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Day 13: Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert

The Wigwam Motel, cute as it was,did not supply breakfast.




We headed into the town of Holbrook and stopped at Tom and Suzie’s diner.

All of Holbrook looked vaguely familiar, probably because (by its own claim) it’s the home of the movie Cars. 

Heading east again, we made our way toward the Petrified Forest National Park. But first we had to stop at a rock shop to look for petrified wood because no one can possibly see or have enough petrified things. (This is what happens when your husband teaches a summer camp on geology.)


Finally, we arrived at the park.


They had an awesome visitor’s center, and this was the small one. If you’re looking for an uncrowded, cheap ($10 entrance fee) national park, stuffed with dinosaurs and fossils, this is your place.


The above is what petrified wood looks like. Here are some dinosaur bones, found near the park.


It’s a hands-on kind of place, which was good for my daughter who earned a junior ranger’s badge, her third this summer.


Word of warning: It’s hot and sunny. Dress appropriately and bring water.


Keep your eyes out for wildlife and tracks, like these:


(The ranger thought they might belong to an ibis, a bird I had never heard of before. Judging by the size of its feet, I also wouldn’t want to meet it in a dark alley.)

After the Petrified Forest, we headed slightly north to the painted desert.



For supper we ate at Pete’s Cafe in Belen, and excellent New Mexican restaurant where everything is made from scratch.

*A word about the weather. It’s raining here, and it’s cold, too cold to swim in the outside pool. So far the only times I’ve needed my jacket on this vacation were in the Grand Canyon, the desert in Arizona, and New Mexico. Thankfully, it might help break their drought. Tomorrow we head west toward the border. Something tells me I might not need my jacket there.


About vanessagraybartal

Author. Eater. Wife. Mother. Not necessarily in that order.

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