Day 384: Petrified Forest National Park

This morning, we drove West on I-40 to Petrified Forest National Park:

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The park preserves not only large quantities of petrified wood, but extensive badlands formations as well:

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Also in the park is a recently restored 1930s-era diner and roadhouse that served visitors to the area:

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We also stopped at newspaper rock, a collection of boulders with extensive petroglyphs carved into the patina:

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Next we visited the Blue Mesa portion of the park.  Here petrified logs act as capstones, reducing erosion of the softer sandstone below:

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B examines a petrified log:

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Another petrified log:

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The kids completed their Junior Ranger program:

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The visitor center included a display of proto-alligator fossils found in the area:

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Behind the visitor center, there’s a path that winds among a petrified forest:

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The petrification process replaces the open spaces in the wood fiber with silicates, converting the wood into stone:

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Trish and the kids spotted a 2 inch long Tarantula Hawk, which paralyses tarantulas with its sting, then lays its eggs in the spider so its young can eat the victim alive.  Yum!  (see link for this wasp to scale with a Tarantula):

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We arrived in Flagstaff at sunset, but the Walmarts there don’t allow overnight parking due to a city ordinance, so we continued on to overnight at a truck stop about 20 miles East of Kingman, Arizona.  See the trip map for driving details.

Day 383: Mesa Verde NP
Day 385: Las Vegas, Day 1

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