Monday, June 10, 2013


Thursday, November 22, 2012

We could have not asked for more perfect weather for hiking the PetrifiedForest today.  This was not our first visit there.  We had been once around 1983 with our two children in tow.  This trip was taken at a much slower relaxing pace. 

We had checked ahead of time to see if the national park would be open for the holiday and were pleasantly surprised that it was.   As proven by the photos to the right we viewed many, many slabs of the petrified wood the foundations of Puerco Pueblo Ruins petroglyphs, and the PaintedDesert.

Our holiday was started by eating a big breakfast as we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at the camper and packed a picnic lunch for later on in the national park.

Our first stop in the park was actually at the gift shop to look at all the various pieces of petrified rock there.  We noticed we could have actually overnight camped in the gift shop’s parking lot for free if we’d been moving on that same day.  It looked like it was dry camping.  However, we had plans to spend the night at the campground and move the next morning. Since we also had plans that included the use of electricity we decided the campground was still a better option for us.

We followed a self guided route to the various areas, with much of the same people traveling at near the same pace as we were.  There were many families who had decided there was no better way to celebrate all we have to be thankful forby touring one of our nation’s most beautiful national parks.

One such family was a mother and daughter duo.  We chatted with them at nearly every stop.  They were traveling toward home as we were traveling away from home.  Therefore, they had been to be Grand Canyon the day before, which was our planned next stop.

We filled them in on the sites toward the east as they told us of sites to see to the west.  That is one of the great things about traveling, you meet people of all types across the nation.

The daughter, who appeared to be 9 or 10 years old was working on her Junior Ranger certification.

We had never heard of the Junior Park Rangers  before so they educated us.  It is a great way for children to study the  national parks at their own pace.  They are given a workbook of things to look for and activities to do to help them learn about the park and the history and nature of the park. They had a “passport” she was having stamped at each park they visited in their travels.  For those of you familiar with Epcot’s Kidcot passports  it was much the same looking passport.  

As we chatted with the two we watched as the young lady counted the rings on a downed petrified log.  Look for logs with different colors to represent the various minerals and metal ores in the area, studied the petroglyphs, counted the rib bones on the dinosaur skeleton and much more.  It made us wish we had children of her age in our party so we could enjoy all she was learning about HER park. 

After I returned home I googled to find out more about the Junior Park Rangers and found no mention of a fee for it. The list of participating parks listed there was extremely long.  If you have young people in your family it might be a perfect family activity for you.

Not interested in being a Junior Ranger, but would still like to investigate those national parks.  Then check out the list of activities in the Park Fun link  from the original Junior Park Rangers link.

No plans to visit a national park anytime soon?  Then how about an online game or two about the national parks?  Yes, they can be a WebRanger, just follow the hyperlink and start playing.

As we visited the park we had one continual companion, I'm certain it was actually various ravens/crows but it seemed every time we stopped there was one or more there at each place.  Toward the end of the day we were starting to become tired from all the hiking we had done during the day .  Remembering that the birds are cairns we started joking that they were waiting for tourists to fall over dead from exhaustion.  There is really a lot to see and do in the Petrified Forest.  By the end of the day we took to telling the birds "I'm not dead yet, move on."  Each time the birds would fly off.

There is much to see in the park, but I think I’ll let my photos do the talking about the various sites. 

When we returned to the camper we found it very warm.  The sun coming through the west window, combined with the furnace left running had made it heat up quite nicely.  In fact we had to cool the camper off before I could start our Thanksgiving feast of Ham and all the fixings.  Since we had done our actual Thanksgiving meal with our son before we left we saw no need for turkey or chicken. 

But we did find a need to see our son on Thanksgiving, it was after all a family holiday.  That’s when my brilliant husband set-up a Skype connection for us and talked my son through setting it up on his end.

We then timed our meals to be completed at the same time and “ate” together while chatting about what was going on at both ends of the connection.  While it was a bit of an unusual holiday meal, it was a wonderful one.  I must admit I was a little sad to sign off Skype, after seeing my son on the computer screen. 

All in all it was a very good day.  I would highly recommend spending Thanksgiving or any other days exploring the Petrified Forest

Tomorrow we move on to the Grand Canyon.  Jan who thinks everyone should visit all our national parks in OK

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