehow I’ve whittled the packing down to a trunk-size wardrobe that will carry me  through coastal, desert and mountain climates.

Trip stats:

  • 60 driving hours (without traffic, and not counting side trips such as national parks)
  • 4,000+ miles
  • 10+ cities through 7 states
  • countless small towns, national parks and side treks
  • several headaches

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