Grabbing a quick bite at the truck stop, we got back on the road and picked up our westward journey. After a few hours, we saw the signs for the National park of The Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert.
The ranger at the entrance told us we had enough time to drive through the park, but we needed to be in the vehicle and heading out by 6pm. Gary asked her for the FREE pass for all disabled citizens for me. All that is required is my I.D. and my Social Security papers proving I have a disability. Sensory loss such as deafness and blindness are disabilities, too, but people usually only think disabled means persons who are mobility disabled. ANY disability recognized by Social Security is covered and the FREE PASS TO ALL NATIONAL PARKS is available. It will cover the cost for up to 3 companions with you, but they must be in your party and you must show your ACCESS PASS along with your I.D. upon entering each park.
The drive through the park is about 28 miles with places to pull over for scenic views along the way. The first stop was breathtaking. We entered the side with the Painted Desert first. As we neared Rainbow Ridge, there was a magnificent rainbow on the horizon. We caught it at the perfect moment. We had no one behind us, so Gary hopped out to capture it on camera. He no sooner took a photo when a Ranger pulled up behind us and said we had to move and can only stop at designated areas. No exceptions.
When we arrived to the Petrified Forest, we saw the parking lot filled with vehicles and people. Our watches said it was 6pm and we wondered why they weren't getting chased out by the rangers. Bear and I hopped out and nearly ran up the trails to get photos and see everything before we got corralled out of there. Gary was still in the parking lot when we came back. He was getting his camera lenses together and said we had crossed into a time zone and our watches were 1 hour ahead now. I totally forgot about the different time zones. It was nice having this extra hour to leisurely enjoy the park.
While Gary walked up the trail to photograph the petrified stumps strewn across the landscape, Bear and I had a snack and he played with his new rocks and the leaflet that explained the properties of each different stone. He had each rock on the list except pyrite (fools gold) and he informed me he was on a quest to find that one for his collection.
Driving out of the park, we hooked back onto I 40 heading once again toward our destination for the night in Flagstaff. It wasn't long before we saw signs for Winslow and thought about maybe circling back in a day or so to see "Standing on a Corner" park and monument that the city built in homage to the lyrics of the Eagle's song "Take it Easy"... "Standing on the Corner in Winslow Arizona, such a fine sight to see...." Winslow is about 50 miles east of Flagstaff, so it would be doable side tour another day.
It wasn't but a few miles further up the road we saw "Meteor Crater" and thought we might add this to our side tour, as well. But first, we want to get to our campsite. We reserved it for 3 nights so we could spend a day at Sedona, as well.
Here are the photos I took with my iPhone of the Painted Desert and the Petrified forest:
A glimpse of the southwest at a roadside stop