Rock Logs and Mud Bogs

By January 22, 2020 February 22nd, 2020 Campsites, Excursions

Our exit from Arizona would take us east of Flagstaff and toward Petrified Forest National Park.  Triassic rivers flowing through volcanic ejecta carved banks and dropped trees into creeks soon silted over.  How do you get from there to agatized wood?  Wait a fat minute.

After a late checkout from the Flagstaff KOA, we peeled east on old Route 66 through lonely desert pan. We swept through Two Guns, a creepy/crazy little ghost town with an abandoned KOA and an Apache Death Cave, and decided it was too haunted to stay (the GET OUT graffiti helped with the decision).

We finally arrived at the closed gates of the day-use only national park.  Tho there’s no RV camping inside, we learned the gift shop just outside had free boondocking.  We pulled in and kept to ourselves under some of the darkest skies we’d seen yet.

Dessert that night, as always, is served on dog’s belly.

We posted through the gates early the next morning and made our way to the CCC-built Rainbow Forest Visitor’s Center.  An informative and educational display took us back to the time of strange crocodilians and monster flounders that lived in the river delta of the day.

The great thing about trailer life is you’re home wherever you are.  Having heard the road that transited the park was closed halfway through, we trucked to the end of the road and pulled over lunch and general relaxation.  The hills around us were covered with fallen quartz logs of the most vivid red, yellows and blues, but due to a heavy rain two days before, the soil was a sticky grey gumbo that made any off-trail hike a real mud crawl.

Later that afternoon, Rebecca and her trusty steed sat out on a small “forest” loop.  Agatized and geodized chunks of long-fallen Triassic trunks glinted their iridescent colors in the sun.  It was so pretty it seemed if the world turned to rock, it wouldn’t be all that bad.

But even after the afternoon’s romp, the adventurer’s urge was still bubbling over in us. I’d warned Becca that cross-country hiking would an incredibly muddy doing due to recent rains, but undeterred and racing the clock (the park closed its gates at 5pm), we set out towards distant Martha’s Butte, and the reported rock art at its base.

We started the short 2 mile hike by following a flooded wash, but the reconstituted dirt paste was too thick to walk through.  There’s Rebecca mid-frame to the right, trying to stick to the high ground.  Martha’s Butte is the boobie on the skyline, to the left of the creek.

A view looking back.  At first pass, it would seem the mud of the wash would suck a shoe right off.  As it turns out, the rest of the landscape was even gushier, and through careful footfalling on the creek bed, we never went in over our ankles!

Finally, we arrived. Newspaper Rock, with its ancient tapped out petroglyphs, spoke silently of meanings of which we could only guess. This sheltered little crag held the secrets of thousand year old and completely untold Puebloan ceremonies with dances, chanting and sacrifice. Then they probably went out for beers.

This neolithic zipper-glyph was said to represent the rent to the underworld that sucked down their Indian souls. I think, instead, some ancient Rube Goldberg-ian kid pecked it to roll his marbles down.

Denver’s sniffer points the way back through the faltering light to our trailer and home.

We made it back through the gate with no time to spare and started dinner as the sun fell.  Tonight’s treat was the Beef Bomb – Hamburger, onions, parsley, panko, soy, worcestshire, and egg all gobbed up and put into a round of yellow onion with a pepperoni flap on top.  Bake in a dab of A-1 and you’ve got a ballistic pill for your stomach’s goodwill!

As daylight collapsed on our sleepy hamlet of one, we sat outside for the brief moment before the evening’s chill set in, and remarked how, as Faulkner put it, “The scattered tea goes with the leaves, and every day a sunset dies”.