We did Petrified Forest today. In a word: underwhelming. We were threatened on multiple occasions with huge fines and nazi-ness if we took any petrified wood from the park. As if we were even considering that. Luckily, we'd already gotten some outside the park from an irritated Navajo woman in a shop that advertised "Free Petrified Wood (one per car) :)"
The park made us feel like high school delinquents. "You better watch your back" it taunted. "We've got our eyes on you!" "We know you want some of this wood, but don't even think about it!" Ridiculous. Also, it closes at 6pm. Also, there's nothing there but a bunch of rocks.
The wood WAS beautiful colors, which I hadn't expected. Seriously - loud yellows and reds and purples, all mixed together. Very ... radiant. Also, it was everywhere. We went to a couple of lookout points where it just LITTERED the ground - I mean, it looked like there were just pieces of logs all over the ground. And one hill looked like it was covered in woodchips, but they were now STONE woodchips. It kind of blows your mind.
Still, we weren't that sad to leave. From this park we learned that not all national parks are created equal. Also, they don't all offer camping (!)
Next we drove to Canyon de Chelly National Monument, which had been highly recommended (insisted upon, actually) by my gastroenterologist, of all people. It turned out to be on our way, and so we went. It was SO COOL. A teeny red-rock canyon (okay, I say teeny because we've been dealing in Grand Canyon sizes so far. It wasn't that teeny) with startlingly steep walls, and a pleasantly wide, flat, grassy bottom. It's a sacred historical place to like all of the Southwestern Indian peoples. And Navajo sheep herders still live in it. It's a national monument, but they let them stay. I think that's awesome. How would you like to grow up down there? It was so cool. There was a hike we could have done that took you to the bottom (and a pueblo ruin) but we really didn't feel like walking yet (soreness = persistent!) and didn't have a lot of time. I wished we had planned an entire trip specifically to this place - they have guided tours and horseback rides, etc, and it really merited some exploring. I was glad we went at all, though; we were lucky it happened to be on our way.
Next was Four Corners. It's still there. What can you really say about Four Corners? It's pretty wacky to think that states, which are so huge, come down to piddly little lines in the desert to divide them. Of course we took pictures and played around, standing in multiple states at a time. And we bought me some beautiful turquoise and silver earrings (from a sweet old Navajo woman, who was speaking Navajo with this other woman, which I thought was bordering on the coolest thing I'd ever heard. I'd like to learn it. A counselor in my old bishopric spoke Navajo, and he tried to teach us to count to 10 once, but we only got to 1 and then none of us could pronounce it properly, so we gave up. Fat chance of that I guess) which I think I will wear every day for the rest of my life, they are so beautiful.
As it was Saturday night, it was time to find a hotel. We opted (a gamble, I'll admit) for the Budget Host Inn in Cortez, CO (population ~7,000). It pleasantly surprised us. Clean and cute.
We spent the evening watching 9/11 memorial programs on TV. And then an awesome Discovery Channel special on Alaska, featuring, to my great surprise and delight, the famous Scott Willis of AEL&P, my dear friend's father!